DeeAnne Gist's first novel, "A Bride Most Begrudging," published by Bethany House, is a wonderfully entertaining historical romance. Bethany House selected "Bride" for their Edgy Inspirational category. Read more about this new genre in Christian fiction on DeeAnne's website, "What Is Edgy Inspirational?" at www.deeannegist.com/press_sub.php?linkid=04/
(vtm) DeeAnne, how did you get your start as a writer?
(DeeAnne) My degree is in Elementary Education. When I had four kids in four years, I became a stay-at-home mom. I did freelance journalism out of my home and started writing fiction manuscripts at that time.
(vtm) Is "A Bride Most Begrudging" your first novel? Did you receive rejections for Bride before finding a publisher? If so, how did you handle those rejections?
(DeeAnne) Bride is my first published novel. I had written another one when I was learning the craft of writing. It's in a secret place that no one will ever find!...I hope!
Rejections are very much a part of a writing career. I learned that early with my journalism articles. I also learned not to take them personally. And I have a very strong faith, so I always knew that if the Lord wanted something to be published, He could certainly see that it was. So, when I received rejections, I just assumed it was because God had something better planned. (And did He ever!)
(vtm) Certain writers have a particular typewriter or favorite place to write. Have you found any specific set up more conducive to writing?
(DeeAnne) My favorite place to write is in an outdoor kitchen that we have in our backyard. Unfortunately, it's so hot here (100+ degrees much of the time), that I don't get to write out there very often.
(vtm) How do you progress from an interesting idea for a story line to actually writing a novel?
(DeeAnne) Once I have a premise for my book, I research that time period thoroughly. The events of the time, often provide me with plot points for my novel. And from there, I make up the story line.
(vtm) How do you research for your genre, Christian Historical Romance?
(DeeAnne) I basically just research the era I am writing about and write the story. Because it is a romance, I have a strong romantic plot line. But I don't have a Christian plotline, per se. In other words, I don't have a specific evangelical message with a conversion scene in the third act. I simply write the book and weave the faith issues into the story as I go along.
(vtm) Bethany House selected Bride for its Edgy Inspiration category. Can you explain that term? What about Bride puts it in the Edgy Inspiration category?
(DeeAnne) That's the million dollar question, I think. No one really knows what "edgy" is. For me, it is writing the story without being restricted by a taboo list. I simply let my characters say what they want, do what they want and think what they want. I don't censor them or restrain them in any way. Then, the chips just fall where they may. (Although if my characters get too far out there, my editor will rein them in some during the editing phase of publication.)
In the case of Bride, my characters were in a marriage of convenience and at some point hoped to annul the marriage. But as time went on, an attraction between the two characters sprung up. My characters wrestled with the temptations and impure thoughts that came with courtship. The difference between my book and some of the more traditional inspiration romances is that I revealed to the reader what my characters were thinking--pure or not. The question is. . . does that make it "edgy" or simply more realistic? Who's to say?
(vtm) Do you have a "target" reader? Should a Christian fiction writer assume that all their readers have the same likes and dislikes in their reading selections? i.e., Do you have guidelines, from your publisher or your own, of what to include and exclude in your writing?
(DeeAnne) My target reader is the Lord. He's the only One I want to please. I don't worry about who my audience is or what people will think, or what type of stories are trendy, or word count, or any of that. It's all for Him. And in my case, that means that my story must be real, honest, well written and full of passion. It means I pray over it every time I write (and then some.) Every morning I ask Him to waken my ears to listen like one being taught. I very much want to be receptive to the Spirit and to let Him influence me during the creative process. If I write something that troubles my Spirit, then I pay attention to that prompting and pray over whatever it is that is troubling me.
And fortunately for me, Bethany House gives me the freedom to do that. They put no restrictions on me. Once the manuscript is finished, they, obviously, edit it. And I have found that those edits do nothing but make the manuscript stronger. And do all my readers have the same likes and dislikes? Not even close. That's why it would be such a nightmare to try and write for a specific audience. It's much easier when you only have One to please!!
(vtm) The main characters in Bride have high moral standards and strong Christian faith, (I especially liked Drew.) How did you develop your characters? Do you have a character formula for your books?
(DeeAnne) For me, the most important element of character development is back story. I write an extensive back story on my tow main characters. I start with their birth and track their lives all the way up to the first page of the novel. That way, I know what baggage they are carrying around--which makes a big difference inhow they react to any given situation. I also know, then, what their idiosyncrasies are. I have found this, more than anything else, takes my character from a one dimensional state to a three-dimensional one.
(vtm) In reading Bride, I was puzzled by the reverend saying that Constance must be "married in her hair," especially in light of recent American tradition of the bride covering her head with a veil and her groom not seeing her face until after their vows. What tradition prompted Drew to release Constance's hair from its braids before the marriage vows? ?By the way, it was a very sensual act! Obviously, these Virginia tobacco colonists were not Cotton Mather Puritans.
(DeeAnne) Most of the wedding traditions we use today have Victorian roots. From the 14th to the mid-17th century, it was the custom for any bride to be married with her hair hanging down her back. This was a recognized symbol of her virginity and "married in her hair" was the expression they used for it. And, you are quite right, the Virginia colonists were not Puritans. That was a New England thing.
(vtm) Is there some particular aspect of writing fiction that you can share with new writers, which would have helped you as a novice?
(DeeAnne) The advice I give new writers is to "learn your craft." I equate this to an athlete. You can be the most talented athlete in the world, but if you don't know the rules of the game, you can't play. Take classes, read "how to" books, join critique groups, go to writer's conferences, enter contests, and write, write, write.
(vtm) On a personal note, how does your Chritian faith impact your writing?
(DeeAnne) It has a huge impact on my writing. The entire reason I write is to use the gifts and talents the Lord gave me to the best of my ability for glorifying Him. I don't write a single chapter without talking to Him about it. And if I haven't spent time with Him the way I should, it shows up in my writing habits and production.
To read more about DeeAnne's writing, visit her webpage at www.deeannegist.com, or her blog on writing at www.deeannegist.com/blog/.
You can buy "A Bride Most Begrudging" at www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764200720