Author Interviews

4 Questions with Michael K. Reynolds | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Hello friends! What better way to kick off the weekend than with a 4 Questions?

Michael K. Reynolds is a writer with more than two decades of experience in crafting fiction, non-fiction, journalism, copywriting and documentary production. He is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant of Books & Such Literary Agency. He is the author of a series of Irish historical novels published by B&H Publishing Group. These highly acclaimed books are available in bookstores and libraries across the nation and beyond.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Not only that I would have three full length historical novels available on bookshelves throughout the nation and beyond, but that it would require the amount of work it did to get them there. I always knew writing a published work of fiction would be a challenge, but in retrospect I was completely naïve to the amount of hours required to produce a polished novel worthy of my readers’ time. I feel blessed to be a published author but my eyes are wide open moving forward!

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Definitely I would prepare myself more for the journey to be an ultra-marathon. Because I underestimated the task I found that meeting my writing deadlines while still prioritizing striving to be a good Dad and husband took every waking moment. Then again, I am not much of a “go back and do things differently” type of person. I feel blessed there were tremendous lessons learned through this process and for this I am grateful.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Certainly the usual suspects of God, wife and children moments when it comes to general life take precedent but in regard to this writing adventure there are so many breathtaking highlights. And there need to be! They pull you like a bright light through the many dark, lonely and disappointing writing moments that seem to be the necessary wallpaper of any author’s career. The biggest moment of joy was probably when my literary agent, the legendary Janet Grant, first offered me representation. Before that I was just another writer desperate to be heard. After she took me on, there was a sense of validation and all of the pieces rapidly came together.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I believe we’re at a crisis state in many ways with the disrespect we express towards our wisest population. There is so much treasure in the minds and experiences of the oldest members of the human race yet there is an emerging culture of wanting to hasten them out to early pastures. My prayer is that young people rediscover this precious resource and cherish it as the gift that it is. I am tremendously appreciative of the mentors God put in my life and shudder to think of where I would be without their guidance and intervention. It’s perhaps why I love being a historical novelist is that I believe the past has so much to teach us about a better future.

Amen. So much truth behind those answers, so thank you Michael for stopping by and sharing!

Where to connect with Michael
Website | Facebook | Twitter

I hope you enjoyed his words as well dear readers! I’d love to hear your thoughts too!

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Author Interviews

4 Questions with New York Time Bestseller Marcus Brotherton | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

I have another great author for y’all to meet today! I gushed about his fiction debut last month (check it out here) and I’m super excited to have him here on Books and Beverages! Besides 4 Questions, I asked a few about the book, so enjoy!

Marcus Brotherton is a journalist and professional writer known internationally for his books and literary collaborations with high-profile public figures, humanitarians, inspirational leaders, and military personnel. He has authored or coauthored more than 25 books.

Notable works include We Who Are Alive and Remain, a New York Times bestseller, A Company of Heroes, which ranked No. 1 in the country among World War II/ Western Front books, and the widely-acclaimed Shifty’s War. Marcus’ debut historical novel, Feast For Thieves, released on September 1, 2014.

Born in Canada in 1968, Marcus earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical education and journalism from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, and a master’s degree in practical theology and writing from Talbot Seminary at Biola University in Los Angeles, where he graduated with high honors. Marcus lives with his wife and children in Washington State.

1. You’ve written several non-fiction books set during WWII, what brought about the idea of not only fiction, but post-WWII as well?
I have a strong respect for nonfiction, and it continues to be my bread and butter today. But I think every writer dreams of writing the Great American Novel.

With FEAST FOR THIEVES, I had this idea for a book brewing inside my gut for about two years.

The main character was based off of a real life person named Skinny Sisk, an incorrigible paratrooper from WWII who later became a preacher.

I was fascinated with this idea: here’s a man used to solving his problems with his rifle or his fists—what kind of wild-hearted minister would this man make?

2. How different was writing Feast for Thieves than your other works?
With nonfiction, I’m always tied to a story as it happened—and that can be good if the story is strong to begin with.

With fiction, an author needs to create everything. The plot, the pacing, the dialogue, the action.

Fiction was this big blank canvas that let me be as absolutely free as I could be.

3. So what’s next? Please tell me there is more Rowdy!!! Please!! 🙂
I hope so too.

FEAST FOR THIEVES works as a standalone book—it’s satisfying as is. Yet there are also big opportunities to continue these characters and show how they progress through the next stage of life.

