Linda, can you give us a brief overview of this intriguing book?
Can this marriage be saved? Today is Jocelyn Johnson’s forty-fifth birthday. Frustrated with her passionless marriage, Jocelyn, a radio talk show host, contemplates an affair with her handsome cohost. Her hoped for tryst goes awry when family needs cause her to put the affair on a back burner.
Wow, what a hook! Why did you write this particular book?
I have witnessed so many marriages fall apart that perhaps might have been saved had the couples turned their disappointments over to the Lord. No family unit is free from challenges, and these challenges can be damaging to the husband-wife relationship. Often, love for one another becomes trampled by perceived unmet need. Other times, the husband-wife relationship becomes swallowed by the demands of parenting and societal expectations. My hope is that Second Helpings will help those couples who teeter on the brink of marital collapse, challenging them to let God begin the healing. There is no rift the Lord cannot mend if both parties are willing to listen.
Was there one scene in particular that was harder to write than the others?
Jocelyn accidentally discovers her seventeen-year-old son’s journal. Curiosity trumps her promise of privacy, and she flips through the pages. A line jumps out at her—I must be gay. Homosexuality is a topic far too long ignored by Christians or laced with misunderstandings as we try to comprehend this behavior in Christian love. Writing Jocelyn’s worries as to how she should help her son proved difficult. With varying, often conflicting, Christian opinions on the matter, I tried to be objective and yet show compassion for so many Christian parents who struggle with the truth of a child’s homosexuality.
Do you have a favorite scene or section from the book?
I think my favorite part of the book is the character Naomi. Through not the typical guest on her radio show, through a series of mistakes, Jocelyn interviews this Christian teacher and grandmother who has written a book, Second Helpings. During the interview, challenging Jocelyn’s notion Christians are opinionated and harsh, she learns Naomi is caring for an autistic grandson whose mother died of a drug overdose. More interestingly to Jocelyn, the woman has a severed relationship with a homosexual son. Jocelyn hopes the woman can help her avoid the mistakes Naomi made in dealing with her son’s homosexuality. Jocelyn invites Naomi to dinner, not knowing the chaos about to unfold. The evening turns into pandemonium as each of Jocelyn’s five children deal with explosive developmental issues, as well as a college daughter who returns home with the announcement she is pregnant, dropping out of school, and planning to get married in the summer. Adding to the mix, Jocelyn’s husband catches her kissing her cohost, and the proverbial straw threatens to break Jocelyn’s marriage all while she desperately wants to be there for her children. Naomi exudes grace under fire as her call to witness is thwarted with the night’s bedlam. Should she make an exit or try to show God’s love to a very troubled household? She senses Jocelyn is in crisis and in much need of God’s direction. Naomi’s spiritual guidance proves to be the glue that might save Jocelyn’s family, helping her to choose a Second Helping of her own.
You’ve hit almost every challenge known to mankind in that scene! With such considerations that people meet in the real world, do you have a theme you return to again and again in your writing?
I am not a genre writer. I have written some nonfiction. Most of my books, however, could be classified as women’s contemporary fiction but with varying emphasis on romance, suspense, paranormal, the ethereal, glimpses into history, and relationship issues. Whether fiction or nonfiction, the theme I use over and over again is this: with God’s intervention, our worst past can become our best future.
When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
Like most writers, I’ve always loved the written word. I was a hobbyist for most of my life. Even in my social work career, supervisors and state evaluators recognized strength in my anecdotes and social records of my clients. I suppose, even then, God used my writing talent for ministry, to demonstrate the humanity of those I had been called to serve. In later life, God challenged me to write professionally. I walked into work one day and knew this was not the place God wanted me to be. Though I do not recommend quitting the day job, for me it was necessary. That was twenty years ago. Though the road has been difficult and hardly lucrative, I do not regret the day I turned my writing career over to him.
What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
The importance of reviews. Not only are they critical for today’s authors, but feedback helps the author grow in their talent.
Indeed, so important, Linda, more so than readers may realize.
What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
I love performing in skits and dramatic ministry. Although, this might be storytelling in a different format. My current church work is varied, but I especially enjoy working with Vacation Bible School. Most often I am called upon to present the Bible story. Typically, there is drama involved! The kids love it and so do I. Until asthma killed my vocal chords, I have participated in worship music since I was a youngster.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
As I mentioned earlier, I was in human services for more than 25 years in the fields of medical social work, hospital discharge planning, nursing home social work, children and family services, adult protective services, services to the elderly, and child protective services as well as in education for health care workers. These varied social work experiences have definitely shaped my writing, not only in characterization, but in helping to demonstrate compassion for those who are broken.
What are your hobbies, activities or passions outside of writing?
When my youngest child left home, I asked God to give me a passion. I didn’t know that he would later give me the passion to be a professional author. Meanwhile, he filled me with a love for golf. Hubs came home one day with a bag full of golf clubs and that was all it took. A few rounds later, I was hooked. Though time, finances, and getting older do not allow us the opportunity to golf as much nowadays, I still love getting out on the links and challenging the greens. More to the truth, the greens win, but I still love the game! Most of my books include references to the sport.
Tell us about your next project.
Who Put the Vinegar in the Salt will be released in December. This nonfiction work investigates why God has called us to be salt and explores God’s recipe to live victorious Christian lives.
My next fiction book, Wolf Mountain Legacy, an Adirondack Romantic Suspense, will be released this spring. A history professor hires a former lover and student, now a recent widow, to assist him in his research on Adirondack Railroad History. Their research brings them perilously close to solving the 150-year-old mystery about a railroad tycoon’s unsolved murder.
Thank you, Linda, for this fun and informative interview.
Blessings this holiday season and may all that you read be uplifting.