WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START WRITING?
My story is a little unusual. I never had a passion to write and never thought about being an author! It was May of 2001 when I first felt the tug of the Spirit, then a whisper, then a strong impression that got me to thinking about writing. I enrolled in an Internet course called Writeriffic. It was on-line so I did it at my desk at work as a real estate broker when I had a break. That teacher, Eva Shaw, really encouraged me. She said I should send out my writing for publication. I didn’t know how to do that, so I bought some books and followed the directions and send out my homework. It sold!
In March of 2002, I began to feel the Lord was calling me to write a book. So I bought about 10 books on how to write a novel and then sat down at my computer and started. In May, I became aware of a writers conference in Seattle that only cost $99, and I could drive there. I read in the brochure that the Acquisitions Editor for Tyndale, Publishers of the Left Behind series, would be there, and if you wanted, you could be part of a group interview. You’d have 3 minutes to pitch your book. I only had three chapters written, but I knew where my story was going. But how do you pitch a book? My dad had given me Publishing for Dummies when I started writing so I went to it and found a page on how to write a synopsis … so I did. I went to the Seattle conference, pitched my book in 3 minutes, and was asked by the Acquisitions Editor to submit the first four chapters to Tyndale. So I went home, wrote the fourth chapter, and sent it in. That led to a request for the full manuscript.
With a request for a full manuscript, I got an agent, Natasha Kern, who is still my agent today, and she ended up getting me a three book contract with Baker Books/Revell. That was the beginning of my career.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
I’ve written five novels and one non-fiction book, Through the Eyes of Christ: How to Lead Muslims to the Kingdom of God. All but one is available through Amazon.com and most other outlets.
DO YOU PREFER TO WRITE FICTION OR NONFICTION?
Hmmm. This is a hard question. I love writing fiction and have lots of experience doing that. My books have won many national awards, which has greatly encouraged me. But it is my heart’s desire to write a non-fiction book about my experiences with Christ that include many miracles that I’ve experienced through my ministry, A Voice for the Persecuted. Or a book of devotionals that uses some of my life experiences that have embodied spiritual truth. In fact, in many ways, my blog serves that purpose. I treat it like a journal. Right now I don’t get to post often because I’m on deadline for my next book, Deceived. When that is finished, I plan to devote much more time to my blog and perhaps develop a book from it.
WHAT AUTHORS HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I have to say that when I read Frank Peretti’s first book back in 1986, I never forgot it. When I started writing, I remembered the supernatural elements in it and knew I wanted to do that in my books. A funny detail, I lived in California at the time and now live in Idaho. He lives just a few miles from me here.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Invest in learning the craft. It is extremely difficult to break into print and just as hard to stay there. You’re only as good as your last sales numbers, especially in this economy. The chances of writing a book that is salable without studying on your own and getting some professional guidance is almost zero. There are many great classes and books available and also established authors who are willing to help. Go to conferences and join writing groups. Surround yourself with positive, knowledgeable people. Build a network. All of these things will serve you well.
WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?
My life has been very difficult for the past two years. I am the only caregiver for my 90‑year old mother who has Alzheimer and my 94‑year old father who has heart and kidney failure. It is hard to set a schedule. I typically get up at about 4:30 AM to write and I stop when I get called to help them in some way, or have to take care of my husband’s landscaping business, or go to the bank, etc. Then I return to my desk and work until about 10 PM on my WIP, interviews, promotions; you get the idea. Today, for example, I started working on this interview at 4:30 AM.
But I am not complaining because this has been a wonderful time of intimacy with Christ. The pressure just makes me lean on Him more, and He provides for me in extraordinary, miraculous ways. A few months ago, my mother had a massive stroke that left her unable to speak or use her right side. When she was in brain surgery to drain the fluid off, the surgeon saw a tumor and biopsied it. Two weeks later, they called and told me it was cancer. I didn’t tell her or my father. I just couldn’t bear to add to their burdens. She was recovering use of her right side and beginning to speak. They were feeling hopeful. Last week, the doctor did a second scan. I went to meet privately with him to find out how long she had to live. Before I went, I felt so overwhelmed and discouraged. How much longer do I have to struggle through the days to be strong for her? How much longer can I? I prayed just two words to the Lord before leaving the house, “Help me.”
When I got there, the doctor reviewed the scan . . . There is no tumor. There is no cancer. I will never forget the tremendous weight I felt fall from my shoulders. The surgeon said he can't explain it. But there is no cancer there. And as I stood just looking at him, God whispered to me, "Your help is at hand."
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LATEST RELEASE.
Here’s what the book is about: Austia Donatelli, a young widow with an underground evangelistic ministry to Muslims, discovers a friend, someone close to her heart whom she recently led to Christ, has been murdered. She realizes immediately it was an honor killing—the brutal practice of families killing one of their own for converting to Christianity. Suddenly, Austia, her ministry, and everyone she cares about are thrust in the crosshairs of a terrorist organization. As the extremists zero in, she must unravel the deception surrounding her and protect innocent lives, including her own.
The reviews of this novel have been very strong. I was especially happy to get a rave review from Publishers Weekly, which is not a Christian organization: "Arana's vivid imagery is imbued with spiritual force and her pacing is fiercely powerful." I’m pretty confident that if you like suspense, you’ll really enjoy this book. You might want to put on your seatbelt while reading.
The tagline is: Would you share your faith if it would cost you your life? I hope when the reader finishes the last page, they have a deeper understanding of what that question is asking and realize that it may well be a question they will have to face in their lifetime. I did.
The Next Target was inspired by my ministry, A Voice for the Persecuted. I help persecuted Christians who are under the threat of death.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR MINISTRY, A VOICE FOR THE PERSECUTED.
I help persecuted Christians who are under the threat of death . . . here in America! That is code for Muslims who convert to Christianity. I help them find safety. You can learn more about my ministry at http://www.nikkiarana.com/my-passions/. There’s a cause page on FB too; if you have a heart for the persecuted, please “Like” it.
I felt God was calling me to raise awareness about two issues that are at the heart of my ministry. One is the need for Christians to reach out to the Muslims who live and work among us, model the love of Christ to them, and then with the leading of the Holy Spirit, give them what Islam can never give. And the second is about the huge price Muslims pay to know Christ. Most I’ve talked to live under persecution by their former friends and family. Most have no jobs because they live in a Muslim community and are shunned. And of course there are those who have been deported and/or killed. My ministry provides safety and everything necessary to sustain their lives until a permanent solution is found for them.
HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR TIME WHEN YOU'RE NOT WRITING?
I love spending time with my husband, Antonio. In my eyes, he is the perfect husband. He was the inspiration for my first novel, The Winds of Sonoma. When you read that book, you know him and why I love him. Of all the gifts God has given me, other than salvation, Antonio is the one I appreciate and cherish the most.
HOW CAN READERS CONTACT YOU AND/OR LEARN MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WRITING?
I am in all the usual places. On Facebook, you can “Like” me – www.facebook.com/nikkiaranaauthor.
If you’d like to sample my writing, the opening pages of The Next Target, which was just released is available at http://www.thenexttarget.com.
If you would like to continue to follow me on my journey, visit my blog on my website. You’ll also find a tab called My World and one called My Ministry. There’s a lot of information there.
You can buy The Next Target at Amazon:
*The authors of this blog are Amazon.com affiliates. Sometimes, we will include links in our blog posts. When visitors to this site purchase items from Amazon.com using links in our posts, the authors of this blog earn a percentage of the sales.