JoAnn Durgin joins us today. She is the author of the Lewis Legacy Series and her new Christmas novella, Meet Me under the Mistletoe, from Pelican Group Ventures/White Rose Publishing. She and her family live in her native southern Indiana. JoAnn is an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm.
JoAnn has offered to give away a copy of her new book, either eBook or print. So leave a comment below with your email address. We must have at least ten comments to make a contest. Continental US only, please.
Now on to the interview…
JoAnn, were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read? One of my favorite days in school was when the Scholastic flyers arrived. I’d pour over them and had a ball choosing the books I wanted. Only thing better was when the books actually arrived. I even remember the smell of the pages (okay, I know that’s weird, but it’s true!). I loved reading biographies of famous historical figures, and then I progressed to Nancy Drew (see below). To this day, I have fifty Nancy Drew books (and the fabulous cookbook), and I’ll never part with them. Every Friday when I got my allowance, I’d buy books. Always.
I was crazy about book too! I loved when the Book Mobile would come to school. So we know you enjoyed reading as a child. Did you ever dream of being an author? I wanted to solve mysteries with Nancy and her chums (if you read the books, that’s a sly reference…the word “chums” isn’t in my normal vocabulary, you understand). I was one of those little girls under the sheets with the flashlight because I was so involved in the books. I’m pretty certain my love of those stories inspired me to write. I paid tribute to the titian-haired sleuth (I love saying that) in my debut novel, Awakening.
How many years did it take to sell your first book? My joke is that I wrote Awakening in two weeks but it took twelve years to sell. Only because it was the last manuscript I wrote before putting aside my writing—but not the passion—for more than a decade in order to focus on being a pastor’s wife and raising our three children. I believe the Lord honored that commitment. Torn Veil Books was the first entity who read the entire manuscript and they bought it. May 1, 2010—the day I received my first contract—was a very memorable day for me.
Oh, yes! I remember my first contract and the feelings it provoked in me, as well! How many books do you have published now? Three full-length novels in my Lewis Legacy Series: Awakening (2010), Second Time Around (2011) and Twin Hearts (2012) with the next installment, Daydreams, releasing before the end of this year. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (Pelican Group/White Rose Publishing) is my first novella, and I have a short story, Please, published in the I Choose You anthology of short romance fiction published a few weeks ago by OakTara.
That’s awesome! Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening? The basic premise of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe comes from my husband’s vow to the Lord not to kiss a woman until he knew she was “the one” he’d marry. I always incorporate people I know or something from my life in my books. I think that helps them resonate with a “reality” I might not have otherwise. Some of the things Julia shares with Jake in the novella also come from my background (but that’s all I’m saying).
I think readers relate to us so much better when they know we’ve put a little of ourselves into our stories. In three words describe your style of writing. Humorous, poignant and faith-based (that last one might be two words). My daughter just added “juicy.” Hmm…
Haha! Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between, and can you elaborate on your answer?
Total seat-of-the-pants writer. Trying to plot stifles my creativity. Nothing’s more exciting to me than sitting in front of a blank screen and seeing where the Lord and my imagination take me.
That’s how I write much of the time but I do usually start out with a loose outline. It helps me with the summary and the chapter-by-chapter synopsis. What are your favorite themes to write about?Forgiveness and redemption are two favorite themes. People aren’t perfect and do a lot of things wrong. The journey to find their redemption is so satisfying to both read and write.
Amen! What is your writing schedule and where do you write? I write whenever I can, wherever I can, but primarily in my office during lunch and in the evening. Our computer chair at home has the permanent imprint of my…you know.
Yes, I know…Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it? I work a full-time job and have three kids and a husband. My mother and brother also live with us in what I lovingly call the “big house.” See why I write? I’m a night owl and have a tremendous commitment and passion to write. I know it’s only by the grace of God I can stay upright in that computer chair sometimes.
I wrote three of my novels while working and homeschooling. I know exactly how you feel! What would you be doing if you weren’t writing? Hands down, without a doubt, sleeping.
And maybe eating a little chocolate here and there? Please tell me you would! Does your faith affect your writing? How? It’s the reason I write. My books are light and humorous in some respects, but don’t call them fluffy! I try to put solid spiritual truths in all of my stories. I write about characters who make mistakes—pretty big ones sometimes—but they’re forgiven and they try to live in a way pleasing to the Lord.
Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite? Matthew 5:16 is my theme verse as an author. One of my primary objectives in writing Christian fiction is to let my light shine so others can see the hope to be found in a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
I believe God will bless you big time! What is the bravest thing you have ever done? I moved to Dallas, Texas on my own (well, my mother helped me or I wouldn’t have done it; I got my independent spirit from her) after college without knowing a soul. I’ll never forget the feeling I had as my mom left me on the doorstep of my first apartment. I was terrified, excited, hopeful and ready to take on the world.
Wow! What is the coolest, wackiest, most risk-taking thing you’ve ever done? Went on a date with an Italian. In Rome. Thank the Lord the night ended well, especially since I had a dizzying night tour of the city at 70 mph. To this day, I can’t believe I did that, but it was a lot of fun.
You are a bit more adventurous than me! What was your greatest fear as a child and have you written something like that into your book(s)? The train traveling near our house in the middle of the night was soooo loud and shook my crib. I was less than a year old, but I still remember the fear. I’ve never written it into my books, but that’s not a bad idea…
Where can fans find you and your books on the Internet? My books are available from all major online retailers (all in paperback except for the novella; I have author-only copies in paperback that I’m giving away to blog winners…and friends…and family…). I love to hear from readers via my website at www.joanndurgin.com or on Facebook (I have a new Author JoAnn Durgin page, so please come join the fun!)
Thank you so much for joining us today! God bless you!
Here’s a little about her book Meet Me Under the Mistletoe:
Captain Jacob Marston, Starlight, Iowa’s wounded hometown hero, made a long ago promise to the Lord: he won’t kiss a woman until he knows she’s “the one” he’ll marry. Now, at age twenty-eight, the rugged firefighter questions if it’ll ever happen. Then he meets his best friend’s sister, Julia Sinclair, and Jake believes he’s found the woman of his dreams—but she’s promised to another. When Julia makes an unexpected confession on Christmas Day, Jake shares his secret with her, and it looks as though happily-ever-after will make a holiday appearance. But somehow, everyone in the tiny town learns Jake’s secret and he’s transformed from town hero to laughingstock. Did Julia reveal his secret? Can Jake and Julia find their way under the mistletoe for a forever kiss?
Theme verse: Psalm 62:1-2