Pursuit of Publication – An Interview with Author Jo Wanmer

It’s time again for me to contribute to the monthly ChristianWriters.com blog chain. Our topic for June is Pursuit. The pursuit of publication is an important milestone in the life of a writer. One person who has recently achieved this is Australian author Jo Wanmer. In November last year, Jo’s novel ‘Though The Bud Be Bruised’ won the Caleb Prize for Unpublished Fiction. For this she received a professional edit and publication through Even Before Publishing. I interviewed her about this process.

Jo Wanmer

Hello Jo and welcome. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. How long have you wanted to be a writer?

I set a goal about ten years ago to write books. I made a dream chart and it featured a row of books, with my name stuck on the spines!

Is ‘Though the Bud Be Bruised’ the first book you have written?

Yes, it is the first book. The only other writing I’ve done is journaling, poetry when under stress and the occasional article.

As you were writing, did you have your eyes on publication from the beginning?

Absolutely! This story had been burning in me for about fifteen years. I was determined to produce a published work. To that end I paid for mentors and took every opportunity I could to learn more about the modern art of writing.

How did it feel when your book was named winner of the ‘Un-Published Category’ in the adult Fiction section of the 2011 Caleb Awards?

I was very pleased, but not surprised! From the moment I heard of the prize I determined to win it, only because I knew the power of the amazing story I was relating.

What was it like working with an editor? How much work was required after winning the competition?

By the time my book entered the Caleb competition, I had attended two intensive mentorships. The first one I worked for five days with an experienced author checking, teaching, changing and adjusting my book. After that week I came home and had to rewrite my entire manuscript. Then I used a free appraisal from Omega Writers and received a lot more feedback. At the second mentorship I worked with another author and improved the book again. By the time it got to the editor, there was little work left to be done.

You describe your book as a ‘Faction’ – a fiction that is based on a true story. Can you describe the process of fictionalising a real event?

All locations carry fictitious names, though they are modelled on real places. Some
characters are close to real life with a few key things changed, but others are a mix of different people. Some are nicer than real life and some nastier as I had to build protagonists and antagonists. The wonderful thing about fiction is I could add
a conversation or an event to help me build the story or a new understanding the main characters were learning. But these scenes are inconsequential in the book. Their purpose is to move the book to the next major incident.

God has not been fictionalized. What He does and says are as true as my memory allows.

The first one and a bit chapters can be read on your website. You start with a powerful hook that makes the audience want to read on. Was this always the way you started the story, or did this change after editing?

My first mentor, Mary Hawkins, slashed the first three chapters from the book and declared that the story started at that point! I was gutted! What about all the information in the first three chapters? Most of it was back story. A little of it worked its way into the manuscript further on. The introduction to characters, which I deemed so important, was reduced to the bare facts in Chapter 1. I began to understand that the characters are built while the action is flowing.

After that first lesson I learned to hold my writing loosely. I think every word was eventually changed. That was hard but now I’m so thankful for that training, as I
have presented a well written novel to the market

Book CoverThe Christian fiction industry is still pretty small in Australia, when compared to say America. Do you think that is a help or a hindrance to new authors?

I think it is a fact! Our population is small compared to America! I learned to remove all jargon that would be offensive to any denomination. The market is small enough without offending either the more conservative churches or the Pentecostal stream. I am working hard give the
Australian market confidence, so they will buy the book. The market is nearly impossible for a new author unless they work hard at marketing themselves.

Your book deals with some pretty heavy issues. Was it difficult to write about these subjects?

Not as difficult as living them! God has done a mighty work of healing in my life which I think is evidenced in the fact I can write of my experiences without great difficulty.

You are also a pastor at Burpengary Community Church. Do you see your fiction writing as a calling from God like your other ministry?

I am still very surprised to find myself a fiction writer! I’m sure it was God’s idea. At every stage I would suddenly find the next person that could help me. My whole life is ministry and my hope is that ‘Though the Bud be Bruised’ will open opportunities for me to speak about God’s amazing, powerful, unconditional love.

What do you want readers to take away from ‘Though the Bud Be
Bruised’?

Hope in the healing power of God and an awareness of evil that permeates all walks of life, even within the church walls. If people read my book and come to know God better, I will be pleased.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to potential readers?

