I'm thrilled to be interviewing Nadine Brandes today! Nadine is the author of the OUT OF TIME series, a Christian dystopian trilogy ... currently consisting of A Time to Die, and A Time to Speak, which just released the 16th of this month! Believe me, you don't want to miss these amazing books!
Now without further ado, onto the interview! We'll be discussing mainly faith and books! *smiles*
Welcome to my blog, Nadine! So excited to be chatting with you today! :)
What inspired you to have the theme of 'finding/restoring shalom' in your OUT OF TIME series?
Nadine: Great question. When I first got the idea for A Time to Die, I was a part of a campus ministry at my graduate school. The current focus of the weekly bible study was on this idea of shalom - what it means, how we don't understand the depth of the concept, etc. It dug into the original text and definition and ultimately changed the lives of all of us who attended the study. Because that was happening at the same time as my writing, it was only natural that it made its way into the story and has grown while I've grown in my understanding of it. :)
So neat! It's interesting (and great!) how many things in author's lives make in into their books. :)
I know some Christian readers don't like when characters hear God's voice in fictional stories. Why did you choose to have this happen in yours?
Nadine: It's kind of a mixture, actually. I tried to steer clear of Parvin actually hearing His voice, and instead experiencing nudges. She has trouble at times figuring out if she's really "hearing" something, or if she's creating it in her mind. I think this is more realistic to our interaction with God - at least it's that way for me. When I'm praying, God "speaks" to me by prompting Scriptures or words or lessons to my mind that I've heard at church or read in His Word. I wanted to capture that in Parvin's search for what it meant to communicate with God.
So, in short, I chose for it to happen because I think it's relatable to those of us trying to understand what it looks like to hear Him talk back. I know it's not the same for everyone, but I think there's a universal search for His "voice" and it doesn't necessarily come audibly.
Yes! I personally love how it all takes place in your books. It does feel very real. You see Parvin truly seeking ... and then struggling (just like we do!) But God's power and nearness are also felt!
In A Time to Speak, Parvin desires to draw closer to God. What are some things that you do personally, that you feel bring you closer to God?
Nadine: I make sure that the first thing I do is read His Word in the mornings. It took me YEARS to get in the habit, to learn to push through the "dry spells" (which seem more common than the "close spells".) I've had to train myself to put Him first, and still I stray from that sometimes.
But the main thing - and this is something I touched upon in A Time to Speak - was that, about two years ago, I started praying that God would help me love Him more. I never used to pray that, because it felt like ... cheating, I guess. But God /wants/ us to love Him more, so in praying for His help in that, I'm ultimately praying for His will in my life. When I started praying that I saw intense changes in my life - deeper understanding of His Word, a deeper love of spending time with Him.
So that's what I would encourage everyone to do. Ask Him to help you to love more. :)
Awesome answer! I love it! I know I've prayed that prayer ... and desired it ... and I think God truly does honor that and draws us nearer to Him! <3
Do you feel writing is one way that you glorify God and minister to His people?
Nadine: Absolutely! I feel that God created me to write. It's the clearest calling I've ever had and I've known it since the first moment stories started popping into my head.
Even moreso, once my first book released, I started to see Him using Parvin's story to affect the lives of readers in ways that I never expected. God is working through it, and it's just affirming that I should be writing for Him. :)
That's so wonderful!! God truly does use your stories! I can't wait to see what else you write! ^_^
Favorite genre to read?
Nadine: Aww, thanks! Hmm ... I used to love dystopian, but I'm getting a bit burnt out. Now I'm craving fantasy. All. The. Time. However, I still have a soft spot for virtual reality. ;)
How's that for a straight answer? :p
We book lovers usually don't give clear answers when it comes to questions about favorites! ;D But that's great! I love fantasy! And dystopian! :)
Who's a more newly published author you enjoy reading by?
Nadine: One I'm going to keep my eye on is Sabaa Tahir - she wrote An Ember in the Ashes. It was brilliant, though a bit more violent than I prefer. However, it was an example to me of fantastic storytelling and worldbuilding. I'm excited to see what she'll come out with next.
