Jana Harp Dean

Why I Started Writing:

When I returned from Afghanistan, I felt a tug on my heart to write a book about my journey to the war-torn nation, the suffering of the women and girls I came to know, and God’s breathtaking answers to impossible prayers.

To do it though, I needed my journals. I thought them lost forever in Afghanistan until they arrived unexpectedly on my Florida doorstep. Awestruck, I got the message: it is time to write.

Still, I didn’t think of myself as a writer although I’d been writing stories and poems since I was able to form words with a pencil and, in my professional life, press releases, web site copy, and venture capital proposals. When I started a social enterprise in Afghanistan to employ poor women, I kept writing—business plans, grant proposals, marketing copy, and prayer letters—but even after that tug on my heart to write a book, I spent another ten years honing the craft of storytelling.

Authors Who Have Influenced Me:

Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers—a vivid, but haunting narrative of real life in a Mumbai slum—was the result of four years of painstaking work conducting onsite interviews. I admire her commitment and love her storytelling.

Although she doesn’t know it, Beth Moore has been an integral part of my faith journey through her Bible studies. Believing God, in particular, helped me find the courage to go forward when facing a decision about whether to travel to Afghanistan alone or wait indefinitely for a travel companion. Dana Curry and Heather Mercer opened my eyes to the ways I could co-labor with God in Afghanistan through their book, Prisoners of Hope, co-written by Stacy Mattingly.

In more recent years, Rosaria Butterfield’s The Gospel Comes with a House Key moved me to recognize the power of hospitality to welcome others into divine love.

Reading any of Rick Bragg’s narrative nonfiction is pure pleasure. I aspire to emulate his skill in painting rich, profound images in readers’ minds to usher them into another’s experience.

Books I Have Written:

Two books are set to debut with Elk Lake Publishing soon!

Glimpses of God in Afghanistan

In a leap of faith, Jana moves to the war-torn country and launches a jewelry-making business, knowing it could crash on any number of rocks. Amid deep loneliness, heartbreak, and outright treachery, she witnesses the jaw-dropping power of the God she thought she knew.

Jewels in the Rubble: Into Afghanistan

The September 11th terrorist attacks catalyze a blue-eyed blonde with a bad sense of direction and more than a few anxieties to launch a business to employ Afghan women right under the Taliban’s noses. Moving to a land where misogynists feel at home and terrorists live at large may look like a nosedive into a snake pit, but she can’t shake the feeling she was born to do it.

What I'm Working On Now:

I have several books in progress, all with one aim: to call unlikely world changers—the overachievers and dreamers, wanna-be's and the ill-equipped, the broken or tainted, the washed-up and burned-out, misfits and outcasts, late-bloomers and black sheep—to take their places. Because someone is waiting.          

Veils of Darkness, Circles of Light, the first book in a fiction series set in Afghanistan, focuses on an orphaned teenager facing a forced marriage to her mother’s landlord.  

Saving the World without Killing Yourself is a book on pacing, self-care, and health—emotional, physical, and relational—for world changers.  

Escapes from Death is a memoir-devotional about the escapes from death I’ve experienced over a lifetime and the strangely life-affirming messages in them: you’re not here by accident and you’re not done yet.  

Heart of Bold is the first in a children’s book series called Mimi & Marigold, written to inspire world changers short-in-stature to take up their faith and courage to do justice and mercy for people in need around them. 


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