Category Archives: Interviews

Interview: K.L. Ditmars, Canadian author

Author K.L. Ditmars

K. L. (Kelly) Ditmars is a Canadian writer of inspirational fiction, whose debut novel, All That it Takes, released January 2021. The opening chapters of All That it Takes won a Word Award in 2020 in the unpublished fiction category—a promising endorsement!

Welcome, Kelly, and congratulations on your new release! What is your book about?

My book is a fictional story about Julia Bowen whose husband is murdered.  As she navigates her grief she discovers that he died at the hands of a human trafficking ring which she attempts to expose. It is also about her spiritual journey and how the people that help her in her efforts against the trafficking ring also help her come into relationship with God.

What sort of research did you need to do for a subject like this?

To realistically address the issue of human trafficking, I read a lot of books about the human trafficking issue in Canada.

I also have friends who have worked in anti-human trafficking efforts for decades, so I was able to draw on their experience through interviews.

One of the main characters lives on a boat. I live on an island where a segment of the population lives aboard their boats, it wasn’t too difficult to find friends of friends to interview.

Two characters in the story were veterans of the Canadian military service and shared an experience as peacekeepers during the Rwanda genocide. To research this, I read a lot. Two specific books written by General Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian commander of the peacekeeping mission during the genocide, regarding his experience in Rwanda and dealing with post-traumatic stress: Shake Hands with the Devil and Waiting for First Light.

This list is just a tip of the iceberg of research resources I used while writing my book. But it is a good start for anyone looking to read more: klditmarswriter.com/resources.

Do you remember the first germ of idea for All That it Takes?

Most definitely. The beginning of this story came from a dream. In this dream I was fleeing from a friend’s house into the forest behind their home. Of course, when I woke up, I had no idea why I was fleeing. I immediately wrote it down. A month later I had written 52,000 words and had a rough first draft of All That it Takes.

Wow, that’s a fast start! Do you have a favorite character in the story?

Yes, Charlie is my favorite character, I had fun writing him and using him as a vehicle to share God’s love. A close second is Angus, the Irish wolfhound.

Glad I’m not the only writer who loves the animal characters as well as the humans. I see this is book one in the Where Can I Go? series. Will the next book continue Julia’s story or what connects the books in the series?

Yes, the next book will continue Julia’s story as she helps bring the human trafficking ring to justice. It will also be a thriller based around the real battle faced by law enforcement and the legal establishment to charge and convict human traffickers. The whole series not only sees Julia’s efforts against human trafficking, but also her spiritual journey, as she discovers a God who is present through it all. Her spiritual journey begins with an introduction to faith in God and coming to the understanding that God is with us and we are never apart from him. Even though we may not realize his presence, it is always there.

His presence makes all the difference. Can you share any special God moments you experienced working on this project?

I wrote a lot of Charlie’s faith journey from my own experience and when I did it caused me to look back at my own life and see God’s hand. I think writing this story was an affirmation of God’s faithfulness in my own life.

How long have you been writing? And what got you started?

I have memories of writing stories when I was a little girl, of course I don’t have any of those early scribblings, I’ve moved too many times in my life for them to have survived successive purges. A lot of my early writing experiences involved writing stage plays in church. It was my church youth group and creative ministry departments at the churches I’ve attended throughout my life that encouraged and fostered this aspect of creativity in my life.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

I still feel I am a beginning writer as this is my debut novel.  I guess I would say, keep writing, keep improving your craft. Take classes, learn from people and authors you admire and who are further ahead in the publishing journey. Go to conferences and mingle with fellow writers and authors.

Figure out what you have to do to make it a reality. I remember when I went to my very first writers conference in 2015,  I had a reality check regarding all the things on top of writing that an author has to do. It’s a little daunting and overwhelming at times but basically, it’s an ever-evolving machine to not just write books and stories but also to make sure that they come to be noticed out there in the world and to find their place on the shelf next to other writers.

