(Winds of Change)
Stacy Hawkins Adams
July 2013/336 pages/$14.99
Shiloh Griffin has no identity outside of her roles as pastor’s wife and mom. Some days that is enough. But not always. Particularly when she is partnered with the always confident, always gracious Jade Smith on a church ministry project. Rather than shying away from God in her nervousness, Shiloh clings to Him, seeking every day to redeem herself. When an opportunity arises for her to teach music at a local high school, she thinks maybe it’s just the thing to give her more significance.
Then Shiloh begins mentoring Monica, a fifteen-year-old student. When Monica learns she is pregnant, Shiloh must confront her own darkest secret in the desperate decision facing the teen. If she turns away, this teen’s life---and her soul---could be in jeopardy. If she decides to stand up and help, she knows she’s the one who risks losing everything.
Stacy Hawkins Adams’s second book in the Winds of Change series finds Shiloh at a life-changing crossroads: keep her halo intact, or lose her honor to save the girl’s.
'Elegantly emotional and intriguing, the story reaches deep to gently touch the soul.' ---Publishers Weekly (starred review)
INTERVIEW WITH STACY HAWKINS ADAMS
It's great to meet you. I wasn't familiar with your books, so I'm excited to learn about a new-to-me author! Tell me about your books.
Who Speaks to Your Heart? Tuning in to Hear God's Whispers. My latest novel is Lead Me Home, the second book in the Winds of Change series published by Zondervan. This three book series deals with three sisters who are a preacher's daughters and about how they've fared growing up with a minister who was more devoted to the church than to the family. How has that played out in their adult lives? With the first book, Coming Home, you have Dayna, who's really into her career. She goes through a divorce and her ex-husband shows up with his current wife (who was the mistress) and asks for forgiveness. She finds out that he's dying and that's why he wants forgiveness and he also compels her to help him keep a promise that he made to himself long ago, a dying wish. That means the current wife, Tamera, and Dayna have to figure out how to work together and forgive each other so they can help this man die with dignity. It's really about the two women even though the ex-husband is in the middle. It's about grace and forgiving each other.
This second book, Lead Me Home , is about Dayna's sister Shiloh. The three sisters have not really been connected because the family did not foster family togetherness since the dad was so involved in the church. They've gone their own ways and are not close and only see each other at holidays. Dayna, the oldest, somewhat resents Shiloh because she followed in their parents' footsteps. She married a minister and she has four sons and is the "perfect" daughter and Dayna resents that. We come to Shiloh, who is the perfect preacher's wife, at least on the surface, but the book opens with her having this annual prayer session that she does with God, asking that she be forgiven of some sins that she committed eighteen years earlier. She does this in secret because no one knows about it. You discover that she's been trying to earn God's grace for the past eighteen years even though she knows in her head that grace is unmerited favor. She's never really let that sink into her spirit. She begins to mentor a teenage girl who is making some pretty bad choices, and she quickly realizes that the best way she can help Monica is to share her sins of the past, to shed her facade. She has to find the courage to do that to help Monica, but of course when she does, there is a ripple effect of consequences when her husband and her children find out. She has to learn what God's grace really means. She learns that when you are transparent, God is able to use that truth, even if it's about not good things, to really help other people and to show God's grace in action. The women around her, in the women's Bible Study that she leads, etc. begin to grow and understand God's grace better as well.
What has been your journey? Do you write from personal experience or from ministering to others? What led you to write women's issue-based fiction?
No, it's not my personal testimony, and I told another group that every time I write a book people think I'm the main character! I was a journalist for fourteen years full-time at a major daily newspaper. What I realized, and what my editors tell me, is that I have a gift for empathy so when people tell me their stories, somehow I have the ability to tell it back to the reader in that person's voice. That's how I approach my characters. They become real to me and I really become invested in their stories. I do feel like I have a heart for women's ministry and for a ministry within telling these fiction stories. I'll meet women or receive emails telling me what their struggles and issues are. And as I hear a theme repeated over and over, such as singleness or abortion or domestic violence or living to please others, I'll think "That's what I need to write a book about!" I've written books on all those different issues because I've heard from women in different ways that that's what they are struggling with. I also approach a project thinking, "What do I want readers to take away? What does this character need to go through in order for me to address this issue in a way that's meaningful and real and that will touch a reader's soul and that will also maybe transform her in some way?"
Are your books written to be multi-cultural or targeted for women of color or do they apply to anyone?
I discussed this with one of my marketing people just recently. My books aren't really "urban" because I've had white book reviewer friends who have said if they didn't know I was Black, they would think I was writing about a white family. I think that's who I am as a person. I mean, I love being an African-American woman. But every writer is different. Some writers, their mission or goal as a writer is to explore racial tension and how to get cultures to work together.
But even if the characters happen to be African-American, if the story is just a story, does it have to be separated and pitched to a specific audience? It's like the greeting cards. I've seen really nice cards I like, and then I see that they are designated for African-Americans and I wonder why they have to be set apart.
