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 In November last year, Jo’s novel ‘Though The Bud Be Bruised’ won the Caleb Prize for Unpublished Fiction.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.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.
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
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
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.
Follow the Pursuit Blog Chain
- 01/06/2012 Bill Jones, I Was Thinking the Other Day About
- 02/06/2012 Chris Henderson, TheWriteChris
- 03/06/2012 Stephanie Boles, 80 Acres and a Book
- 04/06/2012 Lynn Mosher, Heading Home
- 09/06/2012 Deborah K Anderson, Faith, Fiction, and Unvarnished Truth
- 10/06/2012 Mike Johnson, The College Field Manual
- 11/06/2012 Adam Collings, The Collings Zone You are here
- 12/06/2012 Chris Vonada, I’m Just Thinkin’
- 13/06/2012 Victor Travison, Lightwalker’s View
- 14/06/2012 Terrie Thorpe, Light for the Journey
- 15/06/2012 Pauline Creeden, Hosanna’s Christian Reader
- 16/06/2012 Kristena Tunstall, Mommy’s Angel In Heaven
- 16/06/2012 Holly Michael, Writing Straight
- 18/06/2012 Keith Wallis, wordsculptures
- 19/06/2012 Tracy Krauss, Expression Express
- 20/06/2012 Carol Peterson, From Carol’s Quill
- 21/06/2012 SandiGrace, Heart Gazer
- 22/06/2012 Edward Lewis, Sowing the Seeds
- 23/06/2012 Traci Bonney, Tracings
- 24/06/2012 Noel Kline, A Clean Heart and Cozy Home
- 25/06/2012 Pegg Thomas, The Sheepish Scribe
- 26/06/2012 Marilyn McKay, Life 101 Understanding It All
- 27/06/2012 Joseph Lalonde, Joseph Lalonde
- 28/06/2012 Israel Ikhinmwin, Israel’s Blog
- 29/06/2012 Jacky Brown, JayBees Blog
- 30/06/2012 Suzette Emilia, Beautiful You