Author Interview: J.A. Myhre & A Forest, A Flood and An Unlikely Star

January 4, 2018 Author Interview, children, Christian, J.A. Myhre, YA 0

Please join me in welcoming J.A. Myhre to the blog today!

J. A. Myhre serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades. She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and development, and being the hands of Jesus in the hardest places. She is married to her best friend and colleague Scott, and together they have raised four children for whom many of her stories were written as Christmas presents.

You can connect with J. A. Myhre on her website.

Her third book – A Forest, A Flood, and an Unlikely Star – recently toured with Litfuse.

Follow along with thirteen-year-old Kusiima in the third book of J.A. Myhre’s The Rwendigo Tales.

Just thirteen years old, Kusiima has no time for school, sports, or hanging out with the other boys in his African village. With no father or mother to take care of him, he works long hours to support his grandmother and sickly baby sister. Then one day, Kusiima’s life suddenly changes when he travels into a nearby protected forest. In the forest, Kusiima is presented with many choices, all with uncertain outcomes. Should he go along with illegal logging? Help to save an endangered baby gorilla? Follow a donkey to who knows where?

With each choice, Kusiima has to make yet another decision about what is right in front of him. As he does, he meets a mysterious doctor who holds the key to his past and his future. In the end, Kusiima is faced with the hardest choice of all. Can he forgive a great wrong and heal a broken relationship?

Readers of all ages won’t want to put down this exciting book that addresses current realities like AIDS, malnutrition, and environmental destruction, all set in a richly detailed African adventure story. Following along as Kusiima makes his decisions, readers will find themselves considering their own choices and growing in empathy for others. This action-packed tale of a boy, his sister, and an orphaned gorilla is also a clear call to give up bitterness and forgive deep hurts, restoring broken lives and relationships.

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Hi! Welcome to the blog!

apples or oranges

J.A.: Oranges in Kenya where I live (we have a tiny sweet one from a nearby area that I love), Apples in America where I was born because my family’s tradition is to make applebutter in a copper kettle every Fall.

Carrie: Apple butter in a copper kettle??? Sign me up!

winter or summer

J.A.: That’s a hard one, I live in perpetual summer on the equator, and I prefer hot weather, but that makes winter a rare treat. Plus I love Christmas.

Carrie: Christmas is just the best! (and so is winter lol)

dogs or cats

J.A.: Dogs, absolutely. I’ve almost always had a dog.  A dog stars in my first book.  My current dog is named for a character in my third book.  Dogs love unconditionally, protect from harm, and cheer us up!

Carrie: Yay! Dogs are almost as good as Christmas 😀

coffee or tea

J.A.: Coffee in the morning, a local Kenyan bean in my husband’s amazing espresso machine-capuccino talent.  Tea by mid-day with my Kenyan friends, which is mixed with hot milk and called chai.

Carrie: Ooo I bet the coffee and tea are strong there!

Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

J.A.: Healing, for sure.  Like Lucy’s vial in the Narnia stories, I’d like to be able to put my hands on people and heal them body and spirit.  Since I’m a pediatrician it would make my work-days much easier.

Carrie: Oh I love that! ♥

Q: Tell some good books you’ve read recently!

J.A.:  These are the best of the last few months.

Silence, Shusaku Endo Compelling, based on truth, and truly gets the essence of grace.

Silence and Beauty:  Hidden Faith Born of Suffering, by Makoto Fujimura Deeply meaningful book about the culture of Japan

Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah Growing up between races in South Africa, with insights we all need to hear, and family-affirming too.

News of the World, Paulette Jiles Just a GREAT read, historical fiction and gripping characters.  My favorite novel this year.

Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult Didn’t like the beginning and the medical details, but it grew on me and by the end I loved it.  Important issues woven well into a novel.

Carrie: Of these, I have only read News of the World and didn’t fully enjoy it until I read the audiobook which is just stellar.

Q: Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

J.A.: A month ago, my husband and I celebrated an anniversary by hiking in Switzerland after a meeting we had to attend. We were hiking over a high mountain pass in September, and though we found some light snow in the village below the innkeepers assured us the pass would be clear.  Well, it wasn’t!  By the time we were knee-deep in snow and losing the markers and unable to even see ahead far enough to find the ridge, I wondered if we were foolishly throwing our lives away.  Thankfully my husband found the path, and we made it over the top and down into a valley on the other side for the night.  Later in the comfort of a cozy fireside we can laugh and say, well, if you don’t have the possibility of death, it isn’t a real vacation . . . but I don’t think we’ll try that again!

Carrie: Oh my goodness! LOL! So glad it turned out well in the end…

Q: Describe your main characters and tell me who you would cast in their roles if Hollywood wanted to produce A Forest, a Flood, and an Unlikely Star as a movie!

J.A.: Kusiima—a boy who has lost his parents, dropped out of school, and has to scramble to support his sister and grandmother, yet maintains his humor, hope, and hunger for learning. (probably an undiscovered talent!  The Queen of Katwe cast was amazing, a movie highly worth seeing, and I would hope that a movie based on these books would give young African actors a chance to shine).

Luci-a young Park Ranger trying to prove herself, who cares deeply about the environment, and has the courage to act.  (Lupita Nyong’o)

Carrie: oh i love these descriptions!!

Q: What surprised you about your book or your characters as you wrote their story?

J.A.: I think I was learning a lot about forgiveness and resentment myself, so that surprisingly incorporated naturally into Kusiima’s character.

Carrie: Those are tough lessons to learn… but so vital.

Q: What do you most want readers to take away from A Forest, a Flood, and an Unlikely Star?

J.A.: I hope they will see through statistics about poverty and AIDS and war and realize that the continent of Africa holds a billion stories like this one where real people choose courage and reconciliation. Empathy for children growing up in poverty and admiration for their character and potential would make me very happy.

Carrie: Yes ♥

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.

J.A.: I would love to start work on preparing the final book of the Rwendigo Tales for publication—the series has four novels, and the last might be the best!


What a fun interview! Thank you again, J.A.!

What about you? What interests you about this author and/or her books?

Carrie

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