It’s been a while since I’ve managed an interview, but today is my great pleasure and honor to introduce to you Jennifer L. Wright, one of the 2021 Christian fiction debut authors.
Jennifer Wright has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a Master’s degree in Journalism at Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news for her to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was plucked from the Heartland after being swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, and every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home. She tries to squeeze in time to write in between rolling with the punches of her husband’s unpredictable schedule and corralling her two children (and one grumpy old dachshund).
She currently resides in New Mexico and has discovered a passion for all things green chile.
Now for the fun stuff! I have to admit I am partial to my Fast Five. 🙂 So settle in as I hit Jennifer with rapid-fire.
CC: Milk or Dark Chocolate?
CC: Print or E-book?
CC: Cat or Dog Person?
CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?
CC: Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter?
I’d love to learn a little more about you before we dive into your debut novel.
CC: What has been the biggest challenge for you on your writing journey?
JLW: My biggest challenge has been patience! I have been writing steadily for over ten years, and yet ‘If It Rains’ will be my first published novel. Publishing requires a lot of grit and persistence, more than little luck, and mounds upon mounds of patience. It takes long time to complete a book, from first draft to polished manuscript, and even longer to get it into the hands of readers. Learning to be still and wait has been a huge but valuable challenge for me.
CC: A valuable challenge to be sure, but so hard to endure as it is being developed in you.
CC: What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?
JLW: I keep several Bible verses taped to my desk, but the one I read daily is: “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is a mighty rock, my refuge.”—Psalm 62:7 Especially as I move into the time of publication, I know I will be confronted with criticisms and not-so-nice reviews; it comes with the business. This verse is a reminder that, no matter what happens with my book, my salvation and my honor depend on God alone. He determines my identity and nothing else.
CC: As silly as it sounds, I am so proud of you for walking into it with that mindset and totally surrendering it all to God. You are absolutely 100% right, He does determine your identity and nothing else.
CC: What is your writing Kryptonite?
JLW: Reading a really, really, really good book! As crazy as that sounds, if I find one of those rare reads that leave me breathless and stay with me long after I’ve finished, I have a terrible tendency to hate everything I write because I feel as if I’ll never write anything as good as that book. It usually takes a little while before I regain my confidence enough to start writing again.
CC: I both love and hate that. Reading is such a wonderful escape, but it can also be a stumbling block when you read something from someone so amazing you just know you’ll never compare.
Thanks for sharing those fun things. Let’s dive right into talking about your debut novel, If It Rains!
It’s 1935 in Oklahoma, and lives are determined by the dust. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Baile, a spitfire born with a severe clubfoot, is coming of age in desperate times. Once her beloved older sister marries, Kathryn’s only comfort comes in the well-worn pages of her favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then Kathryn’s father decides to relocate to Indianapolis, and only the promise of a surgery to finally make her “normal” convinces Kathryn to leave Oklahoma behind. But disaster strikes along the way, and Kathryn must rely on her grit and the ragged companions she meets on the road if she is to complete her journey.
Back in Boise City, Melissa Baile Mayfield is the newest member of the wealthiest family in all of Cimarron County. In spite of her poor, rural upbringing, Melissa has just married the town’s most eligible bachelor and is determined to be everything her husband—and her new social class—expects her to be. But as the drought tightens its grip, Henry’s true colors are revealed. Melissa covers her bruises with expensive new makeup and struggles to reconcile her affluent life with that of her starving neighbors. Haunted by the injustice and broken by Henry’s refusal to help, Melissa secretly defies her husband, risking her life to follow God’s leading.
Two sisters, struggling against unspeakable hardship, discover that even in their darkest times, they are still united in spirit, and God is still with them, drawing them home.
CC: Who was the most challenging character to create? What made them so difficult?
JLW: Helen was an extremely difficult character to write. There’s a fine line when you’re creating a villain; she had to be unlikeable but also believable. Though her actions may be unforgiveable, I hope I did justice to why she did the things she did. People are not black and white. We are all shades of gray, and I hope readers find something redeemable in Helen (even if they hate her!)
CC: Villians are some of my favorite to write because they are complex. I know I never do it justice, but I am looking forward to seeing Helen and why she is the way she is.
Which character was the most fun to create? What makes them fun?
JLW: Kathryn was the most fun to write. She’s obnoxious and immature and pigheaded, but she also has a lot of heart. She is based partly on how I was as a child (minus the clubfoot, of course), and it was so much fun to dig into that side of myself as I wrote her.
CC: Oh that is fun! I bet it was really fun to revisit that aspect of your life.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
JLW: It’s no secret If It Rains is an homage to L Frank Baum and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I’ve hidden several Oz easter eggs within the pages, from names to character parallels to quotes, and I can’t wait to see how many my eagle-eyed readers can spot.
CC: Secret admission…I’ve never read it and I can’t remember the last time I watched The Wizard of Oz. Now you have me wanting to before I read your book just so I can find all the easter eggs
Thank you so much for joining me today and providing all of us with a wonderful distraction. As my final question, I have my usual “Fun Question”.
If you had to live in any time period except modern-day, which time period would you choose? Why?
JLW: I have such an obsession with the Roaring Twenties. The fashion, the music, the overall mentality of our nation during that time—take me back to the days of The Great Gatsby please (minus the booze!) I’m sure I’m romanticizing it all in my head, but I still find everything about that era fascinating.
CC: It is definitely a fascinating time. My mind tends to wander to all the dark crime of that time, but I tend to write romance with suspense so that makes sense. LoL Thank you so much for joining us today. It is such a blessing to have had you.
You can purchase Jennifer’s book at any of the following retailers or your favorite bookseller.