Wise words. Thank you. Is there a particular song or scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Worship music for me is a huge influencer. Worshipping God and loving him through music and declaring his worthiness of his place in my life has always been a vehicle to really hear him speak to me. It puts me in a place where I can hear his voice and seek direction and just nurture that love relationship with him. So, no one song in particular, just the act of worship has made a difference.

There is one verse from Deuteronomy that seems to come to mind more often than any other.  Chapter 5 verse 29; “Oh that there were such a heart in them that they would fear me and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” I come back to this verse quite often when I struggle with bad choices that I’ve made and circumstances I find myself in. It grounds me in knowing God has my best in mind, and always will. His commandments are there to give me direction and purpose, that I might live the best life possible and be an example and hopefully influence those around me.

I can hear God’s yearning over us in that verse. Now, for something a little lighter, to finish: Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea?

Definitely chocolate and definitely tea.

I have always loved chocolate.

As far as coffee goes, I have never developed a taste for it. I have had sips of coffee throughout my life but could never get past the bitterness.

It was only in my early 50s when I actually had my first cup of coffee. I was in Bulgaria and visiting a monastery with a group and we were offered coffee. I have been a missionary and we were taught that if someone offers you something you graciously accept it. So, that afternoon in Bulgaria, sitting in the courtyard of a beautiful monastery, I drank my first cup of coffee. I even took a picture to prove it. It was thick Turkish coffee, but served in a small demitasse cup and laden with sugar, which helped me finish it. I can still taste that bitter flavor to this day, and I hope I never have to drink another cup of coffee again.

Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

The mountains, ocean and the mild climate on the west coast. I grew up in northwestern Ontario, and lived a number of years in Alberta, so I have experienced the frozen Canadian winter for much of my life. The rainforest climate here, despite the cloudy wet days in winter, make a lush green background to living that I am enjoying at this point in my life. My mother use to always say, ‘you don’t have to shovel rain.’

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done?

I think the most unusual thing I’ve ever done involves travel. I’ve been a missionary and lived and traveled to a number of countries, but in 2012 during my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria, I went to Bulgaria. I participated in a three-week field school in which we documented, through photography and drawing, frescoes in medieval churches in the Balkan mountains. It was fascinating and educational and in a part of the world that I had never been to and I still long to return to.

Where can readers find you?

I have a website www.klditmarswriter.com where you can learn about my books and my writing journey.

Author Bio:

K. L. (Kelly) Ditmars was born in Kakabeka Falls, ON Canada, and has lived in several provinces since. She has lived and traveled to several countries both as a Christian Missionary and as a curious human soul. To support her traveling habit, she has worked in various industries and occupations throughout her life, from part-time catering to clerking in the Supreme Court of BC. Kelly completed a degree in Medieval Studies at the University of Victoria. She now lives in Victoria, BC where the adventure of life and her writing continues. All That is Takes is her debut novel.

Kelly loves to connect with her readers. You can find her on the following platforms.

www.klditmarswriter.com

Instagram

Facebook – I have a private Facebook Group called Readers of K.L. Ditmars. I have a live event every Sunday (6:00 pm Pacific) where I talk about my writing journey. This is a new platform for me and I am enjoying this new means of engagement with my readers. Readers can join it via my Author page, through the link provided.

ORDERING INFORMATION:

All That it Takes is available to order through your local independent bookstore (with the exception of Chapters/Indigo in Canada).

Book details:

Title: ALL THAT IT TAKES

Author: K. L. DITMARS

ISBN: 9781777410100 (paperback); 9781777410117 (ebook)

ONLINE ORDER LINKS:
Amazon.ca – Kindle & Paperback
Chapters/Indigo KOBO – eReader – Canada
Amazon.com – Kindle & Paperback
Barnes & Noble – Nook eReader & Paperback USA
Amazon.co.uk – Kindle & Paperback
Amazon.com.au (Australia) – Kindle & Paperback
Angus & Robertson ebooks – Australia

How I Write

Editor/Novelist/Teacher Karin Beery says, “There’s no right-or-wrong answer when it comes to the best way to publish a book. It boils down to what you’re willing and able to do.”

