Greetings from Sarah Sundin in smoky California! Today I have the joy of interviewing one of our newest CAN members, Joan C. Benson. Joan has written many articles and devotions, as well as material for Sunday school. Today she’s sharing with us about her debut historical novel!
Welcome, Joan! And congratulations on your debut novel! Please tell us about the story.
His Gift begins at the onset of The Great Depression. A talented young woman aspires to become a professional musician. When her world is destroyed by the Great Crash, she is left to find peace by yielding her gift to the Giver of all gifts.
That sounds lovely. What inspired you to write this book?
His Gift is based on a true event in my mother’s life growing up at the onset of the Great Depression. After she passed away, I read some of her diaries and realized what a story her life held.
I love novels based on family stories. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope the readers will be encouraged to see how God can take our losses and give us peace and purpose even in the rubble of our dreams.
So true. So, what was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
Since it’s based on a true event, I couldn’t figure out how to resolve the conflict. I eventually realized the main character had to resolve her problem spiritually, as we all do before finding peace in crisis.
What’s your favorite scene in this book?
The last chapter still stirs my heart even after reading it so many times. Molly finally understands her answer as she yields her dreams to the Lord.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
Our all-powerful God can deliver us from anything when we yield our lives to Him.
When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
When my children were still young, I felt God wanted me to use my gift of communication for His glory. It took me years to walk into the fullness of this, but in baby steps, I kept moving forward and developing my craft.
Baby steps are remarkably effective! Do you have an unfulfilled dream?
I want to write at least one, or even a series of fiction stories, drawn from my experiences as a pregnancy center trained volunteer counselor. I believe many young women have been deceived by our culture and media about their sexuality and abortion.
What ministries are you involved in, and why?
I was a trained volunteer counselor at our crisis pregnancy center for several years. I believe young women need to know they have options for unplanned pregnancy beside abortion.
I am part of a local women’s speaking ministry called Women Victorious—Ordinary Women, Extraordinary God. We share testimonies of God’s faithfulness, illustrating Scriptural examples, as well as our own, even in our most pressing times of need. We show women how to understand God’s faithfulness, pointing them to Him in their trials and victories.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
Yes, I was an educator, a reading specialist, for many years, working with children from kindergarten through middle school. When I taught literature in middle school for several years, I was dismayed by the lack of virtue in many of the books my students were reading. It was then that I determined to write stories which pointed to biblical moral values whether the book was openly Christian or whether it presented His truths and principles without reference to Christianity.
Do you have pets and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
We have two adorable Bichon doggies who are now running fourteen. They curl up under my desk and are very content while I work. Very cozy.
How cute! Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
I actually am very good about meeting external deadlines, but I have a harder time meeting my own personal ones. I’ve done lots of contract writing over my career which means deadlines. I do struggle to make my personal deadlines carry the same weight as the ones others impose.
Please tell us about your next project.
I am writing a contemporary novel about a young woman who faces a difficult choice, to hurt those she loves the most or to hurt someone she is barely aware of. The book is written for Christian families and comes as a result of my work as an advocate and counselor for young women in crisis.
Sounds interesting! Thank you for sharing with us, Joan!
Writing for Him,