21 February 2013

Getting to know you Thursdays with Jeanette Windle

Please welcome Jeanette Windle to my blog today. Jeanette has a new book out which looks like a good read.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

As daughter of missionary parents, I grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. I married another missionary kid, and we have been in full-time international ministry ever since. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, I've lived to date in six countries and traveled in more than thirty on five continents. Those experiences have birthed 16 international intrigue titles, including bestselling Tyndale House Publishers release Veiled Freedom, a 2010 Christian Book Award and Christy Award finalist and sequel Freedom's Stand, a 2012 Christian Book Award and Carol Award finalist and 2011 Golden Scroll Novel of the Year finalist.

2. When you were a child did you have a favorite book or books?

Not really, because I read voraciously. Our missionary kid boarding school library wasn't huge, so by the time I read through all the books once, I'd read them through again, shelf by shelf. I returned some years ago at the closing down of the school (it is now a guerrilla zone), and the school librarian actually pulled out books to show me that myself and my twin were the two names inscribed on every checkout slip. (wow thats cool. I have a friend who was like that who went to a small school and had read all books)

3. Do you have a favorite Genre to both read and write?

The result of reading widely as a child (see above) is that I remain a very eclectic reader of every genre even till today. I will read any genre, so long as the book is well-written, one result of spending my life on the mission field where books were scarce and you read whatever came across your path. But as a writer, one does tend to write books birthed from one's own experience, so it is perhaps inevitable I write international intrigue set well outside "first world" comfort zones from Bolivia to Afghanistan.

4. Did you have favorite authors growing up who have influenced you?

As with my reading, too many to count. But a few I will still pick up to reread every year or so are Max Lucado and Philip Yancey as far as inspirational reading, Elizabeth Gouge (Dean's Watch, Pilgrim's Inn), Chaim Potok (The Chosen, The Promise), M. M. Kaye (Far Pavilions, Shadow of the Moon),  J.R.R. Tolkien, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, C.S. Lewis; Leon Uris (The Exodus); Mary Stewart, Madelaine Brent, Georgette Heyer; and of course Australia's own Lucy Walker. The entire line of classics-Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, Wind in the Willows with their delightful and very adult humor, etc. As you can see, it is rather varied, and I could go on and on, but will stop here.

5. When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Writing has always been such a part of my life, I can’t remember ever consciously wanting to write. Our missionary kids boarding school had a heavy emphasis on writing and literature; we thought doing full term papers with footnotes in junior high was normal. I wrote one story for publication in college, then became a pastor’s wife and missionary. I never really thought again about writing for publication until I was stuck down in a small town in southern Bolivia with three preschoolers, no transport, phone, radio, or TV, and my husband gone for two weeks at a time to teach in jungle and mountain churches. By the time I’d read my few English books until I had them memorized, I was so bored I wrote my first book in the evenings after the babies were asleep. 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.  From there, I began writing as a missions journalist, then sixteen more fiction novels, and somehow never quit since.

6. How did you go about becoming an author?

I began as a missions journalist, but branched out to fiction in part because I was sitting in the middle of stories too big—and sometimes too sensitive—to tell in any non-fiction format open to me. What I love about writing fiction is the tapestry it offers to weave together countless scattered threads—historical, political, social, spiritual—and the very real people involved,  to create a single impact, a single focused spiritual theme. While the books I write are fiction, the peoples and places and issues they bring to life are only all too true.
Why specifically "Christian" fiction? Because I am a Christian, and I cannot write without that world view permeating every thought, plot line, character. I do not even understand how Christians can write a book that does not ‘leak’ their faith and outlook on this universe. For me personally, writing has always been a call to share my faith in such a creative and interesting fashion that readers who would not necessarily even set foot in church would be drawn in to the fictional world I have created and a loving heavenly Father they will encounter there.

7. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?

I am already thoroughly enjoying that dream job, which is serving in the communications department of an international mission and traveling the world as missions journalist and mentor to Christian writers on five continents. Which I will admit leaves less time for my next international intrigue novel than my editorial team at Tyndale House Publishers would like.

8. Outside reading and writing what do you like to do?

Outside of writing, I've been in full-time ministry for thirty years now as a missionary, missions journalist, speaker, and trainer/writer for indigenous Christian writers on four continents.  While technically "work", traveling to new corners of the planet and meeting new people is one wonderful side benefit. Whenever possible, I try to squeeze in some sightseeing in each new country.

9. Do you have a place you love to visit or would love to visit?

More than 150--those being the remaining nations I have not yet had privilege to visit. But if I had to pick three top, they would be 1) Puerto Rico--because it has all the beauty, culture and delicious food of the best Latin American countries I've lived while having all comforts and safety of a United States territory. 2) Greece, because I'd love to explore all the history. 3) Australia, because I grew up reading Lucy Walker and other Aussie authors and have always wanted to visit the outback in person.

10. If you could have a meal with 3 living people who would you choose and why?

My three adult sons. We raised our children to spread their wings, so should not be surprised that they have. But with sons who have bounced in recent years from India, Venezuela, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Sicily, Cuba, and all over North America, we get to see them far less than would be nice. There is no person of fame out there alive for whom I'd trade a meal with my boys.

Finally can you tell us about your current books and/or any that will
be coming out soon.

As mentioned in the first question, I write international intrigue for Tyndale House Publishers. My latest Tyndale House release Congo Dawn takes place against the backdrop of the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri rainforest war zones.
Why this particular setting? 
Growing up in the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon, I was captivated by missionary biographies from its second-largest African counterpart, the Congo. Among them the story of Dr. Helen Roseveare, who helped establish several mission hospitals and medical training centers in the Ituri rainforest despite violence and unrest of impending Congolese independence, herself held captive for five months during the 1964 Simba rebellion. The largest of those centers Nyankunde was in turned razed in 2002 during the continuing conflict that has taken more than five million Congolese lives in the last decade. Today's fighting is greatly aggravated by the value and pursuit of conflict minerals in that zone. 
As always, it has been the mission pilots, medical personnel both expatriate and Congolese, and other followers of Yesu, Jesus Christ, who have been first back into the conflict zones well ahead of United Nations, embassy, local law enforcement or any other humanitarian and corporate interests. Their courage in shining bright the light of Yesu's love in one of the planet's darkest corners gave voice to this story.
As to Congo Dawn's actual suspense thread, I've had personal opportunity to witness what a multinational corporation is capable of in back alleys of the Third World when no one is watching (an experience in itself too unbelievable to write up as fiction). In Africa as elsewhere, both the protective and striking arm of such corporations has historically been hired foreign mercenaries. But today's private military corporations are vastly different, possessing more fire power than the average country. What struck me was the lack of any accountability to outside oversight beyond some paid-off local warlord.
So what happens when a multinational corporation with unlimited funds hires on a private military company with unbridled power in a Congolese rainforest where the ultimate conflict mineral is up for grabs? Coming up with one very plausible possibility birthed Congo Dawn.

Also where we can find you on the web. www.jeanettewindle.com 

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