For better or for worse, most faith-based novels cover a very predictable formula, especially in the romance genre. Refusing to conform, author Miranda Shisler chose to independently publish her books in order to keep the grit and reality she felt her characters and stories needed.
Shisler boldly tackles deep topics in her debut series, Midwest Maidens.
The first book in the series — Where We Belong — features complex characters that surprise readers by challenging stereotypes and expectations. In addition to exploring family dynamics, societal norms, and pursuit of purpose, the novel introduces the topic of human trafficking in the American Midwest toward the end of the 1800s.
The second book — Whiter Than Snow — tackles the truth and history of human trafficking in full force. A brothel stands as a central element of the story. Readers follow characters desiring to do what is right for justice and freedom in the face of danger and personal sacrifice. In another facet of the story, readers are challenged to evaluate the efforts of those fighting against the brothel. Are they helping or hurting? Providing hope and restoration or harm and condemnation?
Seeking to offer more than a story, Shisler interviewed Justice Network co-founder Tanya Dennis on the work we do to fight modern-day slavery and sex trafficking. Readers will find the full interview printed at the end of Whiter Than Snow.
David Foster Wallace said:
“Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
This is exactly what Shisler books do.
You can purchase the books online through these links:
If you enjoy the books, please write a review! This is a key way to support independent authors, but it’s also a way to get the word of abolition and the truth of human trafficking into the hands of more readers who can become activists.
We invited Miranda to share a little more with us about her inspiration and why she wrote these books.
JN: What inspired you to write this story?
MS: The first source of inspiration for Whiter Than Snow was the impact Francine River’s allegory Redeeming Love had on me, years ago, especially after I read it and went to the Bible to study the story of Hosea and Gomer for myself. It became obvious to me that God doesn’t just love those of us who grew up in Sunday School and were spared the harsher realities of sin. He deeply loves those who have been trapped, whether willfully or without choice. He tells us he agonizes over the injustice of victims. Over and over in the Bible he reminds us not to forget those who can’t stand up for themselves. Proverbs 24:11 says “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.” (NIV)
The story began to form in my mind, and a Sunday School class, based on the book The Prodigal God by Tim Keller, reshaped my focus to that of the Prodigal Son, especially when I realized the story belonged to Kathleen, whom we meet in the first Midwest Maidens book Where We Belong. Kathleen is a prodigal who needs to be brought home to Christ. But what will it take from Joshua, and does he have any responsibility in the matter?
My final inspiration came through women God began bringing across my path (some right into the doors of my own church) who had dedicated themselves to the war against social injustice and human trafficking. It became obvious he was asking me to establish my place, and I did it the best way I knew how. I used history and romance and God’s Word to get us thinking about what we can do to turn this tide in our culture, and shine the bright light of Christ on the darkness so many are lost within.
JN: How have you been impacted personally by the story and the process of writing it?
MS: I have been blessed beyond imagination. It didn’t occur to me growing up, but being the small-town daughter of a pastor and having parents and godly examples surrounding me and sheltering me – it’s was and is an extreme blessing, and one that comes with a responsibility to be faithful to that heritage. God tells us “From everyone who has been given much, much more will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48 NIV)
But when we have everything we could need or want, our souls can so easily be distracted, or we can fool ourselves into believing injustice isn’t happening or it isn’t our problem. I believe God disagrees. And it is my personal question at this point in my life – “What can I do?” “How can I make a difference with the tools God has given me?” This story is my starting place. I hope God will take my involvement to the next level in his time and way, and use this book to provide an emotional connection from our hearts to those who need rescuing.
JN: Do you have any thoughts on why there are so few books like this on the market? Why don’t we see more novels of controversial topics published?
MS: This is a question that’s very close to my heart because I tried for so many years to make my own mission and ministry fit with traditional publishing. In the end, it became very obvious it couldn’t. Fiction, even Christian fiction, is a market. Many of the people involved in it are there primarily to make money, which means producing fiction that masses will buy. If an author is beginning their ministry, they do not generally have the option of writing what they are compelled by the Spirit to write.
There are plenty of books out there to entertain. My contribution to the pile didn’t mean anything to me if it wasn’t based on the truth of Scripture and the ability of God to change hearts. I made the decision to continue to provide the best quality of Spirit-led fiction I could, through the avenue of independent publishing.
It takes a great deal of work to publish a book. It takes a humility to seek out an editor that will be completely honest. It takes time and effort to allow the books to find their audience. But regardless of the challenges, I am committed to continuing in this direction. My prayer is that God will lead me and others like me in writing ministry, not to make money, but always to bless as many hearts with his word as we possibly can. Fiction has the capacity to change our views and our hearts. I know this because I can list so many examples of books that have impacted me. It is my heart’s cry that God will use my writing as a tool to accomplish his work. To God be the glory!
We want to thank Miranda for joining us in the fight against human trafficking.
We all have distinct gifts and abilities, and we celebrate each of us using those gifts to promote freedom.