Today I am honored to have author Norma Gail for an interview. I really enjoyed her insightful responses within our little Q&A so I hope you do, too!
- When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?
I have written since I was a child, storied, poems, letters to the editor, I always felt I expressed myself better in writing. I stopped writing stories and poetry when I married and work and family took over. I began writing devotionals in 2003 as openings for a Bible study I led. When the pastor asked me to write a weekly devotional for the church website, I began a blog. My husband and I made a trip to Scotland in 2006 for our anniversary. I had a dream that led to thinking about a story, however, I didn’t actually begin writing it until 2008. When I broke my foot and ended up in a wheelchair, I was so bored that reading didn’t quite fill my need and I decided to try my lifelong dream of writing a novel.
- Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?
My ideas for devotionals come from life. Other than the dream that started the idea for my novel, Land of My Dreams, ideas just come randomly. I’m working on a novella now. The idea for that came from listening to oldies on a trip. When I start writing, the ideas flow.
- Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I love seeing where an idea takes me. At some point down the road, I have to look at where the plot is going and who the characters are inside, but I love being totally surprised by what I write. I have become more conscious of what is working and not working in a story. I have learned to cut out parts and make certain each word counts. I can now go through a manuscript and see what needs shortened or written better.
- What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?
I am a slow writer. Part of that comes from a lack of confidence; part comes from being a perfectionist. It is difficult for me to let go and say I am finished with a manuscript. I see so many things I could make better.
As a Christian writer and Bible study leader of 21 years, it is important for me to have a spiritual takeaway. I love writing for a Christian market, but also feel a need to not be preachy in a way that turns of people who may be at varying levels in their Christian walk. It is more and more important to write books that appeal to those who are not walking with the Lord but like a good, clean read.
I began my first book, Land of My Dreams, in 2008, signed my contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in September 2012, and my book released on April 22, 2014. It was a long process. I have been working on my sequel since then, along with learning marketing and social media, which for me is the hardest thing of all. Part of the delay has been dealing with some health problems.
- Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
Marketing, social media, and the difficulty of getting books into bookstores. As a new author, I am not on the “list” of approved authors for bookstores. They ordered my book but either the management took it off the shelves a few weeks later or they returned it, which came out of my royalties.
- On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
I love sitting down and writing undisturbed, just letting the ideas flow. Often, much of the first draft turns out to be background for me and never makes it to the reader. Those are often some of my favorite parts, but they help me create the characters and get to know them.
- What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
I have been reading a lot and fast recently, at least 15 books in less than two months because of medical issues. Fiction helps me relax. A lot of what I am reading is romantic suspense. I am hooked! I find it helps me to see possibilities for my own stories, not the same situations, but it stirs the creative juices. My favorite authors are Michael Phillips and Liz Curtis Higgs. I love their character development and their setting is frequently Scotland, a place I love. I enjoy Susan May Warren, Dani Pettrey, Jordyn Redwood, Tamera Alexander, and Tracie Peterson. Their styles, characters, and settings really appeal to me. I read a lot of classic literature also, Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, and George MacDonald. I try to read books from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, both for reviews and author interviews as a way to support my fellow authors and publisher with reviews and author interviews.
- If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.
I write romance. I read romance. I love good, clean, and preferably Christian romance. I hear people say that reading romance fiction is bad for women. They say it makes them look for the impossible and become dissatisfied with what they have in real life. Some say that real life romances do not always have a happy ending, therefore, literary romances should not always have happy endings.
I beg to differ. Part of the definition of romance is that it has a happy ending. I realize that is difficult for those who have been or are going through a divorce or have a difficult marriage. There are other genres, such as women’s fiction, that does not always have a happy ending. A well-written Christian romance should portray marriage the way God intended it to be. His ideal is a happy-ever-after ending for all marriages. The characters in romances should not always be perfect. They should have flaws and broken lives. Romances should show that God can make something beautiful from anyone’s mess or failure. If a romance is well-written, it will give hope that God can redeem our mistakes and heal our hurt.
Thank you for the opportunity for this interview, Pam! I really appreciate it!
Norma Gail is the author of the contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 40 years. They have two adult children.
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