I'm excited to share my Interview with Sondra Kraak today! I think you're going to love it. By the way, isn't the cover of her book gorgeous?! Makes you just want to curl up with a book and dive right in! So let's do that!
About the Book
Anna Warren grew up on the seat of a wagon, the daughter of Seattle's busiest freighter. After her father’s death—a tragedy away from home—she returns to their cabin on the outskirts of Seattle, seeking the sense of belonging that eluded her childhood. But will her desire to pray for miraculous healing for the sick and wounded endear or alienate her to the community? Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender and has brown hair and eyes, stands six feet tall, and farms with unchecked tenacity. Tristan Porter. This farmer her father had befriended holds more secrets than Yesler’s Mill holds logs.
When ugly rumors arise about her spiritual gift and her property, Anna fears her quest to find belonging will be thwarted.
Tristan holds the truth to set her free, but revealing it will require him to face the disappointments of his past and surrender his plans for the future—a sacrifice he’s not sure he can make."
Purchase: Amazon, B&N
Add to shelf: Goodreads
Wow. You’re coming at me strong from the get go! Pardon the lengthy answer, but I think this is so important so I’m going to dig into some sensitive issues. It seems that the Spirit is the most ignored member of the Godhead (Father, Son, Spirit), and because there seems to be wariness about the work of the Spirit, I wanted to stir people to consider how the Spirit works in our lives, both inward and outward. By inward I mean the sanctifying work of making us like Jesus, and by outward I mean how the Spirit comes upon us with power to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. It’s really all about Jesus, as Jesus reminds us in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Jesus didn’t say when the Spirit comes on you, you will speak in tongues, prophecy, teach, etc. He said we would be his witnesses. In other words, give glory to who he is. So that’s the sign that the Spirit is at work within us—if we love and glorify Jesus. Whenever the church gets distracted (as it’s so tempting to do) and focuses on the Spirit for the sake of the Spirit, things go awry. People get hurt. The Spirit himself is all about giving glory to the Son, and because the Spirit desires to glorify the Son, he comes on us in power to work through us. Isn’t that amazing? As weak and feeble as we are, we still get to be vessels through which God advances his kingdom. And none of this in our own strength, but by his Spirit.
In Such a Hope, my characters wrestle with gifts of the Spirit such as healing, words of knowledge, and the role of faith in those gifts. Misunderstanding the role faith plays in our relationship with God the Father, Son, and Spirit has historically been devastating to the church. Some have placed the focus on personal faith, saying one must have enough faith to be healed. Then when healing doesn’t happen, people feel guilty as if they did something wrong. No. That’s a trap of the enemy. It’s not about us and our ability to believe, have faith. That’s not how a relationship with Jesus works—nothing is about us. All is of him. His grace, his promises, his working in us.
Thanks for indulging the theological treatise. :)
Wow! What a phenomenal answer. I love it! Makes me want to go sit in a closet and get close to the Spirit. :)
So of course, I have to know, have you ever taken a spiritual gift test and which one(s) do you have?
I’ve taken quite a few inventories over the years. Most tests usually combine the lists we find in Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, gifts like serving, preaching, leadership, generosity, giving, prophecy, healing, words of knowledge, tongues. These passages make it clear that God gives gifts to all as he sees fit. It’s not that some get gifts and others don’t. When anyone comes to Christ, he is a new creation and immediately the Spirit dwells within him. You don’t need some sort of special experience to receive the Spirit. You have him from the moment you come to Christ. But I’m digressing from your question . . .
Two gifts I’ve witnessed in myself (and others have confirmed) are discernment (the ability to see/understand God’s truth) and exhortation (encouraging others to walk in truth and honor Jesus). For me, the main way exhortation shows up is through prayer, both corporately in church services and individually as I pray with others. And I do feel that exhortation comes out in my writing a well.
