Her Sudanese journey started with her nonfiction book Lost Boy No More and continued with When the Lion Roars. DiAnn Mills joins us today to talk about the latest installment in this adventure, When the Nile Runs Red, and her recent trip to the Sudan.
Paul Farid was once a member of the royal family who openly persecuted any Sudanese who failed to practice Islam. Now he’s a Christian who puts his life on the line to aid the persecuted Sudanese. His wife, Larson, is a doctor committed to giving her life for peace. Colonel Ben Alier has fought for twenty-one years against the government’s mandates to control the oil, religion, slavery, and politics of Sudan. He neither trusts nor rests any hope in the newly formed government. Ben’s health deteriorates while Larson finds out she is going to have a baby. Their worlds collide, and as the relational tensions escalate so does the physical danger.
What inspired you to write this novel?
I had previously written a nonfiction book about the Lost Boys of Sudan – Lost Boy No More. From that research, I wrote the novel When the Lion Roars, but the story would not let me go.
Through numerous interviews and extensive reading, I grew to love and admire the courageous Sudanese people and was burdened by their incredible needs. I had to bring them back in When the Nile Runs Red.
This country went through nearly two decades of civil war strife. In 1983, the northern government launched a holy war against the south. This grew out of the views of the Islamic north against the mostly Christian black African south. The war had three aspects: religion, politics, and oil. The atrocities committed against the southern people are too many to list, but the war was fought in the south through genocide.
How did you conduct your research?
I grabbed my backpack and sun screen and traveled to Juba, Sudan, the southern capital. There I stayed at a Christian compound and met with southern Sudanese from all walks of life: refugees, political leaders, and church leaders. I talked to as many people as I could, snapped pictures, and listened to what was being said.
Regarding your trip to Sudan, what touched you the most?
The incredible faith. I could look into a Sudanese’s eyes and see the pain of persecution and the hope of Jesus. Here, we say we love Jesus while we live in our huge homes, drive our fancy cars, are well-fed, are not hunted down for our faith, or are concerned about medical care. The Sudanese understand that all they have and need is Jesus.
Can you give us a brief description of your characters?
Paul Farid was once a Muslim who actively persecuted the southern people, but now he’s a Christian who flies dangerous missions into war-torn areas to deliver food and medical supplies.
Dr. Larson Kerr Farid risks her life to bring healing to the Sudanese. Just like her husband Paul, her life is often in danger. But there is a problem between her and Paul with no easy solution.
Colonel Ben Alier has been fighting and leading the southern army of Sudan for nearly two decades. Often referred to as a warlord, Ben fights his own demons.
The three are friends, an unlikely friendship forged by their love for Sudan.
How do you build your plots?
Always out of character with two simple words: what-if? John Gardner said to create the best possible characters and allow the worst possible things to happen to them. That says it all. It’s easy to coat our darlings with easy trials and struggles, but the hard stuff, the struggles that define the character are what has to happen. I’m a huge fan of Donald Maass and wouldn’t consider writing a paragraph without using techniques found in his books Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.
What are you goals for this novel?
To increase awareness about the situation in Sudan and to share my passion for the Sudanese people through a compelling story. The proceeds for this novel go back to aid the Sudanese.
What do you hope the readers will gain?
To lose themselves in the novel. That’s every writer’s goal. But I also want the reader to sense a call to action and support the Sudanese cause.
What is your next project?
I’m currently writing a romantic suspense series with a working series title of “Behind the Sunglasses”.
How can readers learn more about what you are doing?
Check out my website at www.diannmills.com. I have sections about Sudan, and for readers, and writers. Those signing up for my newsletter get to download a chapter of an upcoming release.
Aside from your passion for writing, what else are you doing?
Speaking to groups about the situation in Sudan. Teaching at writer’s conferences. Conducting Fiction Mentoring Clinics. These are small groups who work closely together for three work-filled days to develop their craft.
Check this link out for a more up close and personal look at DiAnn's new book, and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!