In the Christian market, I just read A Cast of Stones by Patrick Carr and it was incredible. I'm excited to finish that series. And I'm also looking forward to future books from Ashlee Willis. She wrote The Word Changers and I found it quite unique. :)
That was a tough question! ;)
Hehe. ;D I've heard of An Ember in the Ashes and A Cast of Stones, but haven't read either yet. I agree, The Word Changers is unique! I'm excited to read more by Ashlee too!
What made you decide to write for teens (YA-fiction)?
Nadine: I guess I've always had a heart for them. I think God opened my eyes to be able to see the hardship they really go through and the verbal abuse that comes from our culture just because they're teens. I want to show young adults that I GET it. Even though I'm an adult, I see them and I hear them and I understand to the best of my ability. I want them to feel heard when they read my books, and I want them to feel like there IS a light beyond the darkness in their lives.
I could go on and on (because I'm VERY passionate), but I think that teens have so much potential to change the world, to live mighty lives, but they're just not hearing much encouragement on that. I want to encourage that and show it with my characters.
So cool! I really enjoyed your #Called2Speak post to teens awhile back! Kind of reminds me of the Harris brothers' book: Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion against Low Expectations.
I noticed that the "romances" in the OUT OF TIME series are very realistic, careful, and sweet - have a depth and meaning to them. Sometimes that's hard to find! Especially in mainstream YA fiction. What inspired you to write this element differently than most?
Nadine: I love that book by the Harris brothers!
Okay, let's talk romance. ;) When I was growing up, there really wasn't much Christian fantasy or sci-fi for teens. And by "there wasn't much" I mean THERE WAS NOTHING. So I read Christian romances. Romance after romance after romance novel.
Then I met my husband. And when we became friends, dated, and got married, I realized how unrealistic almost ALL the romance books were that I'd read. They created this picture in my mind of what relationships should look like when they're good and Godly.
Mine wasn't like that (thank heavens!) My experience was A MILLION TIMES BETTER. And I couldn't help thinking, why didn't books capture THAT aspect of romance? This led me to think long and hard about real relationships, the doubts and questions and struggles. The fact there are rarely love triangles in real life and that "the oblivious-but-stunningly-beautiful-heroine" is also pretty non-existent. Fiction started lying to us, little by little, and then grew into its own fantasy-reality of what relationship looks like.
So I wanted to get us out of that. And I did it with Parvin. I thought about the awkwardness, the questions, the real experiences that a REAL teenager might have in a situation like Parvin's, and I guess used my soapbox about the topic to pour the words onto the page. ;)
Sorry for such a long answer. Like I said. Soapbox.
That was a great answer!! :) :) Loved hearing your thoughts on the subject! I agree, and so glad that you're going against the norm with your stories! ^_^
What do you want readers to come away with after reading A Time to Speak?
Nadine: I want them to come away with the realization that God can totally use them no matter how weak or unequipped they might feel. And that God has great things planned for us, even in a darkened world. :)
My favorite verse to share regarding this book is Jeremiah 1:6-8:
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”
That's beautiful! <3
It's wonderful to find a dystopian story that has hope and the light of God filling it! Do you think there should be more Christian dystopian novels out there?
Nadine: I definitely do! And I know there are several ... I just haven't read them all yet. *hides* But C J Darlington has Jupiter Winds, and Katie Clark has the ENSLAVED series, and Kerry Nietz (brilliant) has the DARK TRENCH SAGA.
Ooh, I shall have to read all of those! :D
Last question. Do you have plans for a new writing project after you finish the OUT OF TIME trilogy?
Nadine: Oh DO I? Yes, yes, and yes! I have two standalone books up my sleeve and then one very exciting fantasy series that I'm still planning out. I can't WAIT to share tidbits with the world. And those tidbits might just be showing up on my blog around ... February. ;) Now you know.
But here are their genres:
Standalone: An apocalyptic-dual-reality type book (still haven't pegged the genre.)
That's all you get for now. ;)
EEP! That's SO exciting!! A fantasy series??? <3 <3 Can't wait for February now! ;)
Thanks for your time, Nadine! Wishing you, and all your books, the best! ^_^ God bless!
Nadine: Thank you so much for having me, Shantelle! Shalom! :)