Paula Marie: Thank you so much, JoAnn for taking time out of your oh so busy schedule to sit down with me and our readers for coffee!
JoAnn: Thanks so much for the invitation! I’m very grateful for the opportunity to get to know you and the readers of your blog. And over coffee? Even better!
Paula Marie: I am amazed at the amount of novels you have written over the years, several of which I have read and all of which I have enjoyed! I know you have held many “jobs”, Pastor’s wife, mother, paralegal, etc.! How did you ever find the time to write during those days?
Joann: You ask a good question, and it’s one I’ve often asked myself! I think the best answer is that I required very little sleep during the time I was drafting out my early books. When I started writing, I was a stay-at-home mother/youth pastor’s wife in Philadelphia, so I arranged my writing schedule around our three children and church activities. When we lived in the Boston area (my husband was a senior pastor), I put my writing—but not the passion for it—on the back burner.
A few years later, when we moved to my hometown in southern Indiana, I’d stay up writing until two a.m. during the week and then get up at seven (to be at work by nine). It also has much to do with motivation and determination! Being a little tired took the “edge” off my work, and I was able to keep calm and function well, thank the Lord! Believe it or not, I actually worked three jobs during that time when I was drafting the books that eventually became my “signature” Lewis Legacy Series. I primarily worked as an estate administration paralegal at a large law firm, but a few times each week, I’d literally cross the street at five o’clock to work at the Kentucky Center for the Arts as a floor manager. I supervised the volunteer ushers and made sure everyone got to their seats (and prayed no one fell, got in a fight, or had any issues). Then I’d sit outside the theater during the performance and work on my books. I also worked a four-hour shift on the weekends at a children’s clothing store (I’d started working at the same store chain in the Boston area to clothe my own kids well). So, you tell me, how did I have any energy left?! I couldn’t do it today, but I was blessed to quit my other jobs and step into full-time writing for God’s glory in mid-August of 2014! I haven’t looked back since.
Paula Marie: That is nothing short of amazing! I don’t think I have ever had that sort of energy, lol! I know we have a lot in common growing up in the same era, but tell me what was your favorite TV Show as a child and why?
JoAnn: The Friday night lineup on ABC was my favorite: The Brady Bunch (my favorite!), The Partridge Family, Room 222, and The Odd Couple. The Bradys embodied the so-called American Dream and they were so fun, cute, and relatable! I also liked Flipper, and my brother and I really enjoyed a short-lived show called Time Tunnel, a time travel/adventure show where the two male characters visited different time periods in history. I still remember the Titanic and Pearl Harbor episodes. Fascinating!
However, my absolute favorite TV program of all was only on once a year: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (taped live television musical) starring Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella. The music! The costumes! The romance with a prince! I sent a letter to Lesley requesting an autographed photo, and I was so happy to receive one in the mail! I could tell she’d signed it personally, and I treasured that photo. Still do! Fun fact to know and tell: I even named my most recent heroine in Thee Will I Honor “Lesley Ann” in her honor.
Paula Marie: How sweet of you! I always liked Lesley Ann Warren’s acting as well, but never saw the program you mentioned, found this pic on Wikipedia from it though! Brady Bunch was high up on my list of favorites too! Where do you get your inspiration from for your characters? Especially your slight quirky ones?
JoAnn: I have quirky characters? Ha! Quirky is so much fun! All my characters are mostly created in my sometimes overly active imagination, but a number of them are based in part on people I’ve known. Like a lot of authors, I will freely tell you that anything you say is fair game to be used in a book one day! I’m also an avid people watcher/observer (airports, especially the international terminals, are terrific). I used to find inspiration in newspapers. The idea for mineralogist Seth Barnes (try repeating that word quickly three times straight!) in Heart’s Design came from a Philadelphia newspaper article about a region in Maine rich in gems and minerals. The basis for a pedicab owner/operator in Love So Amazing came from a pedicab ride in Indianapolis late one night when all the cabs were gone and a pedicab guy offered us a ride to our hotel. Now, I find more inspiration from internet articles, the line in the grocery store, radio segments, you name it! I’m telling you, with this gal, anything is likely to show up in a book sometime! A memorable little girl in Whisper to My Heart is based on a friend’s daughter from church who’s a little spitfire and says the cutest things.
Paula Marie: I’ll be sure to be careful what I say around you, hahaha! I find it fascinating how many different styles of writing authors have, what would define yours as?
