ACFA is proud to partner with The Wordsmith Journal Magazine to feature authors interviewed in that publication on our blog.
Unlike many authors, Donna Fitts had no aspirations to become a
writer. “I have always been a starter but not much of a finisher. I
never, ever dreamed of writing a book. Certainly not a romance novel!”
But that is exactly what she has successfully accomplished in her
novel, An Unexpected Romance. While the word
unexpected defines her journey to writing, it also embraces the concept
of her book; surprises can happen to anyone, at anytime. Why would the
mother of two children, grandmother of five grandchildren who loves
Snickers candy bars, strawberries and snorkeling in coral reefs, tackle a
writing project pertaining to romance in the twilight years? I quickly
learned to expect the unexpected when it came to interviewing this
energetic woman of faith.
MN-As a Navy mom, I
am surprised by how many military families I encounter daily. Your
father was in the Air Force, which I am sure stamped your passport
several times. Can you name a few of the places you have been and which
one was your favorite?
DF-We lived in a number
of different states, including Missouri, Michigan, Texas, Illinois, and
California, but my favorite place was Tripoli, Libya. While we were
there, we lived in a couple of cool places before my dad was able to get
base housing. One of those was a farm where the long private drive was
lined by almond trees. When there were almond on the trees, we kids
were known to reach out the windows as Daddy drove down the driveway and
try to grab the green almonds off the trees. We spent three wonderful
years there, at Wheelus Air Force base. We also were able to travel in
the area and see a number of different Roman ruins. I was actually
baptized in the Mediterranean Sea while we were there.
MN-Let's talk about your new book, An Unexpected Romance. It didn't always have that title. Why was in changed from Prodigals?
I first titled the book, my husband didn't like the title. At first I
was convinced that Prodigals was the right name for it, but later
developed mixed feelings about it. The publisher found that when women
were asked about that name, they were not favorable. Most thought it
was a self-help book. The publishing team put their heads together,
several titles were suggested, and we kind of bogged down for a bit.
Then, while discussing the content of the book with someone, I used the
phrase, "an unexpected romance," and we decided that was the perfect
title for the book. So, my husband was right, after all!
writing the book, you found a need and filled it. You stated there were
no novels written that targeted the mature woman. I think it is
brilliant and certainly God inspired. How hard was it to write for a
target audience from the beginning instead of writing and then figuring
out who your audience is?
DF-It really wasn't
difficult. I honestly did not think about the audience. I just wrote
about the characters. I know it probably sounds a bit strange, but I
didn't even know how the story would unfold or how it would end. I felt
inspired by God to write it, and it almost seemed to write itself once I
got started. I would sit down at the computer, and start typing and
the next thing I knew, another chapter was finished. I think the most
difficult part was letting go of the idea that the cover had to feature a
senior citizen couple. I actually didn't let go of that idea until I
realized that the book really could appeal to readers who are not senior
MN-Even though Elizabeth is a senior
citizen, I have to admit that I could relate to her character on many
levels. Don't you think that proves that whether we read about a
fictional character set in the 1700's or a contemporary senior citizen,
we are basically the same at heart making it necessary to not discredit
our ability to learn from others just because they are different?
absolutely agree that we can learn from reading about people who are,
on the surface, very different from ourselves. We learn from Jesus'
parables, and they are definitely different from us in many, many ways.
The important thing is the ways they are like us. When I first started
writing this book, my husband said he just didn't see why I would feel
that writing a novel could be something that might help others. I
reminded him that Jesus used parables--which are kind of like mini
novels--and that sometimes it is easier for people to learn from stories
than direct teaching, because stories are less threatening.
MN-Is there a little bit of Donna in Elizabeth?
little bit. Elizabeth is very concerned about the environment and
conservation. She enjoys helping others. She still believes that there
are absolutes in God's commandments, regardless of what the current
MN-You were certified through
seminary to teach which led to your current position, Director of a
preschool academy. That takes a lot of patience. Is that a virtue of
DF-Actually, I only studied religious
education in general at seminary. It was my experience as a teacher and
a principal in elementary school that really prepared me for this
position. The things I learned not only about teaching, but also about
budgets and administration are very instrumental in being a successful
director of a preschool. I think being an elementary school principal
took more patience than being a director of a preschool. Being a
director of a preschool is such a daily joy! There is nothing better
than going to "work" every day at church and "work" being the joy of
being around God's precious little ones!
MN-Will there be a sequel to An Unexpected Romance and are there any other writing projects on your agenda?
have started a sequel, featuring one of Elizabeth's younger sisters, a
very angry and sad woman who trusts virtually no one. I do have several
other ideas for books, but enjoy my daytime job so much, I must admit I
am not doing a lot of writing. The second book is certainly not moving
along as quickly as the first one did!
Author Bio: Donna Fitts has a wealth of different life experiences to
draw on for her work, including overcoming abuse as a child, traveling the
world with her Air Force dad, being a single mother on welfare to marrying and
graduating college Magna Cum Laude.Donna's easy writing style allows the reader
to see herself and her friends in her writing, but also directs the reader back
to the ultimate authority: God's Holy Bible.
Donna is a graduate
of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Louisiana
University, and California State University. She has served more than 30
years in churches and in public schools, and is currently serving as
Director of a Christian preschool after retiring as an elementary school
principal in Rhode Island.
You can learn more about author Donna by visiting her website http://www.donnafitts.com
About Mary Nichelson: http://www.marysworld411.com/
Other interviews featured in The Wordsmith Journal: Donita K. Paul, Jocelyn Green, and Judith Hugg.
Donna Fitts interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.
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