That’s the start of a chat we had on Karin’s Write Now Editing blog. She asked questions like which was harder to write: first book or later books, and do I plot or write seat-of-the-pants style. We also talk about traditional and/or independent publishing, and I have a long list of suggestions for new writers.

Click over and join the conversation! http://writenowedits.com/2020/07/how-i-write-janet-sketchley/

Follow me on BookBub

Giveaway and Interview

Remember a while back I posted about my new reader’s journals? Nope? That’s fair, we’ve had a lot going on in our world. Want a chance at a free copy?

If you like to keep track of what you read, maybe with some extra details beyond author – title – date, pop over to Reading is My SuperPower. I’m giving away two copies of the Reads to Remember journal, and there’s a fun interview as well. [Giveaway ends June 24, 2020, and it’s limited to Canada/US. Sorry, but postage is expensive.]

And while you’re there, if you’re not familiar with Reading is My SuperPower, check out the other posts. Just be prepared to add more books to your to-read list

Print Giveaway, Interview, Review Option, and a Price Drop

Book cover: Hidden Secrets

There’s a print book giveaway this month for Hidden Secrets. Unfortunately, it’s only available in continental US and Canada, but if that works for you, check it out at The Suspense Zone. There are a few other suspense giveaways at the same link, for continental US residents only. [Giveaways end October 31, 2019]

And Susan Sleeman from The Suspense Zone also interviewed me. You can check out that conversation here.

If, by chance, you’re a NetGalley reviewer or if you know someone who is and who enjoys mystery/suspense, Hidden Secrets is available there during the month of October. Link: NetGalley. I’m really excited about this chance to get the book in front of some new-to-me reviewers.

Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you I’ve dropped the price of the ebook version of Unknown Enemy to 99 cents USD ($1.32 CAD and the equivalent worldwide). It’s available for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and Apple, so please let your mystery/suspense-reading friends know! International buy link: Unknown Enemy.

Text: "A young woman with a traumatic past... A lonely widow... And a prowler who's up to no good. $0.99 for Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks. #Christiansuspense #books2read.com/unknownenemy

Interview: Christine Dillon

Author Christine Dillon
Author Christine Dillon

Author Christine Dillon’s third novel, Grace in Deep Waters, released in July, and I caught up with her for a few questions. You’ll find her author bio and the details of her book below, but first, let’s hear from Christine herself.

Janet: You’ve lived in a number of countries. Where are you based now? And what’s something you love about where you live?

Christine: I’m currently back in Taiwan where I’ve worked as a missionary for the past twenty years. As my parents were also missionaries, I have also done most of my schooling in Malaysia and the Philippines. However, my passport country is Australia.

I love using my life to tell people about Jesus. People here are friendly and hospitable.

Janet: You’re a Bible storyteller, verbally recounting events from Scripture. How did writing novels come about?

Christine: As a Bible storyteller I couldn’t fail to be impacted by the response that people had to stories and the fact that they often learned far more than they would if I’d taught them the main points. The stories lingered.

I had also been strongly impacted by certain stories like the Narnia series and Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. However, I didn’t think I could ever write a novel. Non-fiction yes, but novels were well beyond me.

It seems that God has other ideas because he literally dropped the initial ideas and title into my head for the first novel which went on to start a series. It was kind of Him not to give me too much up front because I would have been overwhelmed. I spent nearly five hard years learning to write fiction. Some things get easier but it is still the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Janet: Grace in Deep Waters is book 3 in the Grace series, each one tackling some heavy issues in a character-driven, thought-provoking way. Do readers need to begin with book 1, or can they dive right into the “Deep Waters” of book 3?

Christine: I’ve written each book as a ‘stand alone’ story but it would be much more beneficial to read from book 1.

Janet: Each book in the series features a different member of the Macdonald family. Do you have a favourite character, and if so, why?

