Author Q&A with Katherine Barger
A few weeks ago, I got an email about an intriguing book loosely inspired by the Bible stories of Daniel and Nehemiah in a contemporary setting. I’m super fascinated by this concept, so I jumped at the chance to interview Katherine Barger to learn more. I’m sharing that Q&A here today!
First, here’s a little bit about the book, FORTUNE’S FALL.
Published November 3, 2020
While her classmates prepare for elite careers across America, Nyssa Ardelone trains for her secret job as the president’s dream interpreter. But when her mentor lies to the president about the prophecy in his latest dream, Nyssa must figure out why before the lie unravels. What she learns could destroy her own future.
Fearful of a rumored rebellion, the president has launched a gas attack on Nyssa’s hometown, and her mentor lied about the dream to protect the survivors from more harm. When Nyssa learns her parents were injured in the attack, she flees with a stranger sent to steal the antidote—a stranger who claims to know her.
Together, they race to deliver the cure as well as an interpretation of another prophetic dream only Nyssa can provide. But a devastating loss dulls her caution, and she learns too late that not everyone is trustworthy. To survive the president’s deadly pursuit, Nyssa must break every rule she’s ever followed, learning along the way that faith is the only thing that can save her.
Author Q&A with Katherine Barger
Q: What led you to write a story inspired by Daniel and Nehemiah, and why did you choose a modern setting?
A: I’ve always been fascinated with the stories in the Old Testament, and when our pastor did a sermon series on Nehemiah, I went down a million Googled rabbit-holes to learn about the Babylonian exile of the Jews. When I learned that only the elite Jews were exiled to Babylon and everyone else was left behind to fend for themselves, a story began to brew. What if the Jews who were left behind not only survived, but they thrived, waiting somewhere for their ultimate return to Jerusalem?
My main character in FORTUNE’S FALL was born from that question. A character inspired by Nehemiah – an exile who led the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and Daniel – an exile and dream interpreter to the king. Fortune’s Fall is the futuristic tale of a people exiled to an unfamiliar place, the family and friends they left behind, and a girl’s determination to bring them all back together.
Now, to the question about why I put it in a modern setting. I originally had it set in a fantasy world. But something felt off about the whole thing. It just wasn’t giving me that punch in the gut I wanted. So, I thought “What if I set it in a future America?” I tried it. And it worked.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Nyssa’s character?
A: I love that her faith journey takes time. I’m a very analytical person, and I definitely relate to her need to ask questions and consider all possible answers and outcomes before making a decision. I loved seeing her grow across the chapters into a more complete version of who she was meant to be.
Q: What do you most hope that readers take away from FORTUNE’S FALL?
A: The verse that pops up over and over throughout FORTUNE’S FALL is Hebrews 11:1. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we don’t see.” I hope that readers see Nyssa’s journey to Fortune’s Fall as a testament to faith. It takes a strong woman to be a Christ follower, especially today. Be kind and generous. But also, be bold and follow Him in faith.
Q: Since you’ve written a story about dreams… do you remember your dreams? Are there any that stand out as odd or significant in some way?
I do remember my dreams! They’ve always been totally nuts and intense, which is why I’m so fascinated with dreaming in general. A few years ago, I started writing mine down, which coincided with the early brainstorming stages of FORTUNE’S FALL. Eventually, several of those dreams I’d written down made their way into the story.
Q: What was the hardest part of FORTUNE’S FALL to write? What made it so difficult?
A: The ending! (Smacking forehead). FORTUNE’S FALL is the first in a trilogy and I know how the trilogy ultimately ends, but knowing where to stop this book was h-a-a-a-r-d.
Q: What character or scene was the most fun to write? What made it so fun?
A: My favorite character to write was Greer. His personality is kind of a blend of a few guy friends I’ve had over the years with sarcastic senses of humor. I loved putting those pieces of them into his story and creating a character that made me laugh. My editor really helped me develop his relationship with Nyssa, and there are a few scenes between them that I love, love, love.
Q: Are there other YA books that inspired you to write? Or, what books have most inspired you as a writer?
A: I’m most inspired by Madeleine L’Engle’s YA books. I love her characters and her ability to create a setting that’s both cozy and eerie. Plus, she was so great at weaving Scripture into regular, every-day conversations without coming across as preachy.
About Katherine Barger
Katherine Barger writes stories about characters of faith in a world where faith is challenged. When she’s not wrangling kids alongside her forever-forbearing husband, she’s writing, eating Mexican food, or snuggling with her family’s two rescue pets: a dog named Queen Elsa and a cat named Princess Jasmine.
Katherine loves hearing from readers! You can contact her at the links above.