With nearly three million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Elwell Hunt is the best-selling author of The Tale of Three Trees, The Debt, and The Note.
Hunt began her writing career in 1983. After five years of honing her craft working for magazines, she published her first book in 1989. Since then, the prolific author has written over one hundred books in fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults.
Eight of her novels have won Angel Awards from Excellence in Media. Hunt has also won two silver medals from ForeWord Magazine’s book of the year award (for The Justice and The Canopy), and a Christy Award for By Dawn’s Early Light. Two of her novels have been optioned for film by Journey Productions and Columbia/TriStar.
She and her youth pastor-husband, Gary, make their home in Florida with two mastiffs, one of which was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest dog in America.
Web page: www.angelahuntbooks.com.
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Angela Hunt recently spoke with FaithfulReader.com's contributing writer Bethanne Kelly Patrick about her new book, THE AWAKENING. In this interview Hunt discusses her method of researching agoraphobia, a syndrome suffered by her main character, Aurora, and explains why she chose to write Aurora's story as a parable. She also talks about the importance of being open-minded and welcoming to new believers in the church, the important role that fiction can play in a Christian's life, and her upcoming novels, THE ORACLE and THE THIRD ADAM.
FaithfulReader.com: What made you decide to set THE AWAKENING in New York City? Have you written other books that were set in the city?
Angela Hunt: Yes, I've set other books in the city --- I love New York! --- but it was important that I set the book in a place where Aurora could have virtually anything delivered. And in New York, you can.
FR: Did THE AWAKENING start out as a parable, or did it become a parable? Were there challenges for you in constructing a parable?
AH: It was conceived as a parable. Several months ago I figured out that parables are what I'm supposed to be writing --- stories that have an outer, or earthly meaning, and an inner, or heavenly meaning as well. As in any parable, you always run the risk of someone not "getting" the inner story, but that's where the discussion questions are helpful. Furthermore, I trust that the Spirit of God will illustrate things in ways I never could.
FR: Tell us about the fairy tale that inspired your protagonists' names. How does it affect the story/their relationship?
AH: LOL. I took the main character's names from SLEEPING BEAUTY. I love the symbolism because Aurora, like the sleeping princess, sleeps until she is awakened by love's first kiss.
FR: Talk about the character of Clara and the role she plays. Have you known Claras?
AH: Clara is a wonderful woman, but she is also a first-class enabler. Sure, I've known Claras, and I'm sure my readers have, too. Whenever God calls us to a new place, there are always people who would prefer that we stick with the tried and true. Change can be frightening.
FR: Philip nurtures Aurora in many ways, and you touch on this nurturing in your backmatter as something that is so important for Christians to do in welcoming new believers. Could you talk about why you feel that this is important, and how believers sometimes fall short?
AH: The atmosphere of "church" really is a different culture when new converts first arrive. There's a different language, different assumptions, different ways to dress. And too often we "church folks" look askance at newcomers who don't instantly fall into line. Of course, we need to be more understanding … and a lot more relaxed about things that really don't matter in the eternal scheme of things.
FR: You've said you tend to research as you go along. Did you research agoraphobia for this book? How?
AH: Yes, I researched agoraphobia by reading books and by talking to my friend Patsy Clairmont, who once suffered from agoraphobia herself. Patsy was kind enough to give me many good ideas --- in five minutes, she taught me as much about agoraphobia as the book I read.
FR: Aurora lives in an apartment her mother has furnished and cluttered over the years. Why is it so important for her to redecorate on her own, rather than calling in a designer? (I'm mindful that this question is part of the entire delicate parable you've put together, but I think it's particularly interesting and useful to readers to understand this point. . .)
AH: Aurora has lived in her mother's shadow for years … and at some point she has to "cut the apron strings" and learn to face life on her own terms. Because her world exists only in that apartment, that's where she begins to assert her individuality and her independence. Sure, she could afford a decorator, but that wouldn't make the place her own.
FR: Much of your novel/parable involves dreams. One school of thought, of course, believes that all characters in our dreams represent aspects of our own psyches. You clearly believe, following Scripture, that God speaks to us in dreams. Do you think He uses our psyches to give messages?
AH: Perhaps. I'm not sure how He does it, but I suspect it's different for every person. One thing I wanted to point out in this novel is that God tries to speak to us in many ways --- someone left a Bible for Aurora; she ignored it. She saw a Christian television station as she channel surfed; again she ignored it. Philip offered her a Christian book, but she barely skimmed the first few pages. She shut off communication in so many ways God had to resort to something a little more unconventional --- hence her dreams and the actual audible voice.
FR: What role do you feel that fiction can play in a Christian's life? I'm especially intrigued because the character of Aurora's father is a famous novelist whose every work holds clues for her.
AH: I believe we can learn more from fiction than from nonfiction in many situations --- a novel is a slice of life, and when we read a person's story, we vicariously experience all they experience, so we learn the spiritual lessons they learn. The more we identify, the more ingrained the lesson is upon our hearts. Personally, I'd rather let God speak to me through someone else's story than force him to teach me a difficult lesson firsthand!
FR: You've said there won't be a sequel to this book, but will you write other parables?
AH: I'm writing one now.
FR: Besides God's Word, what/who were your greatest influences in writing this book?
AH: The idea that haunted me was this: "What would happen if a woman heard the audible voice of God?" Then I had to ask myself, "Why would she hear it? What would God say? Why would He choose to speak this way?" Gradually the idea shaped itself into Aurora's story. Another thing that influenced me was my theology study. I have been studying the way God calls us to salvation --- Jesus said that unless the Father draws a person, that person will not come to Christ (Jn. 6:44). So I wanted to illustrate the way a loving Father draws a deceived daughter.
FR: What are you working on now and when can readers expect to see it?
AH: I have just handed in (huge sigh of relief) THE ORACLE, a story of a talking gorilla (If a gorilla could talk, what would she say?) LOL --- sounds like I'm hung up on talking, doesn't it? And now I'm working on a book tentatively titled THE THIRD ADAM --- it's about a novelist (again!) who creates a character and plots his course. I'm illustrating theology again --- I want to learn (and teach!) about the sovereignty of God. I'm excited about this one! THE ORACLE should release in April 2005, and THE THIRD ADAM in October 2005.
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