Kristen Heitzmann Answers The Faithful Fifteen
FR: What kind of testimony to your faith are you demonstrating in this book? If you are writing fiction, do you write fiction that is based upon your faith or that has a message for the reader? Is your goal to demonstrate your faith in your writing?
KH: In writing fiction, my first thought always is to tell a story that people will want to read, a story that will impact their lives in a positive and compelling way. Because my faith permeates everything I do, it does influence what I write, but I don't ever start out with a message for the reader. The 'message' evolves from the story: what are the characters facing, and what truths are challenged or discovered in that process? I don't set out to demonstrate my faith, but rather to bring forward the questions and traumas of life that instigate, threaten or deepen belief, trust and surrender. In fact the characters in my stories do not always mirror my own practice of faith. Because my mission as I received it is to bring unity to the body of Christ, I try to demonstrate different walks within the ultimate truths of scripture and revelation.
FR: Tell us about your church experiences, how you grew up (or maybe didn't grow up) in the church, where you attend now, your involvement in your local assembly, etc.
KH: My faith is a facet of every part of my life. In addition to my church family, my husband and I are covenant members of The People of Praise, an ecumenical covenant community that provides a wonderful opportunity to build the kingdom of God here and now. Our life in the community is built on the early Christian model of throwing our lot in together, living our lives in common as much as possible, serving and loving one another and those outside the community whom we have the opportunity to touch with Christ's love. Being Christ to the world is a theme in several of my books that comes directly from my life in the community.
FR: Tell us about your current church family/fellowship. How does it influence your work?
KH: Being a writer is by nature a solitary profession. One of the things that has sustained and encouraged me in the everyday process is an Internet network of published Christian authors. On the loop we discuss things pertaining to writing, faith and life, and hold and sustain one another through the stress and joy of the creative process. These brothers and sisters are both spiritual and professional mentors.
FR: Discuss your calling/mission --- as a writer and as a Christian.
KH: My spiritual mission, as I mentioned, is to bring unity to the body of Christ, to develop understanding for the beauty of different Christian faith expressions within the salvation relationship that demonstrate the myriad facets of God and his interaction with his children of all walks. My call was very specific, and I have tried to be true to that in each of my stories, especially the contemporary novels where certain walks are not often explored.
My mission as a writer is to grow and develop the craft and excellence of the Christian novel, not only to tell the best story I can, but to tell it with the purest point of view, the crispest language, the most sensual description, and above all, characters who become real to the readers, who infect their lives and compel a response.
FR: What are your Scripture reading habits?
KH: Because morning is my freshest time to create, I don't often spend much time in scripture then. I commit my day and my efforts to the Lord, take all things captive to him, pray against interference and proceed with joy. My scripture reading frequently occurs before I go to sleep. I love dwelling in the Word before entering the subconscious state. Also within the process of writing throughout the day, I am searching the scriptures and incorporating at least the thought and frequently the quote appropriate to the story. Bible and concordance lie open on my desk as I work.
FR: What books have most influenced your work?
KH: The writings of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis have had great impact on me from an early age. I was a voracious reader of the classics and now enjoy a wide spectrum of genres.
FR: Do you read secular fiction at all? If so, who are your favorite authors and why?
KH: I do read secular fiction in addition to the Christian market because it gives me a pulse on what is reaching people there and because some of the authors such as Dean Koontz, Wallace Stegner, Jodi Picoult, Niall Williams, Anne Tyler and Ron Hansen are truly masters of the craft.
FR: What are your other media habits --- television, movies, music, etc.?
KH: I enjoy going to well-crafted movies, especially non-depressing dramas, clever comedies and even a few spookies like Signs and The Sixth Sense. I watch almost no TV because there isn't too much that interests me and I'd have to battle my husband and sons for the remote. I have fairly eclectic taste in music, being classically trained in violin from age seven and performing in symphonies and chamber orchestras, ministering music with guitar and vocal for our praise community with contemporary Christian songs, and being introduced to Metallica and other chest pounding groups by my teenage sons. I've learned to listen for the quality and value of many different sounds and messages!
FR: Tell us about your prayer life and habits.
KH: I believe strongly in the power of prayer, of a life surrendered in relationship to the Master who not only hears but always answers. I believe praise is a life-changing mode, even in the face of obstacles, and that not only surrendering to God's will but embracing it brings deep abiding peace. Prayer is a lifestyle, and even small tasks that serve and love one another are prayer. I strive to pray constantly, even if it's nothing more than lifting up a thought in the midst of my day, even if it's simply going through my day with a heart for the Lord. This, to me, is as viable a prayer as the kind that moves mountains and delivers us from evil. As a community we are committed to prayer and enter in with expectations even for miracles.
FR: Describe what you believe the role of writing in religion is. Tell us about one or more of your favorite encounters with readers.
KH: The role of writing in religion is profound. It is a powerful responsibility to put into a lasting form the truths of our faith. I know by the responses of readers that I am impacting their lives in awesome ways, and that is humbling and at times overwhelming. Because I deal with deeply painful issues in some of my books, I hear from people who have connected to the characters because of similar experiences in their own lives. Many times this has allowed healing in areas they had either blocked or covered over and brought them into deeper relationship with the One who is able to restore all things. Nearly every reader letter I receive refers to the characters as though they truly live and breathe and have become precious to the reader who wants to know more! That is wonderfully encouraging.
But the most incredible story is what God has built between one reader and me through a simple letter. A pastor's wife, nurse and mother, she has plenty to fill her time, but she was led by the Lord to write a letter of encouragement after reading my Diamond of the Rockies series. I responded with gratitude as always, but had no idea the Lord would call her to become a pillar of support for me. She has held up my arms when the words wouldn't come, when the story went so deep I had to recover, when I doubted I had another story in me, when I just needed a friend. We met once for a few minutes at an airport when I was speaking, but she is deep in my heart because the Lord placed her there for me. I am profoundly grateful.
FR: Would you share a story about someone you've brought to Christ or share how your writing has helped someone?
KH: I don't always know who my stories have touched or who I will minister to through the words on the page. The other morning I asked a friend to search for a scripture with a particular meaning after giving him a scenario from the current work in progress. Not understanding, he asked about the person in need, and I explained that it was for the book. Tempted to say I wasn't caring for a real person, I was strongly reminded that I was. I simply said, "I don't know who I'm caring for, but the Lord does."
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