Award-winning, bestselling author, Angela Hunt is our December Author Highlight. Make that, Dr. Angela Hunt. I loved this interview because Angie has a unique way of looking at the world. She is as near to a Renaissance woman that I know. Reading her books inspire, enlighten, and make us think.
BIO: Angela Hunt writes for readers who expect the unexpected in novels. With over five million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 150 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to non-fiction books, to novels.
Now that her two children are grown, Angie and her husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Turner and Hooch and Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards–one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City.
Afterward, the dog gave out pawtographs at the airport.
Angela admits to being fascinated by animals, medicine, psychology, unexplained phenomena, chickens, and “just about everything” except sports. Books, she says, have always shaped her life— in the fifth grade she learned how to flirt from reading Gone with the Wind.
Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. In 2007, her novel The Note was featured as a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers in 2019.
Also in 2006, Angela completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree. She completed her doctorate in biblical studies in 2008 and her Th.D. in 2015. When she’s not home reading or writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her pets, of course. She is also an avid photographer, using her photos to help find homes for animals at local rescues.
Whew! Was I right? A Renaissance woman.
I’ve known Angie for over ten years. We met in a Christian writers’ conference where she and Nancy Rue taught a series of classes. Later Angie and I had lunch together along with some other writers. She asked me what I did and . . . well, more on that later.
Angie, I’m looking forward to my readers learning more about you. So, let’s begin:
What was your inspiration for writing in general—why did you choose writing?
I never planned to be a writer—never aspired to it. I thought I would be a singer, and went through two years of college as a music major. One year, while I was traveling full-time and singing professionally with a Christian group, my director remarked that I had a “way with words . . .” and since I believe that God speaks to us through the voices of our spiritual authorities—and since my director was my spiritual authority that year—I changed my major to English. Even then, it wasn’t until I had two babies that I looked for a job I could do at home, and writing fit the bill. So I started, and for five years I wrote whatever I could write while my babies napped. After those five years I wrote my first book, and I’ve been writing books ever since.
I think those who love Angie’s book are grateful.
What did you read as a child? Or, what do you read to your grandchildren?
I was a voracious reader as a child and was fortunate in that I was never forbidden anything. I read GONE WITH THE WIND in the fifth grade, and JANE EYRE, LITTLE WOMEN, and THE NUN’S STORY were my favorite books. THE NUN’S STORY still ranks as my all-time favorite novel because it exposed me to a world so different from my own, and because the protagonist’s struggle—complete obedience to God—was something all people experience. What is obedience? Following that still, small voice or obeying a strict set of rules? Such an important lesson . . .
The Nun’s Story, I had to look this one up. I remember the movie with Audrey Hepburn. Loved that movie. Didn’t know it was based on a #1 NY Times Bestselling book. It’s mostly out of print, my friends, but if you’re interested there are copies through some used book sites — and the movie is really good.
Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks?
I’m a huge procrastinator, but subconsciously, I think it’s because while I’m procrastinating, the story is percolating in my subconscious. I HATE first drafts—something out of nothing is hard (for anyone but God). But once I have a first draft, the process becomes much easier, because it’s shaping, not creating.
A procrastinator? Hmm. I’ll have to think about that one.
Of all your books, which of your characters has really stretched you as a writer?
In my book The Awakening, I found myself in a pickle with Aurora, the main character. Protagonists are supposed to be active and do things, but Aurora suffered from agoraphobia, so all she wanted to do was sit in her apartment. I had to find a way to make her active mentally instead of physically; to give her struggles that had more to do with character than with activity. That was a challenge.
I loved that book. It has an eerie mood about it.
What is the story behind The Shepherd’s Wife?
The fact that inspired The Shepherd’s Wife is the historical note about the Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] goats . . . how in 30 AD, the sash stopped turning white after the lamb was led out into the wilderness. The truth was/is evident, but not everyone realized that the penalty for sin had been paid that same year! Yeshua’s death paid the price for our sins, so I really wanted to work that historical event into a novel.
Yes, it’s not a well-known part of history. I love how this is integrated into the story as a powerful statement of redemption.
Readers, here’s the short synopsis of the story: Yeshua of Nazareth has two sisters: Damaris, married to a wealthy merchant’s son, and Pheodora, married to a simple shepherd from Bethlehem. When Pheodora’s husband suffers an unexpected reversal of fortune, Pheodora must call on her wits, her family, and her God in order to survive. But when every prayer and ritual she knows is about God’s care for Israel, how can she trust that God will hear and help one lowly shepherd’s wife?
