April McGowan is an award-winning author and a member of Oregon Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. Her debut book, Jasmine, finaled in the ACFW Carol Awards.

A painter and fine artist throughout college and her early adult years, after having children, April diverted her creative talents to fiction and non-fiction, writing not only to entertain, but to encourage.

April, her husband, and their two teens live in the Pacific Northwest.


What started you on your writing journey?

I’ve written for most of my life, but leaned toward fine arts first. So even while I was writing short stories, I went on to study painting and interior design in college.

When my daughter came along, and then my son, I could no longer paint (little fingers were into everything) and I needed a place to express my creative side that would be easy to clean up after naptimes (few and far between). I dug out my stories and thought they were fair and decided to try my hand at a novel.

That novel didn’t get picked up, nor did the second one, but the third one, Jasmine, went on to be nominated for “debut novel” at the 2014 Carol Awards. Since then, I’ve written two others—Macy and the recently released, Hold the Light.

Just as all good novels include a plot twist, the Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist that ultimately blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?

I think there is the expectation that “divine detours” will be fun excursions, but mine have not been. I have many health issues including a rare immune disease called Common Variable Immunodeficiency (my body doesn’t create antibodies to fight infections, so I get sick very easily). This has weakened my lungs, caused all over lymphedema, and I fight daily bouts of extreme fatigue.

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However, due to this detour, I’ve learned that God is the true provider for all my needs. I lean upon Him and His great supply daily. Sometimes that means I get to write, and sometimes that means I get to stay in bed. I’ve learned over the past few years to appreciate this detour, and even count it a blessing, because my relationship with the Lord is much deeper and more connected than ever. I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Let’s talk about your new book, Hold the Light (Whitefire Publishing, August 2017). Please tell us about it.

Hold the Light tells the story of a young artist who discovers she’s losing her sight and we walk with her through this loss and time of grief. Here’s the back-cover copy:

To an artist, the light is everything. So what is Amber supposed to do when facing blindness?

Amber spent her life adapting—first to being abandoned by her birth mother as a toddler, and then to the death of her adoptive father in her teen years. Now she’s moved past all that, loving life as an independent woman: she has a job as an art instructor and the perfect apartment.

But when a routine eye appointment reveals she’s losing her sight, life comes to a halt. Pressures come at her from all sides. Her mother, her boss, her boyfriend and her closest friend, Shannon, all have ideas about what’s best for her.

Even after her blindness counselor, Ethan, befriends her and opens her eyes to new opportunities and the possibility of a deeper relationship, one haunting question remains: How could the God she loved all her life turn everything upside down—again?

What led you to write this particular story?

For a long time, I’ve wanted to write about the loss I experienced in my own fight with chronic illness. But I knew this wouldn’t translate well to a wider audience—so I chose a condition that most everyone would connect with: the loss of our sight.

Through Hold the Light, Amber explores the questions of how we start over when what we love is taken from us, how do we learn to trust God through hard moments, what is friendship and how do we deal with the loss of it when we are going through hard times, and what does it mean to our family when we suffer.

A few fun questions…

When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?

I love Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup)—it’s good for what ails you or a celebration! I also love Thai food!

What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?

The bible passage that was the most difficult for me at the peak of illness and my initial diagnosis is now my favorite verse. I didn’t want to count it joy to be sick, or at the mercy of my body, but I realized that through this trial I was indeed learning perseverance and steadfastness, and while I was lacking in body, I was growing greatly in spirit.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1: 2-4 ,  ESV)

This website also features songwriters and music performers. Do you have musical talent?

If listening to loud music in my truck counts as musical talent… then… yes. Otherwise, I am a novice at the drums. N.O.V.I.C.E. But the drums feed my spirit. : )

In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?

Um, I’m more like the tom-boy next door, donning jeans, knit shirt, leather jacket, and clogs, loyal to family and friends, willing to stand by them through any storm. Also I like jewelry and coffee.

I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.

We’ve had cats in the past, and took a near two-year break after nursing two kitties through old-age hospice. In July, we started again and adopted Saoirse (seer-sha), an eleven-month-old, medium-hair, tuxedo kitten at one shelter, and in August we adopted our two male, short-hair, black kittens at another shelter—Xander (6 months) and Liam (5 months). They sound like a heard of horses galloping down the hall during playtime and keep us on our toes!

Thanks, April! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.

Thanks so much! It was a joy to be here! I’d love to give away a book to one of your commenters! I’ll do a drawing at the end of the week and send one lucky commenter a signed copy of Hold the Light. 

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For more information about April, visit her website and/or on Facebook  or Twitter.

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