1) What inspired you to write IMPERVIOUS? My desired goal for IMPERVIOUS was to paint an outrageous, yet allegoric picture of heaven and earth that would grab the attention of believers and non-believers alike. The heart of the IMPERVIOUS (and ultimately the entire Ascension series) is to point non-believers to the one true God. Being a ‘what-if’ thinker, I often look to practices in our own modern society and then wonder, “What if I could paint this in an even more incredible fashion?” The inspiration for writing IMPERVIOUS originally came from one of my morning what-if sessions
--What if generations of people began dying younger and younger and didn’t know why? What would the world look like if the lifespan of a person wasn’t expected to be much more than that of a young adult? Would the culture of that world look for answers or would it simply employ more carnal distractions? --What if there was a way out? What if to live, a person actually had to die within the culture it knew? --What if a girl actually figured it all out through the very words of those who went before her and upon believing was able to reunite with those whom “culture” had thought to be gone forever. And what if on that journey she found a better world where life didn’t end just when it was supposed to begin.
2) What are some of the main themes of the book? The main theme of Impervious revolves around heaven and earth. Is death as we know it really the end or could it possibly be a wonderful new beginning? As young adults often struggle with fitting in, another theme, “Is it better to go with the crowd or seek the truth?” is also woven into the pages. Sometimes on our search for truth, the path may seem very shadowed and confusing. Maybe even lonely, so a theme of perseverance and bravery is also found with our heroine Fran. Finally, finding The Reader is a monumental experience for our heroine in the story. The Reader symbolizes the bible in our own society. Therefore, believing in what you can’t see, aka faith, is another major theme.
3) Are there non-fiction truths behind this book? Talk about those. The truths in this book all point to the spiritual truths of heaven. Any other ideas, i.e. governmental practices, technology, etc. are purely fictitious.
4) It is kind of unusual to offer a bible study along with a fiction book. Talk about the reasoning behind that. As my heart’s desire with this series is to point non-believers to the one true God of the bible, helping readers unpack the parallels between this allegory and the Bible is twofold: 1. To help educate Believers to use the book as evangelistic tool. 2) To enlighten non-believers.
5) Some people have said this book is like "The Hunger Games meets the Gospel." How accurate is that description? Yes, that statement has been made (which tickles me pink!) In THE HUNGER GAMES, Suzanne Collins does an amazing job of setting up a truly horrific dystopian society—one that makes readers shudder at the very thought of such a thing—and shows the story of a girl who can’t wrap her head around it either. IMPERVIOUS does that same thing, while using symbolism to set up a biblical allegory. As I said, IMPERVIOUS is the first book in the Ascension series. Fran’s journey sets the stage for us. In book 2, the biblical allegory continues as with the arrival of the savior (and that’s about all I’ll say about that for now!)
6) What do you hope young people gain from this book? My hope is: 1) To reach the lost, and 2) That young adult believers will look upon the bible with fresh eyes and excitedly seek after all of the truths that lie within.
7) You mentioned the Ascension series. Talk about that. The Ascension Series is the trilogy in which the allegorical Gospel message is given in three parts:
Book 1, IMPERVIOUS, sets the platform demonstrating humanity’s great need for a savior. Through the eyes of our snarky and brave protagonist, we can clearly see the residents of IMPERVIOUS have been blinded to any hope of a future and, thus, we cheer her on as she seeks the answers. Spoiler: We find out mid-story that her full name is Sarah Frances Monde, and in a fun father-daughter moment, she is called Sarah-Fran. Her name, designed to roll of the tongue, sounding like “Saraphem” labels her as ‘angel’ or more appropriately for this story, the messenger. Just to be clear--she isn’t the savior. She is allegorically the one who will announce the savior in Book 2. (Added tidbit: Her last name, “Monde” translates to “world” in French. She is the messenger to the world.)
Book two will continue Fran’s journey, and begin Retter’s story. (Another secret tidbit: In German, Retter translates to savior). She meets Retter on the outside. He’s a little mysterious to us and (I hope) readers question, “who is he?” and want to know him more. (Another spoiler) In Book 2 we discover he is the only child who had not been born inside of the city, and thus becomes the means for saving the lost.
Finally, in Book three the story will show an allegory of the Holy Spirit and move into the final destruction of the city.
The name of the series was designed to represent our personal ascension into heaven while also demonstrating the resident’s ascension to a world above ground.
