Last week I “met” a new author Stephanie Guerrero. I haven’t had a chance to read her book, but the setting–the Orient–intrigued me so I invited her hero over for an interview.
But first let me tell you a little about Stephanie. She holds her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies specializing in reading. A former middle school teacher, this pastor’s wife and home-school mom of 4 kids has a passion for the redemptive, life-changing impact of a great story. Her husband of 18 years is her delight and inspiration.
Her debut novel is titled Shades of the Orient and releases this week from Westbow Press, the new self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson. I suspect some of you may have questions for Stephanie about that process, and you’re welcome to ask in the comments below.
Before we start with the interview, Stephanie has provided a little setup to orient us (pardon the pun) since in this action-packed suspense set in the exotic Orient, no one is who they seem… (sounds a little like my undercover cops!)
Black Jade is many things… Hiding behind a prominent name by day and a Chinese mask by night, he can be anyone, just not the man he wants to be. Trapped in an ever tightening web of deceit, and pursued relentlessly by the White Dragon (Major Montero) he must choose which man he wants to be. When a way out is offered from a surprising source, will he choose power or let it go?
A Spanish officer, a black market dealer, a shipping executive…
Intelligence officer Philip Montero is skilled at wearing masks to defeat the enemy, but this time he must face the enemy within. When his body betrays him with night terrors, he must unlock the past in order to survive, but time is running out and Black Jade has targeted the woman of his heart.
Betrayed by his family, his fiancé, and his fears, WHO can teach him how to trust again?
Shipping heiress turned missionary nurse, Francesca McRae is a target everywhere she turns. Desired as an heiress by power-hungry men and hated by the Chinese Boxers for her interference in the culture… she is surrounded by betrayal and hatred. None of her suitors are who they seem, yet one has stolen her heart. When loving others becomes more than she can handle, WHO can she trust?
The Interview: with Major Philip Montero
Major, thank you for joining us all the way from Shanghai. Please tell us a little about yourself and how a United States Marine ended up in China.
I was born in California in 1874 where my parents own a large hacienda and wheat fields in the San Joaquin Valley. We were very blessed. Upon hearing of all the famine in China from his brother-in-law, my father contacted the U.S. Embassy in China, bought a second house with a connecting warehouse on the river and began a humanitarian effort to distribute some of our wheat. It was quite an adventure for a ten year old boy, until the warehouse caught fire one night and both my parents were killed.
What happened to you?
Although I escaped the fire, I was apprehended by the Boxers. They are a secretive Chinese society that hates all things foreign. I was beaten, tortured and held for ransom. No one could find my uncle… a British shipping mogul. Finally, just as I was to be sold into slavery on the human trafficking market, my uncle’s business partner, Adam McRae, redeemed me, took me home and under his wing. By the time my uncle finally showed up, the raw wounds on my back and the hurt in my heart had begun to heal. I vowed I would become a godly man like the one who redeemed me. That’s why I joined the marines… to fight for the freedoms our country represents.
What an amazing story. Tell us about Adam’s daughter Francesca McRae.
Ah… the first time I met Francesca was when I opened my eyes after Adam took me home. I thought she was a black-haired angel. Her mother is Spanish and her father Irish-American which makes Francesca quite a spitfire with an amazingly gentle heart for the poor and hurting. She’s about five years my junior. I lost contact with her until I was on mission undercover in the Philippines and she on a missionary trip. When I stumbled across her, she was about to be accosted by a rogue Spanish soldier. I rescued her, completed the mission and to her surprise escorted her to China.
What did you think of the new grownup Francesca?
She takes my breath away. She is a gorgeous Spanish seniorita with emerald green eyes and a heart full of compassion, purity, faith and adventure. Actually, I’m a little shocked at the emotion she brings out in my heart. I had a fiancé betray me and I had sworn off relationships. Now… she makes me want everything I had buried deep. I’m just worried what Adam will say. Francesca is his most prized possession. I’m also worried that both of them have become a target of the man I am in China to hunt down… Black Jade. The man is a notorious smuggler and human trafficker. He’s also rumored to be part of Shanghai society. The last I heard was that his sights were set on McRae’s daughter. But not if I have anything to say about it.
Tell me about your mission?
Once I got back from undercover work in the Philippines, I was reassigned to go undercover in my uncle’s shipping agency to root out an international smuggler. I found evidence that he has been using McRae-Stafford shipping company for his nefarious purposes. This may be why he is targeting Francesca and her father. With Adam out of the way, he could marry Francesca and gain control of the company. The problem is there are a number of men who meet the profile and time is running out. Thanks to the Boxers, life for foreigners is getting more difficult every day. I believe things will come to a head soon between East and West.
Is there a future for you and Francesca?
I’m so afraid she’ll move on. That’s what happened to me before. Military life is so uncertain, but being the fiercely loyal woman she tells me I can trust her and God. I love her so much it hurts, but it’s hard to trust that love won’t betray me again. I’m doing my best to trust her and God for the future. That’s all I can say right now.
Where do you turn when life is too much to handle?
There is a God… Who is waiting to be your answer…
Thanks so much for visiting with us Stephanie and Philip. The story sounds very intriguing.
READERS: One commenter on today’s blog will win a signed print copy of Shades of the Orient (must be North American mailing address) AND a second commenter (from anywhere) will receive a free Ecopy.
If live outside NA, please let us know in your comment. Winners names will be drawn and posted Saturday night. You do not need to leave your email address in the comment. Check back Sunday to see if you’ve won. If you did, then you can email me your contact information.
Your turn: Do you have any questions or comments for Stephanie or her story’s hero?