As is common with a debut novel, the publisher is waiting to see how sales do before giving the go-ahead with a sequel. So, we can all keep our fingers crossed.

4. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
The amazing range of people I get to work with in my work as a journalist and collaborative writer.

I’ve worked with everybody from university chancellors and well-known pastors to professional athletes, military heroes, and fashion bloggers. Just a few weeks back, as part of a book project, I attended a closed, private practice for the Seattle Seahawks, last year’s Super Bowl champions.

That type of diversity builds a real richness into my life, I’d say. I’m very grateful for it.

5. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I first started writing professionally, I was working for a newspaper, and I was a pretty decent writer who wanted to write a great novel back then, just like everybody else.

I figured that if I just sat down at the computer and started typing, then the next great novel would flow out of me.

I was quite wrong about that, and ended up scribbling down and then throwing away 3 and a half “learning” novels first over the next 14 years.

So, I wish I would have read all the “how to” books sooner, which I eventually did.

The “how to” books are incredibly helpful at teaching a good writer the specifics of the craft—how to start with a bang, how to create power and poignancy in all the write places, how to create a story over a three-act structure.

6. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
My wife and I were driving back from dinner with friends recently, and our kids were in the minivan with us.

It was just sort of a basic moment in life, not thunderstruck at all, yet something pressed me about how perfect the moment was.

I thought, “Here I am in a city I enjoy, working at a job I feel purpose in, surrounded by my wife and children, the people I love the most. Life is good.”

7. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
How our personal stories intersect a larger story. The larger story starts with a babe in a straw ox manager and reaches its pinnacle with three men crucified on jagged wooden crosses.

The man on the cross in the middle is innocent, and as he’s dying he offers a feast to the two thieves on either side of him, a feast of extravagant grace and blessing.

That same offering is spread out today like a banquet on a table. We’re invited to come and dine, the feast is all ours.

Thank you so much Marcus for taking the time to share! This is truly one of my favorite series to have here on the blog.

Where to connect: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google +

 

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Jolina Petersheim | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reading Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel The Outcast, as it was nominated for the INSPYs. I became an instant fan after that book – it’s incredible. She recently released her sophomore novel The Midwife and I can’t wait to read it! Anyway, I’m super excited she joined in 4 Questions so all of you fine readers can get to know her more (and read her books!)

Jolina Petersheim is the award-winning author of The Midwife and The Outcast, which Library Journal gave a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. The Outcast also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller, and was featured in Huffington Post’s Fall Picks, World Magazine’s Notable Books, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and The Tennessean. Jolina and her husband’s unique Amish and Mennonite heritage originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughters. Whenever she’s not busy chasing her toddler or tending her newborn, Jolina is hard at work on her next novel. Visit her at jolinapetersheim.com.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Five years ago, my husband and I purchased a piece of land in a valley in Tennessee where we imagined we’d spend the rest of our days. However, now that we’ve built a house and lived here for three years, we’ve decided that we’re at a pivotal point in our lives when we should make drastic changes, while our children our still malleable and young. Therefore, right now we’ve got totes and boxes stacked in corners, and my countertops and cupboards are about as clutter-free as they’re ever going to get. At the end of the month, we’re moving to a quaint solar-powered farm in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin (yes, right before winter hits!). Believe me, I never imagined this transition five years ago!

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was nineteen, one of my dearest friends had a heart attack. Instead of going to see her in the hospital, I traveled fourteen hours to Pennsylvania to attend a wedding with my boyfriend and his family. Soon after we arrived, I received the phone call that my friend had died. I was beyond shocked; I was at the point in my life where I felt invincible and therefore believed everyone around me was invincible as well. Oftentimes, I cannot process life or death by sitting still, so I started walking. My boyfriend followed me. We walked together down to pond, and I cried while sitting on the dock. He didn’t say anything, but when I looked over, he was crying, too. It was one of the hardest and most beautiful moments of my life. And though I regret not getting to see my friend one last time, I know that God turned that hardship around for good, and through her death, I was able to see the beautiful soul of the person—my future husband—who was sitting beside me.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Though I didn’t know it at the time, the day I got married was one of the happiest of my life. I was honestly very terrified to join my life to another’s because I struggled to relinquish my control (I still struggle). But I felt God telling me that this was the person he had for me, and I had to surrender and trust him. I am so glad I did—six years later, I can honestly say that marrying my husband was the best decision I ever made, and I love him more as our life journey continues to unfold.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
More often than not, the moments you will later hold the closest aren’t the ones that are necessarily “easy.” For instance, some of the memories dearest to my heart are of us newlyweds living in an apartment adjacent to our grocery store, working side by side in said grocery store, building our house together, the nights of sleep deprivation during our firstborn’s first year, burying our miscarried baby on our land, holding our second little girl less than a year later, and now—packing up to transition to another part of the nation. Life isn’t easy, but looking back – and sometimes even while you’re living it – you can tell that life is, indeed, good.

