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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Spotlight on Nikki Arana and As I Have Loved You

Nikki Arana is an award-winning author of women's fiction, essays, poetry, and magazine articles whose work has been published in the United States and Canada. She has won several national awards, including the American Christian Fiction Book of the Year for Women's Fiction, and the Beacon Award. Her book, The Winds of Sonoma was named One of the Top 20 Books of the Year by Christianbook.com. Nikki is also the recipient of the 2007 Excellence in Media Silver Angel Award, the Jessie Cameron Alison Writer of the Year Award. She is a member of the Idaho Writers League, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America.

Nikki and her husband, Antonio, live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. They have two grown sons, Esteban and Aristo. When she's not plotting novels or giving workshops, Nikki speaks about her other passion, loving Muslims into the Kingdom of God. You can visit her website at: www.nikkiarana.com

Order your copy of As I Have Loved You today!

SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. You've got a multi-layered, emotional family saga with this book. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

This story was inspired by a true story. The characters and their backgrounds, jobs, family situation, etc. are totally fictitious. But I saw the underlying love story between Jeff and Jessica lived out between a young couple I know well. When you see how true love suffers long, thinks no evil, bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things, it humbles you. You realize love really is the greatest gift. It is a story worth telling.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Leigh? What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

I drew heavily from my own experiences to create Jeff's mother, Leigh. Like all mothers I want the best for my children. My son has a disability that makes certain aspects of life difficult for him. I felt it was my responsibility to give him all the support I could to help him reach his full potential. In some ways I became so focused on my objective, I lost sight of God's plans for his life. So I came to the story with a clear idea of who Leigh was. However, as I wrote she did indeed become her own person. I think that was partly because she was a single mom who had experienced a bad marriage. Those who have read The Winds of Sonoma, my first book, know that nothing could be further from my own story. Leigh's son was all she had. She had invested her whole life in him. Also, she did not have a personal relationship with the Lord as she struggled with her situation, and that made it very difficult for her. Praise God, I have had Him and a supportive, loving husband all my adult life.

3. What themes exist in As I Have Loved You that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The title of the book, As I Have Loved You, was drawn from the scripture: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12 NKJV). The primary theme of the book is expressed in that verse. But a secondary theme is that of judging others. How we sometimes look at the outward appearance instead of at the heart. I do hope those who read the book will take away a conviction to love the unlovely.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most difficult part to write was the love scene between the young couple. Jeff was a devout Christian who was saving himself for marriage. It took deep characterization of Jeff for the reader to believe he would do what he did. It was extremely difficult to layer all the emotions that brought the characters to that moment. I can’t give any specifics because I want those who buy the book to fully enjoy the journey and all of the twists and turns.

My favorite part was the scene where Leigh takes her father fishing. The father came to me fully fleshed out. He knew who he was, and he flowed from my fingers to the page. I loved bringing him to life. And of course, as in all my books there are lots of symbols. I love the buck whose appearance in the story always signals the reader God is acting in the lives of the characters.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My agent is currently negotiating with publishers on both of the books I am working on. One is fiction, working title, Fear No Evil. It is about the need for safe houses to protect Muslims who convert to Christianity. The other book is non-fiction, Through the Eyes of Christ, Loving Muslims into the Kingdom of God. I believe God has called me to minister to Muslims. I feel this so strongly that I am moving my writing career in that direction. I am beginning to speak to Christian audiences on the subject of Muslims in America and the need for Christians to evangelize those who live among us. It is being done. But there is so much more we all can do.

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Thank you, Nikki, for sharing with us your passion and calling...and for being in the spotlight. Readers, don't forget to comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Nikki's latest book. Check back here next week for the winner.

8 comments:

Cherie J said...

Another greatrs spotlight! As I Have Loved You sounds like a wonderful book.

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview, as I'm always looking for new authors to read would gladly be in for the draw. tWarner419@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Hi Cherie and Tetewa,
Thanks for entering. I can't wait to see who wins.

Nikki

Shauna said...

Oh, this books sounds GREAT! Thanks for the spotlight. I love hearing about all these "new" authors. :-)

Kimberlee said...

Jeff is saving himself for marriage? That's an interesting character for a man.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Jeff is saving himself for marriage. . . and the book was inspired by a true story! Jeff is 21. Hope you get a chance to read the book. If you do, let me know if you liked it.

Nikki

Cez said...

This book seems the kind of novel I'd pick on the bookstore shelves. From the romantic title, simple but delightful cover design to the theme. I'd really like to win this book.

Hope I do (crossing my fingers)


Ma. Cecilia Arevalo

Tiff/Amber Miller said...

And the winner of this FREE book is:

Cecelia!

Congratulations. I've emailed you with the news and await your mailing address so Nikki can send out your book.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. 2 more spotlights up this week!