JoAnn: Great question! I’d say my writing style is faithful (to the Lord’s teachings and intended to give Him glory and honor), entertaining, and sentimental…with a dash of humor added! I like to believe my books are easy to read yet intelligently written. I’m not “flowery” and prone to write a sentence where you need to back up and read it three times to try and figure out what I’m actually saying. In more of my later books, I deeply research various topics and most of my readers feel like they’ve actually learned something—NASA (I visited Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Center and asked a ton of questions), woodworking, airplane prototypes, being a member of the U.S. military, Colonel Sanders, Charles Dickens, to name a few. You never know where my books will take you!
Paula Marie I love being able to learn something while enjoying a novel! I can play trivia games and everyone asks how did you know that? I laugh and say i read it in a book!! Do you often find yourself with your characters running through your head before you have even had a chance to write them down?
JoAnn: Not really. I might differ from other authors in that regard, but in some ways, I’ve always been a rebel. I don’t do (or write) things because it’s what others say I “should” do (or not do). With one exception, I’ve only written one book at a time and focused solely on those characters. That way, they can run around all they want, and I’m right there (or “write” there) beside them!
Paula Marie: I know I sometimes feel like the people in my favorite stories become friends, and seeing as how you have a few different series and several standalone books…do you find it difficult to “say goodbye” to your characters from the stand alone novels once you have completed them?
JoAnn: No, and that’s mainly because I keep them alive with mentions or appearances in other books. I have said “good-bye” to a few characters, but I have a peace about them. Still, with me, you never know! There’s a definite method to my “madness.” I have a series coming up with the children of the Lewis Legacy characters. Who’s to say some of those previous characters from another book or series might not show up again? God’s world can be pretty small sometimes, you know. Stay tuned…
Paula Marie: Hahaha! I will definitely be staying tuned!! I love how you have the Bible Verse Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, on all of your communications can you share another one or two verses that have special meaning to you?
JoAnn: That’s a difficult question because I have so many favorite verses! I have a theme verse of Scripture, and often a list of verses, in all my books. Below are a couple more verses (taken from the New American Standard Bible) that speak to me personally. They’ve also given me great encouragement and comfort in my writing journey:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. ~Ephesians 2:8
Paula Marie: Romans 8:28 is certainly one of my mantras as well! I know you love spending time with your family, especially your new grandchild, and writing, but what are some of your favorite pastime activities when you aren’t doing something with the family or writing?
JoAnn: Is there life beyond family and writing? I adore traveling, and I’ve been blessed to take some fabulous trips and see many places in the world, especially B.C. (Before Children). I spent a semester abroad in college (we lived in London and then toured the European Continent for three weeks). I went back to Europe with my mother a couple of times, and she helped to foster and install an independent spirit and a love of traveling in me. Believe it or not, I used to be shy, but going places and meeting new people encouraged me to open my eyes and enjoy different cultures, customs, history, architecture, and experiences.
I like to cook, but I’ll admit we eat out more than we should. I love to decorate but don’t generally enjoy cleaning. I used to adore working counted cross-stitch pieces, but I was one of those weirdos who made the back of the canvas look as pretty as the front. Definitely a perfectionist, a mixed blessing.
Paula Marie: How can fans keep in touch with you and your upcoming books?
JoAnn: I’m the rare bird/writer in that I don’t have a newsletter. I know, I know. Try to cover your shock. As I said, I can also be a rebel. If I had a bumper sticker on my car, it’d read, “I’d Rather Be Writing.” The way I see it, readers are inundated with enough stuff. Plus, I’m an extrovert (also rare for an author, I’m finding), and I’m no stranger to social media. I’ve grown my author page on Facebook tremendously in the past year by posting memes with Scripture verses. The three main places to connect with me are the following:
Paula Marie: Finally – Coffee or tea? Cream? Sugar?
JoAnn: Oh, I definitely love a little coffee with my French vanilla creamer and Splenda, thank you so much! Just don’t ask how many packets of Splenda I add (depends on whether I’m making it myself or getting it elsewhere). I can’t go to the drive-thru at my local McDonald’s and order coffee or else they’d need to alert the nearby hospital to be on standby for a possible sugar overdose! I also adore hot apple cider in the fall and hot chocolate with marshmallows during the holiday season.
Paula Marie: Thank you again for sharing this time with me and my followers! It has truly been a pleasure getting to know you and becoming friends!
Now readers – JoAnn Durgin has GENEROUSLY offered to give away THREE ebooks to three different commenters here on this post! Winner gets their CHOICE of books, musty be in USA or have an USA Amazon account to receive the ebook! Choices are here: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B004FELQDC?_encoding=UTF8&node=618073011&offset=0&pageSize=12&sort=author-pages-popularity-rank&page=1#formatSelectorHeader
Please take a moment to to say thank you and enter to win any of JoAnn’s single ebook of your choice!
Contest will end Monday, August 13th at midnight!