Francine Rivers-Bridge to Haven

New
York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers has published numerous novels—all
bestsellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader
loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated
for numerous honors, including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold
Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In
1997, after winning her third RITA Award for inspirational fiction, Francine
was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. Francine’s
novels have been translated in over twenty different languages. She and her
husband, Rick, enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren.
I
“met” Francine via email when I needed to interview her for a project.
I asked another author to see if Francine would allow me to email her about a
potential interview. I got permission, her email, and because I’m such a huge
fan of hers, in my excitement I embarrassed the fire out of myself by not
asking her if I could send her some questions and just sent them. Thankfully,
she saw the humor and graciously answered my questions, then and now.
What is your hope for your
novels?


I hope
the stories I write will increase readers’ hunger and thirst for Jesus, and the
characters will inspire them to be more like Him. It’s so easy to follow the
ways of the world, to get sucked into following the herd rather than be among
the flock. I want to encourage readers to trust in the Lord always and to
remember only His Word is truth.
You often say that each of your
books is inspired by a question. Is that the case with Bridge to Haven? If so,
what question inspired this novel?


We live
in a complex, often-disheartening world. I know I always have questions about
how to live for Jesus in a world that hates Him. Questions continue to
challenge me. How do I live by faith and not by sight? How can I be an
overcomer in a world that wants to crush the very heart of me? I take these
questions into any story I write, and each story is a quest for God’s
perspective.
With
this particular novel, I wanted to explore how people can be bridges. Jesus is
the ultimate bridge that takes us across the chasm over hell and into heaven to
be in the presence of God. Each character in the novel plays a part as a bridge
builder or bridge destroyer. Sometimes the characters begin as one and become
the other.
What message do you hope will
resonate with readers of Bridge to Haven?


I hope
readers will ask themselves: Am I a bridge? How can I help someone who is
struggling step onto the bridge of faith and begin the journey to a haven of
rest? Do I point the way? Or do I walk with them? How does that look in my
day-to-day life?
Why did you want to reimagine
the parable of the Prodigal Son? Why was this important to you?


The
Prodigal Son is the story of every human being. We are all God’s creations. But
too often we try to go our own way. That way brings pain and separation from
what we truly want: an everlasting love relationship with God. Only in Him do
we find the happiness we crave from the womb. Some turn away from the world and
head home to God. That journey all too often begins in desperation and follows
a road of fear until we see the Lord has been waiting for us all the time with
open arms.
Was there a specific person upon
whom you based Abra’s character?


The
story started as an allegory about the character of God and Jesus, but how can
anyone capture the immensity of God, His all-consuming love and passion for
each of us? I certainly couldn’t. His love is so immense, cleansing, healing,
restorative. It’s beyond human understanding. I dumped my first attempt and
started over. In this rendition, Zeke and Joshua strive to be like Jesus, and
often fail. Abra represents those who fail to see the love offered and turn
away, looking in all the wrong places for what they had from the beginning. It
is a leap of faith to believe God’s grace is not earned, but freely given.
I was
like Abra for many years. Despite the truth I was taught as a child, I took
hold of a wrong view of God as a constant critical eye, a Being just waiting to
condemn me to everlasting hell. When I turned to God, I felt like Paul when the
scales fell away from his eyes. In a sense, I awakened and knew God loved me
despite everything I had done and mistakenly believed. My stubborn pride had to
be broken. There were always people around me who loved me and pointed the way
to Jesus. That is true of everyone. God makes ambassadors and scatters them
everywhere. When we open our hearts, usually out of desperation, God pours in
His Holy Spirit and opens our eyes and ears to who He is and to those He has
called to help us cross that bridge of faith God uses to transform our lives.
What is the significance of the
title, Bridge to Haven?


**Spoiler alert for those who are in a
book club.** If you are in a book club and would like Francine’s answer to this question, then after you’ve read the book, email Ane through Ground Control and she’ll send you the answer.
What research did you do for
this title? What did you learn about Hollywood in the 1950s?


