Intersection Column | Cooking up a Story

0 comments Posted on November 15, 2021

by Natalie Walters

So, imagine if you will, I invite you over to dinner. When you enter my home, you are overwhelmed immediately by the tantalizing aroma of the meal I’ve slaved over (likely a Pinterest recipe, because let’s get real, I’m no Gordon Ramsay), and it sends your tastebuds into overdrive. I lead you to my magazine-worthy table setting (again, Pinterest to the rescue) where I give you the best seat in the house. Just as I set the first course in front of you, I join you at the table, lean on my elbows and ask you, very nonchalantly, “So how’s work?”

You, mesmerized by my amazing cooking skills, tell me all about your day around bites of delicious food, not even the least bit suspicious of my ploy. And I maniacally laugh, rubbing my palms together as I take mental notes for future stories.

Lights Out, the first in my new series SNAP Agency, began like most stories do, with a “What-if” moment. My friend, who was probably more aware of my intentions than I give him credit for (he does know what I do, and my cooking really isn’t that great—even with Pinterest’s help), shared a story about a situation in his agency where a foreigner they’d brought in for a joint training mission went missing. They did find the man, who wasn’t doing anything nefarious at all, and my mind asked, “What if he was doing something nefarious? What if he came to America to slip away because he was behind some terroristic plot that threatened to take down America…and the world?”

Yes, my author mind takes it that far. Always. So, I had a plot and now I needed a character. I’ve learned in my writing process that stories start either with a plot or a character. I either have a great plot idea and then have to find the characters who will save the world—OR—I have a character who’s somehow implanted himself into my mind and heart, begging me to tell his story…I just have to discover that story (or plot).

Because I knew I was going to have a missing foreigner, I needed the person or persons to hunt them down. And who was going to be my foreigner? What did I know about him? Where was he coming from? Why would he risk his life and livelihood to go AWOL in America?

A writer-ism you might hear is, “Write what you know.” I did exactly that. My family and I were stationed in Cairo, Egypt, in 2010. We landed in country about two weeks before the Arab Spring erupted, forcing the Egyptian president to step down and our family to evacuate for five months. It didn’t take long once we returned to begin hearing the conspiracy theories circling. Through that, I created several characters who appear throughout Lights Out, and I didn’t need to coax anyone with a meal to do it.

Okay, so maybe that’s not entirely true. In the short few years that my family and I lived in Egypt, the country and her people found their way into our hearts. The culture that welcomed us so warmly needed to be represented accurately. For this, I reached out to a dear Egyptian friend we met at the local Coptic church we attended. He generously became my go-to for all of the questions I had about Egypt. This included Arabic words which were specific to Egypt, names that needed to be thoughtfully picked because they encompass a person’s identity—no one would vote for a president whose name might mean weakness. I had a lot of fun including settings I became familiar with while living there, like the opening scene depicting the busy streets outside of my children’s school, or the historical site of protests in Tahrir Square where my military officer is reminded of his purpose, and the vast desert of the Wadi where courage is not only in the name but will be required of the characters as they fight to win.

Writing Lights Out has been an amazing experience as I get to relive and reimagine some of my favorite memories and work with kind friends who supply me with all of the details that have made writing this story that much more meaningful. I can’t wait for readers to open the page and join me, the SNAP Agency team, and my characters on a great adventure!


About the Author

Natalie Walters is the author of Carol Award finalist Living Lies, as well as Deadly Deceit and Silent Shadows. A military wife, she currently resides in Hawaii with her soldier husband and is a proud mom of three adult kiddos. She has been published in Proverbs 31 magazine and has blogged for Guideposts online. She loves connecting on social media, sharing her love of books, cooking, and traveling. Natalie comes from a long line of military and law enforcement veterans and is passionate about supporting them through volunteer work, races, and writing stories that affirm no one is defined by their past. Learn more at

About the Book

CIA analyst Brynn Taylor developed a new program to combat terrorism, and she invited members of foreign intelligence agencies to America to foster cooperation between countries. Now one of them, Egyptian spy Remon Riad, is missing. Can Brynn surrender control to a man who doesn’t trust her? And can Jack ever get over what she did to him? The fate of the world—and their hearts—hangs in the balance.

Did You Know?

Boys and girls are different—a phrase that now can get us hated, debated and canceled. However, we should celebrate those innate differences so we can best raise our sons to be incredible young men.

  • The first five years of brain development differ between the sexes. Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, shares that while girls’ brains are developing social, verbal, and fine motor skills, boys’ brains are developing their spatial, visual and gross motor skills. It’s no wonder, then, that squirmy little boys might need more hands-on learning and lots of room to jump and play.
  • Helping boys express emotions can lessen their chances of depression. A 2017 report from Promundo showed boys who were taught to hide their feelings were more susceptible to suicidal thoughts, as well as participating in risky behavior. Our homes can be safe spaces where we teach our sons healthy ways to share their feelings and learn to be sensitive to the feelings of others.
  • Communicating with boys looks different, literally. Boys, teen boys in particular, need less eye contact during conversations, not more. Having awkward or serious talks can go more smoothly if you can have an activity happening at the same time, like taking a walk, picking up a game controller or taking a drive in the car.

The more we understand about how God created our sons’ minds, hearts and bodies, the more we can allow our sons to grow and develop into the men He created them to become.

Bethany JettNavigating Minefields

Why I LOVE My Local Christian Bookstore

“For me, shopping in bookstores is both therapeutic and instructive. Therapeutic, in that I find browsing to be a great stress-reliever. Instructive, in that I get an overview of the current culture which, in turn, gives me a good idea about the needs I should address in my own writing. Finally, I like shopping in bookstores because I want to help revive a dying institution. I don’t want the next generation to miss the joy of holding a physical book in one’s hands.”

MaryAnn Diorio, Candle Love


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