Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jeanette Windle and Congo Dawn

Here's Jeanette Windle! Don't forget to leave a comment so you can be entered to win this exciting book!


How did you know you wanted to become a writer?
Writing has always been such a part of my life, I can’t remember ever consciously wanting to write. Our missionary kids boarding school had a heavy emphasis on writing and literature; we thought doing full term papers with footnotes in junior high was normal. I wrote one story for publication in college, then became a pastor’s wife and missionary. I never really thought again about writing for publication until I was stuck down in a small town in southern Bolivia with three preschoolers, no transport, phone, radio, or TV, and my husband gone for two weeks at a time to teach in jungle and mountain churches. By the time I’d read my few English books until I had them memorized, I was so bored I wrote my first book in the evenings after the babies were asleep. That became Kathy and the Redhead, a children’s novel based on my growing-up years at an American missionary kid boarding school in the Andes mountains. From there, I began writing as a missions journalist, then sixteen more fiction novels, and somehow never quit since.

What steps did you take to follow this dream?
Like much in my writing career, my first writing break as a novelist fits no industry norm. After writing Kathy and the Redhead, I began a juvenile international mystery series. I'd bought a Sally Stuart's Christian Writers Market Guide and was working my way through publishers (no email submissions then; hard copy sent to the U.S. with travelers). I'd received some encouragement and far more rejections when our family flew north for a three month ministry trip in the U.S. By then I'd gone through every publisher on the list and was truly ready to give up. I can remembering praying and asking God to either open a door or close it completely if my writing was not His will so I would not waste more time that could go into other ministry.
Shortly before we headed back to Bolivia, we were at a missions conference in Wenatchee, WA, when I was informed I had a call. To my astonishment, it was the editor of a new juvenile department for Multnomah (then Questar) Press. Multnomah had already sent me a rejection, saying they didn't publish juvenile, but would be interested if I ever wrote a teen novel (which became my one teen novel, Jana's Journal). The editor informed me that when Questar had merged with Multnomah, they'd found some wonderful children's mystery chapters tucked away in a drawer. The phone number of my husband's parents was on the proposal as our USA contact. My in-laws had passed on our current location at the conference. Would I possibly still have the books available for publishing?
Would I! The manuscript was in the mail the next day. The contract arrived just as we headed back to Bolivia, the first of six mysteries in The Parker Twins Adventure Series and the beginning of my CBA career. That out-of-the-blue phone call at a missions conference would be too improbable for fiction. Which simply goes to show that one can follow every guideline, jump through every hoop, but in the end, delightfully, unexpectedly, there is always the 'But God' factor that turns all our own plans and efforts on end.

What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest part of writing is--writing! Nor am I alone in feeling that way as a writer! Getting the story down on paper (or computer screen) is a hair-tearing, heart-yanking, exhausting outpouring of spiritual, emotional, and creative energy. It is eminently worthwhile, but the hardest work I will ever do.
But once the story is birthed, I do enjoy rewrites, going back and working through each scene, polishing it up, cutting, adding, tweaking until I am sure every sentence says exactly what I want to convey, is both enjoyable and eminently satisfying. And, of course, the very best aspect of being a writer as opposed to actually writing is receiving that positive feedback from readers who are loving the story and characters you've spent so many countless hours creating. Even more so, who've been touched spiritually by the message of the book.

What is your newest release?
My latest Tyndale House release Congo Dawn takes place against the backdrop of the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri rainforest war zones. Why this particular setting?

Growing up in the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon, I was captivated by missionary biographies from its second-largest African counterpart, the Congo. Among them the story of Dr. Helen Roseveare, who helped establish several mission hospitals and medical training centers in the Ituri rainforest despite violence and unrest of impending Congolese independence, herself held captive for five months during the 1964 Simba rebellion. The largest of those centers Nyankunde was in turned razed in 2002 during the continuing conflict that has taken more than five million Congolese lives in the last decade. Today's fighting is greatly aggravated by the value and pursuit of conflict minerals in that zone.
As always, it has been the mission pilots, medical personnel both expatriate and Congolese, and other followers of Yesu, Jesus Christ, who have been first back into the conflict zones well ahead of United Nations, embassy, local law enforcement or any other humanitarian and corporate interests. Their courage in shining bright the light of Yesu's love in one of the planet's darkest corners gave voice to this story.
As to Congo Dawn's actual suspense thread, I've had personal opportunity to witness what a multinational corporation is capable of in back alleys of the Third World when no one is watching (an experience in itself too unbelievable to write up as fiction). In Africa as elsewhere, both the protective and striking arm of such corporations has historically been hired foreign mercenaries. But today's private military corporations are vastly different, possessing more fire power than the average country. What struck me was the lack of any accountability to outside oversight beyond some paid-off local warlord.
So what happens when a multinational corporation with unlimited funds hires on a private military company with unbridled power in a Congolese rainforest where the ultimate conflict mineral is up for grabs? Coming up with one very plausible possibility birthed Congo Dawn.

What are you currently working on now?
After seven consecutive international intrigue titles, I am actually buried currently in a project that is very much outside that box, more Michael Crichton's Timeline meets The DaVinci Code than anything I've written to date. It is a story that has been bubbling for years, and I am excited about where it is going. But I hope I won't be leaving you in too much suspense if I reserve the details until I am much further along.

What is your favorite season of the year?
I have no favorite, but do have a least favorite. I've grew up on the equator and have spent most of my adult life in tropical climes south of the equator. Seasons divide into rainy and dry, and Christmas is at the height of summer dry season. So you can imagine my dismay at discovering how cold that pretty white stuff is that they show even overseas in Christmas specials. For me that was Bible college in Alberta, Canada. Now that I am based in North America, I go outside in winter only for church, speaking engagements and travel.

If you could go anywhere, where would it be and why?
Having been privileged to live in travel in only 30+ nations to date, I don't think I could pick just one among the remaining 150+,. But among my top ten would be 1) Puerto Rico--because it has all the beauty, culture and delicious food of the best Latin American countries I've lived while having all comforts and safety of a United States territory. 2) Greece, because I'd love to explore all the history. 3) Turkey because so much of biblical history from Noah to the early church lies within its borders.

What is something quirky your readers would like to know about you that they don't already?
I am a mirror-image identical twin (I am left-handed, she is right-handed).

Who is your biggest support and why?
Definitely my husband. We are a team, and he always supports me when I need to hole up and write or travel in ministry. I do likewise for him (and serve as his in-house editor!).

Where can fans find you on the web?
I'd like to invite any reader interested in knowing more about Congo Dawn, my other titles, or my own life journey to visit me at my website ( or contact me directly at I'd also be delighted to participate with your local book club or discussion group through Skype video or on-line chat conference (or in person if I am in the vicinity).

Jeanette Windle has more than a dozen novels in print, including bestselling Veiled Freedom and CrossFire. Daughter of missionary parents, the award-winning author and journalist grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Columbia, now guerrilla hot zones. The realism conveyed by her detailed research and writing has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than thirty. Her novels have been Christy Award, Carol Award, and ECPA Christian Book Award finalists. Visit her at


  1. What an interesting life story! The authors books sound like they would make great reads!

  2. It's nice to be able to have so much travel experience. People always say to write what you know, but without a lot of experience with other cultures, I feel trapped to write only about place or eras I know about. Her book looks fascinating. Reading it will broaden my options.

  3. Come back Friday to find out who the winner is!