DMZ Interview by Deborah Finnamore

Deborah Finnamore Interview:

The DMZ by Jeanette Windle

Jeanette Windle, a mother of four, speaker, and award-winning author-editor grew up in the rural towns of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones, with her missionary parents. The morning of September 11, 2001, she finished the rough draft of The DMZ, a political suspense novel set in the guerrilla-controlled demilitarized zone in southwestern Colombia, satisfied that her research had been meticulous, but comfortable that the book was only fiction. Then she turned on the news and saw firsthand a phrase she had written into the mouth of her protagonist, “Those who do not care enough to bleed and dies for what they hold dear will always be held hostage by those who do.” Incredibly The DMZ had to endure very little change in response to the day’s events other than polishing and the normal rewrites of any book, and is eerily close in detail to the present world situation.

Q: Classified information in your bestseller CrossFire and The DMZ have earned you interviews by the U. S. government. How many times have you been questioned, and what has been the response to your intent to publish the book? Has anyone in the U. S. government read The DMZ?

A: Actually, much like Tom Clancy, I have been questioned by government sources in the writing of both CrossFire and DMZ as to where I got my research and information theoretically ‘classified’. U. S. government personnel ranging from DEA, State Department, U. S. Southern Command, military intelligence, law enforcement and others have read both CrossFire and The DMZ. My most prized ‘fan mail’ has been letters of commendation from one American ambassador to Latin America as well as State Department, military and counter-narcotics personnel. I have found they care deeply that any book including them as characters depict their work and themselves fairly and accurately. They have been very pleased with the books and extremely helpful in opening further doors of research to me.

Q: Have you ever feared for your life as a consequence of working with such content?  Has anyone in your family expressed concern?

A: Not really. There are scores of books out there about the drug traffic and guerrillas, including plenty of non-fiction actually naming names, so there is really no motivation for these people to come after a fiction author living presently within the U. S. I certainly wouldn’t carry a copy of  The DMZ down to Colombia to visit and actually had a former missionary captive ask me not to include his name in the book’s dedication because he still hopes to return to the DMZ area someday to minister.

Q: Your vision, “to share my own heartfelt conviction that for all the turmoil and conflict and pain in our world, this universe DOES make sense and has both a purpose and a loving Creator,” is broad enough to encompass many forms of writing. Why did you choose to write fiction?

A: I am a story teller by nature, and people are story-hearers. People have been reacting more strongly to a story than a simple impartation of facts clear back to the first replay of a victorious battle around a campfire. Christ knew the power of story-telling. As Madelaine L’Engle said once, ‘Jesus wasn’t a theologian. He was God telling stories.’  And for me, telling stories is a creative gift woven into my being as art and music are into others.

We can assert intellectually our belief in a spiritual truth, even share how God revealed it in our own lives—and hope that our readers will agree with us. But when we weave that same truth into the pages of a book, we are carrying our reader into a world where he can experience that truth for himself, feel along with our characters the pain of betrayal, the joy of friendship, the darkness of injustice, the despair of evil and the hope of God’s righteousness and power emerging triumphant. In essence, live the spiritual journey of the protagonists—and author—along with them instead of simply being told about it.

Q: What is your opinion of the future of fiction as a category in the CBA market? 

A: I think that it will continue to be a growing market just as it continues to be in the ABA. CBA fiction will have to continue its push to improve quality in order to hold readers who presently tend to stray to the ABA market in search of top-quality literature. I do feel CBA literature has improved greatly in quality over the last 30 years just as ABA literature has done over the last several hundred.

Q: Your life is filled with many experiences to which few aspire and even fewer achieve.  Do you plan to write a biography? 

A: Definitely not . . . though a good many of the more interesting adventures and people in my life regularly find their way into my novels. The truth is that for all the many settings in which I have lived that are considered exotic and unique by American standards, I do not find my own life particularly unusual or worthy of attention. I regularly come across people, many right here in suburban USA, whose stories are so incredible and unique and full of God’s grace that I stand in awe. One of the pleasures of writing fiction is being able to weave  some of these people and stories into my books.

Q: What personal message do you have for the retailers who will distribute your book? 

A: Actually there are two that are concurrent themes threading through The DMZ. One, the absolute sovereignty of God—the ultimate safety of ourselves, our families, our country does not lie anything we can do but in the sovereign hand of God. Two, God’s call to sacrifice—the aspiration of a child of God should never be safety, but service and sacrifice. Christ’s directive in Matthew 10:38 is as true today as it was 2000 years ago. “ . . . Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Maybe that sounds like a joyless message to leave, but it is not because we have a heavenly Father who loves His children passionately, and there is no more joyful place to be than in the center of His will, regardless of our circumstances. The eye of our storm will always lie squarely in the palm of His hand.

Return to read more book interviews and reviews