Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to introduce Jill Eileen Smith, author of The Wives of King David Biblical fiction series. She’s here to share a little bit about her life and her writing, as well as give away a copy of her newest book, “Abigail”.
Tell us a little about yourself:
I’m a wife, mom, and author of a biblical fiction series – The Wives of King David. The books in the series are: Michal: A Novel and Abigail: A Novel published with Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The final book, Bathsheba, is coming in 2011. I’m currently working on the first book in the next series, The Wives of the Patriarchs. I love to travel, spend time with my family and friends, am a cat owner, aspiring Bible scholar, amateur historian, musician, and above all a follower of Jesus Christ.
Why did you start writing?
I wanted to read a novel on King David’s life and couldn’t find one that satisfied, so I sat down to write the book I wanted to read.
How did you start writing?
I knew nothing about writing fiction, but biblical fiction had the plot already outlined for me (something I learned to do on my own much later), so I just dove in and imagined the parts that weren’t already given in Scripture and started writing.
How did you select your genre?
I co-taught a Bible study on David’s life and fell in love with his story. Wanting to read a novel on his life led to my choice of genre. I’ve also written women’s fiction and romantic suspense since.
What is your writing day like?
Never the same day twice. I try to set a weekly word count. Right now it is 5000 words a week, which breaks down to 1000 words a day, 5 days a week. That’s my goal. This week I was also working on another proposal, so I wrote 6600 words on a new synopsis (which is way too long to send in, but necessary for me) and almost 2000 for the new chapters proposal, plus about only 2000 on my current WIP. So it changes depending on need. I prefer to do my writing in the morning, but sometimes I have to put it off until evening. I’m always ahead of deadline though, so I manage to get it in amongst real life one way or another.
How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
For my novels, I make a paragraph summary outline of the book. Then I create an Idea Board with pictures of my characters and places or objects that fit their time. I do a lot of research for the time period both ahead of time and during the actual writing of the novel.
For the rest of the writing business demands, I’m learning to make good use of Google Calendar to keep track of everything. As each book releases, life gets busier and if I don’t make lists, something will slip through the cracks.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
Hmm…I’m not sure I can pick just one thing as standing out above the rest. In a romance novella I wrote years ago, a character waited until I nearly finished the story to tell me she had a four-year-old brother who had died. In another story, the main character told me right up front that she’d been forced to have multiple abortions. I hadn’t envisioned that before, so that was a bit of a surprise.
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
I have written several stories that are not in the biblical fiction genre. In those stories there are some characters that I love that I would really like to see their stories told one day. Those books are written, so I don’t need any specific file on them except to keep the book on my computer. I feel like those characters are old friends that have gone on a long trip and they haven’t made it back home yet. Maybe someday…
For my current genre of biblical fiction, I have a list of characters in Scripture I would like to pursue. I’m working on such a proposal now, but of course, can’t discuss it until and unless they are contracted.
What does your work space/office look like?
I have an office in what used to be a former wet bar off of our family room. We converted it to hold a bookcase, file cabinet, desk, printer, and desktop computer. I don’t use that computer much anymore except for email and social networking. I do all of my writing on my laptop, and my workspace changes from recliner to recliner. Sometime I prefer the table, but I switch things up do avoid recurrence of tendonitis and carpal tunnel symptoms.
What is your go-to snack when writing?
I’m not a huge snack person. I drink a lot of tea – love it strong and black. Sometimes I switch to coffee, and I limit myself to a few pieces, sometimes only one, of chocolate a day. Godiva truffles are my favorites – dark chocolate is best – and I’ve got a great fudge recipe I enjoy too.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
That’s an impossible question to answer! The one that comes first to mind though is Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’ve only read the novel once, but I’ve seen the movie adaption (the version with Keira Knightley) several times and it’s probably my all-time favorite movie. I read the novel after seeing the movie and it was quite true to the book. Why? The characterization is fabulous and the story one that I never grow tired of. A historical romance that is truly classic.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rene & King. There are many books that have helped me, but this one taught me the most early on.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Write what you love. Don’t worry about whether you will be published or not, just study and learn and write for the sheer joy of writing. The more you love your story, the more that will resonate with your readers.
If you’d like to win a free copy of “Abigail”, please leave a comment (you MUST include your email address to be eligible to win). I’ll pick a winner on February 1!