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Q&A: Sonja Lewis, author of The Blindsided Prophet
Author Sonja Lewis is an American expat living in Battersea. Her second novel The Blindsided Prophet tells the story of a modern day prophet who is embroiled in a tragic event as a teenager. Alexandra Rucki spoke to her about the new book.
Alexandra Rucki: What is The Blindsided Prophet all about?
Sonja Lewis: The Blindsided Prophet is the story of a modern day prophet (Isaiah Brown) who is caught unawares by a tragic event when he is a teenager. During a massacre at his family’s church, his mother and grandfather are killed, along with ten other people.
Directly after the shooting, Isaiah flees the scene and seeks refuge in the local woods. There he falls over a tree and goes blind. Eventually, God sends a man to take care of him and return him the community in upstate New York, where he lived until he was four.
Fifteen years later, at God’s bidding Isaiah returns to Coffee, GA, to unravel the tragedy, make reparation and prevent an even worse tragedy.
This is a story about redemption. No matter how broken you are you can be restored. All you have to do is to be willing to look into your own mind and examine your deepest beliefs. If they are limiting, let them go, and experience a new understanding of life.
AR: What inspired this latest novel?
SL: I had been grappling with the question of what it means to be deeply religious for a long time and wanted to explore this as a writer, not just as a person of faith, but as a mainstream author. In time I came to understand that being deeply religious is more about beliefs and values and faith, of course, than it is subscribing to a doctrine.
AR: How did you first get into writing?
SL: When I was a girl I loved nothing more than to make up stories for my youngest sister, though I didn’t write them down. I named the characters, described them and acted them out.
When I think back, I absolutely loved freethinking, no rules just creativity. My first real writing assignment came with a Georgia state-wide contest when I was about twelve: What a tree means to me? I won first prize and have been hooked since.
AR: You’re an American expat living in Battersea - what are the main differences between the two places?
SL: America is a huge place, so I’d have to make the comparison between Southwest Georgia and Battersea.
The two are like night and day. One is rich is landscape and soil and certainly in a particular culture, the other, that is Battersea, is rich in cityscape, buildings, etc.… and a diverse culture.
Where I come from in the US, the population is homogeneous and here, it is heterogeneous. I didn’t see the value in homogeny when I lived in Southwest, Georgia, and off to New York I went, but now when I have the opportunity to dine with someone who comes from a culture with strong traditions and ceremony, I find it rather nice.
AR: Where are your favourite literary places in Wandsworth? (i.e. libraries, bookshops)
SL: I can’t say I have any as of yet as I came here last November and had been in Westminster for twelve years and South Kensington before that. Even then though, I went off to the British Library and bookshops on Charing Cross Road. Interestingly enough, I love the Waterstones on the Kings Road.
But I tend to make parks and cafes literary places. Also, I love walks, trundling around my neighbourhood and am so inspired by natural beauty. The other morning I ran through Wandsworth Park to Putney; I love the tree-lined path there. It reminds me of the lead up to plantations of the old South.
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