Welcome back to Day 2 of our interview with Jill Eileen Smith.
Please tell us about your writing journey. Did you always know you wanted to write?
I think I have journaled most of my life. I wrote poetry as a teen, and one short story in high school. My English teacher gave me the assignment. She didn’t know what she sparked in me! (The genre I chose? Futuristic biblical fiction – an early Left Behind story before those books were written.) But I didn’t always write. I buried the gift for about eight years for all the wrong reasons. It took the birth of my second son before God tapped me on the shoulder and told me (in my heart, not an audible voice!) “Dig it up." I did, and have never regretted listening to His plans for me, though He knows I have not found this journey to be an easy one.
Well we are grateful that you heeded the call to develop your gift. :) In your leisure reading, what is your favorite genre? Do you have favorite authors who you feel have inspired your writing?
I love historical fiction best, particularly romance, especially the type that is set in eras I want to understand or find fun. Regency is a favorite and the 1920s-1930s era, and biblical, of course. I enjoy romantic suspense, women’s fiction, some fantasy, even young adult or kid’s stories—anything that makes me think. I like authors who step out of the clichéd, who ask deep questions, and don’t always end their stories in a way I expect. Surprise me! Don’t let me figure out the ending before I get there. Challenge me. I still have a lot to learn.
As for authors who have inspired me—any author who writes a compelling story and has a fresh way of saying it (a fresh “voice” if you will)—inspires me to grow as a writer. Non-fiction authors who challenge areas of my faith that cause me to trust God more also inspire me.
Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?
My day job is writing, but there is always something that interrupts a normal day. Nevertheless, if I have a deadline, I work hard until it is met. The biggest challenge to my writing time is life. I actually find it is more important to take time to rest, a sabbatical each week, than to push until I drop. It feeds creativity to do things I enjoy, to spend time with the Lord, with family and friends, to have fun! (And to snuggle the cat, of course!)
What would you like readers to gain from reading your books?
I would love for readers to come away from each of my biblical novels with the sense that these people from Scripture were real! I also hope they see God’s amazing grace, mercy, love, and even justice working in the lives of these men and women of the Bible. God does not change as men and women do. His character remains the same, and we can learn much from the stories of these Old Testament people.
Can you tell us about your future writing projects?
Right now, I have two more series contracted with Revell. Next full-length series is the Brides of the Promised Land. Rahab is “in house” and will be the next book to go into editing and marketing, cover design, etc. I am currently in research mode for the second book in that series about Deborah.
The other series with Revell is an “e-book only” novella collection, culminating in a paperback edition when all four novellas are completed. The series is the Loves of King Solomon. The Desert Princes, the first novella (e-book only) is about Naamah, Solomon’s first wife. It is available for pre-order on Amazon now. (Releases August 5, 2014.) I am finishing up the second novella about Abishag, which is due to my publisher in March.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write what you love. I used to hear it said, “Write what you know.” But you can always learn what you don’t know. If you don’t love what you write, readers won’t either. Love your story! Pour your heart into the writing and do your best to create an emotional experience for the reader. (Be careful of overdoing it, of course. Less is usually better.) But subtlety can be powerful.
Great advice. Any final words?
I would like to thank you for having me here again on Novel PASTimes! And thank you to my readers for such great support!
In the grand scheme of things, we are here to fulfill the plans God has for each of us. To bring Him glory. To magnify Him and His Name through all that we say and do. No one of us is better than the other. We are simply servants on a journey of ever-growing, often-stumbling, upward-climbing faith. May God bless and guide each of us on that journey to Him.
Selah. And thanks so much for joining us at Novel PASTimes!
Thanks for having me!
Jill is offering a copy of Rachel, A Novel to one of our commenters. Leave your e-mail address and answer her question to be entered in the drawing (U.S. residents only, please). Here is Jill's question:
Who do you empathize with more—Rachel or Leah?