|Have you always wanted to be a writer?
For me it was a definite calling. Iím not one who says, ďGod spoke to me and told me this,Ē because generally speaking, thatís not how my life operates. But I was in a time of prayer and I had a very clear impression that I was to write a particular novel. It wasnít just that one experienceóI had several experiences over the course of six months that really cemented within my own spirit the knowledge that God had called me out of a unique background to do thisóto tell stories that expose His character.
You grew up in the jungles of Indonesia. How did your experiences there shape you and impact your writing?
I couldnít be a writer today, at least not the kind of writer I am, without having grown up in the jungles of Indonesia for two primary reasons. One is a writer is first and foremost an observer. You have to understand and see things uniquely and well in order to write about them. Itís not really a matter of learning to observeóyou are an observer. As a young child, I was what they call a ďthird cultureĒ kid. I wasnít part of the Indonesian culture although I spoke Indonesian, because I was a Caucasian missionary kid. I also wasnít part of the American culture. I was outside the ďbubbleĒ of both cultures, so I learned to be an astute observer. I peered in, watched, became a chameleon, and adapted. I traveled around the world with my parents, and in the process learned to be all things to all people in a certain sense. So through that I learned to be a great observer. That definitely finds its way into my writing.
The second thing about growing up in that environment that was very important was going to boarding school when I was six years old. It caused me to become very comfortable with being on my own. Being on your own and living within the worlds you create is very important for a novelist. You have to learn how to do that effectively and comfortably. Itís a strange existenceóyou live in these fictitious worlds for big blocks of time and no one knows about them. You canít go up to people and tell them whatís happening, because it goes right over their heads. They have no clue until they sit down and read your novel.