I
compiled binders full of information about the forties and fifties, World War
II, the Korean War, medics serving in Korea, Hollywood studios and stars, along
with Scripture that always speaks to the mind and heart of any human being. The
Bible is like God’s blueprint for mankind, how and why man was built, what
happened when sin entered into our lives, and the cure. Since I don’t have a
mind that retains information, I kept the binders and my Bible close at hand
for constant reference. I am fortunate enough to have an exacting,
knowledgeable editor (Kathy Olson) who makes sure the time lines and
accompanying information are correct down to the smallest detail of which song
might have been playing on the radio. And since I am very aware of my
limitations and imperfections, I applaud and embrace her efforts.
Most of our readers are writers
and love to learn from multi-published and successful authors. How do you
develop your characters?

Usually
they start whispering to me long before I begin development. I know that may
sound strange, and I’m only partly joking. I start with a question and the more
I ponder and study, the more I begin to hear characters (people) talking about
the issue; real people as well as those who begin to come to life in my head. Some
voices are louder than others, and I try to listen. I will even take dictation,
jotting down their conversations.
I always
have one strong Christian as a central character, and this person keeps me
anchored in Scripture. Writing is a quest for answers and an attempt to find
God’s perspective, so this character is essential. Remember the “What would
Jesus say?” from Charles Sheldon’s classic, In
His Steps.
That question
becomes: “What would this particular character/person say in this given
situation? How would Jesus want him/her to behave? What attitude toward the
antagonist or crisis would come through if they were fully bonded to Christ?
What part of their backstory would come into play and might cause havoc?”  Frankly, the negative characters are easier
for me to understand. I still struggle with my sin nature. I relax and think
about what would come “naturally”. Living for Jesus is supernatural and
requires His enabling power. Writing is an exercise and a way for me to
practice living by faith.
I look
for names that fit the roles the people in the story take on. Sometimes those
names change several times in the course of writing the novel – which can make
it confusing for me when I’m trying to recall names after I’ve turned the
manuscript in and not picked it up again for months at a time. Who was that guy?
What was that girl’s name? I need to read the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) to
remember!
 
The
main challenge for me is getting out of my own way. By that, I mean I have to
dump all my preconceived notions about who the characters are, what they
believe and why and what they’re going to do. They need the freedom to take on
a life of their own, and when they do (which doesn’t happen early in the work),
that’s when writing become truly exciting.
Pictures
also help. Often, I’ll see a face in a magazine (like National Geographic) and
know who it is (in my story). I feel an instant recognition. That’s what she looks like!  Snip, snip, snip, up she goes onto my
bulletin board. It doesn’t happen for every character. I’m careful not to
describe in too much detail because it’s always better for the reader to create
the face in their own imagination. But it’s nice to look over and see her/him
staring at me and hear that mental whisper: Tell
my story.
Writing is hard work, but when characters take on a life of their
own and I’m just sitting at my computer and letting them have their say, it’s
the best job in the world.
Bridge to Haven
To
those who matter in 1950s Hollywood, Lena Scott is the hottest rising star to
hit the silver screen since Marilyn Monroe. Few know her real name is Abra.
Even fewer know the price she’s paid to finally feel like she’s somebody.
To
Pastor Ezekiel Freeman, Abra will always be the little girl who stole his heart
the night he found her, a wailing newborn abandoned under a bridge on the
outskirts of Haven. Zeke and his son, Joshua—Abra’s closest friend—watch her
grow into an exotic beauty. But Zeke knows the circumstances surrounding her
birth etched scars deep in her heart, scars that leave her vulnerable to a
fast-talking bad boy who proclaims his love and lures her to Tinseltown.
Hollywood feels like a million miles from Haven, and naive Abra quickly learns
what’s expected of an ambitious girl with stars in her eyes. But fame comes at
an awful price. She has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she
wanted. Now, all she wants is a way back home.
In this
riveting and highly anticipated tale of temptation, grace, and unconditional
love, New York Times best-selling author Francine Rivers delivers
big-canvas storytelling at its very best.