I'm so excited to welcome my friend, Holly Michael.
She's going to share with us about her book, Crooked Lines and life in South India.
Holly, tell us a little about Crooked Lines.
The best way to do that is to share the back cover blurb: On the shores of Lake Michigan, Rebecca Meyer seeks escape. Guilt-ridden over her little sister’s death, she sets her heart on India, a symbol of peace.
Across the ocean in South India, Sagai Raj leaves his tranquil hill station home and impoverished family to answer a higher calling. Pushing through diverse cultural and religious milieus, he labors toward his goals, while wrong turns and bad choices block Rebecca from hers.
Traveling similar paths and bridged across oceans through a priest, the two desire peace and their divine destiny. But vows and blind obedience at all costs must be weighed…and buried memories, unearthed.
Crooked Lines, a beautifully crafted debut novel, threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. Compelling characters struggle with spirituality through despair and deceptions in search of truth.
Why did you chose India as a setting?
My husband is from India and I've traveled there nearly a dozen times, each time exploring a different part of this incredible, diverse country.
Tell me abut the characters, Sagai and Rebecca.
Sagai is fictional, but he's based off of experiences of my husband and friends who left their villages as teenagers to join a strict religious congregation. While I came of age in the 70s and 80s in Wisconsin (my other half of the setting in Crooked Lines) my husband was living in a religious order. Over the years, he and his friends have shared amazing stories of these years: Meeting Mother Teresa, ministering to the "rag-pickers" in the slums of India, working in orphanages and with lepers. Yet, were we really so different as people? Somehow, hearing their stories, I could relate to the emotional themes. We weren't so different and shared the common goal of seeking peace, truth, and wanted to live out God's plan for our lives. So, I began writing Crooked Lines, using thematically based chapters, going between Sagai in India and Rebecca in America.
Do the characters meet?
I won't give anything away, but will say that soon in the story they learn of each other through Sagai's mentor who comes to the United States. He sees their similar struggles and asks them to pray for each other.
How long have you been writing?
I wrote poems as soon as I could read and write.
Tell us about your path to publication.
My writing background is a so diverse. I'm like a kaleidoscope, twisted by the hand of God and it really began turning years ago when I made a conscious decision to quit writing. Fed up after receiving yet another rejection letter, I went for a walk and explained to God that I was done writing unless He gave me a real sign. Returning from the walk, my answering machine was blinking. A call from a magazine editor who wanted my essay! I never queried again and diverse writing opportunities fell into my lap. I did freelance ghostwriting for Guideposts magazine, worked for a newspaper as a features writer, a journalist, then did a lot of other odd writing jobs.
How did you go from nonfiction to fiction?
I always had it in the back of my mind that I would write a novel, but it was way in the back of my mind. Then, a business man whom I'd done editing for asked me if I'd write a novel for him, based on his life experiences. Later, he changed his mind about the project, but I was hooked on fiction and started writing Crooked Lines.
Do you still write nonfiction?
Yes, I consider myself an all around hybrid. I write fiction and nonfiction, I'm traditionally and indie published, and I drive a hybrid car.
Tell us about your other fiction and nonfiction works.
Sure. Fiction First. Crooked Lines is my debut novel. The sequel will be released late January or early February 2015. I also have another novel (I'll Be Seeing You) coming out in March 2015. A family drama that involves an estranged family coming together to make end of life decisions for their father. An angel and the father (in a coma) are also main characters. I have a new adult novel that--if indie published--should be ready to release in the Spring of 2015.
And Nonfiction: My son and I have a devotional contracted with Harvest House that will be released in the fall of 2015. First and Goal: What football Taught Me About Never Giving Up. My son is an NFL player with type one diabetes and we've really enjoyed working on this project together. I am also returning to India in November to do a ten-year follow-up on the villages and orphans we helped in 2004 and have a couple of other devotionals and nonfiction projects to be released later in 2015.
Tell me about more about the tsunami book and your mission work in India.
Ten days after the tsunami, after a very successful fundraising event, my husband (an Anglican Priest) and I landed in tsunami-ravaged South India. He asked his contact in Chennai to send us to the most remote villages that had not been helped by anyone, not even the Red Cross. We traveled hours to devastated villages in Nagapattinam where we found men weeping in busted up boats, women standing in the rubble of their homes, and children dragging junk from the sea. Heaps of bodies still burned. My husband, who has a counseling degree, knew the native language and consoled and comforted the people. We bought boats for the villages, helped a local boat builder get his business running again so that the men who no longer wanted to fish could build and repair boats. We also gave immediate aid and helped about 200 orphans. The village headmaster brought the orphans to the local bank and we set up CD's in their names to be held with interest and collected ten years later. It's coming up on ten years and the orphans are grown and ready to begin their adult lives. They can now collect the money from their accounts. My husband and I will return to the villages in November and I'll write a book to be released on December 26th, 2014--a then and now story.
Holly, thanks for visiting with us today. It sounds like you've got lots of exciting events ahead of you.