In 2004, my novel The Defilers
came in a close second to Angelina Fast-Vlaar's Seven Angels for Seven Days
in the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award
. Last June, I won the prize after what seemed like the millionth revision.
I recently bought Seven Angels for Seven Days at Chapters and just finished it. I loved the book. It's a nonfiction account of a loving married couple's once-in-a lifetime trip to Australia. While in a campground, in the Outback, far from any relatives or friends, Angelina's husband Peter dies. This is a story of love, of grief, of God's provision and mercy, of miracles. A story that is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
I invited Angelina to "stop by" for a virtual blog tour visit.
1. What motivated you to write Seven Angels for Seven Days?
My motivation to write the book came from several sources. First and foremost I wanted to leave the story for my children as they did not experience their Dad's last weeks and days and the amazing events surrounding his death.Seven_angels_sm_descr
More than that, I felt a definite urging from the Lord to "proclaim what the Lord has done." (Ps. 118:17) This urging became especially strong during my cancer journey when the question, "What have you left undone?" seemed to push itself to the surface again and again.2. What sort of response have you had to the book?
The responses have been heartening, surprising and somewhat overwhelming.
Many readers tell me their faith in, and love of God have been renewed or strengthened after reading the story.
Others find encouragement that God will also provide for them in difficult times. Couples tell me of renewed love and appreciation for each other and a valueing of time together.
One elderly, terminally ill lady identified with the assault incident as she had kept her own incident hidden for over six decades. My story helped her to talk about it and finally find peace about that as well as other issues before she passed.
Many readers tell me the book is helping them to grieve and even release grief they had stored for years.
All find the trip through the outback fascinating, "as if I were travelling with you."
A constant comment is, "I couldn't put it down!"3. I found the descriptions of Australia haunting, and your portrayal for your husband Peter so loving and complete, it was as if I had lost someone too as I read the book. How hard was it for you to revisit all these events.
This was more difficult than what I had imagined it to be. To open the journals and reread my experiences brought me back to that place with all the accompanying emotions. I closed the journals and said, "This will not be happening." I'm married again and value my new relationship. But the "urging" would not leave me. One day I read Robert Frost's line, "No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." I realized my "new" tears would be the price I needed to pay in order to complete the "work" I felt called to do.4. You also took a second trip to Australia to retrace your steps a year later. Why did you do that?
A return trip to Australia seemed a given if I wanted to complete and resolve my grief journey. Yet, I was surprised to find how healing that second trip was. It enlightened me about so many things, it helped me to put things to rest, it helped me to see that my time of turmoil and grief was the time of God's coming to me.5. What's the most important thing you hope that people will realize or understand once they read your book?
Our continual prayer for the book is, "That they may see the love of the Father."6. How much did your being a regular journal keeper help you in fleshing out the story?
I wonder if there would be a book had the journals not been kept. An article, maybe, but the journals provided me with the whole story in all it's detail. Peter even kept track of what we ate, gas mileage, when the speedometer turned over another 1000 miles, how many kangaroos he saw etc. etc. Our photos triggered a lot of memories not recorded. Maps, newspaper articles etc. helped to get the facts right, e.g the crocodile attack.7. How do you look on the whole journey - to Australia, through losing your husband there, back to Australia, writing a book about it, winning a contest that includes publication...what kind of perspective do you have on it now?
"It's a God-thing." That phrase sums up my perspective. It's really His story. He orchestrated the events, daily guided me in the often overwhelming task to garner a complete story from a dozen journals. Entering the ms. into the contest was definitely His doing. Joe [her present husband] was without a drivers license for a year due to a stroke. The return of the license was delayed and this in turn delayed our annual trip South. During this time, I found the last notice for The Word Guild contest and realized I qualified. We had one week to get it all together. We took the package to the post-office and when we returned home, Joe's license was in our mailbox!
It's a great read, quite different from my novel, so comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges. In 2005, I entered the contest again. I grappled again with the "what ifs" and settled down to a state of dispassion about the outcome that almost resembled persuading myself I would not win. So I was genuinely surprised when my name was read. The prize includes publication, so The Defilers is expected to be out in mid-April. That makes is all the better that Angelina's book is wonderful, because it serves the whole purpose behind having the contest in the first place: to encourage Christian authors, raise the bar of quality, and to help get the word out about them.