Thank you so much Jolina for stopping by and sharing with us! I loved hearing a bit more about you :). Readers – if you haven’t picked up one of her books, you must!

Author Interviews

4 Questions with New York Times Jamie Ford | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Well. Where to start? Let’s see…I’M REALLY EXCITED that Jamie Ford is here for 4 Questions! He’s writes wonderful stories and has some incredible advice to pass along. Just check out this interview. Plus we have the same name. Need I say more?

Jamie Ford is an American author, who has written two best selling books. Ford is best known for his debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The book received positive reviews after its release, and was also awarded best “Adult Fiction” book at the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. The book was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
I never would have imagined that my first book, HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET would be read in schools. I’ve grown up and become homework, which is weirdly awesome! I also get tons of emails now from students (because there’s no SparkNotes for HOTEL) and they say things like, “Um, Mr. Ford…I really love your books, Motel on the Corner of Sweet and Sour. And if you could answer these twelve questions for me, I’d really appreciate it.”

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would have asked my grandparents more questions before they died. If you’re grandparents are still around, stop reading this, step away from the computer, take them to lunch, and ASK EVERY CRAZY, PERSONAL QUESTION YOU CAN THINK OF.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The month I spent volunteering with my family in Pommern, a bush village in Tanzania. I worked in the AIDS clinic, my wife delivered twins, and my kids worked in the school. No electricity. No running water. But free-flowing kindness everywhere.

Plus, when you put a face on poverty, it changes you forever. I can’t wait to go back.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That before reality TV, there was this thing called reality. It’s still out there, waiting.

Thank you again so much Jamie! It was a pleasure having you on the blog!

I can’t say enough how much I agree with his advice about grandparents. I wish mine were still here, but I treasure the chats I do remember! If you’d like to connect with Jamie, here’s where you can find him on the web.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Author Interviews

4 Question With Author Lori Benton

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

It’s been much too long since a 4 Questions has appeared on the blog. I’m excited not only to end the drought, but to have Lori Benton, author of Burning Sky (which is an INSPY shortlist pick for the debut category!) and The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, join me on the blog! I’ve heard so much about her latest and I can’t wait to read it. If you haven’t had a chance to read Lori’s book, I highly recommend it!

Lori Benton, author of the acclaimed Burning Sky, was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, Lori enjoys exploring beautiful Oregon with her husband.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never have imagined 5 years ago?
Five years ago I would never have imagined I’d be signing my second book contract with my dream publisher, WaterBrook Press. God has been abundantly gracious and kind to have nurtured the dream of writing stories, which He planted in my nine-year-old heart, for the thirty-five years it took to see one of those stories published and shared with readers.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
There are so many things I’d go back and do differently, mostly small things, but a few big decisions…but what would change them all from bad choices to better? One thing. If only I’d walked more closely with the Lord as a young person, taking seriously my relationship with Him and the reasons why He hates sin (He hates it because it’s destructive and wounding to us, no matter how fun or easy it appears at the time), and make better choices in all those circumstances, big and small. But most of all, I’d walk more closely with Him to enjoy at a younger age the intimacy I experience with Him now, an intimacy I hope and expect will only continue to deepen. Still, He is gracious, and works all things—even my worst decisions and actions—for good. How so? For one thing, I get to weave all those lessons I learned the hard way into my stories.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Again there are many, because we serve a God who delights in blessing His children. Here’s one: the December day in 2011 I sat in a room full of relatives, but over in the corner with my Dad at the table (who was visiting from out of state, and who I hadn’t seen for two years), and told him that after more than half a lifetime of trying I had just been offered a book contract with WaterBrook Press. Then I got to witness him stand up and, once he had the room’s attention, proudly share my good news with the rest of my aunts, uncles, and other extended relations. My Dad passed into heaven almost two years from that day (Dec 22, 2013), so that will always be a cherished memory for me.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Whatever changes may come in your lifetime to the way life is lived, the God of the bible never changes. He is a rock in a shifting sea. He is an anchor in any storm. He is peace amidst chaos. He is eternal perspective against the tyranny of the urgent and overwhelming now. Seek Him first, and anything else you need, any blessing or provision or dream or hope, will be added to you.

