Christian Book Notes (CBN): Share your testimony of how you came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. I’ve attended church for as long as I can remember. One of my mom’s friends used to take my sisters and I. We would go and pray for our mom, and then few years later she was in church praying for us. Funny how it works out that way sometimes.
Amanda Washington: My parents’ divorce was final shortly after I was born. “Daddy” was a hole in my chest that couldn’t be filled by occasional phone calls and birthday presents. My mother remarried, but my relationship with my stepfather was far from friendly. Like many teens, I lived in my room and would have done anything to escape.
Through it all I loved Jesus, though. God was always a presence in the back of my mind, and no matter how hard I tried to get away from that still, small voice, it was always there. I was a good girl. Not a saint by any means, but a good girl. I was active in the church, invited all my friends to youth group and generally wanted to save the world. Then one day I met a guy who knew all the right things to say and do. He was broken and messed up, like so many of my other “causes.” I thought I could save him. He thought he could drown me. It turns out that I wasn’t nearly as strong of a swimmer as I thought I was.
As a tomboy, I’d always been independent, strong, intelligent and I thought my faith was unshakable. In reality, I was naïve, prideful and deluded. I allowed myself to be put in a situation that I couldn’t control. I failed. And then, I shattered. Threats were made and I was afraid to tell my mom or any other adults. I began drinking and getting high to ease the pain, but nothing worked. I should have been smarter. Or stronger. Or better. But I wasn’t.
I got pregnant with my oldest son when I was 16, and he probably saved my life. No matter how far I’d fallen, I knew his life was precious and I had to protect it. I quit drinking and doing drugs. My little boy was born and I married his father. We had another child. But we were young and stupid, and I was still very broken. We divorced, and I went from relationship to relationship, trying to find something I couldn’t quite identify. The minute relationships started to get serious, I ran away, knowing I couldn’t afford to be shattered again.
Then I met Meltarrus Augustus Washington – the man who was too stubborn for me to ditch when things got serious. We started dating and did something neither of us had done in a very long time … we went to church. It was one of the churches I’d stayed in as a teen when we were traveling through Portland. The pastor (who looked like he could be my husband’s brother) called Mel out the first time we were there. He told Mel that Mel was there to help him. Mel told the pastor he was crazy. But even so, we went back. Again and again and again. And God started mending me.
A couple years later life happened, we stopped going to church, developed our “excuse-making” skills, and fell off the God-grid. Or so I thought. Then came a series of crazy nightmares my sister-in-law encouraged me to write down. Before I knew it, I was editing my first book – Rescuing Liberty – with tears running down my face as my character Connor – an independent special forces guy who could handle anything – found himself out of options. As he finally came to the realization that there was nothing he could do and cried out to God for help, I realized I was doing the same thing. With that revelation, it was like the wound inside me cauterized. I hadn’t even been aware that I was bleeding. But I was … bleeding to death and God knew it.
The next thing I knew I was writing a letter to my dad, asking for forgiveness for expecting him to be someone he wasn’t. I told him I loved him and I forgave him and begged him to do the same. He called me. “Your letter was an answer to my prayers,” he said. It turns out that my father had accepted Jesus into his life and had been praying for me. Then he said something I’ll never forget … “I love you and I’m proud of you.”
I never knew I needed to hear those words until he said them. Like Neosporin on my soul, they sped up the healing and kept out infections. So now … now I’m trying to give back to a God who’s rebuilt the bridges that I blow torched because He knew exactly what I needed and only He could provide it.
CBN: Tell us a little more about yourself.
Amanda Washington: I’m married to the most amazing man in the world – Meltarrus Washington. We have 5 boys and the only other female in the house is our dog Shyah who thinks she’s a human child.
Amanda Washington: I read quite a bit. I never planned on being a writer, but I’ve always loved to read—mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, true life, young adult, comedy, chick lit, everything except romance or horror. I can’t say that I have any authors who have really influenced me, though. I like many authors for many different reasons. My taste is very eclectic.
CBN: You have described your writing as not being “too preachy.” Could you elaborate on what you mean by “preachy?”
Amanda Washington: I have a lot of friends who are not Christians because of the Christians they’ve met—people who forget that we’re all just fallible humans, each every bit as important as the next. Sometimes we forget that it’s not about us or how wonderful we are since we’re saved. It’s about love and grace. Jesus went to the broken and damaged and loved them where they were without condemning or judging them. He fought like crazy with the holier-than-thou Pharisees and he came for the sick and dying. I think the world is tired of having Christians preach at them. I think it’s high time we showed them love by our actions instead of condemning them with our words. So I try to show God’s amazing love through the lives of my characters instead of preaching to people who have no reason at all to listen to me.
CBN: Why is that important to you as you develop your characters and story-line?
Amanda Washington: I think I answered this above. Basically as a writer you learn to show and not tell as much as possible. I try to implement that same practice in less than perfect characters and their difficult situations. I’m praying that when people see how God helps these characters they’ll understand that no one is beyond His reach.
CBN: If you could tell a young man or woman one thing, what would it be? How does that play out in your novels?
Amanda Washington: I would tell them that no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been, Jesus died for them. He doesn’t expect them to be perfect or an honor student or a star athlete. He died for them because they are every bit as important as everyone else on this planet – not a smidgeon more, not a smidgeon less. The teens in my novels are learning that, and for some of them, it’s a very hard reality to grasp. People tend to let human perception determine how we believe God sees us, and the teens in my books are struggling with the concept of grace and love in the same way that so many other teens and adults do.
CBN: How can we be praying for you?
Amanda Washington: I’d appreciate your prayers that the books of this series find their way into the hands of those teens who need them the most. Please also pray that they find comfort—and not condemnation—in the stories and it leads them to the only one who can bind their wounds and heal their hearts.