by C.J. Darlington
Angela Hunt Interview
dying to write about elephants. I'm just waiting for a plot to show
-- Angela Hunt
Angela Hunt is the best-selling author of The Tale of Two Trees, The Debt, The Note, and The Nativity Story, with over three million copies of her books sold worldwide.
Hunt began her writing career in 1983. After five years of honing her craft and writing for magazines, she published her first book in 1988. Since then, she has written over one hundred books in fiction and nonfiction, for children and adults.
In 2006, Angela completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree and has nearly completed her doctorate in the same field.
She and her husband make their home in Florida with two mastiffs. In 2001, one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly and proclaimed the second-largest dog in America.
C.J.: I have a feeling you’ve wanted to write from a young age, but when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer when you grew up?
ANGELA: A ha! Gotcha. No, I didn’t want to be a writer—never even thought about it. I did enjoy reading, but never really thought about writing. I was too busy concentrating on music.
Could you share with us a little bit about how you made the transition from musician to writer?
I didn’t really consider writing until after I was preparing to come off the road after a year of full-time traveling and singing. My director mentioned that I had a “way with words” and thought I might be interested in writing. And since I believe God speaks to us through the voices of our spiritual authorities . . .
Before fiction you wrote articles, correct? What was the number one thing you learned writing articles that you’ve been able to use in your fiction writing?
Before writing books, I wrote anything—brochures, articles, advertising copy, anything to help put groceries on the table. And the one thing I learned in those days—two things, actually—1) be prompt and meet your deadlines and 2) be flexible. Your words are not set in stone.
What book or books would you say have had the most impact on you as a writer? Why?
Books by Sol Stein and Donald Maass—I like books that are practical and useful. Theoretical books are okay, but they’re not much use in the day-to-day work.
Let’s talk about your latest contemporary novel, Doesn’t She Look Natural? Where did the idea come from to write about a woman who inherits a funeral home?
I love unusual occupations, and that one’s pretty unique. Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about heaven—had some friends go there recently. So I’ve begun to think seriously about making the last half of my life as full and fulfilling as the first half. What can I do in my next fifty years to impact people for eternity?
You explore many issues with this novel, but what is the primary message you hope readers take away from the story?
I think the message will be different for each reader—the Holy Spirit tends to work that way. But for me, the message is one I’ve addressed before: sometimes the Lord leads us to a place where we don’t go willingly, but kicking and screaming. Life is better—and far happier—if we greet life changes with joy, not dread. Easier said than done, no?
Tell us about the other books planned for the series.
The second book, She Always Wore Red, is finished and should be a spring release. I start writing the third book, She’s in a Better Place, this afternoon.
I’m sure a book like this required a good deal of research. Is there an incident that sticks out in your mind as the most interesting or perhaps most embarrassing?
(Laughing). Sorry to disappoint, but I have no stories about walking in on an embalming . . . modern privacy laws didn’t allow me to observe (though I would have loved to). I did most of my research through reading.
Speaking of research, what does that process generally look like for you? Are you the type of author who must visit a place in person, or do you find a lot of your facts online or through books?
Both. If at all possible, I love to travel to the setting—I’ve been to the Amazon rain forest, to Europe (Spain, Ireland, England), and yes, I went to Mt. Dora. When I come back home and begin to write, however, I rely on books and the Internet. It’s amazing what you can find on the Internet these days—you can actually examine satellite views of your story locations.
As someone who has written over 100 books, how have you managed to write so many without burning out?
I make sure they’re all quite different. I’m never bored, and each book fascinates me . . . or I wouldn’t write it.
This might be a hard one, but of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
Not hard at all—my favorite character is Sema, the gorilla in Unspoken. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand why.
What would you love to write someday but haven’t yet?
I was really hankering to write a CIA novel, but I’ve just handed that in—THE FACE. I’d love to write a really deep character novel, so that’s somewhere in my future, Lord willing. And I’m dying to write about elephants. I’m just waiting for a plot to show up.
You’ve been quoted as saying, “My mission is to tell parables with a faith message for those who have spiritual eyes and ears.” Could you expound on that a little bit?
I think of my stories as onions—they have an outer layer that may or may not be overtly spiritual, but beneath that outer layer are inner layers, which are deeply spiritual. Sometimes people read quickly and don’t grasp the underlying layers, so that’s why I always include discussion questions at the end. I really hope people read those, because they are a means of getting at the truths beneath the overt story line.
Why do you think Jesus used stories to share Biblical truths?
Because we humans are hard-wired to resonate with story. We learn vicariously, and we love to hear about other people. Want people to listen to you in a crowd? Just say, “I heard a secret about John the other day . . .”
What motivates you to get out of bed and head to your keyboard?
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of it?
Don’t believe in it. I’ve had days where I had to stop in mid-stream and type [this stinks, fix it later], but as long as I’m typing SOMETHING, the work is moving forward.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started writing?
I can’t really think of anything—because though I have learned a LOT along the way, I also enjoyed a sweet naiveté in the beginning. If I’d known how to follow a “career path,” many of my books wouldn’t have been written. My lack of “conventional wisdom” kept me listening to the Lord instead of the “experts.” Now I listen to the experts, and check what they say against what I hear the Lord saying.
Some Christian authors don’t believe there should be the label “Christian fiction”. What do you think?
People are going to label whether we think they should or not. It’s human nature to group items. But let’s be honest—if we are going to call something “Christian fiction,” there should be something of CHRIST in it. After all, a banana pie must have banana in it somewhere—either in chunks or in flavoring. You can’t say a pie is banana just because it’s yellow. If there’s no Christ in it, then call it “inspirational” or “religious” or whatever is apt. But let’s be accurate in the terms we do use.
Could you give us an update on where your novels stand in the movie making process? The Elevator & The Note are already in pre-production, right?
From what I’ve heard lately—The Note is filming now and will premier on Dec. 8, with other showings set for the Hallmark channel during the month of December. Uncharted is in preproduction, and The Elevator is being scripted.
What’s next for you book-wise?
She Always Wore Red (Tyndale) should release next spring, The Face (Steeple Hill) should release next summer, and She’s in a Better Place should release next fall. Steeple Hill is also doing new editions of my ancient Egyptian series, DREAMERS, BROTHERS, and JOURNEY.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
1). Last weekend I
spoke at a writer’s conference in my pajamas.
2). My dog and I were once on Live with Regis and Kelly.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Putzing around the house.
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Three protein bars. It would have been a lo-calorie breakfast if I’d only eaten one.
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
1. The baklava we always seem to get for Christmas. It stays until the
next Christmas, when I get a new one and toss the old one out.
2. Styrofoam containers of leftovers.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Chai tea. I don’t drink coffee.
What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?
I’m trying to become fluent in Spanish.
When was the last time you cried?
Three words that best describe you:
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
Spanish lessons, Mozart, Sarah Groves, lots of soundtracks, Alison Krauss, Nicole Nordeman, Sarah Brightman, the Beatles, Renee Fleming, Mandisa, CeCe Winans, Babbie Mason . . . too many to list!
Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
Just that if they’ve read this far, I’m so grateful! :)
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.