8) What is the target audience for this book? Why did you choose them? Definitely the young adult audience and more commonly, female. (Although it has resonated with males and not-so-young-adults as well) I suppose you can say that I didn’t necessarily target them, but rather God has made my heart uber-soft for this age group. I’ve raised two sons and I have to say that their young adult years were my favorite times. I laughed and cried with them and their friends A LOT! And I also found that these years (teens and twenties) are when kids really begin looking for answers. I feel with brains (almost… LOL) fully developed and hearts that haven’t yet turned to stone, they’re at a crucial crossroads in a spiritual journey. Besides that, I just love reading young adult books! They’re fun, just a little complex (but not so much I have to think really hard) and are filled with emotion! I like that.
9) Talk about your own personal faith journey and how it might relate to this book. I suppose in many ways, my own faith journey mirrored Fran’s. I fell in love with Christ as “Mid-lifer” (Which wasn’t at fifteen, like Fran.. more like late thirties) I had lived in the world for the first half of my life as a nonbeliever and just went along with a basic carnal mindset. Like Fran, at one point in life, I traversed through dark tunnels on the ‘fringe’ of society. But also, like our protagonist, that is when I also ‘bumped into’ the bible, discovered something ah-mazing, and felt compelled to bring that message to those who had been blinded as I had.
10) How did you get into writing? I have always had a love for the written word and doodled and played with writing all of the time as a child making up fun stories, and as a teen penning wildly emotional poems. I jumped into my first professional writing gig as a 'stringer' (independent journalist) for the Chicago Daily Herald (Kane County Edition) in the early 1990's. Although I loved investigating and writing human interest stories, the need for more stable income pushed me into the land of corporate 9-5 until 2007 when I was able to focus again on my love of writing. More recently, I have written for and contribute to Tween Girls and God a weekly online (Kindle) magazine designed for Christian girls between the ages of 9-13; Devotion magazine, (online and physical publication) directed toward the Christian teen audience; WHOAwomen magazine a physical publication for Christian women; The Haven Journal,an online faith publication,Swagga4Christ Ministries, a unique online teen ministry, and The Fit Christian, online/physical publication for health and fitness with Christian overtones.
Heather Letto Bio (in her own words)
I suppose in many ways, my own faith journey mirrored Fran’s.
In my home as a child, Christianity wasn’t a faith, more like joke fodder. Therefore, for the first half of my life I lived as a nonbeliever, and journeyed through life with a basic carnal mindset. Through my young adult years, I followed the same path as my secular friends and did what society said was appropriate for my age: Wrestled with body image, acted promiscuous, and partied like a rock star.
After a surprise pregnancy, at age 23, I quickly married. Unfortunately, (and still with a carnal mindset) when things didn’t turn out story-book, the marriage ended in divorce. The divorce was in my early thirties and by that time, I had two young sons. I struggled as most single parents do with finances, loneliness and feelings of failure. Like Fran, I traversed through dark tunnels on the ‘fringe’ of society. I lost my home, lived in the basement of a friend with my sons and pretty much wallowed in my misery. But also, like our protagonist, as I wandered about, biding my time in destructive ways, I also ‘bumped into’ the bible.
Ironically it was at the request of my son, twelve years old at that time, who remembered we had gone to church as a family when I was married to his father. Kids see more than we think they do, and he could sense that things just weren’t as they should be. In my effort to appease his request to go to church, I said, “Okay,” and wandered into a Christian community of Believers. (Fox Lake Community Church)
To be honest, I really hadn’t gone there seeking Christ. And even though I saw the church as “clean” and myself as “dirty” the community embraced us as family. They were cool, hip, zealous for God and spoke words of truth I hadn’t had ears to hear before this. It all made sense and I totally embraced God’s word and chose to follow Christ. My oldest son and I were baptized the following summer on a beautiful blue sky day, in an open air ceremony with my whole new family by my side. And I never looked back. (My younger son was baptized four years later.)
To say I’m grateful to the Lord for his salvation is appropriate, but I don’t think it nearly sums up what’s inside of my heart.
I remember taking a stroll through the woods one day maybe a few years after committing my life to Christ. I was listening to Third Day and reflecting on God’s goodness. I can remember the exact spot where I stood as Mac Powell’s voice rained down on me with lyrics, “I would give you my life, ‘cause its all I have to give, because you gave your life for me.” That day, I offered those same words as my dedication prayer to our Lord I still stand by it.
Now a decade later, my life has been restored in all areas. I have remarried a Godly man and together we’ve served our God in a myriad of ministries.
The boys have grown into Godly men and are bringing their own sacrifices to God’s alter.
The Ascension Series is my present offering to the Lord.
It has been a sacrifice. The road thus far, (creating the story, writing, editing, seeking representation, waiting on a publisher, going through hair-pulling edits) has not been an easy ride by any stretch of the means. However, God is good. (Another understatement.) And through this process, he’s pulled me deeper into his truth and refined me just a little bit more in his perfect and loving fires.