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After nursing her dying mother, Aurora Norquest feels isolated from the living. But when bewildering dreams reveal her mother's untold secret, Aurora questions who is speaking during these wakeless hours. With love as his ally, can neighbor Philip Cannon help her to discern between truth and falsehood, whispers of guilt---and the voice of God? 320 pages, softcover from Nelson.
Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes books for everyone who enjoys being caught by surprise and digging a little deeper. Her books are very diverse and include such books as Uncharted, A Time to Mend, The Novelist, The Truth Teller, The Awakening and The Debt. Angela lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband and two children.
Favorite Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you,"declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Our Interview with Angela Hunt
How did you get started as a writer?
In 1983 I basically wanted a job that I could do at home so I could stay home with my babies. I had been an English major in college and freelance writing seemed like something that was doable. For five years I wrote catalog copy, magazine articles, brochures, business letters and anything anybody would pay me to write, as long as it wasn’t illegal or unethical.
Five years later I saw an ad for a contest for unpublished children’s picture book writers so I decided to write a children’s picture book. I ran to the library and got a book on how to write a children’s picture book and wrote a story up in about twenty minutes, sent it in, then forgot about it. It won first prize, and first prize was publication. So all of a sudden I was an author. I remember being horrified by the responsibility because until then I considered myself a transient writer, writing stuff that people read and throw away. Books stay around forever and they impact people’s lives—they’ve done that for me. I was a little awestruck at the responsibility that suddenly settled on my shoulders. God was leading me down a new path and I wasn’t sure I was ready to go there.
How long did The Awakening take to complete?
It took about three or four months. I try to fit all my books within a three or four month period.
How did you choose this setting? What inspired the book?
One day I was shopping at TJ Maxx. I was in a dressing room and thought, “What would happen if all of a sudden someone heard the voice of God in a place like this? And what would make God speak to someone? And what would the reaction be?” Then I started thinking . . .
I love Manhattan because it’s a world with its own rules, language, and mindset. I originally didn’t intend for Aurora to suffer from agoraphobia, but the more I got into her personality I realized she was agoraphobic. She sort of evolved in my mind.
I read an article in the NY Times about this whole counter culture that exists on the rooftops of Manhattan. It’s a special place especially in the heat of the summer and it feels otherworldly. A lot of people go up there at night. They have parties on rooftops, and there are bistros and people sit around and play music. I thought the rooftop would be a different sort of place to explore. For Aurora it was her place to escape when she had nowhere else to go.
I also think a lot of people are subconsciously trying to get closer to God when they go high; either by going up to a roof or a mountaintop.
|What parable does The Awakening reflect?
Not a specific parable, yet every character stands for something. All the characters are allegorical. First, Jesus said that no man comes to the Father unless the Spirit draws him first. And so “The Awakening” is a story about how the many, many avenues that the Spirit uses to try to reach Aurora. Someone leaves a Bible at the wake, she won’t read it. She flips through television channels and sees an evangelist; she won’t listen. Her neighbor invites her to church; she won’t go. She slams every door so the only avenues left for the Spirit are Aurora’s dreams and when that doesn’t work; the only avenue left is the audible voice of God. The point I was trying to illustrate is that God’s love is so great He will do whatever it takes to reach us.
Who, then, does Clara represent?
I see Clara as a satanic little helper. In earthly terms she is an enabler. She wants Aurora to stay in her misery, to stay captive to the lies. Clara is sort of demonic in that respect. “Aurora, you’re fine,” she’d say, “you’re lost in your sin and you’re bound in your fears; but just stay put, you’re fine.”
And who does her father represent?
Her father represents our Father God who loves us all the time, who provides a wonderful inheritance for us if we will claim it. When Aurora goes to England and tries to fit into that culture, the resulting culture shock is a little like how a lot of new Christians feel when they begin to mix with church people. It’s a different culture.
What about Aurora’s mother?
In the story, Aurora’s mother represents Satan. She was an egocentric woman whose world revolved around herself. She wanted adoration from the people in her life, from her daughter and from Clara. She wanted it from every one. So she enslaved Aurora with a series of lies. She wove a web of deceit and ensnared her daughter in it.
Phil is a Christian like many of us. Some of us are bright halogens and some of us are twenty watt bulbs, but not a single beam of light is ever useless or worthless. Phil was the person who kept Aurora moving forward; the voice that kept calling her out of her slavery and captivity. She wasn’t always eager to hear him, but when the going got rough, he was there for her.
Is this a stand alone book?
How much research did The Awakening take?
|I had to read up on agoraphobia, Manhattan, rooftops, old apartment buildings. I had to crawl through all kinds of books with old floor plans for old apartment buildings to try to find a floor plan that would actually fit the scenario I’d described. I found one, and that’s what I used to structure the three apartments and the rooftop. I read several books on mental conditions and phobias because I wanted to know what Aurora would be feeling.
