Since the world is still in lockdown, I interviewed Sonia via Skype one afternoon. 
Sonia is everything I thought she will be. Well dressed and sophisticated, she gave nothing away of her experiences. Her confidence visible in every gesture. 
Her curly hair falling from the loose bun and the green eyes sparkled with wisdom and joy. One cannot help but respect her. Strength resonated from her.
The story made many changes before it settled into the plotline it is. Even your name had undergone a few changes until Sonia stuck. What is your take about all the changes your character underwent? 
Sonia smiled, her eyes squinting before she replied. “Lynelle underwent a painful time when she had written the first draft back in 2012. Her mindset far removed from the person she is now. My character experienced each painful step until we both found our feet. The way the story developed came as a surprise, but I am satisfied so, I never had a problem with the changes. My character always grew through it all until the end.” 
There are many topics covered within the book, but the major one that stand out are abuse against women. Young and old experience it. We can never say enough about it. Even now, in 2020, we still need to address it.
“That is true.” Her attention returns to me. “We must talk about it till every person has take note. And the culprit paid. With all our advantages of today, we misuse free will. Under the free will umbrella some will use it as they see fit. Abusers, bullies, rapists and murderess roam free while we must stay behind locked doors. There are organisations and people willing to help. Women needs to know this.”
It seems this is important to you.
“Yes, I feel passionate about it. My time on the streets and in Africa taught me we do not do enough for women and children. They are the most vulnerable to live’s turnings. When you add war into the mix, it becomes harder for them. We all need to survive. Gender equality is important. 
All women want to feel safe, know we care for them and grow. No matter race or skin colour. We are so much more than the colour of our skin or our past. That does not define us. Our willingness to be the best sets us apart. Without knowledge, she will remain in her situation without hope.”
What does hope mean to you?
“The Bible says, ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’. When our faith is obscured with the worries of the world, we lose hope in everything around us. Then you become an unbalanced person with no steering wheel and no direction. I was like that long before my story began in Love at War. When Lynelle changed the name of the book, it changed everything in my story. Gone was the lost girl that had no anchor. Lynelle made it possible for me to find my legs again. She helped me to grow, I just did not always do it the way she did it, but I trusted her.”
Do you think Lynelle experienced something similar?
“No, not exactly like me. Her story differs from mine, but she and Phillip Burger’s life stories are strikingly comparable. The reason she created Phillip’s character. He is the anchor within the story with wisdom that blows my mind.”
What do you mean?
 “Phillip’s experiences grounded me and Curt in so many ways. Other than the Father, he became our go-to guy when life presented us with curveballs. No one can be like that if they did not undergo their own turmoil. Only when we have overcome, can we give.”
What does your faith mean to you, now?
“in the beginning my faith was meaningless. But God had a way of getting my attention. Once he had it, I learned to depend on him more. The six-month-plotline was an eye-opener. It cleansed me, healed me, and taught me valuable lessons I would not have learned any other way. My faith is my secret weapon and I go nowhere if God is not with me.”
Once we find our feet and tap into the bigger part of us, then we become more focused, I have learned.
“That is true. Once we tap into the Lord and who He is, we cannot go wrong. We must have a childlike faith, otherwise we will lose the fight.
You and Lynelle come a long way – from 2012, I believe. She wrote the first draft back then. What have you learned about her?
“Lynelle is a passionate woman that feels deeply, loves deeply and gives unconditionally. Her faith tested severely, and she had lost everything, and her confidence and faith. Her trust went through the fire, and she turned her back on God. I sensed that during all the changes Curt and I had to go through. When she struggled with her marriage, it was visible in the story. It reflected every struggle in the book. She had to find her feet in a gloomy street in Pretoria, to continue with the story.”
It seems Pretoria is significant for both of you.
“Pretoria has no wonderful memories for both of us, it was much like a sweet and sour time and left its mark on us. Life continues no matter where you are. The secret is to connect with God again. He is the same as yesterday, today and tomorrow.” 
What did you learn about yourself during this time?
She giggled, fell silent and then blush. “It is so easy to judge a person when you don’t know the full story. I think Lynelle touched it very well by showing the effects of every character’s choices. It forces us to do things, even when it goes against the norm, but we achieve the result and not only survive. No sorry, not survive but walk in victory. That is the key message of the story. No matter where you are, what you face or how bad it gets, there is always hope. Love at the end is a war you first need to conquer within yourself before you can win. It is an apt name for the book. 
The book has four pivotal parts: Love in conflict, Love’s decisions, Love’s betrayal, and Love’s Victory. Love can be our anchor, but it can also deceive us. Only when we grow in ourselves do we understand love. 
Time plays a big role within the story itself. Love and time, a unique combination that not only tells of a deadline but what can happen in a short amount of time.” 
At times we think we have all the time in the world till time becomes a definite schedule.
“Everything revolves around time. From the moment we are born, time measures us. Right at the beginning of the book Lynelle had written, ‘Measured in seconds, time’s algorithm captures infinity within each movement. Worlds changes and fragments become relics. Fashioning a new set of rules to profit from your only choice.’ I thought about those rules she referred to. It is only through a higher source that we can find an extra set of rules. As a child, we learn a set of rules from our parents, school and church and add our own because of experiences. But once life confronts us, then we need to tap into the higher source, receive an additional set of rules and live. The time has a different meaning, and it becomes wiser in its application. In our case, our connection with God made the difference. It gave us the freedom to grow and find ourselves. “
In closing, without giving away any spoilers, what can you share with us about the book?
She laughed, a uninhibited laugh of one who is at ease with her life. “Love at war is a love story with many layers. It promises adventure, tension, turmoil, pain, and some lighter moments as you move from South Sudan to Iraq to America through the different stages of the story. It is a global story, and any reader can relate to it. Abuse, abortion, rape, fear, pain, divorce, and the search for more in life a universal connection that binds us all. My story is not unique but the powerful message a lasting memory long after the book is done.”  
To read the first ten pages visit the Page Turner Awards Website.
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