Thank you so much for stopping by Lori! So glad to have you here on Books and Beverages!! If y’all haven’t, be sure to connect with Lori online:

 | Facebook | Website |

Author Interviews

4 Questions With New York Times Bestseller Melanie Shankle

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

We need to all stop, collaborate and listen. Really friends, because the wonderful and hilarious Melanie Shankle of The Big Mama blog is on Books and Beverages today!!

I kinda want to pass out people.

I’ve followed her blog for a while now and I can’t even tell you how many times I laugh (and sometimes cry). She has two books you need to read as well. Her latest The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life just came out last week, an awesome and real life story of all things marriage. Y’all, I’m not even close to getting married or having children and I can’t wait to read this book! Enough from me, let’s dive right into 4 Questions!

Melanie Shankle writes daily on her blog, Big Mama. She is a graduate of Texas A&M and loves writing, shopping at Target, checking to see what’s on sale at Anthropologie, and trying to find the funny in every situation.

Most of all, she loves being the mother of Caroline and the wife of her husband, Perry. The three of them live in San Antonio, Texas.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Writing books and having them published as real live books that are for sale is something I never could have imagined five years ago. It was always a dream, but not something I ever thought would actually happen. The whole thing still seems so surreal.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
This is tricky because I believe that all our life experiences, both good and bad, work together to make us into the person God created us to be. And so I look back on a lot of dumb things and maybe wish I had been smarter, yet know that it was a life lesson I needed to learn.

All that being said, I wish I had known earlier in life that the only way to find real security is in Jesus Christ. It would have saved me a lot of heartache.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Without a doubt it was the day my daughter Caroline was born. That moment of holding her for the first time is forever etched in my mind. It was just pure joy and has to be the closest thing to heaven here on earth.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That nothing compares to the love of Jesus Christ. We live in a world that is constantly searching for answers and chasing after all these things we are told will make us happy. But the truth is that God is the only thing that will bring us peace.

Thank you so much Melanie!! I can’t say enough what a joy it is to host you on the blog!! Now everyone, please stop what you’re doing, find her on the internet and follow all of them.

Connect with Melanie! Blog | Facebook | Twitter

Author Interviews

4 Questions With Author Krista McGee

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

One of my favorite reads last year was, hands down, Anomaly by Krista McGee. It’s a fantastic YA dystopian novel I’d recommend to anyone! As a bonus the author is pretty awesome too. I mean she’s lived in Spain and Costa Rica, what more evidence do you need ;)? I love the heart behind her writing and I’m so excited to dive into the next book in the series, Luminary, which is waiting patiently on my kindle. So it is truly my pleasure to have her hang out today on Books and Beverages!

I write for teens, teach teens, and more often than not, act like a teen. My family and I have lived and ministered in Texas, Costa Rica, and Spain. Our current hometown is Tampa, FL. Check out my website for FAQ’s, info on my books, and my blog.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
I wouldn’t have imagined I’d be a published writer! Five years ago, I was just starting to think about writing First Date, but I didn’t even know if I could actually finish the book. I certainly wouldn’t have imagined that I’d write three YA contemporary books and then switch genres to write YA dystopian.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
That’s a tough question! As a writer, I think I would start working on the craft earlier. I didn’t really get serious about writing until five years ago.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
It’s a four-way tie between my wedding day and the births of my three children.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
As a wholehearted, committed Christian, I want this generation to know that God has great plans for them, that He is worth knowing and serving. We get too caught up in things that don’t matter and miss out on what matters most.

Be sure to connect with Krista online because she’s fabulous!
Facebook | Website | Twitter

Author Interviews

4 Questions With Award-Winning Author Jocelyn Green

Unless you just met me 12 seconds ago, my love for history is a pretty well known fact. Two of my favorite eras include WWII and the Civil War. So if an author covers either one of those topics, I’m in for the win.

And y’all Jocelyn Green knows a thing or two about writing, military and the Civil War! I really enjoyed Green’s first book, Wedded to War, in Heroines Behind the Lines series and the second just came out! She also writes non-fiction, encouraging army wives across the globe. So pretty much she’s awesome. I’m so glad to have her here on the blog with 4 Questions!

Award-winning author Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage in her readers through both fiction and nonfiction. A former military wife herself, she offers encouragement and hope to military wives worldwide through her Faith Deployed ministry. Her novels, inspired by real heroines on America’s home front, are marked by their historical integrity and gritty inspiration.

Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She is an active member of the Evangelical Press Association, Christian Authors Network, the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Military Writers Society of America.

She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at http://www.jocelyngreen.com.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Well, five years ago, I didn’t have my first book published yet. (Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives was my first and released in November 2008.) So I would never have imagined that in five years, I would have written or co-authored four nonfiction titles, a devotional Bible, and two novels, with three more contracted and scheduled to release in the next 18 months.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I imagine that every author, when rereading a book she/he has published, can point to a passage and think of a better way to write it after it’s been printed. But as far as genuine life regrets, or publishing journey regrets, I wouldn’t change anything. There are some lessons you have to learn the hard way, or through hard work, so I don’t wish that my past was different.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
My two happiest days of my life were the days my children were born. Of course my wedding day was a joyous occasion too, but there are so many details and people to please on one’s wedding day. When our babies were born, it was just a much more intimate joy that I shared with my husband—and it was centered not on me, but on the miracle of new life.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
The value of true, flesh-and-blood community, and how to joyfully serve others. We live in such a me-first society, and it’s easy for each of us to be the stars of our own lives. Facebook has changed the meaning of the word “friend” and Twitter tells us we deserve to have “followers.” I use social media too, and I value it as a tool, but it’s no substitute for genuine friendships. I want the next generation to know how to get beyond themselves and reach out to others in need.

 

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Author Ruth Axtell

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

She’s lived in Europe. What more do I have to say? Automatic awesome in my book. Don’t worry I’m proud to be an American, but what an adventure to spend some time living in another country!! Oh and she’s a fantastic story teller. As I mentioned in the Her Good Name review, I got a bit upset and almost threw the book across the room. Don’t mess with me people.

Through her writing and what she’s shared of her story (check out more here), I am reminded about the truths of second chances, grace and amazing journey that life is. And anyone who quotes Anne Shirley is a friend of mine. This is a writer you want to read!

Ruth knew she wanted to be a writer ever since she wrote her first story—a spy thriller—at the age of twelve. She studied comparative literature at Smith College, spending her junior year at the Sorbonne in Paris. After college, she taught English in the Canary Islands then worked in international development in Miami, Florida, before moving to the Netherlands, where for the next several years, she juggled both writing and raising three children.

In 1994, her second manuscript was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart competition. In 2002, her sixth manuscript took second place in the Laurie Contest of RWA’s Smoky Mountain chapter. The final judge requested her full manuscript and this became her first published book, Winter Is Past, which was spotlighted in Christian Retailing magazine. Since then, Ruth has gone on to publish thirteen historical romances and one novella. Her books have been translated into Dutch, Italian, Polish and Afrikaans . Her second historical, Wild Rose, was chosen by Booklist as a “Top Ten Christian Fiction” selection in 2005.

Ruth lives on the coast of Maine where she enjoys gardening, walking, reading romances and gazing at the ocean plotting her next romance.

You can connect with Ruth at her website and Facebook!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never have imagined 5 years ago?
“Starting over” in so many ways. It was about five years ago that I was riding the metro in Paris and a group of 3 ladies got on. They happened to be American; two had just arrived from the airport, they had her suitcases, and they spoke in English so I couldn’t help but overhear. The one who had met them lived in Paris and they were heading to her metro stop (where I was going as well). She said something like, “A few years ago I never would have imagined myself 50 (something), divorced, selling my business and moving to Paris from Colorado.”
I thought to myself–novel writer that I am–what a great idea for a story…Well, fast forward five years and I am in a similar place…starting over, new publishers, contemplating self-publishing, experiencing empty-nesting, moving back to the U.S. from Europe, and single.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Not sign 3-book contracts.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Holding my newborn children in my arms for the first time.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
When I was in college, I went to hear Anne Morrow Lindbergh, an alumna, speak. Her talk was entitled, “It’s the Journey, not the Arrival.” Well, as a Christian, I’ve learned it’s both. Enjoy each day, each task but keep your eye always on the end goal.

Author Interviews

4 Questions With Author Rachel Coker

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Y’all, she’s 17. And she’s published two novels.

Say wha??

What was I doing at 17? Oh you know, just.surviving.high.school. That and counting down the days till I graduated and peaced out! But not Rachel Coker! She’s been writing novels since she was 14. Please don’t even ask about my Jr. High years. But it’s safe to say mine didn’t include publishing books. Plenty of horrendous fashion choices and braces though. So yeah, awesome.

