Jamie Ogle is a predawn writer, a homeschool mom by day, and a reader by night. Inspired by her fascination with the storied history of faith, she writes historical fiction infused with hope, adventure, and courageous rebels.
A Minnesota native, she now lives in Iowa with her husband and their three children, and she can usually be found gardening, beekeeping, and tromping through the woods.
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”?
When I was a kid, my favorite Sundays at church were the ones when foreign missionaries came. They’d set up their table of pictures, candy, and cultural items, then spend the service telling stories of the country they lived in, the people who lived there, and the amazing things God was doing among them. And I decided at age seven that whenever we played “church,” and when I grew up, that’s what I wanted to do too—set up tables of candy and pretty things and tell amazing stories about God.
I wanted to do those things because they were good, worthy—and yet, the older I got, the more I seemed to wrestle with it. Like a coat that didn’t quite fit, but I clung to it anyway because, hey, “It’s the best coat I’ve ever had, and if I give it up after all this time, what else is there?” (Okay, maybe not the best analogy, but did I mention I’m from northern Minnesota? Coats are important.) Somewhere along the way, in that space between middle school and college, God planted a love for writing alongside my love of story. It was years before I finally accepted that writing was the work God had called me to, and when I surrendered, all those wrestling feelings were gone.
But it wasn’t until recently that I realized the things I loved best about the foreign missionaries—how they told stories about what God did and was doing in other people and places—those are the things I still get to do as a writer. And it feels like such a gift.
Congratulations on your debut novel, Of Love and Treason (Tyndale, January 2024). Please tell us about the book.
I was never really a fan of Valentine’s Day. I thought it was a dumb, commercialized holiday, and my research (for this book) began as an attempt to justify how stupid I thought it all was. But the more I dug into Valentine, ancient Rome, and church history, I found myself falling in love with the story. As scenes and snippets of conversations popped into my head, I started to write them down, and pretty soon I’d written the first draft of the novel.
Valentine defies the emperor and becomes a hero . . . and the most wanted man in the empire. Compelled by his faith, he has nothing to lose, until a chance encounter with the daughter of a Roman jailor changes everything.
Rome, AD 270. In the wake of the emperor’s marriage ban, rumors swirl that there is one man brave enough to perform wedding ceremonies in secret. A public notarius and leader of an underground church, Valentine believes the emperor’s edict unjust and risks his own life for the sake of his convictions. But as his fame grows, so do fears for his safety.
Iris, the daughter of a Roman jailor, believes regaining her sight will ease the mounting troubles at home. Her last hope rests in searching out Valentine and his church, but the danger of associating with people labeled a threat to the empire is great. Still, as Iris’s new friends lead her to faith in God, Iris is drawn to Valentine and they both begin to hope for a future together beyond the treacherous empire.
But when a past debt and a staggering betrayal collide, Valentine, Iris, and everyone they love must fight for their lives . . . and wrestle with trusting a God who can restore sight yet does not always keep His followers from peril.
What do you hope readers take away from it?
I hope readers are as captivated by this story as I was. Digging into the courageous stories of how our spiritual ancestors deemed God worthy of their worship and obedience no matter the cost changed me and challenged my own faith to go deeper. The thing I love most about history, and especially church history, is that in the darkest moments, when all seems lost, there’s always a spark of light rebelliously pushing back the dark. I find these stories incredibly hopeful, because if God could use ordinary people to do extraordinary things back then, He can do the same with us today. I hope readers come away from this story with that same knowledge.
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Chocolate. Chocolate chips. Chocolate cake. All the chocolate things. Why? It’s chocolate.
What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?
Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (ESV).
What faith journey could I, or anyone, have without that? I love that the Bible is full of stories showing God constantly, patiently, lovingly at work to make a way for our relationship with him to be mended and restored. Not because he needs us, but because we need him, and he is so merciful and gracious to make a way for us to be with him.
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?
The other options sound like a lot of fun, but I’m definitely the girl next door. For sure. I do love a good adventure, and if the super heroine or the strong female lead offer to drive, I’ll go along. But I’m also content to stay home and bake, read, and raise chickens and children.
Thanks, Jamie! It’s nice to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
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