Author Q & A: Heather Bradley
Oct. 3, 2014
Heather Bradley’s experiences as a refugee resettlement caseworker, pediatric oncology nurse, waitress, business owner, orphanage worker, and editor have given her a zest for life, people, and sharing stories.
Bradley’s first book, “Getting to Gold,” tells the narrative of a storyteller who befriends the great craftsman Ahavi and finds himself unwittingly drawn into Ahavi’s journey to restore his creation, the mud men, to the Golden City. Liberty Mountain Publishing interviewed Heather Bradley to discuss her first book, where she finds inspiration, and the pain and pleasure of writing.
Liberty Mountain Publishing: What inspired you to write “Getting to Gold”?
Heather Bradley: I was working with international middle school and high school students in Germany when I wrote it. I was trying to find a way to make the story of God seem like more than a story they had heard but didn’t think was relevant to them. I used “Getting to Gold” on a girls’ retreat to help explain the Gospel to them. We worked through it bit by bit and then talked about how the story related to what the Bible says. An interesting side note about the trip: even though I had never seen pictures of the French bed and breakfast we had booked for the retreat, when we pulled up I was amazed – it looked just how I had written Ahavi’s house to be!
LMP: What do you hope the book will accomplish?
HB: I hope it will give people a new understanding of why God made the world the way He did. He could have made it any way He wanted to, but He made it to function the way it does for a reason. I believe He did so in order to reveal Himself to us through everything we experience as humans.
I also hope that people who are unfamiliar with God will allow this story to help them let go of their preconceived notions of God, to take everything they think they know about empty religion, spiritual hypocrites, political blustering, and self-righteous arrogance and put it in a completely separate category from the true story of God.
LMP: Why do you feel that allegory is an effective tool for sharing the Gospel message?
HB: When you hear a story over and over – or a song, or even the sound of a train – unless you are intentional about focusing on it, you eventually tune it out. Allegory brings the focus back by revealing God’s greater story through a lesser story. It is an idea − a snapshot − a juxtaposition of the angles of God, taking Him out of where you think He is and setting Him against a different background in order to see Him more clearly. Jesus did the same when He told stories. The religious leaders of His day thought they had God pegged. Jesus deflated their pompous egos by telling stories about everyday life, stories which blew their well-worn religion away and revealed a new perspective, a full-on display of the God they had been missing all along.
LMP: What character do you resonate with the most in your book?
HB: I resonate most with Nyssa. The first image that came to me as I began writing this story was of her crying in the lavender, crushed and discouraged by her frailty but watched over by Ahavi (her creator). He barely even noticed her shortcomings because he was too taken with who she was. When I look at my own frailties and my pieces that are easily broken, I know that God loves me and sees me both as I am and as I was always meant to be.
LMP: What have you learned through your writing experience?
HB: It’s hard. It’s very hard. But I know it’s what God made me to do and just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean I have the right to not do it. I’ve also learned that the things I write tend to affect me a thousand times more than I think they do anyone else – God often speaks through my writing in ways I don’t even notice until later. When I do, He makes me laugh because it’s usually just what I needed to hear.
LMP: Where do you find inspiration to write?
HB: God is good and He loves me – I know that deeper and truer than I know anything else. I want to look at everything I can with fresh eyes. I don’t want to believe something just because I have always believed it or because someone tells me I should; I want to test it and try it, to jump up and down on it to see if it will hold steady. And I want other people to have the same opportunity – I want to explain how good God is, over and over and in a million different ways so that other people will know what I know, deeper and truer than they know anything else.
LMP: Why do you write?
HB: I’ve wanted to do it my whole life – I’ve been writing since second grade. I’ve written stories and curriculum and devotionals and full-length musicals; when I was in college I used to write little tributes to my friends as gifts. I write because the only thing I really want to do in life is explain to people how great God is and to help them make sense of His story so that they understand their place in it and invite Him into their own.
LMP: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
HB: Don’t give up. Keep your eyes open and look at the world from God’s perspective. Question everything. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it won’t make sense to anyone else. Be clear. Chop unnecessary words. Learn correct grammar and use it. Watch TV less – go outside more. Use strong nouns and verbs. Don’t write just to hear the sound of your own words – say something. The world is full of enough fluff. Write to satisfy the soul.
For a more in-depth exploration of the biblical story behind “Getting to Gold,” be sure to check out Heather’s blog, http://pastthepapersedge.blogspot.com.