Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a follower of Christ with a passion for the worldwide family of God. A 21st century abolitionist; that’s what I call myself. I am wife, mother to my children, teacher, writer of 40 books, speaker. More and more, my writing and speaking take me to various corners of the world. Fortunately, I love to travel.
What is your favorite Bible verse (translation too, please)? Why?
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV)
That passage moved my young-girl heart and, despite many twists and turns, led me to the type of writing I do.
How did you come up with the concept for Faith of Ashish?
During my frequent trips to India over the last decade, I have interviewed hundreds of people—some from every caste. One man told me of his father who had to wear a metal cover over his mouth so as not to pollute the road for caste members (as opposed to outcastes). That man spoke passionately and from terrible personal experience. It was from his stories that Ashish and his family began to take shape.
What was your inspiration to develop the story The Blessings of India series?
Several years ago, I had the privilege of touring Ireland with the promotion team for the movie Amazing Grace. I met Kolakaluri Sam Paul, an Indian Christian who spoke each night on slavery, 21st century style. At the end of our time together, Sam said to me, “You should write about the plight of the Dalits in India. People don’t understand the oppression and discrimination we endure, because we have no one to tell our story.”
Having been in India a number of times, I was well acquainted with the horrors endured by the 300 million or so outcastes (formerly called Untouchables). I came home to book projects already in progress, but I could not get Sam’s request out of my mind.
How much of the story is historical fact?
While the story and characters are fictitious, of course, the story is built on historical fact. I heard many stories of outcastes beaten severely for drinking from an upper caste well, just as little Ashish does in the story. And his father’s walk through the village to see the landlord moneylender: Virat had to wear a cover over his mouth to keep any possible drop of spittle from polluting the road, a broom on his back to sweep away his polluted steps, a drum to beat and warn high caste villagers that a polluted Untouchable was daring to approach. All this was horribly true. I did my best to make certain everything was as accurate as possible, especially things readers might consider over-the-top.
Do you have a favorite character in Faith of Ashish? Why?
Hard question! I love every one of them (well, not every one!) Maybe I will have to say Ashish’s father, Virat. He displays such love for his child. He is willing to give up his freedom for him. Even his life.
How much research did Faith of Ashish take?
Much research. Much, much, much! I read books, I talked with people in India, I pulled out all my reams of India interviews and combed through them. Still, I am well aware of the fact that I am not Indian. And though I have witnessed their persecution, it didn’t happen to me. So when the book was finished I sent it to a couple of Indian scholars and asked them to read for accuracy.