Regardless- Review, Interview with the Author, and Giveaway Part 1

Regardless – A novel about the acts of the apostles by MK Jorgenson

When I “met” Michelle (aka MK Jorgenson) a few months ago, while she was guest posting here about contentment, I knew I wanted to read her book. Boy am I glad I did! To put it in plain English, I love the book Regardless. It is pretty much the poster child of books that I want on our shelves, to encourage our kids to read as well as enjoy myself. Well written and vividly illustrated, Regardless takes place during first days of the Church after Jesus’ death- loosely based on events in the book of Acts. In addition to following Paul and Barnabas, and lesser known others, it follows a  host of fictional characters including- Abir, friends with Baranabas, and Seti, bond servant to Saul. Abir wants to grow closer to God but struggles to get over a lifelong jealousy of his childhood friend Barnabas, and to mend his broken relationship with his farther. Abir loves being part of The Way, but what about that jealousy, his life repeatedly being in danger, and that girl he loves? Meanwhile Seti sees a much different view of Christianity, one where Saul tries to eradicate the Christians. He’s not sure which disgusts him more, the concept of being a Christian, or how Saul treats them. Then his master radically changes after a surprise encounter, confusing Seti. How can someone change so fully, and quickly? As the story unfolds it becomes increasingly clear to Abir he must address his jealousy, desire to be the “best” of the followers, and his estranged relationships and Seti’s troubling past gets harder and harder to ignore as he finds himself repeating it.

Regardless truly will captivate you, but even more it will challenge you. Challenge you as you see the persecution foreign to us, but so prevalent in the early church and in most parts of the world. Do we take the freedom of worship for granted? I was also challenged as I saw Abir’s desire to grow. Have I became sterile, do things I have struggled with my whole life seem more part of the landscape instead of weeds I truly try to pull out and burn? Probably the most touching to me was seeing the love everyone showered on the hardened Seti, love he had never really known and desperately needed, despite his persistent resistance.

I highly recommend the book Regardless.  You can buy Regardless off of Amazon in Kindle edition  as well as in print. We are also doing a giveaway of it, tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Interview with the Author-

As soon as I finished Regardless I asked Michelle if I could interview her. She not only said yes, but offered to sponsor a giveaway. Today I ask her several questions about herself, how she got started writing, and books that inspire her. Tomorrow we will be doing part two of her interview, including an expert from her upcoming book AND will be doing the giveaway.

Hi Michelle, I am so excited to have the chance today to interview you. How about we start with you telling us a bit about yourself and your family. 

Thank you so much for having me, Debra!  Let’s see…my husband is a PhD student in Genetics, and I stay home with our toddler (known online as Pookie).  We live in Iowa and enjoy long walks on nice days, snuggling together to watch a movie, and plenty of time at the park.  And during naptime, I write…hence my presence here today!

When did you first start writing?

I knew when I was five that I was going to write a book someday.  I took college writing classes in high school, then more creative writing classes in college, but I spent a lot of time focused on editing and nonfiction.  Then when I was married, pregnant, and no longer working, I realized the time was right to really pursue this passion.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Our pastor preached out of the book of Acts for a year.  A YEAR!  After a sermon on Barnabas, I told my husband I wanted to write a children’s story about his life.  He said to skip the children’s book; I could write a whole novel.  So, that’s what I did.  In the end, it’s less about Barnabas than I originally thought, but I like the way it turned out. 

Can you tell us a little bit about Regardless?
Absolutely!  Regardless follows a young man who has just become a Christian in the early church.  He loves Jesus and the Way…but there are unexpected consequences: he sees and has to deal with a lifelong jealousy against his best friend (that’s where Barnabas comes in!), can’t marry the woman he loves, and has to hide/flee/escape authorities who want him and all of Jesus’ followers killed. 

What inspired you to write Regardless?
I mentioned before how the story came about, but really the inspiration to see it through came down to seeing the possibility of scheduling the writing into naptime, encouragement from my amazing husband, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, a great challenge for wannabe authors like myself!), and God’s grace through the process.  Somehow I still got dinner on the table, laundry done, and the baby loved while making my word counts! 

What books have most influenced your life most?
The Bible, naturally, especially Acts.  I love the picture we’re given of the early church.  I also go back again and again to Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes.  Even though I write fiction, I’m a big nonfiction gal!  I read topically about things like nutrition, simplicity, writing, social studies, missionary stories and biographies (I’m actually reading Wes Stafford’s Too Small to Ignore because I read about it on your blog!).  But when I do reach for a novel, I love Beverly Lewis, and I just recently enjoyed Lee Stroebel’s first novel.

And are you currently working on a book?
I am!  Right now I’m writing Sergius Paulus which follows the Roman governor of the island of Cyprus: the Christians on his island are in the crosshairs when he arrives, but he wants to hear what they have to say.  Too bad for him not everybody wants him to hear that message.  Characters from Regardless make return performances, which is a lot of fun for me.  Oh, I’ve also got a modern day story that’s still in development, about a young mother who is carjacked…while baby is still in the backseat; the novel follows how that event affects her marriage…and her faith.

Come back tomorrow to read an excerpt from Sergius Paulus, read the rest of the interview (as well as some tips Michelle has on being able to write with and take care of her home and toddler) and enter the giveaway.