Interview with Neesa Hart—Part 2
Get a sneak peak of the main characters in this exciting new series based on Left Behind!

part 1

Neesa Hart Neesa Hart, author of the new political series that extends the Left Behind story to other places and events, is familiar with the inner working of Washington, DC. A native of the nation's capitol, Hart pursued a career in politics. She worked for the late Senator Strom Thurmond both as a personal aide and as a staff assistant at the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was involved with two presidential inaugural committees, did a brief stint at the White House, worked on Capitol Hill for a few years, and then moved to the private sector in political fundraising.

Neesa has found that "the advantage of all that was seeing our government from every side: the executive, judicial, and legislative branches." And that experience has proved to be invaluable in building a compelling storyline in her new book, which will be available next month. Here she tells us about the characters who eventually become entangled in Carpathia's evil web.

Tell us about a few of your central characters? Brad, Mariette, Marcus.
I chose to approach my central characters from three different faith perspectives.

• Brad Benton, White House chief of staff, is caught in the firestorm. He's lost his wife and family, is being used by the Oval Office, and is a token representative of the "religious right" in the administration, although he's know for year's that he was not right with God.
• Marcus Dumont is an African-American evangelical preacher with a high political profile who made a conscious choice at a young age to enter the ministry for career purposes. He's known he was a fraud all along and in now faced with a decimated ministry and a ruined reputation.
• Mariette Arnold, the deputy director of FEMA, is confronted with the biggest crisis of her career. She not only struggles with personal problems and a massive emergency relief plan, she wrestles with the question of how something like this could happen.

You chose to set the book at the onset of the Rapture as in the original Left Behind whereas Apocalypse Dawn works up to the main event. Any particular reason?
Politics is a strictly reactionary arena. We don't do anything in Washington until something happens. By starting with the Rapture—it actually occurs just before the first sentence of the book—the entire chain of events is immediately set into motion. That was crucial for my personal vision of how I wanted my characters to evolve.

What did you want to bring to the Left Behind series through this novel that hasn't previously been there?
Really just another way of looking at the question of what's going to happen after the Rapture. I wanted to give readers a chance to view the entire thing through three new sets of eyes and especially to focus on what I believe is the central theme of the book of Revelation and the rest of the apocalyptic literature in the Bible: hope.

A lot of people think Revelation is all about destruction and fear, and while those aspects are certainly there, the real theme is that we can have hope despite the presence of evil in the world. God is still in control. God is still holding out the hand of Grace. God still desires to know us and love us and bring us into personal fellowship with him.

Most of the Left Behind books are very international in scope. This one is set primarily on the East Coast of the U.S. Was that confining? Will the characters branch out as Carpathia moves the government toward the Global Community?
No, it wasn't really confining. I guess because Washington is such an international city to begin with, it doesn't feel restrictive. Also, the luxury of only having to establish one setting gave me space and time to develop characters. Since all of my characters are constantly dealing with issues on a national and international scale, it didn't really feel like they were confined to a space.

And, yes, as the second book in the series draws to a close, all of my characters have begun to move onto the international stage. Each is drawn more closely into Carpathia's web of influence, which pulls them away from Washington and into the international spotlight. And if I tell you how that happens, it'll spoil the surprise!

Your book seems to have more emotion and inner thinking than the other novels. Is that a result of your being a woman, a romance writer or it is the well you draw from as a writer?
Probably a combination of all three, though I think mostly the third. Every writer has a "voice." I'm naturally a very introspective and analytical thinker. It's in my nature to think and plan and contemplate. I read a personality profile once in the book Please Understand Me that said my personality type, "whether planning a vacation to Europe or the invasion of Europe, is likely to give equal weight to the process."

I had a light-bulb moment when I read that. It's really true about my personality. So I think my characters are just naturally prone to think a lot because I get to know them the same way I get to know myself.