First thanks to Jeanette for agreeing to do an interview for us.
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Yes, I grew up as a missionary kid in the countries and places described in my books. My parents were missionaries in Colombia. My own childhood was spent canoeing up and down the jungle rivers, flying in Cessna to boarding school in Venezuela, hiking up the Andes mountains and into the jungles of South America. The cloud forests of Betrayed are described from childhood memory. The guerrilla zone town in my second adult novel, The DMZ, is where I spent my teen years, exactly as described.
I graduated in 1981 from Prairie Bible College in Three Hills, Alberta. In 1985, my husband Marty, also an MK (missionary kid) and I moved to Bolivia to work with Gospel Missionary Union (now AVANT), an interdenominational Christian mission organization. While my husband served as field director, I worked with women and children at risk. I also began my journalism and fiction-writing career there, watching firsthand the political and drug-trafficking shenanigans of one of the world’s top-five most corrupt nations.
My husband and I moved to Miami in June, 2000, when Marty assumed the position of Vice-President with Latin America Mission, a nondenominational mission organization working throughout Latin America. In January, 2006, we moved again to Lancaster, PA, when Marty accepted the position of President of BCM International, formerly the Bible Club Movement, another nondenominational mission organization.
I continue to write as well as teaching writers conferences and mentoring Christian writers in a number of countries around the world. To date, I have lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. I have four children: three grown sons and a teenage daughter still at home.
2. How did you know you wanted to be a writer, have you always had the desire or did it come later and If you were not a writer what would you like to be?
I don't recall ever really wanting to be a writer as a child. I was too busy reading--and writing. Our MK school put great emphasis on proper composition, and we spent too much time writing (we were doing term papers with footnotes in junior high) to daydream about it. My personal dreams as a child were to become, alternatively, a concert pianist (at least a possibility as I was studying the instrument hard) or a world-famous ice-skater (more difficult as we had never seen ice in our tropical environment).
I wrote my first book literally out of boredom. My husband and I were the only Americans at the time in the southern Bolivia city where we were living, working with a Christian ministry organization. While my husband was on traveling through the Andes mountain for two weeks at a time. I was stuck at home with three preschoolers, no car, TV, radio. Once my preschoolers were in bed, I had only the handful of English-language books I’d read dozens of times. I finally decided if I had nothing to read, I’d write a book instead. That became Kathy and the Redhead, a children’s novel based on my growing-up years at an American missionary kid boarding school in the Andes mountains of Venezuela.
From there I began writing Spanish-language material for women and children at risk as well as writing as a journalist for a variety of international and Christian ministry publications. That was followed by seven more children's books, including the six books of the Parker Twins Adventure Series, a young adult mystery/suspense series set in a multi-cultural background. My first adult fiction release, CrossFire, a 630-page political/suspense novel set in the counter-narcotics war in Bolivia, was released in July, 2000. Then came a teen novel, Jana’s Journal, and a second adult political/suspense novel, The DMZ, set in the guerrilla warfare in Colombia, followed by, FireStorm, a sequel to CrossFire that explores the Islamic terror ties in Latin America. And, of course, my newest release, Betrayed, with Tyndale House Publishers.
3. What was your motivation for writing Betrayed?
Motivation for Betrayed came through my own international involvement and research as I’ve seen repeatedly the consequences of powerful individuals making decisions for motives of fear or greed rather than right and wrong. We like to blame a universal ‘they’—the government, the system, Western civilization, or on the flip side, the Communists or Islamic jihadists, etc. But in reality it comes down again and again to very specific individuals making very specific decisions for right or wrong. And sometimes those decisions can impact an entire nation or change the course of human history. The United States is, unfortunately, reaping the harvest of some of those decisions. While a fictional story set in one Central American country, Betrayed is a realistic microcosm of patterns repeated around the globe. But Betrayed is far from just a tale of human chaos; rather, of faith and beauty and hope, along with a powerful challenge to individual responsibility.
4. How do you come up with the characters for your books and are they modeled on people you know?
Any number of the characters are based on people I’ve actually met, though more often are a combination of several as well as a good dollop of imagination. Holly, the sister who died, and in fact the idea for the book, was based on a very similar conversation as Vicki had with a young, fresh veterinarian volunteer in Bolivia, where I was currently living, who was in the same position as my fictional Holly and who over lunch expressed much the concerns outlined in the book to myself, an American consulate, and Amazon Watch and WWF personnel. Our joint conclusion after she left to further pursue her missing jaguar was that she’d better leave the country before she ended up floating face down in a river.
Since I left Bolivia soon after, I always wondered if she followed our advice, got kicked back stateside, or actually did decide to brace corrupt local bureacrats and try to convince them to ‘be good’. In Betrayed, I wrote the ‘what if’ of that true-life incident. Everyone else in the book from environmentalists, embassy personnel, Special Forces, ‘basureros’. the elderly missionary, ‘Auntie Evelyn’, down to DEA and former CIA retired in-country are based on people I’ve actually known.
5. Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
I am just finishing a novel set in Afghanistan, due at Tyndale House Publishers in just seven weeks. I am excited about the spiritual and political message of the book even as I’ve been stretching mind and heart beyond their natural capacity to birth this story. So keep an eye out in a few months for its release.
6. Do you have any final thoughts for us?
Above all, I would like to leave the challenge highlighted in Betrayed. What is our call, how can we know what to do, when our world falls apart? The answer is as simple as it is profound. At every step and with each crossroads that opens up in front of us, simply ‘do what is right, and do not give way to fear’(1 Peter 3:6). That is all we are called to do, not to manipulate, try to figure out the future, or weasel our way out by any means possible. If we follow that simple challenge, then the Almighty God who wrote every moment of our lives before we were born and holds us in the palm of His loving hand will take care of the outcome, whatever He chooses that to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
As the child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. She has more than a dozen books in print, including political/suspense best-seller CrossFire and the Parker Twins series.
Jeanette can be reached through the Contact link on her Website
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