Like poetry? If so, you should check out Denica McCall’s new devotional poetry anthology Flowers in the Darkness, which releases TODAY! Congrats Denica! Last week, we were able to sit down with Denica and ask her a few questions about her work, her art, and her mission, and we’re so excited to introduce her to you.
Tell us a little about Flowers in the Darkness.
The idea for creating a collective book of poetry was birthed from a question I asked myself after going on an anti-human trafficking mission trip to Pattaya, Thailand in 2012. That question was: how can I use my specific artistic talents to support the fight to end this injustice that is rampant all over the world? So I decided to compile the significant amount of poetry that I already had written with the intention of using profits from book sales to give to a group fighting trafficking. For many years I’ve written poetry as a way to connect with God and express my feelings to him in a way that nothing else can. I’ve also given away poems as encouragement for people or posted them periodically on my blog. Now I have a book full of poems to share with hopefully even more people. The book is a glimpse into my relationship with God and some of the processes he has led me through and includes poetry written more than seven years ago, as well as more recent works. I am giving half of my net profit to the Genesis Project, a wonderful non-profit in Seattle working to get trafficked girls off the streets and provide them with better opportunities through connecting them with rehabilitation programs. I hope the book will move and inspire all of its readers, as well as be a small beacon of hope to women trapped in and hurt by the sex industry.
How does your faith influence your writing?
I cannot separate my faith from my writing any more than I can separate myself from my writing. Just as writing helps me understand and unveil my true self, so it helps me uncover truth and commune with Jesus in fresh and personal ways. Creative writing is an expression of my faith journey and a reflection of my identity as a daughter of God.
Can you give us a sneak peek at one of your favorite stanzas?
From the poem, “Imagination”:
You take my imagination to depths beyond fabrication
To places where truth has wings, where simplicity sings
In anticipation of the harmony that accompanies
What’s the story behind your favorite poem in Flowers in the Darkness?
The story I’d like to share is of the poem entitled “The Edge.” This poem is very special and personal to me because it is about an amazing young woman I met in Thailand and was written shortly after I returned home from the trip. This woman was very close in age to me, and my friends and I met her in one of the many bars in the city of Pattaya where women can be “bought” for the night. As I explain in the intro to the book, our mission was to allow God to lead us to certain girls and start conversations with them and then actually pay to take them out of the bar and treat them to dinner before telling them about the safe house offered through the Not Abandoned organization. This particular young woman was serving us in the bar she worked in while we talked with her coworker, but my heart went out to her as I was sitting there, and I couldn’t stop noticing her. Long story short, I decided to talk to her on my own without a translator, and somehow we were able to make an instant connection even though she barely spoke English. It is difficult to explain how God bound our hearts together—I just know he wanted me to meet her, and he wanted her to know how loved and precious she was. Through my encounter with this young woman, I was able to see all these women in a different way. I no longer wanted to label them as “prostitutes,” because this one had become my friend. I didn’t care about her past or her lifestyle. God loved her and valued her and allowed me just a small glimpse into his heart for her. She received Jesus as her Savior on the second night we treated her to dinner. So now, though I have no way of knowing where she is or how she is doing, I still know that we are sisters and God is taking care of her.
What an incredible story! Your cover is just lovely! Who designed it?
My incredibly talented friend from Oklahoma City, Kendra Cunkle, designed the cover. Several years ago, I served in a program at a church her dad pastors. That’s how I got to know her and learn of her many artistic gifts.
On the lighter side, if you could eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life, where would it be?
Okay, so I’m going to twist this question a little. I’m not really a big restaurant person to be honest. I have become, however, a coffee shop fanatic. Perhaps cliché for being a writer, but nevertheless it’s true. I love the ambiance and aroma of coffee shops and how they cultivate a community atmosphere, as well as a great place for some quality writing sessions. One of my favorites in Seattle is Storyville Coffee, and my new favorite, located in Nashville (where I was able to recently visit), is Crema Coffee Roasters. I could spend a lot of time and drink a lot of coffee in either of these!
What’s your next project?
Well, my current work in progress is a sort of dystopian fantasy novel about a young girl named Journey and her efforts to escape punishment based on false evidence convicting her of a crime. In her flight, she learns many secrets helping her to recognize her own beauty and truly be free. I recently completed my second book in a supernatural series and will continue to work through the editing process on those two. But I am very excited for this new story in which I am writing from a different point of view and in a different genre.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Dream big and take risks! Take note of what makes your favorite authors your favorite and learn from them. Go to writer’s conferences and make connections with other people in the writing industry, as well as other writers who are in a similar point in the journey as you. Compose a writing schedule that is doable for you—even a half hour writing session can go a long way! But most of all, don’t make decisions based on fear. Too many dreams remain potential because of this debilitating lie. While it is important to glean from the wisdom of professionals, don’t be afraid to take the necessary steps to pursue what is in your heart. Whether that simply means silencing the lie of “writer’s block” by putting words on the page, or whether that means pursuing publication. Enjoy the process more than the end result. It’s in the process you discover your validation is not based on what you produce.
Thanks so much Denica! We’re so excited for your release! #yourbookisbeautiful