That's awesome! Prayer is such a powerful thing. I love how it brings the body of Christ together. The things that divide us fade away as we step into the role God created for us. (Look, now you have me digressing.) :)
Can you tell us a little bit more about Tristan Porter? Mystery seems to cling to him a bit. :)
Tristan is a wounded hero, my favorite type of hero. He experienced spiritual trauma (I would even say spiritual abuse) in his past and now deals with a big WHY? And that question has driven him from the Lord. But here comes Anna. Sweet, gentle Anna . . . Tristan immediately is drawn to her spirit, which is the Lord’s Spirit in her, and through that developing relationship experiences inner healing. I love Tristan’s intensity, his diligence, and his stick-to-itiveness. He’s just not going to surrender on his dreams or his wounds. Until the Lord forces him to his knees.
Oh, the big WHY! We've all had those moments in times. Can't wait to see how Tristan handles it.
Such a Hope is book one in the Paths of Grace series. Who will be featured in book 2 and can you tell us a little about it?
Lorna Caine, who’s a bit of a mystery herself, is the heroine of book 2, which doesn’t have a release date yet. (My next book this summer is the third in my first series, Love that Counts.) Lorna’s trying to work her way to becoming a better person, via Benjamin Franklin’s virtues, and it’s not going so well for her. Abandoned as a girl, she was taken in by Mary Ann Conklin who runs Conklin House, an enigmatic establishment of early Seattle that served as everything from the first courthouse to a brothel. The historical accounts of this real woman and place are amazing. She was known to cuss in multiple languages and had a salty reputation with sailors worldwide.
So beautiful Lorna is thrust under Mary Ann’s care and makes her way serving meals and singing for boarders . . . until Mary Ann asks her to serve up more than meals. Definitely not an option for the perfectionist Lorna. Enter Ryder Dawson, cartographer with the U.S. Department of the Interior, who’s arrived in the Pacific Northwest to survey the Cascade Mountains. He’s mapped the rugged terrain of the west, but plumbing the depths of Lorna’s heart—and keeping her safe—is going to be his biggest challenge.
Ahhh! Sounds fantastic! I'll be praying the words flow so it can get into readers' hands!
Care to share with us who you imagined as Anna and Tristan if they were real people?
Ugh. I’m terrible at things like that. I’m willing to take suggestions from those who’ve read the story. I usually prefer to use my imagination.
Hmm. Now I need to finish it so I can add my two cents, lol.
Such a Hope is set in Washington Territory, 1871. What kind of research did you have to do to make it come alive for your writers and maintain authenticity?
This book has so much history in it, more than most realize, and I even edited out a bunch that ended up unnecessary to the story. Many of the founders of Seattle show up—Arthur Denny, Rev. Bagley, Doc Maynard (a real character and somewhat of a disputed figure) and his wife. Then there’s all the farming and agricultural issues I had to learn about—new inventions, the developing chemistry of fertilizer, the Morrill Act, etc. Research is fun, but hard. I’m always worried I’m going to make a huge error.
That's the great thing about fiction! Weaving the two together to create a world. I'm sure your readers will be graceful for any unintentional errors and remember it is fiction after all.
Last but not least, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
I’ve been reading and studying Story Trumps Structure by Steven James. It’s amazingly freeing because he urges writers not to get bogged down in structure (inciting incident, acts, rising action, etc.) but to write organically. And by organic writing he means storytelling is about understanding motives, desire, fears, and tensions of characters and revealing the cause-and-effect chain those things lead them on. This is the one book I recommend for aspiring fiction writers. One of my favorite quotes is, “You’ll always brainstorm more scenes and write more words than you can use. This isn’t wasted effort; it’s part of the process. Every idea is a doorway to the next.”
I need to add that to my book list! Thanks so much for joining me today.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Toni! And if I might add, I love to hear from readers. Since Such a Hope deals with healing, please share with me your testimonies of God’s goodness to heal and redeem and rebuild in your life. You can connect with me through Facebook, Instagram, or my website and newsletter (sign up and get a free short story!).
May God be gracious to you all, turn his face upon you—as he has in Jesus Christ—and grant you peace!