That's one of the reasons I have the covers I have now. For my first six books, I had African-American covers. Now that was just the publisher saying, "You are an African-American writer, and we know they are hungry for African-American authors writing Christian fiction. This is going to let them know this book is for them." I didn't necessarily have a problem with that, but I had my white reader friends emailing and saying, "I love this book! I didn't care about the color of the characters; the story resonated so deeply. But I don't think I can give it as Christmas gifts to all my friends because they're not going to think it reflects who they are." So there is something psychological about you wanting to be able to relate to a character. With that in mind, because I heard that repeatedly, I asked that we go to covers that don't have people at all because that makes the message resonate. And if they get into the story, they're not going to care whether the character is black or white because they're going to understand where this person is. In this book, I don't have too many multi-cultural characters because Shiloh is a black Baptist minister's wife, but in some of my other books I've had Native American characters and Caucasian characters and again, that's from my readers saying, "They've gotta have some white friends!" Like I said, it depends on the author and what they are trying to write. I'm really trying to touch women everywhere, and I feel like my stories have that cross-cultural theme because everyone struggles with identity or having to keep a facade up, no matter who they are.
Do you write full-time?
Sort of, in various fashions! Like I said, I was a newspaper reporter for fourteen years full-time, so I wrote my first two books while I was still doing that. I left that career in 2006 to focus on freelance writing. You probably know the whole thing about authors being starving artists. That can be true! Most authors still have something else they're doing. I was a freelance writer for the next three or four years while I wrote the next few books. Then I got a three book contract and had to write those three books over an eighteen-month period, and I realized I couldn't manage the freelance with that so I switched to marketing consultant work. As a journalist, I had covered non-profit agencies so I focused on helping non-profits with their marketing work and their website copy, etc. Just recently, I started working as a Communications Director for a private school in Richmond, Virginia where I live, and I'm still using the marketing and branding and social media skills that I have.
Are you married? Single? Kids?
I'm single, but I do have two children so I have been married. I have a fifteen-year-old daughter and a twelve-year-old son.
That's a lot to juggle, too!
Yes, it's a busy life! People ask how I do it all and I say grace! That's the only answer I have. Grace, and I do try to take care of myself. I try to get plenty of rest and try to take some downtime and have fun.
How has God been working in your life and what does He teach you through the whole writing process and your stories?
I've been a writer since I was about five or six. When I learned to read, I started writing. I decided at age eight that I wanted to write novels. I found out in high school that they are starving artists so I decided to study journalism. Writing is like breathing! Now there are times when I'll take a break, like after a series. But for the most part, writing is who I am and my way of existing in the world. I have definitely come to see it as a ministry. For me, sometimes when I'm writing, I do learn lessons. I'm no longer married, and when I was working on the book Coming Home, which has a huge theme of forgiveness, that was around the time I was becoming a single mom. I have a husband and wife pastor team and I gave a copy to the wife and she asked if the book was about me because it dealt with an ex-husband. I told her no but that when I was writing it, I had to write about these two women learning how to forgive each other and how to go to God and seek this different level of strength to forgive. I feel like he was teaching me about forgiveness when I was writing that. With this book, Lead Me Home, it's so much about grace and I feel like I just live under God's grace. But it was interesting to write about this woman finding the courage to embrace that grace and to shed her mask and to talk about her flaws. So maybe something about that touched me. Being able to say I'm a single mom. But I'm still a Christian. I'm still a Christian author. But I'm a single mom. So being able to share that and walk in that truth is what I learned. I'm sure with each book that I learn something. It's just an ongoing process to be the vessel. I do see myself as the vessel for these books, and I pray every time I sit down to write.
Any other thoughts that you'd like to share?
Even though I'm an introvert and I can be quiet and come across serious, I like to tell people that I really have a funny sense of humor. I do laugh a lot and like to have fun! I'm passionate about children's issues so outside of writing, I chair a statewide non-profit child advocacy organization in Virginia. I just really have a heart for children and for women and really try to empower both to walk in your purpose and live your dream, so that's huge for me. I love chocolate!
If you had a weekend and you could do whatever you want to, what would it be?
If it were summer, I would have chocolate ice cream and some fun movies and maybe chill out with a good book. And if it were winter, I'm cold-natured so it would be a bag of Hershey's Kisses instead of the chocolate ice cream! And again, I'd watch some great movies and have some friends over, laughing and talking and playing with their little kids since mine are big now. Sometimes I have my girlfriends come over and we order pizza and hang out and my big kids watch their kids in the playroom. That's a treat for all of us.
If your readers want to check out my books, they can go to my website, staceyhawkisadams.com, and also find me on Facebook and Twitter. I love to interact with readers and hear how my books are impacting them, hopefully in a good way!
Thank you so much, Stacy! It's been a pleasure talking to you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Someday List, Dreams That Won’t Let Go and Who Speaks to Your Heart? Tuning in to Hear God's Whispers. Stacy lives in Virginia with her two children. When she is not writing or speaking, Stacy devotes considerable time to child advocacy issues. Visit her at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com.
Lead Me Home is a touching story that will appeal to women who either battle regrets from past decisions or who wrestle with inward vs. outward beauty; in other words, this book will resonate with virtually every woman! Stacy Hawkins Adams has created characters that are completely realistic: committed Christians who nevertheless still stumble and have weaknesses and need God's grace! Shiloh's story is the story of so many women in our churches today who are silenced by the shame of a decision made in their youth, and the spiritual journey she takes while mentoring Monica, though painful, frees her in a way she never could have anticipated. Many lessons can be gleaned from this novel in the areas of grace, friendship, church ministry, mentoring, marriage, parenting, extended family relationships, and more! I particularly thought the relationship and emotions between Shiloh and Jade was perfectly portrayed, and each of them experience some difficult but important growth in their individual roles and their fledgling friendship. This book was easily read as a stand-alone since I hadn't read the first book in the series, although I want to go back and catch up and read about Shiloh's sister Dayna in Coming Home! I highly recommend this book; it would be a wonderful book for book club discussions.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book from Stacy Hawkins Adams. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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