First post for the year 2015!
Prosperous New Year Everyone!
Last year, I had a chance to do a Q&A with one of the best Christian Author in town, Ms. Jennifer Erin Valent. For those who are not aware, she’s the award winning author of Fireflies in December!
Well, without further ado, here’s my full Q&A with her. Separated in four sections namely: A Simple-Get-To-Know; Going Deeper; Hello, Fireflies in December; and End Notes.
A simple Get-to-Know-Questions
1. Is writing your first love?
Writing is something I toyed around with when I was younger just for fun. I rarely finished anything! I had a notebook that I would write bits and pieces in, and I finished a few short stories, but that was it. I didn’t think seriously about it until later. I really feel it was a pursuit God planted in my heart when the time was right. But I’m certainly glad I listened when He called me to it.
2. At what age did you start to write your own stories?
When I was about 11 or 12, I started writing for fun, mostly just short stories. But it was only a hobby that I would work on now and again. It wasn’t until I was about 25 or 26 that I began to put more serious effort into it.
3. What’s your first ever written story (even though it was not published)?
The first story I wrote was a children’s story about a salesman who travels around in an old wagon trying to sell a special medicine that he claims will cure everything. Along with his grumpy best friend he gets into a lot of trouble and learns some important lessons. I still hope to get them published someday!
4. Did you really plan to be an author?
Is it a part of your aspirations? No, I didn’t plan on being an author. And though I love it, I try to make sure I don’t become too focused on any one aspect of my life except for my faith. So I write as I feel the Lord leads me and keep an eye out for the opportunities He wants me to take advantage of.
5. How come you chose to write Christian books rather than stick to the normal YA books?
Because my faith is the key factor of my life. It’s what I base my choices and life outlook on. It’s important to me that I keep all the other aspects of my life in line with that. If I have a message, it’s going to have a Biblical theme behind it. I’ve also written romantic comedies (still unpublished) that don’t have a specific Biblical message, but they are written with good morals and portray positive lifestyles. I think we need more of that out there!
1. How does it feel being a Christian author?
Well, just like any other career, writing can have its ups and downs, so I am especially encouraged in the tough times by remembering that my books can make a positive impact in people’s lives. That’s why hearing from readers (like you!) who have been inspired by the books is so special. I especially like offering an alternative to readers. A lot of the books out these days have content that I find offensive and that I truly don’t believe plants positive seeds in people’s minds. It’s a good feeling knowing that what I write gives book lovers another option that is much healthier for the mind and spirit.
2. Christian books in this generation are somehow “forgotten” or “ignored” by Bibliophiles. What do you think you can do to capture their interest to read not only your works, but the works of your fellow Christian authors as well?
Most importantly… work on my craft! Strong writing is key. You can’t really cultivate a base of readers without being an effective communicator of your story. I want to write about interesting characters that readers can relate to, getting into situations that readers want to explore. It would be great to see more variety in the Christian market so that the genre can pull in a larger variety of readers.
3. How does it feel being close to God? What changes in your life took place when you choose to embrace your Faith?
My faith truly is my life. I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was quite young, only five, but I meant every word of that commitment. Somewhere along the way as a young teenager I lost that focus, but thankfully I turned that around when I was about sixteen, and since then the importance of my faith has continued to grow. I honestly don’t know how I would navigate through this life if it wasn’t for my faith in Christ and my continued dependence on Him for guidance, provision, peace… everything. I am daily thankful that He is not only part of my life, but the core of it.
Hello, Fireflies in December
1. How did you choose your characters? What inspired you to create them in your imagination?
Jessilyn was the first character I came up with. She just popped into my head. And Gemma was next. I honestly can’t say how they came into my mind. I just sat down and started to type, and before I knew it these two best friends had started to come alive. The rest of the cast of characters was simpler to develop because I had a good idea what type of characters would interact best with Jessilyn and Gemma.
2. Fireflies in December won in the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel Contest. How does it feel to be chosen among hundreds who joined as well?
That was a great thrill! I had entered the contest the year before but didn’t get past the semifinal round. To have been able to work on the story some more, resubmit it to the contest, and then find myself in the finals was an amazing feeling. To hear my name called as the winner… there aren’t words to describe that feeling.
3. Does Fireflies in December or any of your novels resembles your life?
Though I didn’t go through the same situations as Jessilyn, I’m a lot like her. I’ve had people who know me read the book and say it was like reading about me as a girl. Growing up in the southern United States, I saw some prejudice. Nothing like what Jessilyn saw, but I certainly had some ideas that I could build on. So I suppose though I don’t know exactly what it would be like to walk in Jessilyn’s footsteps, I do feel a special kinship with her, and because we’re a lot alike I was able to imagine what I might feel if I were living her life.
1. What do you think will be the title of your next book to address the youth of today?
Well, my latest manuscript is titled The Burial of Vivvi Hollister. So far we don’t have a publisher for it, but I’m very anxious to get the book out there. It isn’t exactly written for teenagers, but then again neither were the Calloway books. My goal with Jessilyn’s story was to tell it in a way that would relate to any age. This latest manuscript focuses on a woman in her late twenties who suffered through an abusive marriage and is trying to move on from her past after her husband’s death in World War II. And though the book is about mature subjects, I do think it will be a good story for older teen girls to help them recognize warning signs in relationships. We hear a lot these days about young women being caught in abusive situations, and I hope this book will encourage them to see themselves through the eyes of God rather than through the eyes of others.
2. We all have a story to tell. Any advice for aspiring authors/writers?
Write as you’re led. There are a lot of ideas out there about what’s new and interesting; what publishers want to see; what readers want to read. But I still feel that the best stories are the ones that are told from deep down in the writer’s soul. The conviction and passion that comes from those stories can really mean a lot to readers.
3. Finally, any announcements or any exciting news about you?
I would love to have something to announce, but unfortunately I’m still waiting for news myself. My agent is busy working on my behalf, and hopefully we’ll have some great news in the near future. When news does break, I’ll definitely be posting about it on Facebook and Twitter.
There you have it! To learn more about Ms. Valent follow her or visit the following sites:
God bless everyone!