Christine: You spend so much time with the characters so they grow on you. Most of my favourite characters are the minor characters. I loved Joy from book 1 and Dr Paul Webster. I am planning a separate book for him. In book 2, I loved Josh and Dirk at the plant nursery. Throughout the series I also love Naomi, Esther’s grandmother. In book 3, one of the main characters is quite hard to like. I am thankful God doesn’t give up on him because most of us would have. The side characters of Reg (modelled a bit on my grandfather) and Davy are my favourites. Writing an eight-year-old was fun.

Janet: I know you’re here to talk about fiction, but could you give us a quick intro to what Bible storytelling is?

Christine: Of course, I love to talk about Bible storytelling. It is a way of simply telling Bible stories so that people not only hear God’s word but can then interact with it. I mostly tell stories to adults and most often with non-Christians. Storytelling has a unique ability to get under people’s defences and allow us to communicate with people who wouldn’t usually listen. I have two non-fiction books on storytelling and you can find out more at storyingthescriptures.com. There are many training posts/videos and video stories there, plus testimonies of people using storytelling around the world.

Janet: Christine, thanks for taking time to chat today, and all the best with your writing!

More about the book:

Book cover: Grace in Deep Waters, by Christine Dillon

William Macdonald is at the pinnacle of his career. Pastor of a growing megachurch and host of a successful national radio programme. Clever and respected, he’s a man with everything, including a secret. His wife has left him and he can’t risk anyone finding out.

Blanche Macdonald is struggling. Her once rock-solid marriage is showing cracks. She promised to love her husband for better or for worse, but does loving always mean staying? Blanche desires to put God first. Not William. Not her daughter. Not herself.

When is a marriage over? When do you stand and fight?

Buy links for Grace in Deep Waters:

More about Christine Dillon

Christine never intended to become an author. The only kind of writing she wondered if she might do was biography. However, it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction and now fiction.

Christine was a physiotherapist but now she writes ‘storyteller’ on any airport forms. She can legitimately claim to be this as she has written a book on storytelling and spends much of her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do so from her base in southern Taiwan.

In her spare time Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkelling. But she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire to be an historical detective.

Visit Christine’s website: storytellerchristine.com

Subscribe to Christine’s newsletter: subscribe.storytellerchristine.com

Author Interview: Jessica Kate

Author Jessica Kate

Preparing for the release of her debut novel, Love and Other Mistakes, on July 30, author Jessica Kate somehow squeezed in time for one more interview—provided we kept it to three questions. You’ll find her author bio and the details of her book below, but first, let’s hear from Jessica herself.

Janet: On the internet, we’re citizens of the world and often don’t know which country people call home. So for those who don’t know, I want to celebrate that you’re an Australian author. What’s something you love about where you live?

Jessica: Oh, great question! I love Australia’s weather (visiting the USA I’m often surprised at how much more extreme the temperatures are), beaches and relaxed vibe. The more I visit beaches overseas the more I realize how ours really are among the best in the world.

Janet: How did an international author catch the attention of an American publisher?

Jessica: I guess the story starts with first getting an agent. I met Chip MacGregor at a writing conference in 2015. While I didn’t have an appointment with him, I went to his class on book proposals and used the question time at the end to show him mine and ask what he’d improve. He looked at it and liked it, and long story short he wound up my agent.

Once we’d worked on the book for a while (quite a bit of re-writing and polishing which really strengthened the book) Chip sent it out to multiple publishers. I met many of them, either in formal meetings or again stalking at writing conferences, and then they got the book proposal.

I think it helped that I have an Aussie accent and was wearing a bright red dress at the time. It meant they could remember me more easily. 😊

After a long wait, Thomas Nelson made an offer! I was so excited!!!

Janet:  Love and Other Mistakes looks like a light-hearted read, perfect for summer. What do you hope readers take away from the story?

Jessica: Hope! The book combines humor with a lot of family and romantic drama, and some messy situations. But at the end of the day, God is bigger than our messes.

Janet: “God is bigger than our messes” – that gives hope, all right. Jessica, thanks for taking time to chat today, and all the best with your writing!

Jessica: Thanks Janet!

More about the books:

Book Cover: Love and Other Mistakes, a novel by Jessica Kate

There’s a fine line between love and hate…. And for the last seven years, Natalie Groves has hated Jeremy Walters.