(Angie) Did you make the connection between Aurora’s and Philip’s names?
They’re Sleeping Beauty characters. That was brought up in the discussion questions, too.
How personal are your novels?
The personal aspect differs with each novel. I’ve worked through some very personal issues in some of my books, but I always disguise the situation because I don’t want to embarrass my children or my husband. But all of my novels are personal in that most of the lessons the characters learn are the lessons the Lord is been teaching me while I’m writing.
For instance, regarding The Awakening, I remember my pastor reading the scripture where Jesus said,” No man comes to the Father unless the Spirit draws him first.” That verse smacked me between the eyes because I’d always thought I had the good sense to become a Christian—you know, enjoying a quiet little pride because becoming a Christian was a good thing to do. Then I realized that I can’t take any credit at all. I was, a sinner, completely devoid of any redeeming attributes, but the Spirit of God sought me and wooed me. He gave me Christian parents who led me to the throne of grace at an early age, and that is such a miracle.
|Not too long ago, on a Sunday after church, I was with my family at a restaurant that we go to every week. This mother and her little boy came over and the mom said, “my son here just accepted Christ today.” My husband thought that was cool but all of a sudden I got all choked up and started weeping into my salad. My husband looked at me with that “what’s wrong?” expression, and I held up a finger, telling him to wait until I could get a hold of myself. When I could talk, I told him I’d just been overcome by the realization that God was so gracious to call this boy at such a young age. He was sparing him so much grief. I became a Christian when I was six years old and I know I was spared a lot of heartbreak. My husband didn’t become a follower of Christ until he was twenty five. He went through so much grief and so much heartbreak—I’m so grateful the Spirit drew me at that young age. That was mercy.
What are some of the challenges you face being an author?
The more I write, the harder writing gets. First, I hate repeating myself. One of my biggest challenges is that I get bored easily so I don’t ever want to write about subjects I’ve already covered. Fortunately, the Lord keeps sending me really different ideas, so I have never been left staring at a screen and wondering what to do next. I always have three or four ideas on a back burner and when it’s time to start a new book, I just pray about it and see which one evokes my passion and interest. Sometimes, though, ideas have to percolate for months before I feel like I’m ready to address them. Novels have to be written out of where I am spiritually and the lessons the Lord is teaching me now.
|Are there any new projects on the horizon? Gorillas?
I’m finishing that novel this week. It's titled Unspoken
Is it going to be a children’s book?
Oh no! It’s an adult novel about a talking gorilla.
How fun… speaking of different!
I know. I was studying natural revelation in my theology class, and I started thinking that really so cool that all of creation--plants, animals, sky, trees, birds--everything testifies to the glory of God. But man in his sinful condition either refuses to acknowledge this or is blind to it because we’ve lost our spiritual eyes. So I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we had an animal who speaks sign language?” So my gorilla speaks sign language, like Koko, a real signing gorilla who lives in California. Koko is mentioned peripherally in my book because my fictional researcher feels that her gorilla is constantly competing with Koko. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if this communicating gorilla testifies to the Glory of God? What would the world’s reaction be?”
Now that’s a paradigm shift in thinking!
I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
When will this be published?
I think it is slated for April, 2005.
Do you have any other projects in the works beyond the Gorilla?
In June, I start another novel which will be another parable novel. I have all the puzzle pieces in my brain but I haven’t quite put them together yet.
When will it be due out?
It will probably be late 2005 or early 2006. My publisher likes for my books to come out about nine months apart.
|You usually write contemporary novels. Is this your favorite time period?
I love historical novels, too. I love researching, no matter if it’s for a historical topic or contemporary. My contemporary novels are usually about something that requires a few trips to the library.
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
I really don’t know if I can single out a single person. I’ve always been a great reader and my mother loved to read, so she set a great example for me.
As a child, books really did change my life and outlook. Everything from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell to The Nun’s Story by Katherine Hulme.
What message would you like your readers to take away from The Awakening?
God is speaking to us. He will keep speaking if we’re not listening, sometimes in increasingly intrusive ways. He is going to get our attention one way or the other, and I think it’s better if we walk with our ear cocked to hear him rather than with our hands over our ears. Aurora’s story is a salvation illustration but for those of us who are already believers, I think it’s important for us to realize God still wants to speak to us about our daily lives.
What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?
First and foremost, my responsibility is to be faithful with the stories that God gives me. They may not be always be politically correct, they not be what the market is dying for, they may not be suited for every reader, but I honestly believe that if I pray and seek God, he will give me the stories he wants me to tell. It’s a matter of simple obedience. I am not going to write like Jerry Jenkins or Francine Rivers because they are following the call of God for their lives. Were all gifted differently and called to different tasks just as we are all different parts of the body. So if I’m a little toe, I just want to be the best little toe that I can be.