Let’s just start off by saying this: I secretly want to be friends with Julie. All you have to do is read this interview and you’ll understand why. Seriously, I’m just going to stop talking so you can enjoy this encouraging and uplifting interview! (P.S. I have A Hope Undaunted, patiently waiting on my Kindle to be read and I can’t wait to start it!)
Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was ACFW’s 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, #1 Historical Fiction Author, #3 Author, #4 Novel, #3 Series, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and recipient of 14 RWA awards. Contact Julie and read excerpts from her books at http://www.julielessman.com.
1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
I never, EVER imagined being a typical doting grandmother. My prayer partner kept telling me that being a grandmother was THE BEST thing ever, but to be honest, I didn’t buy it. When I used to work at a large company as a travel writer, women would bring their babies in and while all the other ladies would crowd around, I’d head for the ladies’ room because I am just not one to fawn over babies or kids. But … I will say that this little gal (Rory) has made me eat my words and then some. I still remember the day my daughter came home and found me on all fours, gooing and fawning in a high-pitched chipmunk voice over my granddaughter on a blanket, making a royal fool out of myself. “Never thought I’d see the day,” she said with a shake of her head, then promptly got down on all fours and joined me. 🙂
2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Well, as we all know, hindsight is 20/20, but the one thing I would do differently if I could is to truly listen to and take seriously what Francine Rivers said at an American Christian Fiction Writers Conference when she was the keynote speaker. She basically said, point blank, that she never entered contests even though her publisher wanted her to, and she would never look at reviews or royalty statements either, leaving the latter to her hubby. I believe she even took a break from writing for a while, to focus more on God. I still remember sitting in the audience, staring with mouth agape, thinking, is she crazy?? As an aspiring author, I couldn’t imagine laying writing aside for anything, nor taking such a disinterest in important things like contests, reviews, book sales.
Oh, WOW, what a dipstick I was!! Or actually, just a really green writer with pie-in-the-sky dreams of Christy Awards, a boatload of 5-star reviews, and a permanent spot on the CBA bestseller list. You see, despite Francine’s very wise words, I had absolutely NO idea what an emotional roller-coaster it was going to be AFTER I got published. Like a lot of unpublished writers, I thought all the anxiety and self-doubt would dissipate after I signed on the dotted line. I mean that would validate me, right? Give me confidence as a writer? But I discovered that true confidence is not in accolades from your editor, bestseller status, or a really good review, but instead in where your heart is with God. HE is my confidence when my sales rankings on Amazon.com are high or low, which is why I CLING to the following Scripture among others: 2 Corinthians ll:3: Do not let my mind “be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
Five years down the road in my published career, the most significant thing I have learned—and the toughest challenge—has been the critical truth that I have to stay grounded in what God wants for me versus what I want for me. Sure, I would love to be a bestselling author, but what does God want? I am learning (very painfully, I might add) that I must become less so that He can become more. I often tell fellow writer friends that I would give anything to have a spiritual lobotomy of sorts, where I could surgically remove that part of my writer’s brain that focuses on good reviews, book sales and contest wins. But the reality is that I am a human being with a lot of flaws, and quite frankly, that’s the way God wants us—so flawed that we are forced to cling to Him, which I do, trust me!
3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Oh, without question, when my children were born!! For a gal not overly partial to little kids, I sure loved having my own, especially since I was an infertility patient. You see, not only did I have trouble getting pregnant (I wrote a blog about infertility called CLEAN HEART, DIRTY DIAPERS), but when I finally did after almost five years, I started bleeding and the fertility specialist told me he thought I was going to self-abort. I was devastated and immediately had my prayer partners lay hands on me, and the bleeding stopped.
About a month later, it happened again, and the fertility doctor told me the same thing—he was convinced I would self-abort because my pregnancy hormone levels were too low. “Let me take another blood test,” he said, but he was pretty certain I would lose the baby. Once again, I not only had my prayer partners pray and lay hands on me, but a group at church as well.
I still remember the day I was waiting for his phone call for the results of the blood test, a nervous wreck because he was taking so long to get back to me. “He’s probably just too confused because your levels are perfect,” my friend said with confidence. Would you believe the doctor called right after that and his first words were, “I’m sorry, Mrs. Lessman, but I am very confused—your levels are near perfect, and I don’t understand it, so I want to take one more blood test, just to double-check.” Needless to say, I now have a beautiful 25-year-old daughter who is a lawyer and loves God with all of her heart, so take that, Dr. Infertility!! 🙂
4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
The MOST important thing I want the next generation to know and the message that permeates every book I write is the reality of how natural and fulfilling an intimate relationship with God can and SHOULD be. Like breathing. My books may be fiction, but this is NOT a fairy tale here. It is possible to have a living, breathing relationship with the God of the Universe. He’s crazy about us, and if most people really understood that, their lives would turn on a dime and blessings would overtake them. Believe me, I KNOW this firsthand—I used to be a hard, cynical, coarse human being before God pulled me up by the scruff of the neck and said, “Yo, Julie! Get a clue—you’re the apple of my eye!” J He’s been the love of my life ever since.
Thank you again Julie! Be sure to connect with Julie through her website, by sending an e-mail, signing up for my newsletter or her blog called “Journal Jots”, a very laid-back Friday journal. You can also check out Julie’s favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of her books on the “Excerpts” tab. And if you’re an aspiring writer, join Julie daily at The Seekers blog, a group blog devoted to encouraging and helping aspiring writers on the road to publication.