I met Anna Jensen through one of my favorite Facebook groups, Inspirational UK and Ireland, and I was happy to become part of the launch team for her first novel, Given Lives. Today is the launch of this historical novel that has a great message of faith during a dark time for a small village a few hundred years ago.
I hope you will enjoy getting to know Anna — and then grab a copy of this excellent book from Amazon!
Tell me a little about your background.
I’m a British ex-pat who now lives in Durban, South Africa, after marrying a local boy studying in the UK for a few years. Together we have two children aged 18 and 15. We live overlooking the Pacific Ocean and get to see dolphins and whales at play. For about 15 years, Craig and I were involved in the leadership of our local church. In 2017 we felt it time to hand over to others, and so suddenly, I was left at a bit of a loose end!
We had recently been on a visit to Craig’s sister in Zimbabwe and got the chance to see Victoria Falls. A few months later, when sitting at home and reflecting on our experiences, I was drawn to the passage in Revelation 1 where John describes the voice of Jesus as ‘the sound of rushing waters.” I realized that my trip to Victoria Falls gave me a unique insight into what the voice of Jesus is like – it is drenching, it drowns out all other noise, it is truly spectacular – and I wished others to share this with me. Then, returning my attention back to Revelation, I was shocked to find the command ‘write what you see in a book’ jump out at me!
And that’s how I started writing! My first book, The Outskirts of His Glory, was published in May 2019. It was a collection of reflections and poems focussing on the many ways God speaks to us through His creation. Since then, I have written articles and poems for various magazines and online publications, including Chicken Soup for the Soul. In addition, I have self-published more devotional poetry books, and I have participated in a couple of multi-author non-fiction anthologies, the most notable of which was a collection of 7-day devotions, each written by eleven authors connected to Africa.
Given Lives is my first foray into the world of fiction. And I have to say, I’ve loved every minute!
What inspired you to write Given Lives?
After writing Outskirts, I was keen to write another non-fiction devotional book, this time exploring the way God speaks to his people in the present through those who have gone before us. Just as there are some times when I know God is speaking to me through my natural surroundings, I also sense his presence through the history of a place.
The village featured in Given Lives, Eyam (pronounced Eem), is situated in the north of England near where I grew up. In 1665, the bubonic plague arrived in this small community from London, bringing devastating consequences. The villagers, encouraged by their church leaders, decided to make an incredibly heroic sacrifice for the sake of their neighbors. The story of Eyam became prominent around the world as we were once again faced with a ‘plague’ – COVID 19.
I originally intended to include this story in my proposed non-fiction book. However, the increased scope of a novel would work better. And so Given Lives was born.
What message do you hope to send to your readers through this novel?
The story of Eyam is the story of Jesus – ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ This was a community prepared to lose everything for the sake of their neighbors. Today, we place so much emphasis on personal freedom that we sometimes forget we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I think the people of Eyam issue us with a challenge – will we love dearly and practically, no matter the cost.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Find what you are passionate about, first and foremost. Don’t write what others think you should write – it’s too hard to keep going! Find what lights your fire, then let it burn brightly.
Be disciplined. Don’t wait to ‘feel’ like writing. Set a goal, whether it be a daily goal or a target that you’d like to be finished by, and then do it.
And finally, connect with others who can help you get going and keep going – writers and non-writers alike. You need the experience of some and the encouragement of others.
Please take the time to look up Anna Jensen on Amazon. You will not regret purchasing Given Lives. After reading this novel myself, I felt honored to be part of a tribute to a tiny town of people willing to sacrifice so much to keep the people and villages nearby safe.
Here is the link to purchase Given Lives: https://books2read.com/givenlives