Sunday, September 21, 2014

Author interview: Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is a novelist who specializes in missional romance stories. New Hope Publishers recently released her debut novel Beyond I Do. Jennifer is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and is deeply immersed in the writer life. She has written many articles for Christian print media including Journey Magazine, Granola Bar Devotions, Bloom and Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

I was delighted to find out that in midst of her busy schedule, Jennifer had time to answer interview questions from me about her debut novel and life as a writer.

Read on for the interview (questions by Alexis in bold font, answers from Jennifer Slattery not in bold)...

Alexis: Why do you write women's fiction/contemporary romance? 

Jennifer: You know, I’ve never thought about it. I suppose it just comes naturally, though those genres are also what I enjoy reading. They say read what you write. That means write what you read, too, right? 

Describe the defining moment when you knew you needed to write a novel. 

I started writing novel-length fiction more for fun without really thinking of where God might take it. As time wore on, it became clear; writing was more than a hobby. It was a calling, and God wanted me to focus on it with seriousness, perseverance, and determination. So, I surrendered, and I haven’t looked back since. (Well, minus the occasional temper-tantrums I threw when I experienced rejection or set-backs).

You write “missional romance” novels. What does that term mean and what drew you into writing novels based on that concept? 

A missional romance is a story that has a strong romantic and outreach thread. So, for example, in my debut novel, my heroine feels called to serve in a local homeless shelter, though her fiancé, it appears, does not. This stems from my personal passion—outreach. I feel all believers have a ministry and a mission—a role in their local church and in expanding the kingdom. I also believe our roles are very unique to us. That God planned them long before we took our first breath. I love to encourage readers to discover and embrace their unique callings, and I hope my fiction stirs their desire to do just that.

Why did you choose to release your book through New Hope Publishers? Is it an imprint or traditional publisher? 

New Hope Publishers is a traditional publisher who is known for being gospel centered and mission driven. Connected with the Women’s Mission Union, they’re very involved in numerous evangelical and social justice issues around the globe, including abolition, helping to end generational poverty, and encouraging believers to live “on mission” in their homes, neighborhoods, and social spheres. The more I learned of their passion and focus, the more I realized they were a perfect fit for me and my stories.

What is your favorite part of the book publishing process and what is the most challenging aspect for you? 

Free writing! First drafts are by far my favorite, when I can lose myself in a fictional world without worrying too much about word count, dangling participles, or passive writing. My least favorite part is the final read-through stage because those normally come with a time crunch.

Why did you name your debut novel Beyond I Do?

My heroine in this novel is engaged to a man that appears to have the qualities necessary for a stable marriage. He’s successful, responsible, and intelligent. And yet, as her wedding draws near, an encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion—one it seems her fiancé doesn’t share. She begins to prayerfully consider her marriage in light of her calling, one she’s just beginning to discover. In other words, she finds herself contemplating what life will look like after she says “I do”.

Give my readers a glimpse of the work that you put in behind-the-scenes to write and publish your book. Did you have a steady daily writing schedule? How much time did you spend writing this book? How did you feel when you finished the final chapter? 

I’m very blessed in that I can devote as much time as need, minus family commitments, to my writing, not having to work outside the home. My writing schedule changes day-to-day, though I try to devote my most creative hours to free-writing. That’s usually some time between 10:00 a.m and 3:00 p.m. This book took me about six months to write then maybe another six months to sift through my critique partners and make revisions. When I hit the end, both in my first draft and after final read-throughs, I celebrated with time off and a big ol’ tub of frozen yogurt.

What are your hopes for your debut novel? Do you want it to become a bestseller? 

Well, I wouldn’t be disappointed. (*grin*) I’ve prayed about this a lot, and too be honest, I really just want it to please God and to reveal His gentle, pursuing heart to a broken world.

Do you plan on writing more books? Why or why not? If you are working on a new book now, would you please give us a hint about the storyline? 

I’m actually working on big picture edits on my second novel at this moment, a book I believe will be released in January. It’s about a fifty-one year old realtor who’s displaced by a storm. Jacqueline Dunn has a strained relationship with her adult daughter. Using the storm as an opportunity to begin and again and reconnect with her daughter, she heads north to the small town of Willow Valley, where her daughter lives. While there, she encounters three children, also displaced by the storm, who are abandoned by their mother. And she meets a handsome widower who works for the local railroad. The two form a quick friendship. Maybe more. (*wink*)

Where do you get your inspiration for your creative fictional stories? Does your faith in God play a role? Please explain. 

Absolutely! I pray a lot before I write. Before and during every phase of the writing process, actually. And I can often see a direct correlation between my creativity and my spiritual health. If I skimp on spending time with God, it isn’t long before my creative juices dry up. But when I put Him first, taking regular time to connect with Him, it seems the ideas explode!

Are any of your characters in your debut novel anything like you? If yes, please explain why. 

I relate most to Ainsley Meadows, the heroine. She senses God calling her to two things: a singing career and serving in a local homeless ministry. But she’s hesitant because the call seems so illogical! Doesn’t everyone want to be a singer… or dancer… or writer? When they’re children, anyway. But then they grow up and pursue more “logical” careers. At least, I suspect those are the thoughts we all must face, when chasing a dream. Those were some of the things I wrestled with, when I first sensed God calling me to write.

What is the take home message of your debut novel? What do you want your readers to remember the most?

There’s two intertwined messages I hope my readers will glean from the story. One is based on my interpretation of Genesis 2:19 and the truth presented in Ephesians 2:10. In Genesis 2:19, God says, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’" (NLT). I believe we are much more effective in life and ministry when we have a partner, a helpmate who gets us and brings out the best in us, not so we can achieve the “American dream” but rather so we, together, can fulfill that which God created us to do.

This is where Ephesians 2:10 comes in. it says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT). This verse tells me God has a very special role for each one of, a job for us, one planned long before we took our first breath and one we were created perfectly for. I believe our greatest joy and fulfillment is found when we discover and pursue that which God created us to.

I hope my novel will encourage readers to view their marriage (or future marriage) from an eternal perspective, selecting spouses that share their calling and passions, and I hope they will work together as a team, focusing on things of eternal value.

Where can my readers buy your debut novel?

Pretty much anywhere, I believe, though I’ve been directing people to Christianbook.com as they seem to have the best price for the print and e-versions. You can find it here, http://bit.ly/1C0bMwq

Complete this sentence: As a writer, I always ________________ because_______________________.

As a writer, I always seek to maintain a heart of surrender because in the end, what we do in obedience to Christ is all that matters.

Alexis: Thank you for the interview! Is there a question you’d like for my readers to answer? If so, please type it now.

Jennifer: I do! Have you discovered your calling yet? If so, what are you doing today to pursue it? If you haven’t, how do you feel about my thoughts regarding Ephesians 2:10? What might God want to do with your unique gifts, talents, and passions?

~*~
Author bio:

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here, http://amzn.to/1seONwq

Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here, http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud

Book details (
Summary of Jennifer's book Beyond I Do, released Sept. 2014): 

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here, http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/beyond_i_do_sample?e=6362996/8842858

2 comments:

  1. Your interview wi. Jennifer was touching. It is a breathe of fresh air to see young writers wi a heart for God. This new release will be on my to read list. Thank you for giving your audience a glimpse of this young woman!

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  2. Awe, how sweet! Thank you, Ginger, for the kind comment with words of encouragement. I am happy you were moved in a positive way by Jennifer's interview! :)

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