Welcome back, Virginia. I like the new picture. What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?
It’s different with every book, and usually the spiritual theme has something to do with whatever the Lord is teaching me at that point in my life. I do a lot of introspection and praying when I’m writing a book. In Age before Beauty, the main character, Allie, wrestles with two issues. The first is a fear of abandonment. Since her father abandoned her when she was a young teenager, she’s afraid her husband will do the same. That is a piece of baggage that I brought into my own marriage, since my father was often absent during my childhood.
Allie also takes self-reliance to extremes, and feels like she has to solve not only her own problems, but everyone else’s. I’m the oldest sister in my family, so I know that feeling as well. Of course, I’ve learned that God is the answer to both of those problems. And Allie learns… well, I can’t give away all my secrets up front, can I?
What other books of yours are coming out soon?
Last year was a busy year for me, and this year I’m reaping the rewards of all that work. In April, I’ll release my eighth novel, Murder at Eagle Summit. That’s a romantic suspense that takes place at a ski resort in Park City, Utah. It’s the first book I’ve written that isn’t set in my native state of Kentucky. Then in June, Scent of Murder, another romantic suspense, will hit bookstores. That one is set in Little Nashville, an artist colony in the Blue Hills of Indiana. Those are books 2 and 3 of my Classical Trio Series from Steeple Hill.
Beyond that, I’ve just finished Last but Not Least, which will be out in February of 2010. That story will wrap up the Sister-to-Sister Series with more of the faith, fun, and family relationships readers have enjoyed in Stuck in the Middle and Age before Beauty. And I’ve thrown in a couple of surprises I think they’ll like.
If you could spend an evening with one contemporary person (not a family member of yours), who would it be and why?
Maya Angelou. I read an article not long ago about her, and I think she’s at fascinating woman. At one point in her life she was on the streets as a teenager, an unwed mother, victim of a violent past. In this article she described a turning point in her life when she went to the home of a trusted mentor in a fit of rage and he handed her a notebook and said, “Write down everything you’re thankful for.” She filled a page and a half, and it was a turning point for her. Of course, she’s gone on to touch millions of people with her writing. I’d love to have the opportunity to talk with her.
How long have you known that you wanted to be novelist?
I first tried my hand at writing when I was in my early twenties, but back then I didn’t really consider writing novels – just short stories. Several years later I decided to write a novel, and did. Then another. And another. In all, I wrote dozens of short stories and six novels – two for adults and four middle-grade novels – before I finally wrote the one that landed the contract. Since I was 45 years old when I received the contract for Just As I Am, that means it took me more than twenty years from the first time I thought, “I think I’ll try writing a story.”
What can you tell authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?
Don’t give up! And save all those rejection letters – every single one of them. Right now they’re really painful, but one day you’ll wear them like a badge of honor, a sort of proof that you paid your dues. Not long after my first novel came out, I counted all the rejection letters I’d received over those long, long years of writing. They totaled an astounding one hundred forty-three! So if I can persevere, so can you.
I couldn’t see it at the time when I was collecting those rejections, but now I can truthfully say that the Lord was at work in my writing career all along. I could not have written my break-through novel before that point. I wasn’t mature enough as a writer or as a person. But God was using all those life experiences to mold me until I was ready to write the book He gave me. So my advice is to turn your writing over to Him, and then trust that He’s got everything well in hand.
And when the mailman delivers another rejection, permit yourself fifteen minutes of teeth-gnashing. Yes, that’s all – fifteen minutes. If it’s a particularly painful one, you may have twenty. Then eat a piece of chocolate, brush it off, and get back to work.
Tell us about the featured book.
In Age before Beauty, Allie Harrod is desperate to stay home with her baby, so she launches a new career – selling makeup and household cleaning products. Because Allie has obsessive tendencies, she quickly takes things to an extreme level with some pretty funny results. And then her mother-in-law shows up on her doorstep and announces that she’s moving in! The book isn’t all fun and games, though. Allie faces some pretty tough issues, especially when it looks like her marriage is beginning to crumble.
One thing I loved about writing this book was delving into my memories to come up with the emotions and desires of a young mom. My baby is twenty-six, so I had to dig pretty deep! But my sister gave birth to a beautiful little girl right before I started writing this story, so I had her to use as a recent role model.
Age before Beauty is book 2 in the Sister-to-Sister Series, following Stuck in the Middle. The series has continuing characters and a continuing thread, but this story stands alone.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is http://www.virginiasmith.org/.
I also have a bi-monthly eNewsletter, with a sign-up form on my website. I’m a notoriously bad blogger, so I don’t have a blog, per se, but I do have Ginny’s Journal, which I update whenever I have something I think is worth saying. Or maybe just when I’m killing time and trying to avoid writing! It can be found on my website, too.
Thank you, Virginia, for spending this time with us. We want you back for each of your other novels, too.
Readers, you can order Age Before Beauty using this link:
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