Okay, so I had a little scheduling mix-up and Ms. Slattery ended up on my schedule twice this year. I could (should?) probably find another to fill in for October, but I’ve already done the work (as has Jennifer). Plus, Jennifer’s book released last month, so it’s a nice additionally promotional plug to help spread the word about her novel. With that in mind, you may remember reading this in May. If not, please take a moment to enjoy meeting Jennifer Slattery.
Welcome! Please, tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, Karin. Thanks for having me! I’m a Midwest transplant who’s originally from Northwestern Washington. I’ve been married to an amazing man and my best friend for nineteen years. We’ve got a seventeen-year-old daughter who’s in her last year of high school. I can already sense the empty nesting phase! Other than that, if I’m not writing or reading, with a big ol’ flavored coffee in my hand, I’m hanging with my family or window shopping with my girlfriends.
Why did you start writing?
I originally started writing to fill ministry roles. I’ve always been an outreach kinda girl and loved coming up with various ways to reach out to our community or bring them in. This usually required writing of some sort, from curriculum to stories to dramas. Then one day as I was brainstorming a program for the children’s ministry—it was a story presentation on Jonah—it hit me: “I like this!”
That was when I began to wonder if perhaps God had plans for my writing, though I didn’t fully understand what that was for some time.
How did you start writing?
I largely answered this question above, but from there, I began to piddle around with it a bit. The first book-length story I wrote was a political thriller that had something to do with our borders. (I was living in Southern California at the time, so that was a hot issue.) Honestly, I don’t remember anything more than that. I’m pretty sure it stunk. But I was still more focused on church ministry, seeing my writing as a hobby. It wasn’t until we went through a series of moves and landed, temporarily, in a home church without ministry outlets that I took writing seriously as a calling.
How did you select your genre?
It really just birthed from who I am. My tagline reads, “broken lives saturated by grace,” and that’s what I write about. I write about broken people—the homeless, orphans, foster children, single mothers—and believers who become God’s instruments of grace to them. Of course, there’s more to my stories than that, but they always have some sort of outreach element because I believe that’s the whole reason we Christians are still here on earth. 😉
What is your writing day like?
This varies. Right now I’m working toward a deadline AND launching a book, so I’m pulling longer hours than normal. I’m grateful that I don’t have to work outside the home, so I’m able to devote a large amount of time to writing. Normally I do freelance editing in the morning, do my creative writing mid-day, then do marketing or blogging or whatever else needs done in the early afternoon. Evenings vary and are largely set aside for family. 🙂
How do you organize your writing (outlines/note cards/post-its)?
I’m a plotter. I usually begin with a three ring binder that I divide into sections for characters, setting locations, and research elements. Once I have all the major elements including themes planned out, I begin plotting scenes on multi-colored 4 X 6 notecards.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you?”
I’ll probably get stoned for this, but my characters don’t do that. I’ve had God show me some really cool things as I’ve been writing, though. One of them gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes. It was during a scene in my second novel, When Dawn Breaks. The heroine was wrestling with some major decisions, which involved not only the man she’d fallen in love with but three children who’d been abandoned by their mother as well.
As I wrote this scene, I sensed it was pivotal, but I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how. I knew she needed to hear clearly from God, but I had no idea what that revelation might be, so I committed this to prayer and turned to my Bible. I’m not much of a flip-and-point reader as I believe God loves to reveal truth in the context of the passage, but on this day the passage the Bible fell open to was so perfect, it took my breath away. It spoke of healing and hope, a hope able to break generational abuse.
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 a list of books waiting. 🙂 I’ve grown quite attached to the characters in my first two novels (Beyond I Do and another that will release in 2015), and I’ve begun to visualize how God will use their experiences in the first book to grow them in future novels. I’ve already plotted two of these books out and have begun writing one. Hopefully, in God’s perfect timing, each of these stories will come to fruition.
What does your work space/office look like?
Lately I’ve actually been sitting in my office! This is pretty amazing, as I work on a laptop and seem to move it anywhere but where it should be—on my desk. But my desk truly is the most logical (sigh) place for me to write as I can lay everything I need out. As to what it looks like? A bit of a mess.
What is your go-to snack when writing?
Whatever’s easy. And I always seem to have time for coffee sweetened with almond milk.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
As a writer I’d say The Help. As I read it, I was very inspired to use my writing for good and to stay committed to that, no matter how hard the road ahead or how long it took. I don’t mean to trivialize the suffering the story represented, as that was a horrific time in America’s history I hope we never see the likes of again. But as I read it I realized injustice happens every day, all around us. People are hurting now. As writers, we have the opportunity to impact our culture. For the better. I want to use that opportunity well.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein. It’s jam-packed with practical information, and every time I read it, I not only learn more about the craft, but come away with many story and scene ideas. It’s amazing!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Oh, that’s a dangerous question. Just kidding. Well, not really, but no. I think I said nearly everything that flew through my brain and then some. 🙂
Though I’d love to hear from your readers: What’s the best novel you’ve ever read and why?
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog! Have a blessed day!
Thank you for having me!
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here.
Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.
Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?
Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.
Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.
Read a free, 36-page excerpt here.