This is Jeral's first book, and she self-published, but it is an interesting story. Welcome, Jeral. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I used to journal as a teen and after college. Then I found it interesting to actually allow my novels to become my journal, in a sense. In Tomorrow, the main characters of Ben and Juliana reflect me a great deal. Juliana has deep personal convictions, but is often heavily tested. Ben is deeply introspective and spends a great deal thinking and indulging his creativity.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
As a child, I had developed this habit of eating lemons sprinkled with salt. I know! It’s so bizarre. But I adored the combination of salty and sour. I still find myself occasionally indulging this peculiar habit.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Around the age of twelve. Whenever we dined out, instead of coloring the kid’s placemats, I crafted stories inside my head regarding my fellow dining patrons. I also asked tons of questions. I was very curious about what made people tick. I devoured fiction and would often daydream that I would someday write novels.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I lean toward suspense and mystery novels. I love to weave through the story and have the author carry me throughout the character’s issues or conflicts. I am fascinated to witness the how the characters grow through the process and how they resolve their problems in the end.
I read so much for research. This ranges dramatically from cookbooks to how to operate a health clinic in a foreign country.
The last non-fiction book I read was The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. It caused me to embrace God’s love.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I have one I wrote years ago concerning the struggles of a set of fraternal triplets born to a wealthy New York businessman. The era was in the sixties, when so much was changing in the world. Their mother died giving birth and this created distinctive, emotional turbulences in each.
Another is a short story regarding two friends (male and female) who met while on a United Nation’s sanctioned trip to Darfur. The horror and human suffering they witnessed created a bond much deeper than either is willing to admit. They return to their daily routine, yet wrestle with their emotions to resolve their internal conflict.
The other is the sequel to Tomorrow where Ben and Juliana’s story continues.
All are still works in progress.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Much, much prayer! Because God is so personal and desires an intimate relationship with us, I just talk to Him and I listen when He speaks. I believe it is so awesome that our Creator adores fellowshipping with us.
That's what keeps me going. How do you choose your characters’ names?
It depends. With Tomorrow, the first three chapters came to me from a physical dream. The dream concluded with the main characters of Ben and Juliana appearing at my front door. They didn’t knock. They simply came inside, stood in my foyer and asked one question: What now? I equated the dream to the wasabi-laden sushi I had the previous night and attempted to shun it. A few days later, God reminded me of the dream and began to construct the story along with their names. Other times, I will hear a name spoken in the supermarket, soccer game, or coffee shop and I mentally build the character’s persona from there.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
For most of our lives, my mother and I had an estranged relationship. We loved one another but truly had no idea how to emotionally connect. Two years before she died, we diligently worked on our issues. For the first time, we traveled, shopped, and genuinely loved spending time together. I am so grateful that God allowed that time between us before she was gone.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d say any animal living in the ocean. This way I would never be required to leave the water. Growing up in Michigan, I was surrounded by lakes and grew to adore the sound and sight of water. Because I live in Colorado, away from my beloved water, my house is filled with all sorts of fountains ranging from five-feet to those that reside on tabletops. It’s very soothing for me.
What is your favorite food?
Ah-ha! One of my favorite subjects. I rarely watch television, but will indulge in the Food Network. I am a “foodie,” so I’ll try just about anything. I especially love Latin and Japanese cuisine.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
The confidence to realize this was a gift given by God. I have served at several ministries throughout my life and THAT I understood was God. But writing? Not so much. I tried to stop writing. I tried to bury it beneath more “practical” vocations. But it always returned. Once I simply said, “Okay, God. What do You desire for me?” He gave me both the physical dream about Tomorrow. I had to understand I was created for His purpose and I had to surrender my viewpoint to Him.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Persevere. Understand that “no” simply means to forge ahead. If writing isn’t your daily occupation, take full advantage of those times when you can write. Never stop learning. Never stop dreaming. Read as much as you can and never be afraid to explore. Take that trip to a foreign land, cooking class, or learn to fly an aircraft. Most of all, don’t allow fear to paralyze you.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Every day God desires to be intricately involved in our triumphs and disappointments, our joy and anguish, our achievements and profound losses. He desires for us to believe He is who He says He is—despite the depth of the mire we find ourselves in. In His majestic benevolence, He stands by His creation with undying passion waiting for an invitation.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I would love to hear from them! They can visit my website at http://www.jeraldavis.com/ or stop by my Facebook page. Thanks so much for this opportunity, Lena!
And thank you, Jeral, for spending this time with us. I hope I'll see you in Denver next month at the ACFW Conference.
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