Q&A: Jackie Macgirvin (The Designer Bag at the Garbage Dump)
Sometimes your day doesn't go as planned. Julie knows the feeling. She got on a train to New York City, sat next to Jesus, had a nice chat, and then got off the train in India. Now she's living in the streets and trying to care for a pack of filthy orphans who live in a garbage dump! Can she get over herself, do the right thing, protect her charges, and find them safe homes? Honestly, she'd just be happy to find enough to eat... oh, and getting home would be nice. This is definitely NOT how Julie planned to spend the day but sometimes God has other plans.
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THE DESIGNER BAG AT THE GARBAGE DUMP?
Western Christians (myself included) tend to live a self-focused, consumer driven lifestyle. We tend to forget that most of the rest of the world lives in crushing poverty. I wanted a way to highlight that issue.
Q: WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES FOR YOU WRITING THIS STORY?
I always start out with the big picture. I know where I want to go but getting all the small details worked out is challenging for me. They say “good stories are not written, they are re-written” and boy is that true in my case! I don’t consider myself a good writer but I am an extremely tenacious and diligent re-writer.
Q: WHEN MAKING UP STORIES, HOW MUCH DO YOU DRAW ON YOUR OWN LIFE EXPERIENCES AND PEOPLE YOU KNOW, VERSUS DRAWING ON RESEARCH ABOUT COMPLETE STRANGERS?
I draw a lot from my own issues. In this case, I’ve been to India twice and to Africa once on short-term mission’s trips. Seeing the poverty everywhere changes you.
As far as characters, in my first book, Angels of Humility, I was my protagonist (on my good days) and I was my antagonist (on my bad days). In Designer Bag, I am neither the antagonist, Mr. Shaw, a brutal member of the Indian Beggar Mafia, nor am I the protagonist, the free spending Julie. I’m much too frugal to live her lifestyle.
Q: WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK?
I want readers who have legalistic backgrounds to come face-to-face with a loving Jesus, not the angry, hard to please Jesus that we have been taught about. I want them to understand that He loves them and is for them and not just looking for some sin or failure to punish them over.
I want readers to see the wisdom and benefit in following the Lord wholeheartedly. Julie at the beginning and Julie at the end are two very different people. Even though dying to self was excruciating the changes she experienced were well worth it.
I also want readers to re-think their spending habits. What we spend on a dinner at Applebee’s or on coffee for the week could feed and clothe an orphan for several weeks. I hope readers will decide to make a change—big or small in their lifestyles—and send the extra money overseas.
“Religion that God the Father accepts ... is this: caring for orphans and widows,” (James 1:27a NCV). I hope The Designer Bag at the Garbage Dump helps to make this verse real for readers.
Q: IN WHAT WAYS DOES YOUR FAITH IMPACT HOW YOU APPROACH WRITING FICTION?
I want to take the reader along with me on whatever journey I’m currently on.
I try to write stories that are about walking out the Christian life—where the story’s main struggle involves radical abandonment to Christ—instead of telling an interesting story where the main character is a Christian.