Belonging to Heaven Descended from the Hawaiian royal line, Jonathan Napela became one of the first—and most influential—converts to the Church in Hawaii. A man of intelligence, social status, and wealth, he used his considerable position to further the gospel in his native land. He developed a lifelong bond of brotherhood with Elder George Q. Cannon, helping to translate the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian and establish a gathering place for the Hawaiian saints in Laie, Oahu. But when his beloved wife, Kitty, was stricken with leprosy, Jonathan made the defining decision of his life. He would leave his life of privilege to become her caretaker and spend the rest of his life on Molokai, the island of lepers. To those who suffered similar heartbreak and banishment, Jonathan's self-sacrifice became their lifeline. Based on true story, this is an extraordinary novel of a man who chose love in the face of death.
Author Gale Sears Gale Sears is an award-winning author, known for her historical accuracy and intensive research. Gale received a BA in playwriting from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in theater arts from the University of Minnesota. She is the author of the bestselling The Silence of God and several other novels, including The Route, Christmas for a Dollar, Autumn Sky, Until the Dawn, and Upon the Mountains. She and her husband, George, are the parents of two children and reside in Salt Lake City, Utah.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your latest/upcoming release.
I get a kick out of the fact that all my names are monoslyabic. Gale Ann Kamp Sears. My spirit feels 30, but I'm not. I have a great husband, and an amazing daughter. When there's time, I love to travel. My newest release is Belonging to Heaven. It is the story of one of the first Hawaiian converts to the LDS church in 1850, Jonathan Napela. His conversion came about because of the missionary efforts of George Q. Cannon.
2. How did you come up with the idea of Belonging To Heaven?
Because the book takes place in Hawaii, my publisher and I thought of having a Hawaiian title. We knew we wanted it to have something to do with longing for heaven or being part of heaven. I found the words, O na lani...which means, belonging to heaven. My publisher and I loved it. We decided to go with the English translation so it would be easier for the reader to remember.
3. What was your inspiration for the book?
15 months ago, when my publisher asked for ideas for my next book, my mind flew to the Hawaiian islands; not just because it would be a wonderful place to do research, but because I've had years of association with the islands. I graduated from McKinley High School in Honolulu and have had a long time attatchment with the people and places of paradise. While researching early missionary efforts in the islands, I ran across the name of Jonathan Napela. As soon as I read a little about him, I knew it was Jonathan's story I needed to tell.
4. What do you normally like to read when not writing?
Classics. Contempory Fiction. Historical fiction. Sue Grafton's ABC mysteries. The writings of C. S. Lewis.
5. What is your favorite holiday?
6. Describe your main character in six words.
Jonathan Napela is inspiring, affable, humble, intelligent, charizmatic, and a man of enduring faith.
7. What are you working on now?
I am working on a book of historical fiction which takes place in 1850 Italy. It concerns the mission of Lorenzo Snow to the villages of the Waldenese in the Alpine mountains of northern Italy.
8. What scene was the hardest for you to write?
It was difficult to write the scene where Jonathan and Kitty finally realize that it is no longer possible to hide the fact that Kitty has leprosy, and that they will be banished to the island of Molokai and the leper colony.
9. Did you set yourself some strict rules while writing?
I try to discipline myself to writing 5 or 6 hours a day. I start around 8 am and write until 2 or 3. When I'm pressing up against a deadline, I will write 8 to 9 hours a day. Those days are not fun. At those times I wonder why I ever chose to be a writer. I dream of selling flowers.
10. If you could bring one of your characters to life, who would it be? And why?
I would love to be able to take a hike up into the Maui mountains with Jonathan Napela. I would ask him so many questions about his conversion to the Mormon church, his friendship with George Q. Cannon, and the time he spent taking care of his wife Kitty at the leper colony on Molokai. Since Jonathan is an actual person and I believe in eternity, I may just get the opportunity to chat with him.
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