I’d like them to read it twice. The second reading will expose another level of
understanding of God’s ways.

And I ask all my readers to spread the word about this book. If they like it, tweet about
it, give it as gifts, write a review or open a door to a speaking opportunity. That
would be fantastic!

Thanks for being interested in my journey.

Congratulations on the book and thank you for your time Jo. I’ve been inspired by your journey to publication and I’m sure God will touch a lot of lives through your book.

Though the Bud be Bruised is available from Koorong and Amazon. You can read the opening pages of the book at the bottom of this page. You can find Jo at her blog: Conversations, and on Facebook.

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About Adam David Collings

Adam Collings is a writer of speculative fiction who works as a software engineer during the day. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife and two children. Adam is currently working on a science fiction novel.
This entry was posted in Australia, Australian Christian Fiction, Christian Writers Blog Chain, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Pursuit of Publication – An Interview with Author Jo Wanmer

  1. Jack Brown says:

    interesting pursuit post Adam.
    good interview too.
    blessings

  2. This was a great interview Adam. Congratulations, Jo! Publication is a long, tedious but rewarding road. It is worth the pursuing.

  3. Mike says:

    Nice interview Adam. I’ve decided I didn’t want to do the Traditional publishing route because I didn’t want to be rejected by them, so I self-published. It allowed me to go straight to the consumer and be rejected by the public without a middle man. (that was a joke)

  4. E G Lewis says:

    Great post, Adam. we all have our path to writing and…hopefully, publication. It’s always nice to read another’s story; we never stop learning. Peace and Blessings

  5. sandigrace says:

    Wow. I definitely want to read this book. Congratulations, Jo! I love how you were willing to accept correction and direction. If you had not humbled yourself enough to learn from others, you could still be struggling in anonymity. I love your statement, “… I learned to hold my writing loosely.” May your book bless many lives, and may our Wonderful Lord use it to open many doors.

    Nice interview, Adam! Well-chosen focus for your “pursuit” post. 🙂

  6. Chris Vonada says:

    Very cool Adam, I enjoyed this! I liked her comment “not as difficult as living them” regarding writing about vs. dealing with heavy issues. True!!

  7. Bill Jones says:

    Thanks, Adam. Excellent post and information – good pursuit blog.

  8. Tracy Krauss says:

    I love the sentence, “I learned to hold my writing loosely.” This so aptly describes what a writer has to do if he/she wants her writing to be taken seriously (a.k.a QUALITY) I also enjoyed Jo’s infectiously positive attitude.

  9. Deborah K. Anderson says:

    Great interview, Adam. I enjoyed meeting this author. And like Tracy commented, I also enjoyed Jo’s positive attitude.

  10. Deborah K. Anderson says:

    PS Loved the new photos on your header!

  11. Terrie says:

    Congrats Jo and way to go Adam – nice way to integrate themes! Wonderful interview and I hope it brings much appreciated attention for Jo’s journey to publication. Peace and Blessings to you both!

  12. Mary Hawkins says:

    Thank you for this, Adam, You asked some great questions! Jo, you sure brought back some memories of that rather exhausting week of mentoring – intensive is sure the right word! I do honour you for your willingness to be “mentored” and it thrilled me to see how hard you had worked for so many weeks after our first week on your manuscript. I call this book “a must read for all leaders especially but also members of any and every church congregation.”
    I continue to pray for you as more and more folk are impacted by this book!

  13. Topline Tack says:

    “Hope in the healing power of God and an awareness of evil that permeates all walks of life, even within the church walls” – often people forget that truth! Thanks for the balanced reminder!

  14. I gave you two awards from my blog @ http://www.writingstraight.com

  15. Traci B says:

    Excellent interview, Adam. Jo, thanks for sharing part of your journey with us. I’m dealing with some heavy subjects in my new book, some of which are part of my own past, and I’m encouraged by your testimony. I don’t know if this was the case for you, but I believe God is using my writing about these things to continue the healing work He’s been doing in me over the last several years. I’m praying as I ready this new book for publication that it will minister to others who may find themselves walking the paths I’ve walked.

  16. Pingback: Book Review: Though The Bud Be Bruided, by Jo Wanmer | The Collings Zone

  17. Pingback: Trailer – Though the Bud be Bruised | The Collings Zone

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