Natalie Groves was meant for great things. But soon after her fiancé left, Natalie’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly her grand plans evaporated…and God felt very far away.

Fast-forward seven years, and an internship presents Natalie a chance at her destiny – but she needs a job to work around it. And the only offer available is worse than a life sentence. Her ex Jeremy, now back in town, is desperate for help with his infant son and troubled teenage niece, Lili. And Natalie may be just the one to help Jeremy…provided they don’t kill each other in the process.

When Jeremy and Natalie join forces, sparks fly. But will either of them get burned along the way?

Book Cover: A girl's Guide to the Outback, a novel by Jessica Kate

Kimberly Foster needs help from the last man in the world who would give it.

She and Samuel Payton fought so much during their three-year stint as colleagues that they now reside in different halves of the globe. She’s still the business director of the Virginia-based youth ministry that Sam founded, while he’s back at his family’s farm in rural Australia.

But Kimberly can’t find a suitable replacement for Sam, and the ministry is in trouble. She needs him back. What she doesn’t know is that the Payton farm’s finances are scarier than statistics on Australian spider bites.

She and Sam strike a deal: if she can use her business savvy to save the farm, he’ll return to Virginia and recruit and train his replacement.

Soon Kimberly’s on the edge of the Outback, working more closely with Sam than ever before. Can she protect his family’s legacy, the ministry, and her heart?

About Jessica Kate

Australian author Jessica Kate is obsessed with sassy romances.

She packs her novels with love, hate, and everything in between—and then nerds out over her favorite books, movies and TV in the StoryNerds podcast. When she’s not writing or discussing fiction, she’s hunting the world for the greatest pasta in existence.

Her debut novel Love and Other Mistakes releases July 2019, while A Girl’s Guide to the Outback hits shelves in January 2020.

Receive her sassy short The Kiss Dare FREE when you sign up for her newsletter at jessicakatewriting.com.

Book links

Love and Other Mistakes – https://books2read.com/u/3L06gJ

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback – https://books2read.com/u/b570Dl

Social media

Facebook and Instagram: Jessica Kate Writing

StoryNerds podcast: Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and at www.storynerds.podbean.com.

Author Interview: Writing from the Trenches

Ten busy authors have banded together to create a how-to for writers at all stages on the writerly journey. Writing from the Trenches released Sept. 1, and I caught up with one of the authors, Michelle Griep, to learn more about the book.

Janet: Welcome, Michelle, and thanks for taking time to join us. Love the title! It tells me you’ve all been there, you’ve served your apprenticeships, and you have stories to tell and wisdom to share. What excites you most about this project?

Author Michelle GriepMichelle: I love that the reader will get to hear from not just one author, but 10 veterans who’ve been around the writerly block—many times. I learned a lot just by reading what the other writers said!

Janet: I love a book that offers something for every stage of writer, because we can keep going back to it as we grow. What are some of the topics covered?

Michelle:

Plotting Techniques
Research
Characterization
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

Janet: Where did the book idea come from?

Michelle: MaryLu Tyndall was really the driving force behind this book. I’ll let her answer.

“I’ve read many writing instruction books over the years from many different authors, and I’ve learned a great deal. But I noticed that everyone’s advice, style, and instruction was different. Sometimes they even contradicted each other. So, I thought, why not get a bunch of fabulous authors together to give their own advice on a variety of writing topics and put it in one book? A one-stop shop for the best advice out there on writing!” 

Janet: Great idea. Beginning writers sometimes try to take everyone’s advice, even when it doesn’t work for them. Ten authors… how did you connect for this project?

Michelle: Once again, MaryLu to the rescue. . .

“Gathering up authors was much like herding and leading cats, but so worth the effort. I wanted to get a variety of authors—some successfully published in the traditional market, some who’d made a success as Independent authors, some who did both, some with name-recognition, some without a whole lot, but ALL great writers who had won awards or been on best-selling lists. Those were my criteria, so I went about sending out recruitment emails!  Surprisingly nearly everyone I contacted was excited to be a part of this book.”

