Former registered nurse and peri-natal loss counselor, Jan Watson won the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild First Novel Contest in 2004 with Troublesome Creek. Written with a dollop of romance and a smidgen of suspense, Jan’s award winning historical novels, are uniquely set in the
Jan was voted 2012 Best Kentucky Author by the readers of Kentucky Living Magazine.
A voracious reader since childhood Jan recalls “when all those squiggles on the page made me want to learn what Dick and Jane did next.” Although she has always loved books, she had no intent to write one of her own. . .until one day she recalled a story told to her by her grandmother.
As a child, Jan often visited her grandparents in the mountains of eastern
In all her books, Watson artfully draws on the folklore and culture of times long past to create colorful characters living their faith in a world that offers comfort and peril in equal measure.
Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I never purposely write myself into my characters, and I can not say which character would be the most like me. Rather, I let the character develop organically, telling their story as it happened. For instance, in Sweetwater Run, Henry Thomas hits Ace Shelton in the back of the head with a hatchet. Now, I will admit, I have at times wanted to hit a man upside the head but never with a hatchet—maybe just a glancing blow with a harmless one-egg skillet. I’m kidding ... really.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I have an inability to discern direction—it runs in my family, and so I am often lost. Truly lost. One time I needed to change planes in
under time constraints. I didn’t have
time to wander around asking questions which often are of no help to me anyway.
I heard one man tell another man where he was going and what his connecting
flight was. I stalked him. Where he went I followed albeit at a respectful
distance. Stalking is much easier when you are a woman of a certain age. Nobody
pays an older woman much mind—which is how I like it. I do believe I’d make a
pretty good private detective—if I could find the folks needing detecting that
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Several years ago, after working as a registered nurse for twenty-five years, I began to put on paper a story my grandmother told me when I was a young girl. Granny spoke of a terrible flash flood up there in the mountains of eastern
and of a baby
girl who was swept away, never to be seen again. I decided to rewrite the story
as if the baby had lived. When the words to Troublesome
Creek wouldn’t stop coming, I knew I was a writer. Kentucky
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I am the proverbial cereal box reader. I can not be without something to read. I always have the book I’m currently reading, the one I want to read next, and a follow-up to that one. Lately I’ve been on a true-adventure kick, and have read: Beyond the Bear by Dan Bigley, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller, and am looking forward to In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryant. I suppose I am living a life of adventure through books. Who knows where a person with no sense of direction would wind up if she tried to walk the Appalachian Trail or fish a river bank in
Alaska or tour ? Books open the world for
me, and I never even need a GPS. Australia
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I stay grounded in God’s Word. “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Psalm 46:10. Nothing is more calming than the
Bible. I begin each day with ten minutes or so of contemplation. I like one
short devotional that I can skim and a few pages from something deep like The Quotable Lewis by Martindale and
Root published by Tyndale House. You can’t get much deeper than C.S. Lewis.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I love names. I collect them: Turnip Tippen, Lump Lumpkins, Shade Harmon, Tern Still, Lilly Corbett,
and Demaree Whitt, are some favorites, not to mention Mazy and Molly, the twins
named after favorite cows. Names should reflect a character’s personality. For
instance, Shade Harmon (from Tattler’s Branch) has both a good
side and a bad side. Shade foreshadows his bad side and Harmon (shortened
harmony) reflects the good.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
In the world of writing, I’m most proud of winning the 2004 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest. Outside of that, I’m most proud of my children. I’m not a prideful person. I feel everyone is just one banana peel away from disaster, and if one person is down-on-his-luck then I should do my best to lift him up and share his burden. My granny always said, “Laugh today and cry tomorrow.” I felt this saying was Granny’s way of teaching me that I would have good times and hard times alike, and that I should never gloat.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
This one is easy. I adore animals from frogs to elephants. If I were an animal I’d be my Jack Russell terrier, Maggie. Maggie orders my day and sleeps on my pillows at night. She is an old lady now and thus needs tender care. Maggie has her own seeing-eye person, me. We go to the park almost daily. She walks half the way, and I carry her for the rest. That’s a new form of dog walking, and its really good exercise for me. We also play fetch. I throw the ball, and if she can’t find it with her keen sense of smell, I go fetch it. Every animal should be as well tended as my little Maggie Mae. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
What is your favorite food?
