Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Jill Eileen Smith is the best-selling author of Michal, book one in "The Wives of King David"series. She has more than twenty years of writing experience, and her writing has gathered acclaim in several contests. Her research into the lives of David's wives has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. She lives with her family in southeast Michigan.
Today we are back for the second day of our interview with Jill Eileen Smith, a very dear friend of mine, an excellent writer and one of Favorite PASTimes' own. Welcome back, Jill. What do you consider the best resources for historical research? Do you have a favorite time period?
I have a whole list of resource books I used for "The Wives of King David" listed in the Bonus Feature section of the series’ website for Abigail or for Michal. Of course, I used all of the resources for both books.
Recently I just ordered a number of books from Amazon to help with my current research on ancient Mesopotamia. I love books with pictures--cultural atlases are great for that. I read commentaries on the portion of Scripture I’m studying, and I love daily life and times books on culture. I could list many more, but if you want a more detailed list, the website has them with links to where they can be purchased. I also make good use of the Internet for research and for pictures of people and places to “cast” as my characters. (As a visual learner, pictures help me write.)
Favorite time periods-- ancient Israel most of all, and ancient Egypt--has always fascinated me. I also like the 1920s and would love to add in or switch gears someday to write in that era. If I could write as two people and research faster, I might consider it.
What or who inspired you to become an inspirational fiction author? How does that keep you plodding ahead with your writing each day?
I’m not sure anything or anyone inspired per se. I started writing because I couldn’t find the book I wanted to read, but the desire to see it published surfaced early on and wouldn’t leave me even when I wrote only for my own enjoyment.
Inspiration rarely keeps me plodding these days. Contract deadlines are much better motivators, and since I’m a “get-it-done-early” kind of gal, I like to have a first draft done well ahead of schedule. I have a strong inner drive to accomplish my goals, so when I give myself a deadline (which I did long before I was published), I tend to stick with it.
What helps you maintain productivity as a writer? And what do you find most challenging about the business of being an author?
As I said above, that inner drive is strong, which I think is probably my biggest asset for remaining productive. If I want to see something happen, I need to want it bad enough to work hard for it. Nobody else will care about my work like I do and no one else is going to make me do the work. I have to be my own best taskmaster.
Most challenging? Hmm…keeping up with all of the small deadlines. Google calendar is my friend, and I’m learning to use it more efficiently.
Do you feel you are more of a character driven or plot driven writer? How do you think it comes across in your writing?
I have to have my plot outlined, but I think I’m more character-driven when I actually start writing. I paragraph summarize when I start a new book, creating a loose outline (or a more detailed one if it’s for a proposal) of what the story is about. Then I choose my characters and setting and start writing. I get to know my characters as I write. Sometimes that means starting over and rewriting a lot, but it works for me. I hope readers can feel the emotion of my characters, that they are drawn into the story because they want to know these people. That’s what biblical fiction did for me, and I hope I can do the same for others.
Would you like to share about what you are working on now?
Sure. I’ve got another 3-book contract with Revell for "The Wives of the Patriarchs", so I’m working now on book one – Sarai’s story. I turned in Bathsheba to my editor in November, so it is in house awaiting line edits and all of the pre-publishing stuff. So I’m studying ancient Mesopotamia, a land that will influence and encompass all three books in this series. I’m also in the process of drafting another proposal, which I hope to sell sometime in the future.
Your perseverance as a writer has served as an inspiration to me. Do you have any words of wisdom you would like to share with aspiring authors?
Thanks! I’m so glad. I love to encourage other writers.
As for advice--I still don’t feel all that qualified to give advice, but if I could say anything, it would be, “Seek God first.” For the Christian who truly wants to know Him, that means staying in the center of His will no matter where He leads. If writing is part of His overall journey for us, then we need to obey and do the work He prepared in advance for us to do.
Then, 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.
Keep in mind that the journey is more important than the destination. Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is what shapes who we are. Our writing is just a small part of that, and we never know how long He will allow us to continue. So we do our best with what He gives us.
Thank you, Jill, for taking the time to be interviewed
for FavoritePASTimes this week and for sharing about
your writing and publishing journey.
U.S. readers only, please leave a comment to enter this
week's drawing for a copy ofyour choice of Jill Eileen Smith's
novels, Michal or Abigail.
To qualify please include your email in the form of
name[at]domain[dot]com by 8:30 a.m. EST.