Jemimah Wright shares the extraordinary prophetic word that encouraged her to keep going with her debut novel.


I thought writing a novel would be straightforward, perhaps even easy… after all, I am a journalist, I write stories for a living, and I have written four biographies. Surely, a novel couldn’t be so different? Little did I know I was going to need a prophetic word to keep me at it, as I wanted to throw in the towel many times.

To give you some background; people say write about what you love, and I love Hawaii. I went there when I was 18, fresh out of school, and having only experienced the chilly waters of the North Sea. I got to Honolulu and felt as if I had landed in paradise. I joined a six-month discipleship course with Youth with a Mission, and had a profound experience of God while there, which added to my love of the islands.

I knew Hawaii and England have a historical connection. Hawaiian royalty sent their children to England to be educated, and Hawaiian King Kamehameha II and Queen Kamamalu travelled to London hoping to meet King George IV in 1824. They asked the King to protect the islands from the French, but they tragically both died of measles when they landed on British soil.

I wanted to write about hope, adventure and life changing when you least expect it.

In researching the connection between Hawaii and England, I came across a woman called Isabella Bird (who, incidentally, I found out recently is my third cousin, four times removed). She was a nineteenth century explorer, and travelled alone without a chaperone when it was very unusual for woman to do so. I didn’t want to do another biography, but I thought I would use her life, her published letters, and the books written about her, as a guide. I wanted to write about hope, adventure and life changing when you least expect it. I bought her books, and started researching.

But then I woke up one day, and just thought: “This is my first attempt at writing a novel, why I am trying to do historical fiction? I don’t know what England was like in Victorian times, I don’t know what Hawaii was like in the Nineteenth century.”

I decided to shelve the idea, and write something from the present day, so I could offer a more authentic experience. However no new idea came. I told no one of my previous idea – of the woman travelling from England to Hawaii in the Nineteenth Century.

I had told no one about my idea, and my friend had just heard from God that exact story I had given up on.

A few weeks later I met up with some friends. We meet about three times a year, have a meal and pray for each other. They were praying for me, and writing down what they felt God was saying. The first woman Alex, said: “Sorry, what I have got is so strange, it can’t be God, go to the next person.” But I replied: “Don’t worry, tell me!” She agreed and said: “Ok…well…I saw you writing a book, about Hawaii and England, about an Englishwoman who travels to Hawaii in the nineteenth century.” 

She offered it apologetically, but I was astounded. I had told no one about my idea, and my friend had just heard from God that exact story I had given up on. When I told Alex, she was amazed, and said she really felt the Holy Spirit when she was writing it down, but her brain was telling her it was crazy!

So I started the book, and as I said, I would have given up, had it not been for the encouragement of that word. Now, ten years later my novel, Isabella’s Voyage has just been published by Instant Apostle. God taught me many lessons about myself while writing the book, and it struck me that he gives us gifts, and he wants to bless us, but sometimes it means we have to do some hard work to get there. I learnt that just because something is not brilliant straight away, does not mean we should give up!

God knew I would have given up, and he wanted me to finish the book. I saw his deep kindness to me in Alex’s prophetic word, and I also see how he is now using the book (which is not a specifically Christian novel) to bless and encourage others. God’s ways are bigger than our own!