Here’s a favorite meal and how to obtain it. On a real hot July day, take a sleeve of saltine crackers, a knife, and a jar of creamy peanut butter out into the field and find a vine-ripened tomato. Twist the tomato from the stalk, spread some peanut butter on a cracker and eat right where you are. This will be especially good if you’ve remembered to bring along a fruit jar filled with cold spring water. Notice, I said field and not garden, although a garden tomato will suffice if you don’t happen to have tomatoes growing in the field. I can only surmise that field tomatoes are the best because they have not been coddled as garden tomatoes often are.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Keeping up with technological changes is the most difficult part of publishing for me. I don’t see this as a writing problem but rather a marketing problem. Writing is basic and stays the same. To quote William Faulkner: “The Primary job that any writer faces is to tell you the story.” I’m pretty good at storytelling but struggle to keep up with the all the rest. Thankfully, I have a lot of help.
Tell us about the featured book.
Oh, this is just the best story. Tattler’s Branch features Lilly Still as the small town doctor of Skip Rock, a small coal community in the
. Though her husband, Tern, is
away for a few months at a mining job, Lilly has her hands full with her
patients and her younger sister visiting for the summer. Kentucky Mountains
Lilly turns to her good friend and neighbor, Armina, to help keep things in order—until a mysterious chain of events leaves Armina bedridden and an orphaned baby on her doorstep. Lilly works to uncover the truth, unaware of what a mess she’s found herself in until a break-in at her office puts her on high alert. Struggling between what is right and what is safe, Lilly must discover the strength of her resilient country neighbors, her God, and herself.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Armina Tippen’s muscles twitched like frog legs in a hot skillet. She leaned against the deeply furrowed trunk of a tulip poplar to wait out an unexpected change in the weather and to gather her strength. The spreading branches of the tree made the perfect umbrella. Gray clouds tumbled across the sky as quarter-size raindrops churned up the thick red dust of the road she’d just left.
The rain didn’t amount to much—it was hardly worth the wait. Armina kicked off her shoes, careful to not disturb the kerosene-daubed rags she’d tied around her ankles to discourage chiggers. She didn’t have to fool with stockings because she wasn’t wearing any.
Back on the road, she ran her toes through the damp dirt. It was silky and cool against her skin. The only thing better would have been a barefoot splash in a mud puddle. There should be a law against wearing shoes between the last frost of spring and the first one of fall. Folks were getting soft, wearing shoes year-round. Whoever would have thought she’d be one of them? Knotting the leather strings, she hung the shoes around her neck and walked on.
Clouds blown away, the full force of the summer sun bore down, soothing her. She poked around with the walking stick she carried in case she got the wobbles and to warn blacksnakes and blue racers from the path. Snakes did love to sun their cold-blooded selves.
She hadn’t been up Tattler’s
for the longest time. For some reason she’d woken up thinking of the berries she
used to pick here when she was a girl and living with her aunt Orie. Probably
somebody else had already stripped the blackberry bushes of their fruit, but it
didn’t hurt to look. There weren’t any blackberries like the ones that grew up here.
After she crossed the narrow footbridge that spanned this branch of the creek, she spied one bramble and then another mingling together thick as a hedge. Her mouth watered at the sight. Mayhaps she should have brought a larger tin than the gallon-size can hanging from her wrist. Or maybe two buckets. . . but then she couldn’t have managed her walking stick. Life was just one puzzle piece after another.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Please visit at www.janwatson.net
Thank you, Jan, for sharing your life and this new book with us today.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Tattler's Branch - Christianbook.com
Tattler's Branch - Amazon.com
Tattler's Branch - Kindle
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Google +, Feedblitz, Facebook, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.