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COTT: Tender Shadows by Ann Gaylia O’Barr

Posted by Julie on July 21, 2014 in About Me, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini |
Author Ann Gaylia O’Barr visits today!
She brings with her, in the form of her latest novel, all her experience as
a Foreign Service officer in the turbulent Middle East. Tender
is one of seven such novels and will appeal to lovers of
foreign lands, culture, adventure, and romance.
About Tender Shadows:
When Beth Wilhite’s U.S. State Department job assigns her to an uncaring
Washington, D.C. following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, her intense
loneliness leads her to make decisions that clash with her values. Then she
receives a new assignment to the Middle Eastern kingdom of Al Hajar and a
chance to serve with an old friend, Joe Harlan, widowed a few years before.
Can she overcome the grip of past choices? Not yield to them again? Can Joe
accept what she’s done…and move beyond, perhaps even to loving her?
Joe’s daughter, Annie, working under Beth at the U.S. embassy, deals with
her own secret choice. And the young diplomat, Palestinian-American David
Antony, struggles with traumatic stress because of a choice he made earlier
in Iraq. Yet Annie and David are inexplicably drawn toward each other.
Together, might this thrown-together community find courage to live out his
or her individual calling…for such a time as this? And find a forever
Meet Ann Gaylia O’Barr:
Ann has at one time or another been a
full-time wife and mother, computer programmer, historic preservation
planner, Foreign Service officer with the U.S. State Department, and, since
2004, full-time writer (more or less). OakTara has published six of
her novels. The latest is Tender Shadows, which came out this
spring. Her last article was “The Diversity of God’s Call to Writers” in
the winter 2012 issue of ACFW Journal.
Ann, many of the major characters in your novels are American Christians
who serve their country at United States embassies overseas, as you did.
What kinds of tasks did you and your colleagues perform overseas?
The work is tremendously varied. The web site gives some idea of what Foreign Service officers do. My
job as a consular officer included aiding American citizens overseas. Some
tasks were routine: renewing U.S. passports and performing notary services.
Others were anything but routine, such as notifying families in the United
States that a loved one had died overseas or visiting Americans who were
jailed in the foreign country and reporting on their conditions–to the
families and to the State Department.
How did your experiences influence your writing?
Observing the United States from other cultures, I developed an interest in
why and how this country and its culture became what they are in the
twenty-first century. The changes in our country from 1990, when I came
into the Foreign Service, until 2004, when I left, have been tremendous. I
was assigned to Saudi Arabia during both Gulf Wars (1991 and 2003) as well
as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As we all know, the changes
haven’t stopped since then.
Two observations stand out: 1) How decadent some foreigners judged our
culture, based on the sometimes hedonistic lifestyles illustrated in the
media. 2) For America to be the world power that it is, many Americans,
including American Christians, often appeared not interested in what goes
on in the world outside our borders.
A lot of my stories concern Christians working to explain the country they
represent to foreigners. Beset with the same temptations and challenges
that Americans experience domestically, they attempt to live out their
Christian commitment in their foreign settings. The settings may reflect
these temptations and challenges through a different lens.
Is this especially true for Tender Shadows?
I think so. A couple of the characters have strayed further from their
commitments than in any of my other novels and struggle to find their way
back. The small embassy community they inhabit means they work out their
problems in closer quarters than in most domestic settings. Plus, foreign
demonstrations at the embassy, along with concern over hostility toward
Americans, heighten the tension and outline the challenges in a deeper
Learn more about Ann’s writing at these locations:


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