Tuesday, February 16, 2010
From 1976 to 1985, Francine Rivers had a successful writing career in the general market. After becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. Since then, she has published 19 books and won numerous awards in the CBA market. She and her husband, Rick, have been married 40 years, have three children and five grandchildren.
Welcome to PASTimes, Francine. Tell us a little about your journey to Christian fiction.
I dreamed of being a writer from the time I was a child, and majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing and minored in journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. I had no idea what I wanted to write. My husband, Rick, and his mother and father read voraciously. Rick’s mom passed along novels to me. I loved gothics, historicals, and westerns, and decided to try writing a combination of these genres. The result was my first published novel, Kathleen. Eight more novels followed, and then I became a Christian. For several years, I lost the ability to write. Eventually, when I stopped trying to do things in my own power, I came to realize writing had become an idol in my life. I needed to get my priorities straight; God-first, family-second, work-third. Rick and I had opened our home for a Bible study. When we came to the book of Hosea, I felt God directing me to write again. During my three years “in the wilderness”, God showed me how He had given me the ability and desire to write, but that He had a purpose. I wasn’t called to be a writer, but a Christian writer, one who would center stories on God, His attributes, His love, His promises. The character of Michael is like Jesus. Working on Redeeming Love was a life-changing experience. God made His Word come alive for me, and He has kept it alive ever since.
How has the publishing industry changed since you first started?
I entered the Christian market when editors were just beginning to look at fiction as a possible way to share the Gospel. Frank Peretti and Bodie Thoene had paved the way for other Christian fiction writers, and editors Karen Ball and Ken Peterson opened the door of Tyndale House Publishers after reading my manuscript A Voice in the Wind. Tyndale House wasn’t just interested in publishing something that might sell very well -- their reputation matters greatly. Because of that, I was flown back to Wheaton to meet with members of the staff. They needed to ask important questions, see me face-to-face and hear me talk about my faith in Christ and what I felt called to do before they could offer a contract to publish my work. Up until that time, the only fiction they had published was written by Grace Livingston Hill, and my subject matter was far more gritty and realistic. Fiction has expanded greatly in the twenty years. Once Christian publishers realized how well fiction can spread the Gospel, they began pursuing new writers and stories.
What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?
I can get caught up in study and research. Writing is difficult. It is like any nine-to-five job. I have to be careful of distractions that can prevent me from doing my quota of work for the day (about four pages). Many people mistakenly believe a writer waits for inspiration. I’m on a quest. I start with a question and spend a year or more (studying scripture, researching, writing) seeking God’s perspective. Sometimes it takes months before I experience an epiphany – a single moment when God reveals the answer. The challenge is trying to attune myself to what He wants to teach me.
Describe your work place.
I have a downstairs office that I share with my husband (now retired from his aviation business). We each have a computer. He has a view of the green space behind our property. I face a Morgan Weistling print of Jesus praying. To the left are pictures of my parents and grandparents. To my right are file trays and a mounted bookshelf that is the length of the wall above counter space and lateral files. The shelves are full of research books, and Bibles. Just beneath is a bulletin board with pictures of my children, grandchildren, relatives and children we support in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Uganda. Taped to my monitor are scriptures:
1 Chronicles 28:20 -- “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Proverbs 16:1 -- “We can gather our thoughts, but the LORD gives the right answer.”
And a quote a writer shared on ChiLibris: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up and totally worn out, loudly proclaiming…WOW. What a ride!”
Jill inserting a comment here: I love those verses - and what a great quote! Thanks for sharing them.
What historical time periods interest you the most and how have you immersed yourself in a particular time period?
Join us tomorrow for the answer and part two of our interview with Francine Rivers. Leave a comment by THIS Friday at 8:30AM EST for a chance to win a copy of Redeeming Love.