When I think “good Christmas story,” illegal immigration is not the first thing that comes to mind.
And that is one of the traits I have come to love about author Kathi Macias. In her recent release A Christmas Journey Home, Macias tells a story of a young Mexican couple, expecting a baby, who enter the United States illegally in search of a better life. They have left their crime-ridden border town with almost nothing and their struggle to survive in the Arizona desert is heartbreaking and overwhelming at times. I found myself skimming over some scenes because I thought I might cry and never stop if I let myself dwell on them. It is a story of loss and hope; survival and freedom.
But it’s not their story alone. A Christmas Journey Home also follows a young widow’s path through grief. Her husband, a border patrol agent, is killed in the line of duty, fueling her anger and hatred toward illegal immigrants. With the help of her 6-year-old son and God-ordained circumstances, this young woman faces what she fears most.
Watch the trailer for a glimpse of the struggle the characters face.
It’s not a feel-good holiday story in the traditional sense, yet it doesn’t leave readers without hope. Macias is a master at shedding light on dark subjects (read my review of her Islam-focused novel, People of the Book, here. And stay tuned for a review of another upcoming release that centers on sex trafficking.) and A Christmas Journey Home follows suit. While immigration is a controversial and political subject, I appreciated Macias’ heart on the subject. When the elderly Mexican grandfather wonders, “Was it wrong to try to save a life when doing so involved breaking the law?”, I found myself re-evaluating my own beliefs. The book offers no easy answers. It is, after all, a work of fiction. But it is thought-provoking and makes the personal side of illegal immigration — that there are actual, real-life people involved in the issue, each with their own stories — hard to ignore.
Macias has another winner with A Christmas Journey Home. I can’t wait to read more.
Hear from Macias in her own words about the book, writing and future projects in the interview that follows.
How did you come up with the idea for A Christmas Journey Home?
I knew I wanted to do a Christmas book—the first of what would become an annual event that my publisher and I were discussing—and I also knew that despite the lighter tone required in a Christmas book (as opposed to the darker themes of the persecuted Church and human trafficking, which I’ve been writing about), I had to stick to my “brand” as closely as possible: hence, an “issues-related” Christmas novel, dealing with the issues related to illegal immigration.
What was your favorite scene to write in A Christmas Journey Home?
I loved writing this entire book, and the characters are delightful (except the villains, of course!), so I loved almost all the scenes. But I think I liked the scenes with Isabella’s old abuelo best, as the grandfather reminded me of my own grandpa and even my dad, both of whom I loved dearly. I love incorporating at least one elderly saint in each of my books, and in this one I decided on a man since most of the other books have had women as the elderly, praying characters. I also brought in a little boy because children can add such a delightful element to any story, and six-year-old Davey certainly does that in A Christmas Journey Home.
What was the most difficult scene, and why?
The toughest scene had to be when Francisco and Isabella thought they were finally on the verge of being able to get away from the migrant camp and find a small home of their own, where their baby could be born in relative comfort and safety. If you’ve read the book, you know that isn’t at all what happens. But this heartbreaking scene had to take place to bring the story to its miraculous conclusion.
What is there about you, apart from writing, that many people don’t know?
First, my “road name” is “Easy Writer” because my husband and I were Harley riders for many years. (We’ve traded the bike in on a 2005 Corvette, so I’m still “Easy Writer” but in comfort now!) Also, I served on staff at a large Southern California church for several years, training small group leaders and doing biblical counseling, among other things.
Who are some of your favorite writers, and are you an avid reader?
Absolutely I’m an avid reader! I have always loved books/reading/words and been fascinated by them. When I ran out of books as I child, I started writing my own. (Voila! Look what came of that!) As for favorite writers, that’s tough, but here are just a few: Brock and Bodie Thoene, Francine Rivers, Patti Lacy, Athol Dickson, Jim Rubart, and Alan Paton, who wrote my favorite all-time fiction book, Cry the Beloved Country. That book changed my life and inspired my novel set in South Africa in 1989, No Greater Love. I also enjoy reading Brennan Manning, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Oswald Chambers, and Max Lucado for nonfiction.
What’s on the horizon for you now, so far as future book projects?
I am currently finishing up the final book of the three-installment Freedom series (Deliver Me From Evil, Special Delivery, and The Deliverer). Then I will jump into my Christmas 2012 novel (working title is A Home For Christmas) and a novel called Last Chance for Justice, which is part of the multi-author Bloomfield Series with another publisher. After that I hope to get going on a new fiction series, which is still in the discussion/planning stages with my publisher and agent. So life is busy, but most contracts coming my way seem to be fiction right now. I am also keeping busy with very occasional editing projects and some speaking/teaching around the country.
Where can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and keep up with your to-be-released books?
Please feel free to visit my website at www.KathiMacias.com.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (ChristianSpeakersServices.com).