Her choice may become life or death…
Farah lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, and wants nothing more than to develop a deeper devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and pursues that goal. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself. Her brother, Kareem, who has never liked her, seeks to discredit her.
Farah’s cousin, an only child, frequents an online chat. She discovers former Muslims discussing their new belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. She becomes acquainted with an American girl of Muslim ancestry—now a devout Christian—Sara. Sara has problems of her own due to her brother Emir’s suspicious behavior.
Each finds their faith put to the test. Will they be true to their beliefs? Will God protect them, or will they pay the ultimate price for their faith?
Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored more than 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and was named 2008 Member of the Year by AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association). Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding in Al’s new sunburst orange Corvette. You can reach Kathi or find out more about her writing and speaking at www.kathimacias.com. You can also visit her “Easy Writer” blog at http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com/
People of the Book is Kathi Macias’ fourth book in her Extreme Devotion Series. For me, it’s the most intense and moving so far. It’s not an easy book to read, but one that needs to be vocalized around the world about “honor killings” here and abroad, mostly against women and young girls.
Kathi methodically and aptly describes the story of a young Saudi teen, Farah, who wants nothing more than to draw closer to Allah during Ramadan.
The atmosphere in Farah’s home is mostly stable and loving, except for her brother Kareem’s hatred and jealousy of her. That tension underlies the whole story, as Farah searches for Allah more sincerely than Kareem. It seeps even deeper when Farah determines to find out more about Isa, who has appeared to her in her dreams, while hiding that reality from her family and suspicious brother. Her father and mother’s trust in her is displayed by allowing her access to the internet. But the roots of bitterness in her brother’s life are made evident throughout the pages, as he schemes and watches Farah openly and with hatred, hiding it from no one.
This is a book of what happens when a young teen finds Isa and tries to live out her life of faith, and how it clashes with the Muslim faith. The unconscionable realities of ‘honor killings’ are cautiously and secretly revealed to the family so as not to bring ‘dishonor’ to their family.
Through Kathi’s telling of the story, you palpably fear and feel the tension and animosity as does Farah. You are captured into the Muslim life, learning what life is like for men versus women–a way of life that bombards your heart and mind with heartfelt horror and disbelief. She differentiates the Gospel of love and redemption from the realities of murder (“honor killings”) when one doesn’t adhere strictly to Islam.
As the story ties itself to the life of a young Christian girl with Muslim ancestry in a chat room in the Pacific Northwestern part of the U.S, it’s also a wake-up call for Christians everywhere to be praying for the non-practicing-Muslim Christians (new “people of the Book”) and salvation for Muslims everywhere.
The characters in Kathi’s book stayed with me for a long time. They were in my thoughts all day and when going to bed. They seemed so real.
Interview with Kathi:
Hi Kathi. Glad to get together with you to find out more about you and your writing.
1. Did you always want to be a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?”
Yes, yes, YES! Since I discovered words, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I even told my then boyfriend (now husband) when we were about fourteen that I was going to be a writer some day. The clear “call” (as if direction/mandate) came when I became a Christian at the age of 26. Of course, I had a lot of spiritual growing-up to do before that became a reality.
2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I started writing stories in grammar school. I wrote a story in third grade that the teacher and principal liked so much they turned it into a play for the entire PTA. I was hooked! But I was nearly forty before I sold my first book.
3. What is the genre you usually write in? Would you explain what it is?
That’s a tough one, as I’ve written anthologies for children, historical and contemporary fiction for adults, Bible studies, and other forms of nonfiction. Right now I’m focusing on contemporary fiction, which seems to be the most “in demand” from the publishers right now. Of course, within that contemporary fiction folder are files like “fiction with a mission” (serious, issues-related fiction); mysteries/suspense; “beach/escape” reads; international intrigue—something for everyone!
4. How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
I am up at dark o’clock. After my time with the Lord, I take care of emails, social networking, etc. Then I put out fires before jumping into my current WIP—whatever that “work in progress” may be. If I’m on a tight deadline (which I usually am), I try to write anywhere between 3000—6000 words daily. It’s slower going in the beginning of a book, but as the story takes on a life of its own, it flows a lot easier.
5. Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through?
Oh, how true! My first books were published nearly twenty-five years ago, and the first one was a bestseller. I thought I was on a roll for sure! But about ten years later, contracts dried up. Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. I was ready to throw in the towel and go back to writing articles and editing/ghostwriting (you know, things that actually bring in paychecks!). Then an editor I’d worked with for some years sat me down and said, “Kathi, no one doubts that you can write. What we need to know now is whether or not you can sell.” It was the first time I realized that this marketing and publicity/platform stuff was for real, and if I wanted to remain a viable entity in this publishing world, I’d better get with the program. I did, and though it took a few years, things turned around until I am now in serious need of a clone just to meet my many publishing deadlines.
6.Who’s inspired you the most in your writing career?
Knowing that I was called to do this! Seriously, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be sure of that because this is a very difficult and discouraging business. Without the surety that it is what God has purposed you to do, you’ll buckle under the many stresses and move on to something else.
7. Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests, travel?
I like/love peace and quiet. I crave it! It recharges my batteries. (I also love people and can be very social, but in small doses.) I dislike noise/loud music (of any kind), chaos, and mess. Neat, orderly, clean, and predictable—I thrive on it. (So of course I married an ADD husband and had two ADHD children. LOL!!!) God didn’t promise we’d never have chaos, but He did promise to be our peace in the midst of it.
As for hobbies, I’m totally one-dimensional. I love to read, period. Though I also love to watch detective/mystery/CSI/forensic-type shows, I’m really not much a movie buff. Just give me a good book and I’m happy.
