Steve Theunissen is a teacher and freelance writer who lives in New Zealand with his wife and two children. He is the author of several non-fiction books. Through Angel’s Eyes is his first work of fiction. Steve and I met through a mutual LinkedIn group where he says, “As a middle school teacher, I have had the pleasure of sharing the love of literacy with hundreds of 11 to 13 year olds, many of whom had never read a book in their lives. I have derived much pleasure from seeing the awakening of the reading and writing bug in these kids and its flow on effects into the areas of self esteem and positive attitude.”
GAIL: Welcome, Steve, and thank you for visiting to day. Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to on Twitter, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for Through Angel's Eyes?
STEVE: Through Angel’s Eyes brings the story of the 1963 Alabama child-marches to life through the eyes of Angel Dunbar - a 13 year old African American girl who stands up to be counted and, in the process, faces up to all the hatred, brutality and derision that society can throw at her.
50 years ago the scourge of racism was stifling the development of millions of children in America. In 1963, a core group of these courageous young people stood up and said, “Enough!” The story of these child-marchers imparts vital lessons that the 21st century child desperately needs to learn from - courage, resistance to peer pressure, empathy, non-violence and conviction.
Weaved into this historic struggle for justice is a love story - with a dangerous twist. Angel falls for a 15 year old who also desperately wants to overcome injustice, but his method of doing so is radically different than hers. Will her heart lead Angel down a track from which there is no return?
I have always been inspired by the courage, determination and dignity of the Birmingham child-marchers in the summer of 1963. I saw in them role models for a generation that is in desperate need of positive peer role models. I saw in their heroic tale an inspirational, but little-known, story that needs to be shared with today’s youth.
GAIL: You stress courage as an important theme of Through Angel’s Eyes. How does your protagonist develop in her role as a courageous child-marcher?
STEVE: Angel Dunbar starts out as an innocent idealist who, through bitter experience and the guiding hand of an elderly neighbor, learns to develop the strength and determination to make a stand for what is right. She overcomes her fears to face down the worst that her society can throw at her, doing so with quiet confidence and zealous conviction. She also develops empathy as she realizes that you’ll never understand a person until you see things from their perspective.
GAIL: How is your protagonist’s story unique from others of its genre, and what makes your novel stand out?
STEVE: While not a mystery/suspense novel as such, Through Angel’s Eyes is unique in that it infuses the timeless wisdom of the 20th century’s greatest moral leader, Martin Luther King, into a heart pounding narrative full of intrigue, murder and redemption. Through Angel’s Eyes challenges, inspires, teaches and uplifts.
GAIL: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)
STEVE: It is Angel’s heart, rather than her profession, that draws her into suspenseful situations. She falls for the bad boy in school, Ronny Jackson, who, unlike Angel, believes that equality for Black people will only come through the barrel of a gun. Ronny draws Angel into a dark and dangerous underworld where preparations are well underway for an armed resistance to racial oppression. Can she escape before the city explodes?
GAIL: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?
STEVE: Through Angel’s Eyes focuses on one year in the life of Angel Dunbar. I plan to continue Angel’s journey up to and including the death of Martin Luther King in 1968.
GAIL: This last is not so much a question as an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why?
STEVE: A spot on the beach at Vina Del Mar in Chile sounds pretty good. It’s a fantastic beach resort with a Latin American flavor and we (myself, wife and 10 year old daughter) are planning to move there from our current version of paradise (Tauranga, New Zealand) in 2013.
Thank you, Steve, for sharing an intriguing look into the world of Angel Dunbar.
Please visit Steve Theunissen, author of Through Angel’s Eyes, at these sites:
Website and Book Trailer: Download site http://throughangelseyes.yolasite.com/
Order site http://sbpra.com/stevetheunissen/