Monday, August 16, 2010

Faith and Fiction: The Magnetism of Story by Jonathan Williams, Author of Jungle Sunrise

Today our special guest blogger is Jonathan Williams, author of Jungle Sunrise.

When award-winning fiction writer Jonah Frost’s drunken depression drives him into the Peruvian Amazon Jungle, he searches for a story worth writing and finds instead a life worth living. In a place where he clearly does not belong, the young New Yorker discovers faith, adventure, love and a second chance.

This untamed and passionate journey unfolds in my first novel, Jungle Sunrise.

Charming, funny and handsome, 30-year-old Jonah feels he has wasted his best years. It’s not just the 1,070-day writer’s block that has him down, but also his dead-end job of teaching creative writing at a community college compounded by his unwanted divorce three years ago. Getting fired sends him over the edge. After a nearly successful suicide attempt, Jonah is cajoled by his brother to join him on a trip to Peru. Jungle Sunrise tells how that get-away excursion turns into a dangerous voyage by seven strangers bound together by a shared desire to locate the nearly extinct Isconahua tribe. In the end, only three of the seven survive.

Faith and Fiction: The Magnetism of Story by Jonathan Williams

Stories attract. Stories fascinate. Stories captivate.

From “In the beginning” to “Once upon a time,” mankind has been forever drawn to narrative. God, the Author of Life, first demonstrated how to tell a story, as He wrote an entire history filled with danger, love, beauty, life, adventure, death, emotion, betrayal, relationships, and redemption. Since then, just about every human being has taken a shot at storytelling.

Whether it’s the latest fishing embellishment, an off-color joke, groundbreaking news, or a heart-warming anecdote, we are all storytellers, daily imitating the Creator of stories.

In the Bible, Jesus is called the “Author of Life” (Acts 3:15), the “Author of Salvation” (Hebrews 5:9), and the “Author of Faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

Faith is the story of hoping in God’s promises, believing in what we have yet to see. It’s a challenging story full of struggling characters depending on their Hero for their salvation. It’s an action film, a divine comedy, and a love story all rolled into one.

Fiction, on the other hand, allows the author to take what we’ve already seen and then imagine these elements in another setting with invented plots, themes, and outcomes. It’s a creative process that simply reflects God’s peerless creativity.

The story of faith, true faith in a true Savior, is vital to every heart, far surpassing any other story ever told. Even still, there remains a place for fiction, as it allows God’s creation an outlet to inspire readers with innovation, which in many ways, points back to the original storyteller.

My first novel, Jungle Sunrise, combines the concepts of faith and fiction. It is a fictitious story of a man searching for a story worth writing, finding instead, a life worth living. His story, seemingly stalled without hope, is revived when it collides with faith. It is this impact, the life reverberations set into motion by faith’s entrance that captivates the reader. It’s captivating because it’s familiar.

And that’s the key: any story, whether the unmatched tale of faith or a creative work of fiction, must be believable. The reader has to relate. We are all storytellers because we are all story-livers, living a dozen stories a day.

Faith influences fiction simply because, faith influences life. If it exists in the stories we live, it will exist in the stories we write.

Jonathan Williams served as a missionary with the International Mission Board’s Xtreme Team in the jungles of Peru for two years. It was there, lying under a mosquito net in a hut in the middle of the Amazon Jungle, that Williams began to write his first novel, Jungle Sunrise.

Living with a previously unreached indigenous tribe, the Amarakaeri, Williams experienced first-hand the beauty and danger of native life as he had the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, hunt with bows and arrows, fish with spears, navigate the rivers, and encounter every aspect of the tribe’s culture. This breathtaking scene of the Amazon serves as the backdrop for Jungle Sunrise.

Williams, 30, writes and lives in North Texas with his beautiful wife, Jessica, where he pastors Body Life church and serves as the Campus Pastor for Trinity Christian Academy as he pursues a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His passion and desire is to inspire readers with creativity and truth.

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