Travel? That depends. Because I travel a lot for my speaking/teaching ministry, that’s more of a job-type experience. Travel with my hubby for pure relaxation (a rare occasion) is luxuriously wonderful, and if I have my pick of destinations, Hawaii is at the top of the list, with a quiet cabin in the mountains running a close second.
8. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Uh oh. Now we’re back to reading. My hubby and I were also long-time Harley riders, only recently trading that in for a Corvette. Whenever possible we jump inside and head off for a nice ride to the mountains or the beach. We love to explore out-of-the way “diners, drive-ins and dives”—places like the ones on the TV show by the same name. (Yes, that’s another program I watch faithfully, adding to my list of places I want to visit some day.)
9. How do you come up with titles for all your stories?
I usually have the title before I write the book, though very occasionally I’ve changed it after the book is complete, simply because the story went in a slightly different direction and the original title no longer fits. My most recent release, People of the Book, received its name because it’s set in Saudi Arabia and Muslims often refer to Jews and Christians as “people of the Book.” Since two of my primary characters must choose to risk their lives to identify with those “people of the Book,” it seemed the perfect title.
10. Did you need to do any research for this book?
Oh my goodness, yes! In fact, though I always do some research for all my novels, I didn’t even know what research was until I started writing this Extreme Devotion series, the first with international settings. I had to learn at least a smattering of each language for the four different countries where the books were set, learn about common names and customs and cultures, weather, terrain, seasons, holidays, traditions…the list is nearly endless. That’s why I found a reader in each country (either one who lives there now or who had spent many years there recently) to check for details and help me make the book more personal and realistic.
11. How did this specific story come to you?
As in all four of the Extreme Devotion stories, it was inspired by several true stories I’d discovered by reading/following Voice of the Martyrs’ publications. I have been a longtime supporter of that ministry, and the true stories they report became the basis of the fictional accounts in my books.
12. What part does God play in your writing? Have you ever been going one direction in your writing, and the Lord stopped you? Were there any surprises as you started writing this novel?
I could never do the sort of writing I do—wouldn’t even want to try—without Him. Particularly the type of writing involved with the Extreme Devotion series would be too hard to attempt or to stick with if I weren’t sure God had sent me in this direction. Having said that, I will also say that I expect surprises and tweaks in direction as I write—happens all the time—but nothing major. I’m relatively clear on the parameters of the story before I start writing, but I’m always open to where God wants to take me as the details unfold.
13. What is one of the funniest moments you have had while writing?
I must say that the funny/humorous moments, particularly in the serious fiction I’m writing now, have been too few and far between. But when I was writing my nonfiction book–How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I’m Surrounded by Loose Cannons?—I nearly laughed myself sillier than I already am as I recalled the many humorous instances in my life and then made an attempt to put them on paper. (I told so many stories on myself and our family that our children/grandchildren have threatened to join the witness protection program!)
14. Tell me about your novel.
Here is a brief summary:
Eighteen-year-old Farah, who lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with her family, wants nothing more than to develop a deeper, more meaningful devotion to her Muslim faith. She sees the month of Ramadan as her chance to draw nearer to Allah, and she pursues that goal throughout the holiday. All goes well until the prophet Isa—Jesus—appears to her in a dream and calls her to Himself. At the same time, her only brother, Kareem, who has never liked Farah, actively seeks an opportunity to expose her for the sham he believes she is.
Meanwhile, Farah’s seventeen-year-old cousin, Nura, has begun to frequent an online chat room where former Muslims gather to discuss their new faith, based on their belief that Isa is much more than a Muslim prophet—He is actually the Son of God. While there, Nura becomes acquainted with an American girl of Muslim ancestry—now a devout Christian named Sara—and a friendship quickly develops. However, Sara has problems of her own due to her fifteen-year-old brother Emir’s involvement with a gang.
The lives of Farah, Nura, and Sara ultimately dovetail until each finds herself at a place where her faith is put to the test. Will they remain faithful to the end? Will God protect and keep them safe in the midst of persecution and treachery? Or will they be required to pay the ultimate price for their faith?
15. What take-away value do you hope readers receive after reading your novel?
That our life is no longer our own. We’ve been bought with a price, and the life we now live belongs to God; as such He can call us to lay it down at any given instant—whether completely in death, or moment by moment in selfless living. Either way, our purpose is to honor God and proclaim the gospel—the rest is just fluff.
16. What are you thinking for the future? What are you currently writing?
I’m working on a new fiction series, a trilogy on the topic of human trafficking. This will be every bit as heavy and dark as the Extreme Devotion series, and yet achingly pierced with light and joy as the most tortured souls emerge victorious through Christ. The first book, Deliver Me from Evil, releases in September 2011, at the same time as my stand-alone Christmas novel, A Christmas Journey Home.
17. How can we pray for you?
For the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference—and that I never forget that I can only find that serenity, courage, and wisdom at the feet of Jesus. As I said earlier, all the rest is just fluff anyway.
18. Any last thoughts for your readers?
Whether you are an aspiring writer or not, pursue the unique purpose God has birthed in you. Don’t waste your time trying to jump on someone else’s bandwagon. Otherwise you’re liable to find that bandwagon is already overloaded and the wheels are coming off. Stay true to your specific calling, and the joy and fulfillment will follow.
19. How can our readers purchase your book?
They are available at most online venues and in many stores nationwide. However, the easiest way is to visit my website (www.kathimacias.com) where they can see all my books and watch the accompanying videos before ordering directly. They can also sign up there to receive my weekly devotional email, in either English or Spanish, and they can check my calendar/speaking schedule to see if I’m going to be in their area any time soon. (If not, feel free to invite me. I’d love to come!)
20. Where can they find you on the web?
Thank you for sharing your life with us.