Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Johnnie Alexander Donley writes stories of suspense, intrigue, and romance set in World War II. Her debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest for Historical Fiction in 2011. She is a founding member and current president of the ACFW Central Florida chapter. A longtime Florida resident, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, stacks of books, and her papillon, Rugby.
What do you consider the best resources for historical research?
Thinking about this question, I just realized that I mainly read books before I start writing. I love to browse the shelves of my local library for books that insist on being checked out. Their bibliographies often lead to other resources. While I may do internet searches in the research phase, I usually go online to find out info I need for a specific scene.
I was privileged to meet one WWII survivor, the daughter of a German aristocratic family whose home was confiscated by the Nazis. Toward the end of the war, she carried her toddler across miles of countryside, stealing cabbages from gardens to keep from starving, until she reached the American forces. Such a heartbreaking story.
What or who inspired you to write inspirational fiction? How does that keep you plodding ahead with your writing each day?
Faith in God’s providence is such an important part of my life that I’m not sure I considered writing anything else. My concern now is not to squander His gift, but to do my best to glorify Him with my stories.
What helps you maintain productivity as a writer? And what do you find most challenging about the business of being an author?
Finding the time to write is a huge challenge, especially when I need to do all I can to promote my debut novel. I wrote the messy draft for what I hope is my next novel for NaNoWriMo. My challenge now is to give more depth to the main characters and iron out the plot wrinkles.
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 hope I’m more character-driven, but realistically my novels are probably more plot-driven. It helps me to pinpoint what Randy Ingermanson calls “three disasters and an ending.” These may change as the story evolves, but they give me something to write toward.
But I love for the characters to reveal themselves on the page, and they often do that in the most amazing ways. For example, I imagined Alison’s father as a kind man who regretted leaving his only daughter to be raised by her grandfather. Wrong! He entered the story as a bitter and angry man with a dark secret I didn’t even know about.
Would you like to share about what you are working on now?
I’m working on proposals for two projects that are both related to Where Treasure Hides. The first is the NaNoWriMo novel I mentioned earlier which is the proposed sequel. The second is my other completed manuscript. Because of plot similarities to Where Treasure Hides, I’m planning a massive revision of this story. Ian Devlin, the protagonist of Where Treasure Hides, is a major secondary character in that novel.
Do you have any last words of wisdom to share with aspiring authors?
The three Cs: critique groups, conferences, contests. A supportive critique group allows writers to test out their stories; conferences provide invaluable networking opportunities; and contests give helpful feedback from writing professionals.
Thank you, Johnnie, for joining us at Novel PASTimes. It has been a privilege to interview you.
Please leave a comment by
answering the question Johnnie is asking, below, for a chance to win an ebook
version of her novel, Where Treasure Hides. Don't forget to include
your email address in the form of name[at]domain[dot]com before 8:30 a.m. EDT
this Friday morning to qualify for the drawing.
Johnnie's question: What famous piece of art would you like to display in your home?