Janet: You’re from different locations (all US?) and you write in various genres. How did that shape and enrich the project? Did it add any challenges? And do you have any funny, or maybe frustrating, stories of working together? Something other writers considering collaborations might need to know?

Michelle: Yet again, I defer to the wonderful MaryLu . . .

“Working with nine other people is never easy, but I was fairly surprised at how great this group got along, how quickly we came up with the topics we wanted to cover and who wanted to write which ones. We divided up the tasks we needed to accomplish—writing, editing, formatting, printing, cover design, marketing, etc—and then set a timeline. I have to say, everyone has been wonderful to work with, everyone got their chapters done on time, and everyone is contributing to the final product. Truly a miracle has occurred!”

Janet: You’re all Christian writers. Is Writing from the Trenches exclusively for Christians, or would a non-Christian writer find good take-away too?

Michelle: There’s honestly no way to extract who we are from what we write. But that being said, this is not an overtly Christian book. It’s a how-to, nuts and bolts sort of book. Any writer will benefit from all the collected wisdom, no matter their religion.

Janet: Before Writing from the Trenches, what book(s) on the craft most impacted you?

Michelle: Yikes! That’s a tough one because there are so many good ones out there. I’d have to say Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Brown & Dave King made a big impact on my writing, really explaining the difference between showing and telling. Also, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott really spoke to my angst as a writer and freed me from a lot of writerly fears.

Janet: Classic books for writers! Thanks for chatting, Michelle. All the best with the new book, and with your fiction as well. How can we find copies of Writing from the Trenches?

Michelle: You can snatch up your copy HERE AT AMAZON. And here’s a blurb about the book:

Writing from the Trenches: Tips and Techniques from Ten Award-Winning AuthorsTEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle tricky subjects on everything from characterization to plotting to marketing.

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.

 

Spring Suspense Interview

Thanks to author Sara L. Foust for including me in her Spring Suspense interview series. Why do I write suspense? What’s my favourite movie? Click over to Sara’s site and say hi: Interview with Janet Sketchley.

Interview and Giveaway (ends Nov. 30/17)

I had a fun chat with author Lynn A. Davidson at her blog, Polilla Writes, and one commenter will win a copy of one of my suspense novels (their choice). It’s a print book if they’re in continental North America, or an ebook if they live anywhere else.

Pop over and check it out: click here. (Giveaway ends Nov. 30, 2017, but the interview will stay online.)

Author Interview: Christine Dillon

Author Christine Dillon Christine Dillon was born in Australia but grew up in Asia. She now works in Taiwan as a Bible storyteller. Her book Telling the Gospel Through Story was voted 2013 Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year in Evangelism, and continues to inspire innovative and engaging Bible storytelling. Believing in the beauty and power of story prompted her jump into fiction. She loves reading, and keeps sane by cycling and swimming.

Janet: Welcome, Christine. Let’s start with some fun facts about you: Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea? What’s your favourite season?

Christine: Vanilla. Tea. Any but winter.

Janet: As a Canadian, I’m curious what your winters are like, but I guess that’s another conversation! Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

Christine: The incredibly generosity and friendliness of Taiwanese people.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Christine: 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 – God chooses the weak to shame the strong … so that no one can boast before him. If you feel weak then you qualify to be used. Grow close to Jesus and learn to rely on his spirit and you will be used (but probably not in the way you’d expect).

Janet: “Not the way you’d expect” – that’s practically a given! Your website says you didn’t intend to be a writer. What got you started?

Christine: I wrote my non-fiction to save myself having to answer every question one by one. I wanted to share what God had taught me and writing it down was the best use of my time. For Telling the Gospel Through Story we also set up a Bible storytelling website (www.storyingthescriptures.com) and that has become a ministry in itself with 7 languages and growing.

Janet: Congratulations on the release of your first novel, Grace in Strange Disguise, in October 2017. Was moving from non-fiction to fiction easier than you’d thought, or harder?

