It’s my pleasure to introduce Ana Waters, who recently released book 4 of her Beauty for Ashes series, Lev Tahor: A Heart Redeemed, to the InspyRomance family.
JM: Welcome to InspyRomance, Ana! I’m a huge fan, so I’m super excited to have you here. Can you tell us about yourself?
AW: Hi, and thank you so much for having me! I’m a Jewish believer in Jesus, an abuse survivor, and an advocate against spiritual and emotional abuse. As an avid romance reader since childhood, I was frustrated with trauma being used either as a plot device or easily glossed over. I wanted to show the realistic road to healing while also presenting a faith forward message that abuse doesn’t get to ruin your life or steal your chance for a happily ever after.
JM: Your series is written as though they are the memoirs of a group of women who are on a journey to faith, emotional healing, and love after trauma. Can you tell me about the series and your “why” for writing it?
AW: The series began after leaving a cult of 21 years. I had written so many plays and lessons for the congregation, but nothing for myself since college. What initially began as catharsis became a 425 page manuscript in just 2.5 months! This was with three babies all under four years-old! I just couldn’t stop writing. Two weeks after I finished book 1, I remember lying in bed and thinking, “I have to know what happens next!” So began book 2. I’m not sure when or how the idea of the characters publishing their “memoirs” began, but it’s been such a fun detail now throughout the series.
JM: Tikkun Olam: Restoring What was Lost was my introduction to your books. I’m not a fan of love triangles, but something kept drawing me back to the blurb, so I took the plunge and loved it. Can your books be read as stand-alone stories, or should they be read in order?
AW: They are written as stand alone novels, and I do my best to quickly re-introduce old characters without boring readers of the entire series. My hope is that wherever a reader chooses to start the series, they’ll want to go back and find out how each of these women overcome their hardships.
JM: That was certainly the case for me! Can you give us a brief overview of your new release, Lev Tahor: A Heart Redeemed?
AW: As this is book 4, our main character, Carly, has read the first three books within the series herself. The difference is that since she lives within this literary universe, the characters are flesh and blood people to her. Her book crush on the unlucky member of the book 3 love triangle, Joe Trautweig, creates immediate tension when neither can deny the instant connection. Joe’s past draws him closer to God, but Carly believes her sins are too big to forgive. She grew up with a twisted version of Jesus, and Joe fights to show Carly she is worthy to be loved by both God and by him.
JM: One of the things that drew me to your books was the dual titles in Hebrew and English. I have enjoyed reading about Jewish traditions along with their encouraging Christian faith messages. Lev Tahor shows us a traditional Hanukkah celebration. You’ve revealed on social media that you go all out for Hanukkah. Can you tell us how you celebrate with your family?
AW: Yes! There are blue and white lights everywhere! Every year, I buy my kids matching Chanukah pajamas, t-shirts, and the house is decorated with lights, toys, garland, towels, and art. We also have headbands, my Chanukah t-shirts for all 8 nights, and then all the delicious food served in Chanukah-themed glasses, plates, and service ware. The kitschier the better!
JM: Thank you so much for chatting with me. Before you go, can you tell our readers what’s next?
AW: Book 5 in the series will be coming Fall of 2024, and it’s definitely the most vulnerable of the entire series. It deals with the realities of divorce when facing an abusive spouse and toxic congregation weaponizing the Bible rather than holding the abuser accountable. Book 6 is also done, so I’m currently working on Book 7, which will be the final novel in the series. Maybe romcom next? We shall see!
JM: You can find all of Ana’s books here, and Lev Tahor: A Heart Redeemed, is currently on sale for $.99 US (or the equivalent in other markets). She has graciously offered 5 ebook copies for our readers. To enter to win one of them, comment with a welcome message to Ana or answer the following question: what intrigues you most about the series based on our interview today? Entries will close on Sunday, November 19, at 8:00 PM EST.
Carly Miller loves reading the triumphant memoirs of her friend and co-worker, Poppy Levine. Having survived a tumultuous upbringing with her hyper-religious mother, Carly is happy for Poppy’s story of healing and faith, but she believes her own sin is unforgivable. Equally inaccessible to Carly is Poppy’s former suitor, Joe Trautweig, whose story from Poppy’s book captivates Carly. When she encounters those jade green eyes in real life, the lines between the printed page and the man himself begin to blur. Joe has his own painful secrets, but Carly fears her past will be too much for their mutual attraction to overcome. Can Carly accept the idea her own heart could be made clean (lev tahor) and that both she and Joe can embrace what forgiveness truly means?