Thank you for joining me on the Historical Novel Review Blog, Jennifer.
I’m glad to be here, Anita. Thank you for having me!
1. How long have you been writing historical fiction, and what makes you want to portray the past in the written word?
I started writing my first historical novel when I was 12—so that would be 26 years. History fascinates me. I love trying to imagine what it was like to live in different time periods, what my ancestors must have gone through and how neat it would be to travel back in time. I think it’s fun to bring history back to life.
2. For our readers who are unfamiliar with the concept, what makes an Inspirational Writer differ from any other Historical Fiction Author?
There is usually an element of faith in the story. The main purpose is not necessarily for the characters to find salvation—although they can—but to show how real people wrestle with trials, tribulations, temptation, the consequences of giving into temptation, and basic conflict. Through overcoming and surviving, their faith becomes stronger, they may have learned new things about themselves, their inner strength, or about their beliefs and God.
3. What specifically made you want to set your story in the Medieval Scottish Highlands with its mixture of Pagan and Roman Catholic beliefs?
I wasn’t thinking about religion when I first wrote my debut novel. It didn’t begin as an inspirational historical romance—that’s what it became. It began as Promised Betrayal, a secular romance novel set in medieval Scotland for the pure romanticism of the time and place. While I’ve been a Christian since childhood, I didn’t always want to write Christian fiction. I ran from the idea—much like the biblical prophet, Jonas.
4. Did your heroine, Akira, come entirely from your imagination, or is she based on a true character in history?
Akira MacKenzie is pure imagination, but I think she has my Scots-Irish temper.
5. What other historical fiction writers do you admire, and did any inspire your own work?
Too many to name. Although I will say that I really discovered inspirational fiction when I found Kathleen Morgan’s Scottish medieval, Embrace the Dawn, while browsing in Borders. At the beginning, the heroine is abused by her husband and she kills him trying to defend herself and her young son. The hero saves her. I remember thinking to myself, “I didn’t think something like that would be allowed in Christian fiction.” I bought the book, right then and there. I went home and began revising my novel that became Highland Blessings.
6. Every author works in a different way – would you share with us how you approach writing a novel? The way you set out the plot, your workplace, anything that contributes to the process.
Highland Blessings was written as I went. The novels I write now are outlined and plotted. I begin with a working title, a plot paragraph, and then I write a character sketch of all the main characters. I add sub-characters as needed. Then I write an outline, a couple of sentences for each scene. I do some basic research, print things I think I’m going to need, and create a research folder for that novel. From there I write a 3-4 page synopsis and then I write the first draft of the book.
7. After doing a bit of web browsing, I discovered that Inspirational Romance is experiencing a surge in popularity. What would you attribute this to?
I think there are a lot of people out there who believe in God, they have a desire to know more about the truth, but they don’t want to be preached to when they sit down to read for entertainment. Yet they don’t mind a good story with a moral, something that will inspire them to think positive, or make them ponder tough issues. Even when I read a secular romance, I skip over all the graphic sex. I’m more interested in the emotional heartbeat of the romance, the sensuality over the sex, the attraction over the detail, the love over the lust. I think there is a huge market out there who feels this way and as publishers began publishing other alternatives, people tried it and many liked it.
8. What is your current work in progress?
Highland Sanctuary, the sequel to Highland Blessings. It is set in Caithness, Scotland in 1477. Gavin MacKenzie is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh. He discovers a hidden village of outcasts that have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and comely lass who captures Gavin’s heart. The villagers have an intriguing secret, while Serena harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.
9. Where can readers find more information about you and your books?
Writing Blog: http://jenniferswriting.blogspot.com/
Carolina Scots-Irish Blog: http://carolinascots-irish.blogspot.com/
10. What would you like our readers to know about you and your writing?
My novels tend to have complex plots that contain a thread of romance, faith, mystery and/or suspense. I like several historical time periods and so I’m also working on some Regencies, an Irish historical, and some Carolina historicals.