What is something God taught you while you wrote The Shepherd’s Wife?
One of the things I learned through writing this book was that before Christ, Israel thought their relationship with God was based on the NATION. They were godly because God had chosen Israel, given Israel the Law, given Israel a land. If you rejected those things and disobeyed the Law, you were put out of the community. But Jesus developed a relationship with individual people and called individuals to follow Him. Those who did, had to step out of the safety of conformity and be brave enough to follow Him in the face of certain disapproval from the religious authorities. I developed this in Pheodora’s character—she prayed the prescribed prayers as she should, but had a hard time believing that HaShem* would listen to her prayers as an individual, because who was she? Only a lowly shepherd’s wife.
This was a big deal in Yeshua’s time — a close personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Throughout history there were certain individuals who had intimate relationships with HaShem, like King David, Moses, Noah, Samuel, Deborah. But for a “commoner” nothing was recorded, perhaps creating that assumption. I think we all feel this from time to time.
I have a friend who once asked me, “What is important to you? What are you so passionate about that you pound your fist on the table?” What is your pound-on-the-table passion?
You know this from experience. [smiley face] Whenever I hear anyone say that the church has replaced Israel, I want to stamp my foot and scream. God’s promises are never broken; His covenants are eternal. God’s plans for Israel are still in place, and whoever honors Israel will still be blessed. I grieve for how much damage the church has done by stating that the Jews are being punished for “crucifying Jesus.” ALL of us crucified Jesus, because it was for ALL our sins that He died.
See why I love this woman! And this brings me to how Angie and I connected during that fateful lunch. I’ve worked within the Messianic community for nearly 20 years. When Angie asked what I did, I said I worked and was in fellowship with Jewish people who believed in Jesus. Someone sitting next to me said that her pastor told her that the church has replaced Israel/the Jewish people. I encounter this type of statement many times, so I had a simple, loving response. One that I was about to speak, when Angela Hunt pounded the table and said, “You need to be careful! That is replacement theology.” Yes, from that moment on we became friends.
What do you hope readers know about you and your books?
I hope my readers know that even though my books are fiction—i.e., not actual—they are true. I do my best never to contradict the Scripture or other historical records. And the principles behind my stories are God’s truth.
And that is why so many readers trust what you write — especially with Biblical fiction.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
One thing—I have just written a little gift book about dogs called SIT. STAY. FOREVER. I love dogs—I think they are a special gift from God to us—and this little idea came to me one day in the most ordinary of circumstances. It’s a simple little illustrated book that taps into all our feelings and explores our bond with our dogs.
Also, one of my favorite books is Egypt’s Sister. It’s a story set during the “in-between years” of the Old Covenant and the New. Five decades before the birth of Christ, Chava, daughter of the royal tutor, grows up with Urbi, a princess in Alexandria’s royal palace. When Urbi becomes Queen Cleopatra, Chava vows to be a faithful friend no matter what—but after she and Cleopatra have an argument, she finds herself imprisoned and sold into slavery. Torn from her family, her community, and her elevated position in Alexandrian society, Chava finds herself cast off and alone in Rome, where she struggles to trust a promise from HaShem. After experiencing the best and worst of Roman society, Chava must choose between love and honor, between her own desires and Adonai’s will for her life.
I love that! For those of us that are dog-lovers, we all have stories of how these special creatures can make a difference in our lives. And, you know how I feel about your Biblical historical fiction. Take note, my friends — these are great gift ideas.
How about telling us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I wore braces in the 7th and 8th grades. One night I got the top of my tongue caught in my braces, and my mother and I had to meet our dentist in the grocery store parking lot so he could free my tongue. There I was, in my nightgown and robe, kneeling in front of his car headlights . . . . you know, that might make a great scene in a book, except I don’t think they make braces like that any more.
Anyone laughing out loud, like me! That is funny!
Great interview, Angie. Thank you. It’s time to announce the rules for the book giveaway!
Angie has gracious offered to the winner, a signed copy of her latest release, The Shepherd’s Wife. To enter, post a comment below about the interview. One week from today, I will randomly select a name and announce it via email — oh right, have you subscribed, yet? Be sure and do that down below. Otherwise, it may take awhile for me to find you. One winner! And it could be you!
Thanks again for stopping by, my friends. Next Month’s Author Highlight is multi-Christy award-winning, bestselling author, Cathy Gohlke. See you then!
*Hebrew. Literally translated as The Name. A highly reverential title given to God.