Award-winning author Rachelle Dekker explores a new creative direction with her latest stand-alone novel, When Through Deep Waters (Tyndale House). A psychological and supernatural suspense story, the novel follows one woman’s harrowing journey through tragedy, grief, and shame. Recovering from a tragic turn of events, Alicen McCaffrey starts hearing voices and seeing mysterious figures in the woods. Is she losing her sanity, as it’s rumored her grandmother did—or might there be more to Red Lodge than meets the eye? In this interview, the author shares why she went in this new direction, the role that faith plays in the story, and why “identity” is a recurring theme in her work…
When Through Deep Waters represents a genre shift from your previous novels, the dystopian Seer series. What led you to pursue a new direction, writing psychological and supernatural suspense?
I always write for myself first. I’ve said I write because it’s the best way for me to learn. So the journey my characters take is always one I myself am exploring and trying to understand.
As I grow my characters, themes will grow too. The “genre shift” wasn’t intentional. I just find a story—or better, a story finds me—and then I build a world around it, and in this case, it felt suspenseful. It made more sense for the character and her journey of discovery in this setting. So, I followed that leading.
You have described When Through Deep Waters as “a story about identity” and a journey toward remembering that “you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), which were also prevalent themes in the Seer series. Why are these themes important to you?
Because it’s the only journey that exists. We are often called to remember our identity in Christ. Our identity in love. Agape love. A perfect love. How often we all forget this. I forgot very often, and so I am constantly returning to the truth of Jesus in Matthew 5:14, and asking myself what that really means. What would it mean to be “the light of the world”? I can’t imagine I’ll ever stop writing about this, and I can’t imagine it will ever stop being connectable for readers.
What lessons or truths do you hope readers will take away from When Through Deep Waters?
I hope readers are challenged to examine what being “the light of the world,” as Jesus says we are, means. I hope they question the way they look at themselves and those around them with eyes that aren’t clouded by shadows, but instead are fixed on light. On Christ. On who they are in him.
What role does faith play in the story?
There was a time when I thought I wanted to write fiction just for the sake of good fiction. But as I’ve grown I’ve found myself drawn deeper into wanting to pair my fiction with faith, so that the two can’t be separated. Faith plays as much a role as anything else.
This novel explores some difficult events and topics—personal tragedy, grief, and shame. Why did you choose to tackle these tough issues?
We live in a world of opposites. Polarity. Ups and downs. Equal reactions. And I wanted to make the light in this novel blinding, transformative, and all-consuming. So the darkness had to be equal. The pain real, tangible, and tragic. I set out to throw my protagonist into hell, in order to provide a way for her to find the Kingdom of Heaven. And I think I did that here.
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When Through Deep Waters