Maya turned her back on her old life – her family, friends and God – and moved to India where she chose instead to worship a guru named Cha Ma who may be the avatar of the Hindu goddess, Kali. In doing so, she not only wraps herself in a web of lies and evil, but she unknowingly catches her parents up in a violent spiritual war with her very life at stake. Caught between angels and demons, her parents fight for her even as she descends deeper and deeper down a spiral that may well lead her to a fate worse than death.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE DANCING WITH THE AVATAR?
Two things: God. Although I didn’t hear any voices or anything like that, I just felt and feel such a strong urging within me that doesn’t go away. I feel compelled to write these books. My students. I was a middle school Social Studies teacher for many years. I would use my experiences in India and elsewhere to teach the students about Asia. As I told the stories, my students would repeatedly say, “Ms. Jones, you need to write a book. You need to write a book.” In response to their urging I did just that, I wrote about my experiences and they evolved into the series.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
Pretty much, the authors that inspired me when I started out are the same ones who inspire me now. I love Zora Neale Hurston. Her Their Eyes Were Watching God was a wonderfully written book, so vivid and provoking. I love J.R.R Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings trilogy and C.S. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia. Both authors have had a profound impact upon me as a Christian and as a writer. In the past, Christian writers, such as Tolkien and Lewis, were extraordinary storytellers with vision and insight that was well beyond their time and place. Whenever I read their works, my heart simply soars … it wants to break out of the confines of my body, of this time and place and be … more … greater. I want my writing to affect people in that way.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
Oh! My faith totally commands my writing. If it were not for God, there would be no writing. The Descent Series is my story. It is my tale of just how far Jesus will go to retrieve us. I was so far away physically and spiritually; and yet He pursued me, allowed me to be me and finally, when He deemed it was time, reached in and plucked me out of my misery. These books, my writing, is one of the avenues in which I can say, “Thank You so much, dear Lord, for loving me and never giving up on me.” It also allows me a means to share with others my faith.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Honestly, I never considered being a writer although I loved reading and felt compelled to journal. Funnily enough, as I took one step after another—writing the book, dividing it into separate books of one series, seeking a publisher, going through the publication process—it did not dawn on me that I was an author until that first book was in my hands. And even then, it still did not not sink it. So, I would say, that I never wanted to be an author … God gifted me with a lovely gift that I did not know I even wanted.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I want readers to see God’s love for us—how He watches over us, loves us, and retrieves us from wherever we are. I want them to see that He is powerful and strong, knows us through and through and loves us fiercely and passionately. I think the world likes to paint Him as weak and distant—He is sooo not that! I love that different people garner different messages from my book, depending upon what is going on in their lives. Some see a special message about the role of intercessory prayer in the outcome of our lives; others see the role that angels and demons and spiritual warfare plays in our lives; still others see the perils of Eastern religions and New Ageism. For myself, I’m just thrilled when people finish reading the books and they share with me just how profoundly they have been impacted.