I’m incredibly impressed to say the least. It’s encouraging and awesome to see someone so young create something to share with the world. And something with depth too. I love it! It reminds me of the verse one of my good friend’s mom shared with me after a frustrating time in college with a professor: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

Rachel Coker resides in Lanexa, Virginia with her parents, who’ve homeschooled her since she was a child, and two sisters. She is the author of 2012’s Interrupted: A Life Beyond Words. Coker has a passion for great books and has been surrounded by them all her life. Her gift for writing became apparent at the age of eleven, at which time her parents, who owned a Christian bookstore, signed her up for a year of lessons with a professional writing coach. http://www.rachelcoker.wordpress.com

I look forward to reading her newest novel (review coming soon) and am so glad she’s here on the blog! I switched it up a bit with 4 Questions and added a few more about her latest novel!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Wow. Everything! What twelve-year-old honestly imagines that in five short years, her books will be on shelves of young people all over the world, and that she’ll be flying all over the country to do book signings and events? In all honesty, I never expected to be a published author, especially not at fifteen, so everything that happens to me in life is a total surprise and joy.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Sometimes I wish I had never read all of the reviews for “Interrupted”. On the one hand, it’s totally amazing to read so many sweet people making wonderful comments about my book. 🙂 But, on the other hand, I exposed myself to a lot of negativism that, while it was helpful to me in a constructive way, was also hard to cope with as a sixteen-year-old.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Gosh, there are so many! The first time I saw my book “Interrupted” in a bookstore—my sister and I totally nerded out and took a million pictures. The morning my dad told me that mine was the best fiction book he’d ever read—which was a big deal since my dad never reads fiction. And all the beautiful moments I’ve spent with my family and closest friends, whether we’re dancing around the living room, laughing uncontrollably at a joke that’s not even funny, or suffering from one of the sugar highs we are all too prone to. 😉 Life is full of so many beautiful, happy moments—It’s hard to pick just one!

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That they don’t have to be anyone but themselves. There’s so much pressure in this day and age to conform to a certain mold—get the right grades, go to the right schools, and sit at the right office desks. We get so caught up in meeting everyone else’s expectations that we forget to just do what we love.

5. Where did the inspiration for this novel come from?
There was this really sweet autistic boy who used to go to my church that I absolutely loved. I was his helper in Sunday School one morning, and he showed me a list that he had made. It was just like Cliff’s in “Chasing Jupiter”. Right down to the “sixteen rockets to Jupiter”. That boy had always been made fun of by some of the other kids, and for some reason that list just stuck out to me. He had so many big dreams that no one seemed to care about, just because he was different. And that’s when the story for “Chasing Jupiter” was born. Of course, no one knew what autism was in the 1960’s, but Scarlett is just so protective of her younger brother Cliff, and won’t let him feel weird or ostracized. She just wants to help him chase his dreams, whatever that takes.

6. In what ways, if any, do you connect with Scarlett Blaine?
Scarlett is seventeen, just like me. And she’s facing so much pressure to grow up and take on all these responsibilities, but she’s scared to do that because she doesn’t know what the future might hold. When I started writing “Chasing Jupiter”, I was on the edge of a cliff, metaphorically speaking. My whole future lay in front of me, big and scary and unlike anything I had ever imagined. I was afraid of what might come next. But as I continued to write that book and grow Scarlett’s character, I felt myself letting go of my fears and just trusting God. Everything that happens to us is for a reason, and life’s all about growing through our good and bad times. It was a growing experience for me.

7. How has this writing and experience been different from your first novel?
“Chasing Jupiter” is definitely very different from “Interrupted”. I think it’s funnier; lighter. But it also has very mature undertones about family, growing, and accepting change. I almost think it’s sadder than “Interrupted” in many ways, even if you might not realize it at first. There’s an underlying sadness in all the joy and laughter, because as the reader you know that things won’t always stay the same they are right now. We have to enjoy every moment, because we never know when things might change.

8. Do you have a favorite between the two?
I always like whatever I’m working on at the moment the best. 😉 I will always have an amazing emotional connection to “Interrupted” as my first novel, but I do think I like “Chasing Jupiter” better. But then when Book #3 comes out, I know I’ll like that one best! I hope my answer will always be changing!

9. What’s one thing you haven’t expected from writing Chasing Jupiter?
The emotional response from readers always shocks and thrills me. I was hoping that some of the fans of “Interrupted” would enjoy my second book, but I definitely wasn’t expecting all the “I loved it even more!” letters that I received. That just made me feel so blessed and happy.