Name Laura Aranda
Where are you from- Southwest Louisiana
Upon graduating high school, she attended Jackson College of Ministries where she majored in Overseas Missions. She has worked in poverty-stricken El Salvador, Grenada and in the streets with the homeless in New Orleans. She teaches a Victorious Living class each Sunday. She and her family attend a First United Pentecostal Church in Southeast Texas. She is on the board of the SWLA Abolitionists group in Lake Charles, LA. She wrote this book to bring spiritual awareness to human sex trafficking in Houston, Texas area. Her prayer is that this book reaches people she cannot reach and gets into the hands of people who can make a change in our world. Modern-day slavery is a $32 billion dollar industry. Pushing Back the Darkness is a riveting Christian thriller that addresses the realities of modern day slavery. It is an adventure you will not forget and a call to shine the light of Christ into your world.
Fiona: Latest News?
I published my first book, Pushing Back the Darkness April 3, 2017 through Our Written Lives Publishing (OWL, LLC) and have sold 100 copies and have over 10 different Keynote Speaking events scheduled to bring awareness to human sex trafficking from now until the end of the year in Texas and Louisiana.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always written since I was a little girl in grade school. I never would have imagined that my first book would have been about sex trafficking and modern day slavery. I wrote this book because I came face to face with the reality of human trafficking in Houston, Texas three years ago. This is something you can never ‘unknow’ and how do you just walk away and try to go back to normalcy when there are people selling people for a profit? I do to do something, so I picked up my pen.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose when I was a teenager. I would post poetry on writerscafe.org and the first time someone actually bought one of my poems for an online magazine and sent me a check for $10 in the mail, I was over the moon! I really felt special and decided to keep pursuing my calling. Writing a book was my purpose. This book will outlive me. It will go farther and touch more people than I can ever imagine.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When I first became aware of human trafficking, I knew this was part of my calling in life. I needed to let the world around me know about this crisis in America. How can we do something about it if we don’t know. I prayed and ask God to give me the words to write. He is an author! He loves authors and once he breathed life into this work, I knew this book would go places and touch lives.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I hope my style sets my first writing apart and makes it unique. Style is the way writing is dressed up (or down) to fit the specific audience. Word choice and my voice — all contribute to the style of my book. With that being said, I used mostly a narrative to tell a fiction story. I knew I wanted something more than expository. This book had to be more than just the facts. My main audience is Christians. This is a Christian fiction book bringing spiritual awareness to modern day slavery and what we can all do about it through prayer and spiritual warfare.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Pushing Back the Darkness.
Human trafficking is one of the most evil things another person can do to degrade someone. It is a filthy dark world and I believe the light of Christ through prayer and intervention can do exactly what the title promises. Push back the darkness of evil and shine the light of Christ into the nightmare of those victims.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. Prayer. If America returns to prayer then we will have stronger families. Stronger families create stronger churches. Stronger churches create stronger communities and victims will become less and less. The backbone of a healthy society is the family unit. Over the past decade or more, the family has eroded away. This book is a reminder that when we return to prayer and family values, we can rescue and restore the brokenhearted.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book is loosely based on my first experience with Elijah’s Rising in Houston, Tx. The book is fiction. This is NOT my life story or a book about anyone that I know personally.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The Giver written by Lois Lowry was one book I read over and over while in grade school. I loved it.
Matt Maddix is my mentor. He is an incredible life coach and world changer. He is one of the most positive men you will ever get the chance to meet and I am blessed to be able to call him a friend. I look up to him and all he has accomplished as a former pastor in Florida, a missions coordinator working with the homeless and prostitutes in major cities across America and now as a life coach endeavoring to open his own publishing house.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Francine Rivers and James Patterson are my favorite authors. I wish I could write like them.
John Harrison has written and published a book titled, Fighting Back. This book is also written about human trafficking. Neither of us knew the other was writing about the same topic. His book is also faith based. I would highly recommend picking up his book as well.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My friends. I had a core group of friends that encouraged me and read the book prior to it being released. I truly believe that God opened the right doors for me and placed the right people in my life to help get this book published.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
YES. I want to sell a million copies. I want this book to be in every church bookstore in America. I also want to write a second book concerning emotional healing once a victim has come out of that situation.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would create better dialogue between the characters. I would also figure out some way to incorporate the music from Nefarious, Merchant of Souls. I don’t know how I could do that but I would listen to those songs over and over and over again as I cried and wrote and edited this book over the past three years.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was in grade school and I would be writing a story while other kids in the class had to be doing their homework. When tattled on, my teacher, Ms. Poole would tell them to leave me alone…I was going to be a famous author one day and this was practice.
