Q&A: Dalaina May (Yielded Captive)
Yielded Captive (Pioneer USA) tells the pulse-pounding story of Allison and her family who are missionaries serving the remote tribes in the jungle of Peru. After Allison and her 14-month-old son, Isaac, are kidnapped, she must figure out how to protect her son and get to safety.
YOU CURRENTLY LIVE AND SERVE AS A MISSIONARY IN THE JUNGLE OF PERU, HOW MUCH OF THIS NOVEL IS TRUE-TO-LIFE AND HOW MUCH IS PURELY FICTION?
The storyline is a product of my own overactive imagination, but much of the culture, language, and worldview of the fictitious Shampiri tribe is based on my experiences living with the Caquinte tribe in Peru. For specifics about what is real and what isn't you can follow this link to a page on my website.
AS A MOTHER, WAS IT HARD FOR YOU TO WRITE FROM THIS PERSPECTIVE?
As I was writing Yielded Captive, I realized that the main character's role as a mother changed her story entirely. Allison's choices would have likely been very different (and not so noble!) if her son had not been a part of her story. I think this is true for all parents. We can suffer through unspeakable pain for the sake of our children, pain that would have otherwise been unbearable.
LIVING IN THE JUNGLE DOESN'T AFFORD AS MANY "LUXURIES" AS WE HAVE IN THE STATES. DO YOU MISS ANYTHING ABOUT WESTERN LIVING?
Cleanliness? Ha! Dirt, mildew, and nasty bugs are everywhere, all the time. Actually, I don't even like camping, so the irony of God putting me in the middle of a dirty jungle isn't lost on me. The second thing that is hard about being a Westerner in a non-Western society is the lack of privacy. Many people in our village don't even have walls on their house, and conversations, even between spouses, are open for neighborly critique. Sometimes I have to just close the curtains on my windows and hide out for a little while.
WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION COME FROM FOR THIS BOOK?
The original idea came a decade ago when my husband and I first traveled to Peru, but I didn't do anything with it. A few years ago, I had a fit of insomnia as I was struggling with questions about my own faith. For some reason, when I sat down at my computer to write, the first chapter just spilled out of me.
WHAT SIMILARITIES ARE THERE BETWEEN YOU AND ALLISON?
Allison and I both have the drive to do the right thing even at a cost, but Allison is a lot sweeter and quieter than I am. If anyone, I am probably most like Julia's character - very playful, empathetic, and opinionated.
WHAT'S IT LIKE RAISING FOUR BOYS IN THE JUNGLE OF ALL PLACES?
Hilarious mostly. My older three are only 16 months apart (an older son and a set of identical twins). They live in a boy's paradise. There is a lot of tree climbing, mud rolling, river bathing, and real bow and arrow shooting in my world!
CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT THE DEDICATION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK?
Yielded Captive is dedicated to Isaac Sward who died in a car accident when he was 18-months-old. He died mere days before his family planned to move to Asia to serve as missionaries. His death really shook me as I was faced with the idea that being in God's will does not automatically protect me or my family from tragedy. Writing Yielded Captive was done during a season of deep grieving and searching for a more Biblical understanding of God and how He works particularly in regards to the intersection of suffering and His will. In the end, I don't think like I came up with any brilliant new insights. Through writing, however, God met me in a very deep and vulnerable place, and I feel like I came to know HIM better. I know that He is good in a much more tangible way, even though the theology I am left with is not as comfortable to hold.