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Sometimes I want to read books that are comfortably predictable, but other times I want something very different from what I’ve read before. Perhaps that’s what intrigues me most about Emerald Illusion, the new allegory from author J. Rodes (whom you may have met previously with Finding Evergreen or Red Rose Bouquet). Before we begin our visit, let’s take a quick look at this story.
Not of Kansas.
Now, after the loss of her mother and a move she didn’t want to make, she’s lost the will to dream anymore, let alone believe in her father’s Somedays. But a swirling wind, a wall of leaves, and a blinding darkness transform her world.
She and both of her brothers, Brogan and Matteaus, are swept from Kansas to someplace beyond—to a desert in which everything is watery brown, including the sky and the light of the weak sun. Abrielle finds herself in the middle of a realm everyone had heard of but no one believed existed. Except this version is run-down and broken, void of color and hope. Not much different from her view of life in Kansas.
When she gathers her bearings, she discovers her youngest brother is missing, lost in a land that is foreign and dying. Finding Matteaus becomes her sole focus, but when she and Brogan meet a boy named Levi, who only adds more mystery to this world that shouldn’t exist, she finds out this kingdom is much more perilous than the children’s book ever told.
Matteaus is in great danger.
There is nothing safe about Oz.
Welcome back, Jennifer! What inspired you to write Emerald Illusion?
Emerald Illusion is one of those rare works that kind of just bloomed on its own. That doesn’t always happen, but it’s fun when it does. I just saw the story. The challenge, then, became getting it down, writing it as I saw it.
That sounds like a fun challenge. Do you have a favorite character from this story? Why is this character your favorite?
Is it fair to say all four main characters were favorites? There are parts of each of them that I completely relate to. Parts of each that challenge me deeply. And their redemptive threads tug on my heart. I also LOVED writing Mikelle, Queen of the Mice and Raboodon, Emperor of the Flying Monkeys. And Ma’ohr… that was scary, but in writing him, I really had to seek God. To ask Him to reveal Himself to me afresh. There’s always a danger in writing a character that is supposed to represent the Divine. My prayer has been from the beginning that I would honor Him, and that He would stay all truth and wipe away whatever I got wrong. This book isn’t Divine, but I so want to point to the King in truth, and to honor Him through this allegory.
I love your sensitivity to the truth! Why did you choose this particular setting?
The story chose Oz. I thought about not doing that, but it seemed important to paint the contrast of a Kingdom that was run on illusion (in the original Wizard of Oz) against a very real Kingdom that is established for all time. I’ll admit right out there—I’m really nervous about how that will be received—but fear seemed less important than the underlying message of this allegory, so I went for it.
What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
A fresh hope and fervent longing for the Kingdom. It’s here. And it’s coming. And it’s going to be more than we can imagine. Everything we cling to now will be as ashes when we see it. Let’s look for it. Proclaim it. Live it.
Until the Kingdom comes.
How often we forget that all the “real” around us is only temporary… What are you reading right now?
This week, I finished Letters to the Church by Francis Chan and started Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. Also, I just finished Adrift—a novella by Jaycee Weaver, which was a lovely read, and am in the middle of Katie Ganshert’s Life After.
Some excellent choices! Can you share (briefly) about something you feel the Lord has been teaching you recently?
Right now, He is challenging me to look beyond. To stop living like all that I see now is all there really is. To actively seek His Kingdom, to look for glimpse of it, and to persistently, maybe annoyingly encourage others to do the same.
That’s awesome! Because we all need that encouragement to keep our eyes on Him and not cling so tightly to the things around us. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us today!
Your turn! What are you reading right now?
More About the Author:
J. Rodes lives on the wide plains somewhere near the middle of Nowhere. A coffee addict, pickleball enthusiast, and storyteller, she also wears the hats of mom, teacher, and friend. Mostly, she loves Jesus and wants to see the kids she’s honored to teach fall in love with Him too.
Also by J. Rodes:
The Uncloaked Trilogy
One question will redefine everything. Will you stand?
Braxton Luther is sixteen when the Progressive Reform Party takes over the government. He can’t understand his best friend Eliza’s panicked reaction, or his father’s cryptic warning—“Apathy is the illness of the overprivileged”—a not-so-subtle challenge to stand against the Party’s demand for unquestioning and undivided loyalty. It can’t be that bad, can it?
After a year of living under the Party’s rule, he’s not so sure. Only those who show the demanded allegiance receive the socialized rations of food or participate in the new educational system. For the rebellious, the resistant, the noncompliant? Reformation camp.
Not much is known about the reformation camps, but those who are sent there are never seen again. The solution seems oh-so-simple. Swearing allegiance takes just a signature on a paper. Just words. Braxton only wants the American dream—success, comfort, happiness. If checking a box and taking the Party’s seal will keep that hope alive, so be it.
When the rumors about the Party’s reformation tactics are confirmed by a brutal public killing, protecting Eliza becomes Braxton’s sole focus. She refuses to comply with the Party, which is a problem because he’s pretty sure she’s the girl he can’t live without. But then he discovers the threat against Eliza—the threat against all of the Uncloaked—is so much darker than simple death. Reality finally sinks in.
Defiance is no longer optional.