Left Behind: Neesa, what response have you received from readers of End of State? Is there anything different about the reactions of readers to Christian fiction than other stories you've written?
Neesa Hart: Reader response has been very gratifying. I've had a lot of people talk about how much the book meant to them—particularly the salvation message. I'd have to say the only difference in response has been that people tell me mostly about the spiritual aspects rather than attaching to a specific character or plot line. Secular readers were more likely to feel a connection with a character than a theme.
LB: What kind of response have you gotten from people in government, especially those living in the Washington, D.C. area?
NH: They all say that my background shows! People in the political arena recognize a lot of the language and mechanics that may not catch the eye of the average reader.
LB: While Mel Odom's military series may seem to appeal predominantly to a male audience, the political series you're writing doesn't seem to have a specific gender appeal. In fact, the mix of characters seems to appeal to a broad audience. Is there is a difference in the responses from male and female, younger and older readers?
NH: Not that I've noticed, except that I have heard from readers across the spectrum.
LB: There are parallels between the formation of the Trib Force in the Left Behind series and the characters you bring together in your series. Have you had reader response to that? How do readers relate to these new characters? Does it cause them to empathize and reflect on their own faith relationship?
NH: The parallel between the Tribulation Force and the four central characters in End of State was strictly unintentional. It just worked out that way and seemed to fit best within the parameters of the story. In many ways, Washington, D.C. is America's largest small town. Everyone knows everything about everyone else. It was simply not feasible for my four characters to be so politically connected and not have significant interaction. I haven't really heard a lot of reader reaction to the parallel—other than mentioning that it's there. I have heard readers say that the entire Left Behind story line—including End of State—has made them take stock of their relationship with the Lord and their relationships with others.
LB: Did you have any hopes or expectations for the impact the series might have on readers' thinking, especially about spiritual things?
NH: I hoped to accomplish two things: First, to get people to see beyond the "disaster-view" of End Times theology and begin to recognize that the message of Revelation is HOPE; and second, to evaluate and take stock of the personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That's why I deliberately chose characters from a range of faith backgrounds and perspectives.
LB: Jerry Jenkins describes his writing as a process of "discovery," where the story often unfolds as if it has a life of its own. How does that compare with your approach?
NH: That's absolutely true for me. The most detailed synopsis in the world will hardly ever resemble a book in its end stages. My favorite part of the writing process is when the characters show up and take control of the story. I get to sit back and say, "Great. You talk, I'll type." From that point forward, it's sheer mystery.
LB: The second book, Impeachable Offense, is due out next month. Is there anything you can share with us to whet our appetites?
NH: Impeachable Offense goes deeper into the political world. Now that the four core characters are firmly established, this book begins to unravel the mystery of who murdered the White House Press Secretary and why.
LB: Thanks, Neesa! We're really looking forward to the second and third books in the series!