Christine: Much, much harder. Part of my life is facilitating seminars and so non-fiction is relatively easy. It took me nearly five years to write two practice novels and then plan, draft and edit (? 30 times) the final novel. I chose Biblical for the practice novels because I am a Bible storyteller and I thought it might be less of a jump. There were so many times that I thought, “It’s ready” and then a professional would show me it wasn’t.

Janet: We’ll have a full description of Grace in Strange Disguise at the end of this interview, but would you give us a few hints now?

Christine: It’s an Australian story about a physiotherapist who has a ‘golden’ life. And she expects to because her father has always preached ‘trust Jesus and you’ll be blessed.’ But what happens when ‘golden’ disappears? How do you make sense of it? Where is God in such times and what is he doing?

Janet: You’re tackling some very real issues in this novel. Readers may not face the same situation as Esther, but struggles are part of life, and God doesn’t always work the way we want Him to. What do you hope readers will take away from Esther’s story?

Christine: That God can be trusted. If he allows us to go through tough times it is not because he doesn’t care or has gone to sleep. It is part of his sovereign plan.

I also want to challenge us to know our Bibles and be able to stand against the lies that our world tells.

Janet: We do need to knowing our Bibles! Because you’re a Bible storyteller, I wonder… is Esther’s name significant?

Christine: I don’t even remember why that name was chosen. But actually when I think about it there are some similarities to Queen Esther. Both had to stand up and show courage in front of strong men.

Janet: Where did the story idea come from?

Christine: I was having a ministry half day of prayer in about 2007 and suddenly two ideas for novels dropped into my head – titles, main idea and setting. I was horrified because I knew writing fiction would be incredibly difficult and doubted I could ever do it. But I wrote the ideas down in the back of my prayer diary and said, “Lord, if those ideas were from you, you’ll have to make yourself clearer and give me all the resources I need.”

Over the next years, two non-fiction books were traditionally published. The pressure to start writing fiction just grew, until in 2013 I gave in.

Janet: When God’s in it, we need to do it. Congratulations on persevering! Do you have a favourite character?

Christine: This is a bit like asking ‘which child do you love most?’ I like Esther once she’s matured a bit. But there are lots of minor characters I like. The two men, Rob and Paul – because they are like so many non-Christian Australians I’ve shared the good news with. I love the ‘mentor’ character, Joy for her wisdom and courage. And Gina, because she is like some of the best friends I’ve had.

Janet: What was the best part of the story to write?

Christine: I enjoyed writing Joy’s story although it was tough to edit because it was long. I also loved writing all the dialogue between Esther and her skeptical medical specialist and other patients.

Janet: You’ve lived in so many interesting places, it must have been hard to choose a setting for your novel. What made you decide on Australia?

Christine: I think the initial ideas had this one set in Australia and the other in New Zealand. It wasn’t really a deliberate decision.

Janet: Is there another novel in the works?

Christine: One of my editors said, “This isn’t one book this is one and a half.” It was only 5 months before publication and I didn’t think I had the energy to cut off one third of the book and write a new ending. But she was right and with God’s help it got done.

So at the moment I see two more in this series.

Then there is another idea that was given in that initial prayer time and then the two practice novels could be rewritten. I don’t want to see any further ahead than that!

Janet: That’s enough of a to-do list for now! How do you juggle writing with your other work?

Christine: With great difficulty! Like many people in paid Christian ministry I struggle to know where work ends and what time can be used for writing. My non-fiction was written in intense bursts in my free time. At the moment, I’m trying to carve out one three hour block in a week. It often takes me the first hour to ‘get in the swing’.

Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Christine: Find experienced writers and LISTEN to them. There were so many times when I thought my writing was better than it was. It hurt to listen to some of the feedback and I nearly gave up several times but they were right.

There are also excellent craft books out there. Find a community of writers and ask for their best recommendations.

Janet: Thanks so much for taking time to chat, Christine, and all the best!

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Grace in Strange Disguise, by Christine DillonGrace in Strange Disguise, by Christine Dillon

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her.

After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations.

Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

For more about Christine Dillon, her books and ministry, visit http://www.storytellerchristine.com