You’ll be glad you stopped by Novel Matters today. Our special guest is Aria Winters, the protagonist of Sharon Souza’s new release, Unraveled. Also, you can win a Kindle or hard copy of the book by leaving a comment. We'll contact the winner tomorrow (9/6) after 5 PT.
Aria is fresh out of Bible college, desperate to put some miles between her and her family, so she accepts a missions assignment to Moldova. When a student under Aria’s care goes missing in the human trafficking underworld, her faith threatens to shatter. Now, with the help of the very people she wanted to flee, Aria must rebuild her faith and rediscover her mission.
P - Aria, I've been looking forward to this chance get to know you better since I first read Unraveled. Your story mesmerized me. I appreciate the honesty you bring to the story, but before we talk about your adventure, I'd like to find out more about the Aria from before the first page. Ready? What is your biggest fear and who have you told about that fear? Who would you never tell and why? Sorry, I guess that's more than one question.
P - Maybe I did jump out of the starting gate a bit prematurely. I’m new at this interviewing thing, but you did a great job answering the question. Let's go back to your childhood. At the beginning of Unraveled, you're eager to stretch the boundaries of your life. That's understandable for a 24-year-old. Tell us something about where and how you grew up.
P - I remember having the same feelings at your age, and I didn't live on a compound. Still, I could hardly wait to get out on my own. Strangely enough, you went from one "compound" to another rather crowded living situation in Moldova (I had to look it up on a map!). And you're so young. Tell me how you were prepared for living and working overseas. What do you wish you had known before you left?
A - How prepared was I? Well, let's just say I had plenty of mousse, but no work boots or gloves; not even an appropriate outfit to wear as "Teacher." And as for what I wish I'd known ... I wish I'd known how catastrophic my presence in Moldova would prove to be.
P - Since we don’t want to give away too much of your story, let’s sidestep in another direction, just so we can get to know you better. People have preconceived notions about California girls. In what ways do you live up to those notions and how do you diverge from them?
A - Well, I love being a girl from California, but I don't want to be perceived as a "California girl." I don't fit that mold at all. For one thing, I'm not blonde. Ha. I've never been on a surfboard, and Hollywood isn't my Mecca. Okay, I did hope Ryan Gosling was in the top 10 in People's "50 Most Beautiful" countdown magazine that I took to Moldova ... and left in Moldova. That was a bummer. I do come from a privileged family, but only because my dad and grandfather worked hard. And I could have been from any of the 50 states and made that claim. It just happens that I come from California -- the best of the best when it comes to places to live. I do wear flip flops all year, and I've been known to wear shorts up till Thanksgiving, but then I get serious about winter. Which we do have in California. Well, in northern California anyway. I don't think there's winter in San Diego. Have you ever been there?
P - It just so happens I grew up an hour north of San Diego in San Clemente. I live in Colorado now, but that doesn't stop me from living by my new motto: I'm a beach bunny. I'm funny. I'm trusting Jesus with my future. What's your motto?
A - San Clemente, huh? And blonde? Who's the real California girl here? Well, Patti, I like your motto. Celie -- that's my mom -- would love it. The Shunk-Winters' family motto is: "We're Nuts!" And let's just say this nut didn't fall far from the tree.
P - Very appropriate! But you'll have to explain your answer to our readership, or they'll think the compound is code for asylum.
P - Thanks for clarifying, Aria. I heard recently that the people we know the best, the ones we are most intimate with, can be the most irritating. Parents and grandparents would certainly fit that category. Oh, the stories I could tell!
Let's move on to a topic central to your story. Many readers will relate to your spiritual angst in Unraveled. In this quote you're experiencing a tender time of fellowship with God: "The journey I'm on is like riding a carousel. Up one minute, down the next. Inflated with faith, then, whoosh, all the air is gone. I'm a leaky vessel, but can't see where to patch up the holes. So I fill and fill and fill, hoping one of these days it'll hold."
What would you say to someone who told you this?
What would you say to someone who told you this?
A - I guess I'd have to tell them what Opa would tell me. "Baby girl," he'd say, -- of course, I'd leave off the 'baby girl' part -- "you may not be filling with the right kind of wind. The Wind of the Spirit is what you need. It tends to hold when nothing else will." Then he'd wink. I doubt I'd say it with the same conviction Opa has, but the words are right, that much I know.
P - Opa is very wise, and it seems he’s passed that wisdom on to you.
We're all about reading and writing here at Novel Matters, so our readers would be interested to know what you're reading these days. What was your favorite read-aloud book as a child?
A - I loved the Eloise stories by Kay Thompson, loved her sass. And imagine -- living at The Plaza. As for what I'm reading now, One Hundred Years of Solitude, because of the great endorsement from your latest Author Interviewee, Athol Dickson. When he said it was the best novel ever written, I had to see for myself. I'm not far enough into the story to agree with him, but I will say I'm glad he recommended it.
P - I'm glad you caught that interview with Athol Dickson. Have you considered writing more about your experiences? I find your voice so compelling and honest.
A - Thank you for that comment. If there's one thing I learned from spending time with Andy in Moldova, it's to be honest. Or at least real. Your pretenses don't stand a chance with that guy. And who knows, maybe there's more to my story -- or will be.
P - Ah, Andy, I was wondering if you would bring him up. Any updates on your relationship?
P - I wouldn’t sell yourself short, Aria. You have much to offer someone like Andy.
And with that, let me thank you for chatting with me today. Your story stirred me with its beauty and integrity. I’m more hopeful knowing there are young women like you charging into the darkness.