Monday, July 22, 2013
Hummingbird: an image of giving and receiving grace
Forced to commit a crime, Lexa flees south of the Border—and a vindictive bounty hunter follows her. Will she escape? Find redemption? David Stearman’s novel Hummingbird is a page-turner set in a Mexican paradise where wandering hummingbirds rest their wings and where Lexa just might discover her true identity.
The multiple viewpoints in the first couple chapters made it hard for me to settle in, but once Lexa got to Mexico I was hooked by the beautiful setting and endearing people. These are characters the author clearly knows and loves. Lexa’s nightmare of the monster called Chupacabra by the locals brought home the reality of Satan’s evil intent.
Lexa forced herself to stand taller. “I’ll never belong to anyone.”
[The monster] cackled louder. “You’ve been my slave all your life. That’s why you do the dark things you do.”
It made me think of Romans 6. To whom am I a slave? The Chupacabra is an image of evil crouching at the door throughout the book while the hummingbirds who pause in their migration through the area are a beautiful image of giving and receiving grace.
I'd like to welcome author David Stearman to ICFW today. David, you currently live in Kentucky in the southern part of the US. Has that always been home? If not, where else have you lived?
DS: I was brought up in Kentucky, but have also lived in Southern California, Florida, and Oklahoma. But the story’s not finished. I’m beginning to miss the ocean again…
LH: Hmm. That shows in your book! Tell us about the first time you traveled overseas. What were your impressions?
DS: My first overseas trip was to the Philippines, and it’s still one of my favorite places. What amazed me most about it was the sweet-spirited, open-hearted people. And of course the ocean. But I’ve already mentioned that.
LH: :-) Yes, you have! Did anything funny or exciting happen on that trip?
DS: I was young and inexperienced then, and went there with a lot of enthusiasm, but not quite enough funds to cover my expenses. I was the singer for a huge crusade being held by an evangelist, so every evening after the service I’d rush back to the book table to see if I’d sold enough music albums to pay for my meals the next day. And I always did!
LH: God is good. Your new novel, Hummingbird,is about an illegal immigrant to the US—a young woman who arrived as a child, has grown up in the US, and knows no other life. How did you get interested in the problems of illegal immigrants?
DS: I learned a lot about illegal immigration from living in Southern California, but I learned a lot more about the situation from interviewing friends down in Mexico, where I currently do a lot of missions work. And I can certainly tell you this: the situation is much more complex than it appears to be on the surface.
LH: I'm sure it is! Your topic shows compassion for the plight of economic refugees. What motivates that compassion? Do you ever get flack for it?
DS: Seeing lots of people in desperate need gives me compassion for them. But I don’t talk much about immigration issues in public, since I usually get flack from people on both sides of the political aisle when I do. But the bottom line in all this is that people--especially those in financial ruin--need the Lord’s help. That’s something upon which all believers can agree.
LH: Amen. Did you have this story in mind when you last went to Mexico? What did you do to research the setting?
DS: Most of my “research” consisted of working with real people in a real missionary environment. But I did have to study about growing marijuana (for a chapter in the book), since I’ve definitely never done that myself.
LH: Good to know. We don't usually promote marijuana growers on this blog! Do you surf? Your descriptions of the sport are very convincing.
DS: I used to surf when I was a teenager, but I wasn’t very good at it. Still, I’ve always loved the sea and have spent lots of time in and around it. I feel as if I were born with an interest in sea creatures, wave-lore, and a love of water sports. There’s salt water in my veins.
LS: (I'm detecting a love of the sea here ...) It's obvious that the people and places in Mexico are dear to your heart. Tell us about your experience there.
DS: Mexico is my favorite place on earth. Repeated trips there over the years have blessed me with many friends and co-laborers in places like Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo. And the food there is the best food in the world. Mix seafood with salsa, tortillas, and frijoles and you’re set to go.
LH: Sounds delicious. The story has a theme of reaping what you sow, but with the twist that salvation gives you a fresh start. Tell us more about the spiritual truths you wanted to communicate in Hummingbird DS: Lexa starts out as a “taker” butlearns to be a “giver,” and her fortunes change as she makes these changes in her life. But this story is primarily about grace. As the Apostle Paul once said, “Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of which I am the chief.” Paul accepted Christ and turned out pretty well in the end. That’s Lexa’s story too ;-) I want readers to know that God is merciful, forgiving, and generous. That he’ll do anything to help anyone who trusts in Jesus’ name.
LH: You are a musician, songwriter and a missionary. How do you fit in writing?
DS: By doing less of the other things I need to do, lol!
LH: How do you see writing fitting into God's call on your life?
DS: I believe we go from phase to phase (glory to glory) as we grow in the Lord in ministry. My ministry call has evolved over time. As a teenager, I wanted to share Jesus with others. Period. I was a singer/songwriter, so I decided to do it that way. But as I began to travel and hold concerts, the desire to preach grew inside me. After I'd done that for a time, I began to realize that preaching and singing in other countries was the same as doing those things in my home country, the US, so I began to travel overseas, which technically makes me a missionary. Only recently have I felt the urge to write novels and other books, and now it's my primary passion to share God's love via the written word. But I really consider all of these things to be expressions of my same original calling, which is to share Jesus by any and all means possible. BTW--we hear a lot about "callings" and "being called" these days, but when you think about it, we've all been "called" to share Christ with the world. That's what the Great Commission is all about, right? And when you think about it, that's kind of liberating. Folks can feel free to share Jesus with anyone, in any way, they like.
LH: Have any other places you have ministered inspired novels? What do we have to look forward to?
DS: I’ve done missions work in Amazonian,Peru, and am working on a story called “Deep Selva” that’s set in that location. I’ve also, as mentioned earlier, been to the Philippines a couple times, and have a seriously-needs-editing manuscript called “Moth Orchid” about that. But what I’m most excited about right now is a new novel coming out soon which is set in, of all places, the music business. Fame is a strange country, and that’s what that story’s all about. Oh, and I’ve also written several 30-day devotionals: “Encouraging Word” “More encouraging Words,” and “Faith Pumper.”
LH: Thank you for being with us today, David. I think many readers will be caught up in the personal change Lexa experiences as God turns evil to her good in this exciting thriller.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. She is now looking for an excuse to visit Western coastal Mexico and see these hummingbirds David describes so beautifully. LeAnne's new historical novel Honddu Vale set in sixteenth century England, will be released July 29. Learn more on her website.