Deborah Heal is the author of young adult novels. I met her in one of the Christian Books clubs on Goodreads.com. When I visited her blog I was very upset to hear that she was being criticized by reviewers for not only addressing the subject of sex in her Christian novels, but also presenting her main characters as making the choice of abstinence before marriage. Click here to read the article. But, even with the fear that her book sales might drop, Deborah Heal faithfully marches on in her choice to follow God's voice and write His truths into her novels. My interview with her follows.
Lora: I love your honesty, Deborah. Your blog has been happily bookmarked on my browser.
Deborah: Thank you, Lora. I'm so happy to meet you on FB and Goodreads. Thanks for liking my FB page. Are you referring to a specific article?
Lora: Yes, yesterday I read "Warning! Prudish Characters on Board." and I just wanted to give you a round of applause. Then I looked up your books on Goodreads and put them on my "Want to Read" shelf. There is no excuse for anyone who studies God's word to say they approve of sex before marriage and I love it that you didn't tiptoe around that issue when writing a young adult novel.
Deborah: What an encouragement you are! I felt down after my encounter with the two reviewers I mention in my article. It's wonderful to talk to others who believe the Bible and live by it. It's a rough world out there, isn't it? I think it's becoming increasingly easy for Christians to feel isolated, like they're the only ones holding to the truth.
I keep thinking of how Elijah felt in I Kings 19. How gracious God was to him in his depression and distress, assuring him, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal." How cool that God used social media to connect me to you so that you could encourage me! Here's the Elijah story with one commentator's explanation. http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/1119.htm
Lora: Your article reminded me of a recent conversation I had with some high school kids wanting to know if people should still remain abstinent before marriage. I had a long conversation with them about how my marriage was benefited by waiting for my one true love and how God put that rule in place for us to be protected physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It just hurts my heart that their are churches out their who are more interested in going with popular ideas and culture than with following God's word.
Deborah: Wow! What a great opportunity you had. It must be doubly hard for young people today to stay true, so keep on talking. I read an article some time back that was very encouraging to me as a parent. It referenced research that indicated that teens today are more receptive to adults' advice and modeling than in years past when there was more of a generation gap. (Even though they are still prone to roll their eyes while you're doing it.) I was so encouraged by that information as a parent and as a high school teacher. We won't know until Heaven how many people we influenced.
Lora: What made you start writing Christian Fiction?
Deborah: I believe (as C.S. Lewis did) that fiction can be a powerful tool for introducing and reinforcing the message of the Gospel, I consider my books a big part of my ministry to both Christian and non-believing teens. I tried to create characters that are realistic and imperfect, but also faithful Christians as worthy (even heroic) role models for teens.
Lora: My favorite characters in novels have always been those that seemed real to me and grew emotionally and spiritually throughout the story. How do you think your novels come across for non-Christian readers?
Deborah: I've been careful all along to avoid using the sledgehammer technique for presenting biblical truth in my books. Even so, some of my critics find too much "God talk" in them. At times, I have to admit, I've been tempted to tone down the Christian elements in my future books. But then I remind myself that my job isn't to please everyone out there--only God. You thanked me for being courageous. I'm going to remember your words as I continue work with my next book. Thanks again for your encouragement!
Lora: Since teens today are constantly bombarded by sex, so prominent in our culture today, I wonder how churches have chosen to approach this topic. I know that most Christian books completely cut out sexuality and profanity, yet is that “hear no evil, see no evil” really helping our young people figure out what choices they want to make?
Deborah: I asked readers at the end of my article to comment about the teachings on this subject of churches they're familiar with. I'm hoping to prove to myself that my Episcopal friend is wrong about the extent of the liberal idea that sexual purity is passe in most churches. If any of your readers would like to chime in on this, they can do so in the comment section of my article. Click on link.
Lora: I look forward to reading your novels, Deborah and recommending them to young adults who are hungry to read truths about God and what He wants for us. Do you have a specific technique you've used while writing?
Deborah: I realize that no matter how much biblical truth I weave into my books, they still have to be well-written and have a good plot for people to read them. You can read about them here. Click on Link. If anyone would like to try one out, they can get Time and Again, the first book in the trilogy, for 99 cents. Of course, I'm hoping they'll like it and go on and get the other books too. And I'm hoping readers will take the time to post reviews. Not only do reviews (positive ones anyway, lol) help sales, they are also such an encouragement to me that I'm on the right track.
Lora: Thank you for taking the time to interview with me, Deborah. God sees the works that you do and your fearless faith is a great example to all.