Today I’m interviewing a writer from Prism Book Group, Lee Carver, about how she’s applied her real-life experiences to her latest release. A copy of her highlighted title will be given away to one lucky commenter.
What is your background for writing about the Brazilian Amazon?
I’ve led a much more exciting life than any girl from small-town Alabama could ever hope for. After living and rearing our children in Greece, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Indonesia, Brazil, and Spain, my husband and I felt a strong and persistent call to missions in the Amazon. He took early retirement from international banking and became a missionary pilot over the jungles of Brazil. He had been a Navy pilot before the business career and longed to fly again in retirement. The Lord put that yearning to good use for His kingdom’s work. Those six and a half years were the best and the hardest of our lives. (Read the story in Flying for Jesus, a not-for-profit book on Amazon.)
That explains your logline.
“Fiction without Borders” describes most of the stories I write. A Secret Life, my first traditionally-published novel, is a World War II story based largely in Germany. Only three months later, in December of last year, came this contemporary Brazilian novel, Love Takes Flight. The next novel will be different, though. We’re living in Texas now, and I’ve just completed the draft of a contemporary novel set in a town west of Fort Worth. The important thing is that I have lived in the settings I write about. My jungle scenes don’t come from Tarzan re-runs.
Do you start a new story with the plot, characters, or setting first?
Probably the characters in the setting, but the first words wait for an inciting action. Plot is much more important to the story than miles of internal monologue.
Then do you plot the story first, maybe even outline it?
I haven’t the patience. The rough outline is there, the shape of the story looms in my mind for weeks, and I know how it will end. But I get to a point where I have to start writing. If I plotted every detail—or heaven forbid, outlined it—only the hard work of getting it on the page would be left. No, I discover the story as I write it.
So you’re more of a pantser than a plotter?
Look, I have difficulty categorizing myself. There’s all this talk about left-brained and right-brained people. I majored in biology and chemistry but minored in French and eventually studied nine languages. I taught high school sciences, which I loved doing, but also had a pottery business in Arizona, Atlanta, and Argentina. I cook from scratch (largely to avoid allergens), sew, crochet with the Prayer Shawl Ministry, serve as a Stephen Minister, sing in the choir and play piano. My mother drilled into me that “if you don’t use a talent, you lose it.” I may have developed some talents along the way that I didn’t even have.
What was your purpose in writing Love Takes Flight, and what do you hope the readers take from it?
I wanted to tell what the missionary life is really like, and give an inside view of who modern missionaries are. Along with that is the theme of how to recognize a call from God and take the courage and faith to grasp that life and relationship. Whether at home or abroad, it’s the most amazing, dynamic experience possible.
What would you do differently if you were writing Love Takes Flight today?
I would search for a title which didn’t make it sound like just a romance. It’s so much more than that, but I like having a strong romance to carry the premise. It’s a fun and exciting story, replete with real-world Brazilian life.
Volunteering in the Amazon to escape a broken heart, American R.N. Camille Ringold fears she has lost the chance to be married to a doctor and live well in suburbia. Serving two weeks with missionaries living out a sacred calling, she considers whether a more meaningful life might be hers.
When the Wings of Help plane is hijacked, she and missionary pilot Luke Strong escape into the jungle. Aided by a river village, they recover the plane, but she may be fired for returning to the U.S. late. Two weeks become four when she chooses to care for Luke through his malaria. Priorities change as experiences of faith mount. Where is the intersection of God’s will and her selfish desires?
Returning to Alabama, she discovers the controlling side of her rejected sweetheart. He covers his lies with rationalizations. Dangers of the Amazon fade compared to threats from the man she once wanted to marry.
A free e-book copy in any format, Kindle, Nook, or .pdf Please give your email address in a comment, disguised from the robo-gleaners like mine here: LeeCarver2 (at) aol (dot) com.
Luke pulled off his earphones and yelled above the engine’s roar. “Camille, get ready to scramble. Squeeze out behind my seat. Now.”
“What’s happening?” Her voice trembled in a high pitch as she released her seatbelt.
“A hijacking.” He shouted as calmly as possible, considering the gun directed toward his chest. “The nice man is going to let us out here. Get away from the plane and run for the woods without looking back.”
Luke had the barest few seconds in the cockpit while the criminals focused on Camille. He cut the engine and pushed the door wide.
“What? Hey!” Aderson shouted his protest. “I told you to keep it running.”
“Oh. Sorry. Force of habit. No problem. You know how to fly it, right? Just energize the starter and give it fuel at sixteen percent.”
Exiting to the top step, he reached in and pulled on Camille’s upper arm as she bent around his seat. “Get out fast.” He let go and sprang onto the float, his heart in his throat because she wasn’t moving fast enough.
Camille squeezed past the seat and onto the first rung, duffle in hand.
He pointed at her bag. “Leave it.”
“But I just got it ba—”
“Leave it, Camille. It isn’t worth dying for.” He expected her to argue, remembering how stubbornly she had stayed in the village during the first mission trip. His bark must have communicated the sense of emergency. She dropped the bag inside the plane and scrambled down to the float.
“Jump, Camille.” They splashed into the water, and she thrashed two meters to shore. With her relatively safe, Luke pushed with all his strength on the float, shoving the beloved Cessna back into the river flow.
The hijacker yelled. “It’s not starting. What did you do?”
Luke faced the enemy with all the bravado he could muster. “Give it about ninety seconds, and try again. You were right. I shouldn’t have cut the engine. It was running a little hot.” Not exactly a lie. Of course the engine was hot. Lord, please get us out of here.
Snippet from a missionary still serving in the Amazon: “Throughout the pages of this book, you can see, hear, feel and even taste the Amazon region of Brazil, so exquisitely described in all of its detail! The author captures the hearts of the people who live on and around the many rivers in the Amazon region. It reminded me again of all the things we love about the Brazilian people of the Amazon.” Rachel M. Joy, Missionary with Asas de Socorro, Brazil
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