I am always super-happy when I get to chat with my author friend Jennifer Slattery! We got to meet in person at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat this past August, and it was such a treat to chat face to face. She has a heart for Jesus and for hurting people, and it’s a privilege to know her.
Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries (http://whollyloved.com), she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefly, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Jennifer’s latest release, Restoring Love, released January 2nd from New Hope Publishers.
Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She’s almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself.
As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration.
While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?
Jennifer polled her facebook followers to see what questions they would like her to answer and from those responses she picked several to feature here today. Keep an eye out – you might see your question 🙂
Where do you get the inspiration for your books?
Jen: This is a loaded question. (hee-hee) Honestly, I think I was born daydreaming, and fiction writing is simply recording one’s overactive imagination. My mom often said, when I was young, she could always tell when I’d mentally checked out of a movie or television program because when she’d ask me about it, I’d begin retelling the storyline, then inevitably would venture into some fantastical tale. Reality is much too boring and restrictive to remain in for long, right?
Carrie: Oh of course! This is why I read … lol.
What’s your key environment that helps you get into writing?
Jen: I really like silence, and as boring as this sounds, I prefer my office. Part of this is for comfort purposes, and I have all my resources and notes within reach. That said, I’d love to get snowed in in some mountain cabin in Colorado with my husband, my laptop, and a few books. He could catch up on his reading and offer feedback on the thousand and five sentences I toss his way, and I could create and create and create. Then read for a while, then create some more. Happy sigh.
Carrie: Ohhhhh blissful sigh! Wouldn’t that be ideal?!? (With my own husband of course … lol)
What are you saying in your writing that can help Christians today?
Jen: It’s interesting, but I think all my books in some way point to surrender, and I really believe that’s the key to experiencing the abundant life Christ offers. I also tend to write about women discovering who they are in Christ and what they’re created to do—discovering that which brings them more fulfillment than anything else (apart from their relationship with Christ).
Carrie: Both of those are so key in our world today! Exactly what women need to hear!
Explain your writing process—how do you go about writing a novel?
Jen: I usually begin with an idea. For example, the story I’m working on now started with me stumbling upon the historic stained churches of Texas. They are so incredibly beautiful, and their stained glass work is amazing. I seem to have a fondness for artists (though I’m so artistically challenged!), and I’ve fallen into a bit of a cowboy trend. (I blame my critique partner Shannon Taylor Vannatter for that. Have you read her cowboy stories? So good!)
So, there were the bones, then I began dreaming of how to put a stained glass artist and historical art restorer (from the city!) and a small town cowboy handyman, former rancher together.
My next step was research, and this is where I’m still at. It’s soooo much fun! With every new scene idea, questions arise, which lead to research, which triggers ideas, which leads to more research.
Carrie: Cowboys … another blissful sigh. I have a weakness for cowboys in fiction. I know that’s so not at all the point of this question but … yeah. Cowboys. 😀
What is your biggest challenge when you get ready to write?
Jen: Time. Especially when I’m working on edits (for an upcoming release or in relation to my role as editor with LPC, Firefly) and book launch stuff. Then there’s ministry work, speaking engagements, books upon books to read (A girl needs to refuel now and again.). I continually contemplate how I want to change my schedule so I have more time to simply write, but then … Well, you know. We’re all busy.
Carrie: I’m always saying I NEED MORE TIME, like I’m running around in an episode of 24 or something. I feel your pain. I think everyone in today’s world struggles with finding enough time.
What would you celebrate about writing, and how has it changed your life?
Jen: I love how God uses writing to reach out to readers. How He can reveal His love through characters, and how He can provide hope through plot threads. I also love the close-knit community I’ve discovered through writing. I’ve formed some of my closest friendships with those I’ve met through online writers groups or at conferences.
Carrie: The community of Christian Fiction – writers, readers, bloggers – is one of the best around!
How important are reviews to you (from a reviewer)?
Jen: I love reviews, the good and the bad. Granted, the bad reviews can make my stomach knot and trigger some of my insecurities, but they also teach me a lot about what not to do in future books. Obviously, some reviews are the result of varied tastes, but I can almost always learn from each one. And the positive reviews, especially when the reviewer gets what I was trying to accomplish or what the character was going through internally—gold! Those are like matches to kerosene!
Carrie: As a reviewer myself, I am encouraged by this answer 🙂
What drove you to start writing?
Jen: I’ve always been driven to write, though initially it was for my own pleasure (journaling) and for ministry. I wrote parent newsletters, outreach curriculum, dramas for church events, and short stories. Then one day, when I was brainstorming a story assigned to me by my church’s children’s director, I realized, “Man, I love this. I mean, I really loved this!”
That was when I began to clue in that this was something God was calling me to do, that He’d created me to do. Though I didn’t actually surrender to His call until a few years later.
Carrie: I love that sweet spot of doing what He’s created you to do! It’s such an indescribable feeling. Draining and energizing all at the same time.
How do you get your characters so real?
Jen: This question blesses my socks off, largely because it was suggested by one of my favorite people—Kathleen Freeman (a woman I’ll get to see this spring. Yay!). It’s fun that she asked because she was my critique partner for a long time, one for the best critique partners I’ve had. So in answer, I’d say, with Kathleen’s brilliant help! I have grown and learned so much by working with her. But the greatest blessing is the friendship God formed through our critique partnership.
Carrie: God is so sweet to do that, isn’t He?
I am giving away a copy of Jennifer’s latest release Restoring Love. Due to shipping costs and international giveaway regulations, this particular giveaway is open to US mailing addresses only. Giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies.
What about you? What is YOUR biggest challenge – in writing or reading?