It’s always a pleasure to have fellow authors on my blog. Jennifer L. Wright and I had the chance to meet, I believe, at Fiction Readers Summit 2022. If you know me, I’m really terrible at remembering names, people, and places, so don’t quote me on that. But I DO know we’ve met, and I’m looking forward to reading The Girl from the Papers, releasing on August 8th. Before I get into that, let’s dive right into the interview.
Jennifer Wright has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul–and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home.
She currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, two children, one grumpy dachshund, and three overly demanding guinea pigs.
Her debut novel, ‘If It Rains,’ was nominated for a Kipp Award, and her second novel, ‘Come Down Somewhere,’ is a semi-finalist for a 2023 Carol Award in the Historical Novel category. She is also a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).
*Be sure to follow her on Facebook as she will be giving away a copy of The Girl from the Papers on her Facebook page during release week.
You can connect with her through: Website | Facebook | Instagram | BookBub | GoodReads
Now for the fun stuff! I have to admit I am partial to my Fast Five. 🙂 So settle in as I hit Jenn with rapid-fire.
CC: Sweet or Salty?
CC: Print, E-book, or Audiobook?
CC: Coffee, Tea, or Other?
JLW: Just water (I’m pretty boring!)
Morning Person or Night Owl?
JLW: Morning Person
CC: Favorite Holiday?
I have to confess that Halloween is my least favorite, but it IS so fun to see the little ones dressed up. It’s a sweet time of community fellowship in our neighborhood, so I like it more now than I used to. 😉
What does your writing process look like from beginning to end?
JLW: I usually spend 3-4 months researching and plotting out a novel before writing. First drafts are usually fairly quick–4 to 6 months–as I am simply trying to get what I call my “garbage words” out of my head and down on paper. I then do 3 or 4 self-edits trying to smooth out the rough edges before handing it over to my agent, who walks me through a basic developmental edit. Using her notes, I will do another 2 or 3 edits before finally turning it into my publisher. By the time I “finish” a novel, I’m usually pretty sick of it. Ha!
CC: Wow! That is a lot of time! And I’m so glad I’m not the only one who takes time to get a story written out. I see so many authors who just can churn out books like it’s nothing. And the 3-4 months of plotting . . . I actually love that and need to give myself more time to just dance around in a story before getting it on paper. You have inspired me.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
JLW: While drafting a novel, I cannot read anything that falls in the same genre or near the basic story line. It totally sends me into a tailspin of self-doubt.
CC: Hugs! Boy do I understand that one, but you needn’t worry. You are a great writer.
How have you seen God work through your writing journey?
JLW: I originally started out as a journalist, working in both print and radio media. Even though it had been my dream since I was a child, it didn’t take long before I started feeling that nudging from the Holy Spirit telling me it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I left the field around the time I had my first child and, while I knew it was the right thing to do, I still had the urge to write. That’s when God began to lay it on my heart to start writing fiction. I didn’t originally plan on writing so-called “Christian fiction”–I never marketed my material to agents that way–but, looking back, I can see that was God’s plan all along. The agent who signed me mentioned she noticed a very obvious faith element underlying my work and suggested I make it more evident as a way to strengthen the manuscript. I did that, and my first book sold within a month. Totally God’s hand!
CC: I love seeing how God works through our stories . . . and how he totally turns our self-made plans upside down.
Now I’m excited to talk about your newest release, The Girl from the Papers.
Inspired by one of America’s most notorious couples, Bonnie and Clyde, Jennifer L. Wright delivers a riveting tale set during the public enemy era of the Great Depression.
Beatrice Carraway has dreams. Although she’s aged out of the childhood pageant circuit, she’s intent on carrying her talents all the way to the big screen―if only she can escape the poverty of West Dallas first. But as the Great Depression drags the working class further and further under, Beatrice struggles just to keep herself, her mother, and her younger sister afloat. After a string of failed auditions, she feels defeated.
And then in walks Jack Turner. Though Beatrice is determined to pull herself up by her bootstraps, Jack has decided on a different path out of the gutters. It isn’t long before Beatrice is swept into an exciting and glamorous life of crime beside the man she loves. Keeping one step ahead of the law, she sees her dreams of fame come true when her name and picture are plastered in newspapers across the country. Yet as their infamy grows, the distance between them widens. While Jack begins seeking bigger payouts and publicity, Beatrice starts to long for a safe, quiet life and something deeper to fill the emptiness in her soul. But when the danger of Jack’s schemes ratchets up, Beatrice fears her dreams―and her future―will end up going down in a hail of bullets.
Purchase your copy at Amazon | Baker Book House | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Tyndale
CC: Where did you get the idea for The Girl from the Papers?
JLW: I wrote a blog post about Bonnie and Clyde while sharing research information about the Great Depression as I was writing my debut novel, ‘If It Rains.’ My editor at Tyndale happened to read that particular post and mentioned to me it would make for an interesting story, although she didn’t think I could turn it into something with a redemptive arc. Long story short: I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge. I immediately set out to prove her wrong. (She loves the book, by the way!)
CC: I have to admit, I’m dying to know how you wove the redemptive arc in. That alone interests me in diving into an era I don’t typically read. It’s such a fascinating premise!
What about this story drew you to it?
JLW: I found it interesting that the real Bonnie and Clyde both had such a strong faith background, and yet they ended up pursuing anything but Jesus. I couldn’t help wondering what would have happened if they’d made different choices. I think that’s the underlying thought we all have when we see tragedies such as theirs; we wonder about the pivotal junctions that led them there. Writing this book helped me explore that on a deep, spiritual level.
CC: I had no idea that they had such a strong faith background. That really does make one ponder.
Who was the most challenging character to create?
JLW: Jack! Jack is my version of Clyde, and I wanted very much to humanize him to readers. It’s easy to look at criminals who commit violent acts as monsters, but the truth is, they aren’t: they are people. And there are reasons they do the things they do. I wanted readers to at least understand Jack and where he was coming from, even if they didn’t agree with his actions.
CC: That is such a hard balance, but I love that you went after it and from the sounds of it, achieved it!
What do you hope readers will take away from yours story?
JLW: I hope readers will see God’s grace woven through the pages of this story, even if our actions do not deserve it. I want readers to understand just how much God loves them–no matter what–and that they are never too far gone for His saving power. It’s never too late to turn around and choose better. CC: That is a powerful and important message indeed. Before we wrap up, I have one more question for you:
What animal is most like you?
JLW: We recently added three guinea pigs to our family, and I think I’ve found my spirit animal in them. They are a bit stand-offish but sweet to anyone who puts in the effort, and they are happiest when either A) sleeping or B) eating. I identify with that a lot. 🙂
CC: LOL! That is great! And I’ve loved seeing your guinea posts on Facebook!
Readers, I hope you’ll check out The Girl in the Papers and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.
Reader, what do you know about Bonnie and Clyde? Do you think there is ever a point where you’ve gone too far to change your direction?
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.
She is a member of ACFW and can be found on https://jennwrightwrites.com/, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, and sometimes (but very rarely) on Twitter.
Her debut novel, If It Rains, will be released on July 6, 2021. Pre-orders can be purchased on Amazon, through Tyndale House Publishers, and any other place where Christian fiction is sold.
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!
A story of resilience and redemption set against one of America’s defining moments—the Dust Bowl.
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.
Amazon Baker Bookhouse BarnesandNoble.com Christianbook.com