Welcome, Janet! Please tell us about your book, Solomon’s Porch.
I first read of Solomon’s Porch in the book of Acts. It’s a place where Jesus walked and Peter healed a lame man. I envisioned a modern-day place of hope and healing, at a time when our wounds are invisible and run so deep we pretend not to notice them.
And a town called Ginger Ridge was born.
Beautiful concept! What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to answer these questions about kindness. Could simple acts of kindness over a lifetime last forever? How might the ripple effects of one man’s choices affect an entire town?
What is the primary focus of your book?
Redemption, community, and the fact that we need each other. Sometimes we’re so broken we don’t know how to let others in. We need each other, and Solomon Thomas understands that better than anyone.
He sounds like an inspiring character. What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
Honestly, wondering if anyone would ever read it. It’s my debut novel, and it takes years to learn to create a moving, satisfying story. Many scenes were tossed and many others rearranged or restructured until I could say I’d given my best to every character and every scene.
With all that work, what was the hardest scene to write?
The last scene with Solomon. I can see it so clearly in my mind, just like a movie. But I couldn’t use song lyrics, and there’s a prominent song playing throughout. Many have said they’ve cried during this scene, so I believe they see and feel what I do. It’s always been such a powerful moment, and I hope I did it justice.
Still, turning it into a movie sure would help.
How do you share Christ in your writing?
I don’t get too preachy, but neither did Jesus. He’d share a story and let it speak for itself. He rarely explained his parables, but yet, people felt understood and walked away with a message they carried with them long after he was gone.
I hope that’s how my writing affects people. A glimmer of hope, a moment of escape, a belief that we can make a difference. It takes both light and dark colors to create a beautiful picture in the end, and no one does this better than Jesus. Even when you can’t see him.
How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
As a writer, I’m an observer. I try to hear what people don’t say to fully understand where they are coming from. As a writer, you meet characters, reveal their pain, and try to help them come out on the stronger side of their own story.
That’s exactly what Jesus does for us. I’m amazed we get to do this together.
Maybe it’s empathy or maybe it’s Jesus smoothing out my edges, but the more I write, the closer to him I feel. In order to create on a daily basis, I must spend time with the Creator himself.
So true. What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
I’ve got a great setup in our basement with hanging lights and instrumental music. I get the most done because I lose track of time and can’t really tell if it’s day or night.
But I find my best plots and solutions when I’m outside taking a walk. Looking up and feeling the breeze. Another layer of the story hits, as if it’s been there all along. And I’m always thankful I took that break when I did.
I think walking is a novelist’s best tool. So, what is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
How little it pays and how success isn’t always measured by sales figures. A year ago, I was ready to give up and throw in the towel. Now I’ve published my first novel, and the response has been fantastic. I still don’t really know sales numbers. Thankfully, my publisher gets those. But those who’ve read it love and appreciate these characters as much as I do. We’re all experiencing this story together—the readers and the writer.
That’s what I call success. That and the fact that someone besides my mother has read it.
Yes! My mom is my biggest fan, but I’m glad she isn’t the only one!
So, do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I’m an administrative assistant at a local college near where I live. I love it. The energy of the students, the chance to do something new every day and invest in the future.
There’s a nurturing side to being an assistant. Anticipating needs, sitting at a desk so others can shine. Serving in the background and sticking to it until a problem is solved.
It’s a lot like writing books, except I get an actual paycheck, which helps to cover the costs of this blossoming writing career. It’s a win/win situation.
So many writers grew up around libraries. Do you have a favorite library memory?
I worked as a library aid in the fourth grade. I loved the sound, smell and creaks of the books. I went to the M section and pictured my book on that shelf, and wondered how long it would take to fill up the checkout card in the back. That probably dates me a bit, but it was so cool to see the names of people who’d checked out that same book through the years. When it’s time to get a new card, you know you’ve got a great book.
And that’s exactly what I hoped to do one day.
Here’s to filling up that card! And what about the next card? Tell us about your next project.
Next is a series of children’s books called Character is a Choice. They are fun, read-aloud, participation stories that teach children fun ways to remember the rules that get crowded into their precious little heads. The first is Do Your Best, Tess! It’s about a little girl who never finishes what she starts.
Or it may be about a middle-aged woman who is finally learning to do just that. Finish all what I started years ago. Writing books.
After that, Solomon really deserves a sequel. There are many places the town of Ginger Ridge can go from here, and I’m hooked on this town, these people, and their stories.