Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jill Eileen Smith - Making the Bible Come to Life through Fiction Day 2

Jill Eileen Smith is the author of the bestselling The Crimson Cord, the Wives of King David series, as well as the Wives of the Patriarchs and The Loves of King Solomon series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Jill is giving away a copy of her novel, Rahab, to one lucky winner. To enter the drawing, click the link at the bottom of this interview and follow the instructions.

A reader once asked me this question, and I thought it was a good one. Is there ever a time when you feel like your work is truly finished and complete?

I would say yes. I think every writer sees this differently, but I think we tend to know when a book is ready or complete. I’m the type of writer that rewrites several times, reads the book out loud, has it read by a least one friend, and polishes it as best I can before sending it in. However, one time, with my last book, I turned it in and pulled it back. I’ve never done that before. But I knew it wasn’t right. It took a long conversation with a friend and her comments to help me see why it wasn’t working for me. So I did the work and changed some things and I think it’s better for it.

Describe your workspace.

I used to work in a little partition that had been designed as a wet bar off our family room. (It had been a place for the toy box when the kids were little.) But then it became my office for years. When we became empty nesters, we had extra bedrooms and suddenly the possibility of a “real” office became possible. So now I have a room with a desk and recliner and bookcases and file cabinets and it’s my little hideaway sanctuary.


Describe your dream workspace.
I love the office I have now, but if I could move it to a place overlooking the Pacific with a view of the ocean and mountains, now that would be awesome!

If you could be a character from your favorite historical novel, who would you be?

I suppose I might be Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. I don’t have too many historical favorites where I’d like to trade places and become the character. I guess I do that enough with the biblical people.
What is the biggest misconception the general public has about authors?
I think there are several misconceptions. One is that we make a lot of money or that we know how our book sales are doing. If an author is self-publishing, she might be able to answer that question, but I often get asked how sales are going and I honestly don’t know. It’s also a question that, if I did know, I couldn’t answer anyway due to contract restrictions.

Another is that if you write one type of genre, you should know how to write anything. Well, that maybe be true in theory, but I write fiction. I know how to write fiction, though not every genre of fiction—fantasy, for instance, I would have no clue where to begin. And I can always learn to improve what I do write and hope that I do. But I also don’t know what is needed to write a memoir or a non-fiction self-help book or a devotional, etc. I write articles on my blog, but I’m not a professional journalist. I don’t review books (though I get emails from publicists thinking that I do). I just write a few genres (only one professionally) in fiction.

Lastly, some people think that you are always looking for new ideas or they have a story they would like you to write for them. Most authors I know have more ideas than they have life left to live. In other words, they may never get to write all of the stories in their heads, so they usually don’t go looking for new ones. They would rather encourage the person with a story to write it for him or herself because they are the ones who know it best.

What is the biggest misconception beginning writers have about being published?
I think it depends on the person. Some beginning writers think they should be able to write a book and publish it just like that. But learning to write at a professional level is like learning to play an instrument at a professional level – or any other career for that matter. It takes time, discipline, and hard work to learn the craft and stick to the craft. One thing we don’t realize even after that first contract is that writing on deadline if far different than writing for pleasure. Even if you are driven and able to finish what you started, a deadline with a publisher changes things. Money has been paid and contracts must be honored. It’s a lot more like a job than a hobby at that point.
And long time career writers face different problems that we can’t understand when we are beginning. A friend once told me that since I had sold my first book, I had my foot in the door, but that’s really not how things work in traditional publishing. Sales numbers come into play, and that first contract may or may not be followed by a second. Fiction lines close, publishing houses change owners, etc. A lot goes on that I still don’t understand, but it’s not simply a matter of selling one book or one series.
What would you like readers to gain from reading your books?
I would love for readers to gain a love of Scripture from every book I write. I want them to see the characters as real people who lived at a point in history who can teach us by the lives they lived things we can apply to our own lives today. I hope readers see Grace in the Old Testament and the message of Mercy, not simply a God of Law and Justice.
Thanks for joining us here on Favorite PASTimes, Jill. Any final words for readers or writers?

For readers – thank you for your support and for sharing my stories with your friends and family.
For writers – write what you love, not just what you know. Put more time into writing the best book you can than building a social media platform. Marketing is helpful, but nothing beats the power of a well-crafted story.

To win a copy of Jill’s new novel, Rahab, click the link below and follow the instructions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Anonymous said...

Cultural custom and/or family destitution could have led Rahab into prostitution. Families often sold their daughters to make money to pay off debts in times of hardship. Often, the girls would remain prostitutes even after the debt was paid simply because no one wanted to marry a prostitute.

Patty said...

In our day and age it's hard to imagine what might have led her into prostitution. Desperation I guess... in that time there were not as many options/opportunities for women as there are today.


Deanna Stevens said...

No family left to help her. She may have done something against the laws & been forced out of her family home. They were very strict in what they expected of a good clean women in those times..
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Cindy Thomson said...

Yes, that how are sales question really baffles me. I never know how to respond. Great interview, Jill!