I never forgot that and I am pleased to say that I knocked on her door last week and presented her with a signed copy of my first book.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am currently marketing and advertising and building a brand. I assumed I would be finished with this book and move on but I am busier now than when I was in the editing stage. I am evolving into a Keynote speaker on this subject and that has taken over my life right now. I want to be the most confident public speaker than I can become.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I strived to paint a realistic picture of sex trafficking while being as inoffensive as possible. I didn’t want the book to be too graphic for young readers but I wanted a shock value to the book that would stick with them and make them open their eyes.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do. I have an event, a speaking engagement, a festival or conference almost every weekend and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is my dream! I want to be a sought after speaker on this subject all over America.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My editor, Rachael Hartman has been a godsend. She requested an old friend of hers, David Lisenby to come and do a photoshoot of my models for the front cover of the book. He did an excellent job. I did not want to use stock photos so I asked a friend and a family member to come out to help me. When you see the cover, you will notice just how beautiful it turned out!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part was all the time I spent away from my family. I have little ones that had to get used to Mommy working and researching. The more I learned about human trafficking and specifically sex trafficking, the more desperate I got to finish this book. This is a fiction book but the events can all be pulled from any news channel’s headlines. This is very real and heartbreaking.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes! I learned so much and even though the book has been published there is still new reports coming out weekly. Youth age 12 to 17 are more at risk of homelessness than adults. 75 percent of runaways are female. The Department of Justice estimates that human trafficking is the third most profitable criminal activity in the world after drug and arms trafficking, and often those three go hand in hand. As reported by National Runaway Hotline, “One out of every three children that run away is lured into sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Anna Kendrick or maybe Talisa Soto would play the heroine-Claire Sullivan
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Find a main audience that you want to write to. Millennials? Young business owners? Christian families? Who is your target audience. When you decide that, you can write accordingly.
Find your street team, those who will be Beta Readers for you and give you advice and constructive criticism. Also, never give up! As Matt Maddix says, “Work your face off!” Don’t allow anything to stand in your way if you a message for the world!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for picking up this book to read. It proves that this generation has an interest in changing the world around them. Compassion is not dead. Become an activist. Create an abolitionist group in your school, your community, your church. Do something. You are never too young!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Praying for Change-A comprehensive Prayer Guide written by Courtney Francois
Called to Write Chosen to Publish-inspiration for Christian Writers written by Rachael Kathleen Hartman Our Written Lives
He Called Her: Pentecostal Women in Ministry written by Daniel Koren
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I don’t. My parents would always read to me…which is something I need to do more of with my own children.
There was a series of little golden books as a child I loved to read and look at the pictures. Mother Goose rhymes. I was an avid reader. I would read anything I got my hands on. Avon books, newspapers, cereal boxes, comic books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love to laugh. I often have to remind myself to calm down and get out of the center of the room’s attention. My friends, Riq and Issa make me laugh. My sister, Lynsey Marlene makes me laugh. She is that one part of my childhood that came with me and she knows me better than anyone else in the world other than my husband.
Feeling overwhelmed and the feeling of my hands being tied and unable to control a situation makes me cry. I like everything to be neat and orderly but situations are not always complete and wrapped up and tied with a bow on top when finished. Unresolved issues in life make me cry. Loneliness for distant family and the desire for my children to have a huge core family filled with aunts and uncles and grandparents make me cry.
I suppose human trafficking should still make me cry but it does not anymore. It broke my heart and devastated my mentality of America..and I did cry back then but I have moved past that. I have decided to pick myself up from crying and make a change. What can I do about solving this situation? How can I help?
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
I would love love love to meet James Patterson. (And Mr. James, if, by chance or fate that you are out there and you read this…well, I am serious! Let’s do lunch! Please!!)
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
How big is my headstone? I have a lot to say. I guess this will work:
Laura E. Aranda 1984-2087 Mother. Wife. Friend. An agent of change. May her written works long outlive her.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
When I have the chance, I love to Flounder fish.
I love to travel (I will be in Denver for the first time next month!)
I am a foodie. I love to try new foods. I am not afraid to eat anything at least once. Twice if I like it.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My husband is from Chicago so we love to watch Chicago P.D, Fire, & Chicago Justice. We often joke about there being a Chicago Nursing Home edition coming out or any other Chicago series.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Favorite food would be Mexican food. Authentic Mexican food, of course but I could each a plate of messy nachos every day.
Favorite color would be any earth tone color. Muted browns, tans, greens. Calming colors
Favorite music would be anything by Mat Kearney.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have opened a coffee shop bookstore. A place with open mic nights and local artists’ artwork. I may still do that…..
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I also have a Facebook author page as well.