Naomi Reed is married to Darren and they live with their three sons in the Blue Mountains. Both Naomi and Darren trained as physiotherapists and they spent six years serving in Nepal with the International Nepal Fellowship. Since returning to Australia, Naomi has written four books including the award-winning My Seventh Monsoon. She now can’t imagine not writing and enjoys the flexibility of the writing and speaking life, particularly when it fits seamlessly into a busy family life. But that’s not to say that it always does! – Or that she has figured out how to maintain that sense of a balanced life … It’s what she’s working on at the moment.
How did you come to faith in Christ?
I came to faith in Christ in 1980. I was a struggling, insecure twelve-year-old from a non-churched background – and I was acutely aware of my unacceptability to almost everybody. Then, a close Christian friend invited me to the high school Christian group and I heard for the first time that God loved me, that he’d made me and that he’d sent his own Son to redeem my life and to make me acceptable to Him. It was utterly amazing and I remember staying on in the music room that day, completely still and silently praying – and at the same time knowing that nothing was ever going to be the same again. And it hasn’t been! I’ve been overwhelmed by the mercy and love of God every day since then.
What do you most love about reading?
Well, that all depends on what I’m reading and what mood I’m in. Primarily, I want to be inspired and I want to connect with someone (real or fictional) at an emotional level. When that happens, I love reading and I find it almost impossible to put the book down. Actually, it all began when I was a child. I grew up in a wonderful home without a television, so we would always have our books with us – at the dinner table, under the sheets after lights out, even walking to school. So, reading became a bit of an obsession and even now, as an adult, I’m still really easily absorbed in a book… sometimes to the detriment of other, more pressing considerations.
I love the surprise of it all. I love the way I can be writing something and the mere act of putting pen to paper sparks off another thought. One set of words and phrases fires off another and I end up somewhere I didn’t expect at all. I love the way that when I’m in the middle of writing something, almost everything I see and hear contributes to it. Right now, I’m at the end of my fourth manuscript and when I finished the last word of this one, the tears were streaming down my face. It was that sense of having poured out everything onto the page. With this manuscript, I’ve tried to capture the whole message of the Bible (the whole sweep of God’s plans and promises, culminating in Jesus) through the voices of women. It’s been a completely ambitious project! But I love story telling (and dramatic monologue as a genre) so I’ve enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture Biblical female voices and then ground them in the tactile reality of another time and place. More than anything, I suppose I want to inspire the reader with God’s promises and perspective – and then hope that they’ll be able to see beyond their present circumstances. And I love the way writing forces me to reach into my own memory and experience in such a way that I see and think and pray more clearly than before. But most of all I love the way that God can use the printed word. I feel like what I can offer him is so small – it’s yesterday’s bread and some manky fish. But if he chooses, he can take my tiny offering and then do with it what he wants. If he chooses, he can even feed 5,000. I love that.
What is your favourite novel?
There’s no standout novel, but probably lots of authors on my journey. I grew up on Noel Streatfield, L.M Montgomery, Louisa Alcott and Jane Austen. Then I enjoyed Maeve Binchy and Rosamund Pilcher. Right at the moment, it’s Ian McEwen. I think the link with all of these is the way they take me into a world of relationships and draw on the subtleties and complexities of human nature. That’s the most important thing for me. When I sit down to read, I want to be taken to new places and new people – but the words and thoughts have to be subtle and complex and beautiful.
What book(s) has helped you most in growing in your knowledge of God?
What I want more than anything is to grow in my daily walk with God – the way I talk with him and live with him and honour him and serve him. So, Helen Roseveare's books have been very challenging. They’ve forced me to ask the questions about what I’m willing to do for God and where I’m willing to go. It was those sorts of questions that led to our six years in Nepal. And I’ve loved Christian biographies. There’s always something to relate to or to apply in my own life through reading other people’s stories. And it’s never as if I have to walk their road to identify with them – it’s all about a shared life. So, as a new Christian reading Corrie ten Boom or Joni Eareckson or David Wilkerson, I didn’t need to be in a concentration camp or a wheelchair or a drug gang to learn those lessons of grace and forgiveness and the love of God in powerful ways. I suppose I’m really passionate about the way God uses our stories (and testimonies) to draw others into a life-changing relationship with him.