In this first book of the series he is dispatched urgently to China, where an underground seminary is under siege from fanatical sword-wielding members of a local cult who still pay homage to the bloodthirsty extremists who tried to expel all foreigners from China in the nineteenth century.
The following is a short excerpt from the book (continued on http://karahowell.blogspot.com/).
Scroll to the end to learn how to read more, and also to learn how you can buy the book for a special price and with the chance to win a $200 Amazon gift voucher.
The Bond Street School of English lies at the end of a dirt road on the edge of Fulang city, in the heart of Shanxi province in China’s north. This place was once farmland, but, over the decades, as China industrialized, so Fulang has relentlessly expanded, and most of the school’s neighbors are now hurriedly erected workshops that machine-tool components for the city’s two massive petrochemical complexes.
On one side is the Goodluck China Bearings Company, where weary, cigarette-smoking men file in each morning to spend long hours grinding, shaping and polishing chunks of stainless steel into industrial bearings, on antique machinery that has been passed down through a succession of owners.
On the other side, slightly more modern, is the Fulang Precision Electronics and Power Components Corporation, a grand name for a tiny plant which manufactures resistors, filters, resonators, inductors and other specialized electrical parts for the power generators that keep the city’s heavy machinery operating.
A piggery over the road from the school serves as one of the few reminders of the area’s rural heritage, along with a nearby grove of peach trees, now in brilliant bloom, their rich springtime pink almost the only touch of color in a remorselessly bleak landscape.
Though opened just two months earlier, inauspiciously during winter, and with no fanfare, the Bond Street School of English is already the most exclusive of the numerous English cram schools that have sprung up to cater for the ambitious young mothers of Fulang.
At least, that is how it appears to the mothers themselves, who gather at the local schools each afternoon to pick up their children - exactly one child per mother - and who, while they wait, chat mainly about how to get their children into the best universities, and otherwise about which restaurants employ the best cooks.
“That school only offers a single class a day,” says one pretty young lady, dressed in jeans and a pale blue blouse. “Why would they do that? It’s already full. That’s what I hear. I heard it was fully booked even before they opened. So why don’t they have lots of classes?”
“Someone said they’re planning to offer more classes later,” answers her friend, who has tinted her long black hair a fiery red. “When they’re more established.”
“But they have a foreign couple there. I hear they’re from America. They’re both young - about thirty. It means they can charge really high fees, with lots of classes. So why don’t they? But I hear that it is only the woman who teaches.”
“Well, that’s typical, isn’t it? Men in America are all hen-pecked. So she works, and he cooks the meals and cleans the house.”
They all laugh.
Now one of the women lowers her voice. “That school director. Li-Kui Ling. He’s a very old man. I heard that he has a shady past. Someone said he’d been in prison. For a long time. But not here in Shanxi province. Somewhere down south.”
“For political crimes. Maybe religious crimes - against the state.”
“So how come he’s allowed to open an English school?”
“Maybe he’s not allowed. Maybe that school is illegal. That’s why they don’t advertise. Haven’t you noticed? They do no promotion at all.”
“So how do they find their students then…?” Now another lady speaks in a hushed tone. “I heard that that man - Li-Kui Ling - I heard that he was once a leader of the Red Guards…”
Suddenly the women become silent. When you live in China you know that certain topics are better not discussed. All these young women have grown up knowing not to ask their parents anything concerning their activities during the Cultural Revolution. This was the turbulent period in the 1960s and 1970s when - under the guidance of the Great Helmsman Mao Zedong - workers attacked their bosses, students tortured and even executed their teachers and their professors, kids denounced their own parents, and pastors were beaten and often killed.
For a short while silence reigns, until one of the ladies changes the subject. “I heard that a lot of the students at that school are older people. And they come from outside Fulang. Who are they? Why are they there?”
“Maybe that director is training a group of revolutionaries.”
“Really? English-speaking revolutionaries? Come on…”
More laughing. But this lady is not completely wrong. For Li-Kui Ling is actually one of the heroes of the underground church in China. He spent many years in prison for his beliefs, before being exiled back to Fulang, his hometown. And it is here in Fulang that he has set up the Bond Street School of English as a front for a clandestine Christian seminary, one of scores that have been established by the underground church around China to train pastors and missionaries.
Though right now the Bond Street School of English is in crisis.
A further excerpt from the book will be published on December 5 at http://empowertoprosper.wordpress.com/.
“Brother Half Angel” is on sale at Amazon (goo.gl/icqeOA). From December 1 to December 16 it is part of a special promotion. Go to bitly.com/Christian_Books to learn how you can win a $200 Amazon gift coupon.
How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?
No clear call, it’s just something I’ve always loved doing. My father was a librarian who also wrote, and my mother had been a journalist, so I grew up surrounded by books. When I was twelve a poem of mine was included in an international poetry collection. I’ve never achieved that success again!
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
I write international thrillers – exciting (I hope) novels with plots that take the main characters across many countries. But they are also clearly aimed for the Christian market.
Sound good. How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
I can write quickly. But I also have a family to support, and as my novels are not making much money I often have to put them aside for “real” work. But if I were working full-time on a novel I could finish it in about two months.
Wow. I envy that ability. Wish I could write that fast. What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
I am particularly concerned with the issue of the persecution of Christians, and my novel “Brother Half Angel” is about an underground seminary in China that is under attack from anti-Christian forces. It also raises questions of when Christians can fight back, or must we always turn the other cheek?
Great concern! Where do you get ideas? Character names?
My ideas come from current events. Christians are being persecuted in so many countries, and I don’t have problems thinking up ideas. Character names seem to just come to me. My main character is called Brother Half Angel – also the name of the novel that I am promoting – and I called him that because he once had an angel tattoo on his arm, but in an accident his forearm was sliced off and the angel become half an angel.
Lots of mine do too! Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
I love music, especially what is known as “world music” – pop music from Africa, Latin America and other countries. When I’m writing I will often be listening to music from Mali or Brazil or some other country.
I also love overseas travel, though with three kids I haven’t done much recently. And living in Australia, it is expensive to travel abroad, as we are so far from other countries. But now that our kids are adults my wife and I hope to travel, and possibly, if we can afford it, spend some time living abroad. I lived in Tokyo for seventeen years and still speak the language quite well, so would love to go back and spend more time there.
Sounds like a great plan. Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?
I’m promoting my novel “Brother Half Angel” in December as part of a John 3:16 Marketing Network promotion of several books. There is a website for this promotion with giveaways and prizes.
My own blog is at www.authormartinroth.com
His Brother Half Angel international thrillers focus on the persecuted church. They feature Brother Half Angel, an abrasive former military man who heads a clandestine new military order that is dedicated to fighting for the rights of persecuted Christians around the world.
The five books in the series are "The Coptic Martyr of Cairo," "Brother Half Angel," "The Maria Kannon," "Military Orders" and "Festival in the Desert."
He is also the author of the Johnny Ravine private eye series, with "Prophets and Loss," "Hot Rock Dreaming" (Australian Christian Book of the Year finalist) and "Burning at the Boss," and the Feisty Ferreira series of financial thrillers - "Tokyo Bossa Nova" and "The Kalgoorlie Skimpy."
He lives in Australia with his Korean wife and three sons.
To purchase Martin's book, go here: Amazon
For a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card, between December 1 and December 16, 2013, enter the John 3:16 Marketing Network Rafflecopter drawing at: http://bit.ly/Christian_Books
As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to: http://bit.ly/Christian_Books and enter the Raffle copter (toward the bottom of the page. Be sure and pick up your Kindle version of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman for $.99 at http://bit.ly/Carole_B