Let me introduce you to Grace Bridges. I first met her at Shoutlife, the Christian online community.
That depends on the story. Faith Awakened is my first “real” book, and it’s been going around in my head for 14 years – so there’s a lot of me in there. With other current projects, it’s not so extreme – but in any case, I love to write my own real feelings and sensations into any character, whether he/she is like me or not. I love to stand outside in a brewing storm with a notebook and write down what it feels like, and use that as a backdrop for a scene. Going through really bad days has equipped me to describe the depths of desperation, too.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Besides getting stuck in Timbuctu in 2001? LOL. One time I was bored and published a music CD on Lulu. Is that quirky? It’s the soundtrack for Faith Awakened and you can visit that here: http://www.lulu.com/content/815053
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was 9, my Nana gave me a hardcover notebook. It looked so much like a real book that I decided to write a novel in it – even back then I had a thing for science fiction. It was all about this married couple who colonized a new planet, and it had little green men in it and everything. Complete with illustrations! But there was no plan to it. I wrote by the seat of my pants, and climax followed climax for dozens of pages. I never did come to a conclusion. In later writing, I’ve always liked to plan out what happens to a certain extent, to avoid sheer endless drama! There’s a wonderful article on novel planning here, written by a Christian sci-fi author:
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Wow, that’s hard to put in a nutshell. Tell you what – you could go to my Goodreads reading list at http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/45683 – pretty much everything is on there. It ranges from Pride & Prejudice through Peretti and Lawhead and ends up in the Lost Genre Guild.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
When I was 14 I wrote a 40,000 word novel, sort of a children’s adventure thing. No sci-fi, but it’s based on an urban legend from the part of town I grew up in on the North Shore of Auckland, New Zealand. It was fun to write. I also wrote a partial autobiography four years ago with a print run of 150 copies, all about moving to Germany. There’s a children’s picture book called Dad’s Duds, and I’m currently working on a contribution to Frank Creed’s Underground project – a novel entitled Lost Zone, the sequel to Flashpoint, which is described here:
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Seriously? I stop. I have a very low tolerance for stress, and there are times when I do just stop the world and get off for a while, whether that means a lazy day on a sunny ruined castle, or a cheapo last-minute flight to flee the country for a week... a strategy I’d recommend to anyone!
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Faith is called Faith because I’m Grace and she’s a copy of me. In other situations it’s not so easy. I look up baby name websites and try out the sound and feel of lots of names before picking one. A name has to fit with the character and ethnicity of the person, and I have to be able to imagine someone being called that. And it has to be realistic. I can’t stand it when novelists go to so much trouble and actually invent a name no one ever heard of before – though it would be more acceptable in sci-fi.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Teaching myself computer literacy from scratch – from text formatting through HTML and graphic editing to making videos and MP3’s. I’m no expert, and there’s so much more to learn, but I make all my own websites and audio/video material, as well as my book cover text. I’d be a bit stuck without all that I think.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A cat. No doubt about it. For one, they sleep most of the time (Yeah! Pick me!), and for another, they radiate such a wonderful contentedness. And they know how to have fun at the right time.
What is your favorite food?
Anything with chocolate. I also have a thing for mincemeat pies, but they don’t sell those in Germany, so I have to make them myself.
My husband and I love mincemeat pies, but the children never did like them. So James and I get the whole pie at holiday time. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
For years I was caught up in church ministry. I led worship and Bible studies and all sorts of things. But there was no time to write. Sure, it was all good stuff, but it took up every hour of every day, just about. After cutting that right back to an absolute minimum (=zero), the creativity began to flow again. I’m definitely not saying everyone should do this. Of course church is important. It’s probably because I can only focus on one thing properly. I do have many symptoms of ADD.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Read as much as you can. It improves your style and extends your expressive abilities. Get in a critique group where you are required to crit at least one short piece a week. Picking out what you don’t like in someone else’s work will give you a new perspective on your own writing. And the others will help you out with feedback too. Take it seriously, but keep hold of your own style. And learn the Snowflake method I mentioned earlier.
It began as a childhood fantasy where I often imagined my life wasn’t real, but rather a kind of re-run provided by God. I liked to think I was in heaven already. Eventually this idea grew into Faith Awakened – where virtual reality is a place to experience God’s blessing and fulfilment, and enriches the lives of those who go through it. They don’t know this before entering it though, and only do so to escape a great danger in the real world. I explored a whole bunch of “what ifs” – What if God can influence a computer system? What if you woke up to discover your childhood friend is now twenty years older than you? What if you could go back and do things differently? What if you did already? Finally, I set the story in Ireland because I have deep family roots there.
Oh yeah, and I’m not getting any royalties on sales. At present you can buy it for cost price only. After all, I’m just a newbie author – can’t really say how my work will go down with the public – and I also have two other jobs to live from. Call it an experiment.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m all over the place. The easiest portal is probably www.faithawakened.com, which is all about the book, and there are links from there to my author homepage, my personal homepage, my blogs, and various other places. I’m also on Myspace, Shoutlife, Goodreads, Amazon, Lulu, Second Life, Bebo, Xianz, and the Lost Genre Guild. If you want to go directly to the complete list of these links, visit www.faithawakened.com/hang.html – my Hang Out page. Thanks very much for your attention!
And thank you, Grace for spending this time with us.
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