ACFA is proud to partner with The Wordsmith Journal Magazine to feature authors interviewed in that publication on our blog.
MN-You wrote four non-fiction books prior to writing your first novel, Wedded to War. Although
all of your books are related to the military, it must have been
challenging to go from writing non-fiction to fiction. Did you have any
difficulties while tackling your first piece of non-fiction?
had a huge learning curve ahead of me when I decided to make the
switch! I have so much more respect for novelists now than I ever did
before. I literally went to Barnes & Noble and bought all the books
on writing a novel I could find. Then I went to the Writer’s Digest Web
site and bought more. I have books on character, plot & structure,
the different types of scenes, voice, setting, etc. (You can see a list
of my eleven favorites here.)
I also joined American Christian Fiction Writers right away and
downloaded their workshop handouts to help me map out the characters and
plot. I probably spent months learning the craft of writing a novel
before I actually started writing. And then of course, I would go back
to my mini-library on novel writing all along the way to make sure I was
on track, or to make course corrections.
But you can only learn
so much about great novel writing from a how-to book. So I also spent
lots of time reading really good novels for all the little things that
are “caught, not taught.” Reading award-winning novels became the most
enjoyable part of my research.
By the time I was done researching
my time period for the novel, and how to write a novel, I only had
about two months to actually write the book. The hardest part of the
entire process was just that time crunch.
MN-Tell us about the Heroines Behind the Lines series.
are four books in this series, each one focusing on a different aspect
of the Civil War. Each of the books are inspired by real women who
actually lived and made a difference in the war—but have been mostly
unsung heroes. Rather than following the same characters throughout the
series, readers will find new people and stories to fall in love with in
each book. The first book takes place in New York City, Washington and
the Virginia Peninsula. The second book takes place in Gettysburg,
Philadelphia, and a few sea islands in the South. The third is set in
and around Atlanta, and the fourth is in Richmond, Virginia.
series is historically accurate but rest assured, the books won’t read
like a history text book. There is enough drama and conflicted
characters for anyone who just wants an emotionally absorbing novel.
MN-The first in the series, Wedded to War,
focuses on The United States Sanitary Commission and it’s affect on The
Civil War. Comprised of nurses, The Sanitary Commission single handedly
promoted sterile conditions necessary for medical treatment both in the
field and make shift hospitals. It also provided kind hearted
individuals to minister to dying soldiers. These nurses are true heroes.
Explain some of the restrictions they had to meet to enter the nursing
program and later, the obstacles they would face in caregiving.
women eventually just showed up to volunteer at the hospitals. But if
they wanted to be trained in a nursing program, like my main character
and the person who inspired her, she had to complete a written
application, provide references as to her character, be interviewed by
two committees, and prove she was in general good health.
nurses also could not wear jewelry, hoops under their skirts, or ruffles
or ribbons on their dress. They had to be older than 30 (with few
exceptions granted and then regretted), preferably married or widowed.
Also, the Superintendent of Female Nurses, Miss Dorothea Dix, required
that they be homely in appearance, so as not to arouse the “frustrated
desires” of the male patients. So for a beautiful, single 28-year-old to
break into this field was a challenge, to say the least.
obstacles they faced in care giving, once they were accepted as nurses,
were many. Usually the male doctors they worked with didn’t want them
there in the first place because hospitals had been in the male domain
up until then. So many doctors made life absolutely miserable for the
nurses in order to get them to give up. Women nurses who were trained to
be in supervisory roles were made to do the most menial, disgusting
chores in the hospitals (think no running water, no water closets in the
building). They were also given a terrible diet of food, not much
better than a soldier’s rations, and made to sleep in extremely
uncomfortable places. Sexual harassment was also present in some cases.
There were more challenges than this—you’ll have to read Wedded to War to find out what they were! J
character is fascinating. She represents a lot of women who walk around
in undeserved shame. How can we, as women, shed that identity when it’s
wrongly thrust upon us?
JG-I love Ruby’s
character, too. I think we can all sympathize with her, or even relate
to her. To answer your question, we can reject lies about ourselves,
whether they form in our own minds, or are spoken by others, when “we
take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians
10:5). What does that mean, exactly? It means we make a habit of lining
up our thoughts against the truth of Scripture.
we’re all sinners, aren’t we? We make mistakes. We do wrong. Satan wants
us to believe we are irreparably damaged by those sins, and that those
sins absolutely define us. But here’s where we take that thought captive
and obedient to Christ—what does God say about our sin? 1 John 1:9
says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive
us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” So there you have
it. We need to choose to believe God’s opinion of us rather than anyone
else’s. And we can learn God’s perspective only from being rooted in the
Bible and by prayer.
MN-Charlotte is a strong
woman who understands her identity and is not afraid to be authentic to
that identity. What would you say to the reader who is struggling with
knowing who they are, but are afraid to counter social or familial
expectations to become that person?
remind them of Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of
human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were
still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” To
me, this verse calls us to do what we believe God wants us to with our
lives, even if others don’t understand it. Very often, doing the right
thing is not the popular thing. But as long as you seek after God’s will
for your life with all your heart and mind, you’ll be doing the right
thing. That means you have to really search, with more than just your
emotions. Study the Bible. Pray. Talk to your pastor and other trusted
Christians. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they
succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). One more caution here—sometimes we think we
have our plan or our identity all figured out before consulting God
about it. Be open to the idea that God may surprise you with a different
path for your life than the one you’ve chosen.
Now, having said
that, if you do have peace that you’re following God’s will for your
life and purpose, go for it with full confidence, and if others don’t
agree with you, let God work on their hearts. You just do what God wants
MN-There are many one-liners that
cause the reader to pause and think. For instance, at one point, Alice
says to her sister Charlotte,“Sometimes the people who most need our help are the ones God has already placed in our lives.” What did you want conveyed most through that statement?
hope that readers will simply think about who they already have
influence over in their lives, and ask God to show them how to minister
to them. There are many people with needs, and God has given each of us
certain gifts and abilities to meet those needs. It’s wonderful to reach
out and try to reach the world for Christ—but we are not indispensable
to everyone out there. We are indispensable to a few people, though, and
those people we should not neglect.
For example, I have a
ministry to military wives through my books and a Web site and Facebook
page. I believe God has called me to that—but I also know beyond a
shadow of a doubt that my biggest ministry is my family. That means I
turn down some opportunities to travel and speak to military wives
because with my kids being so young, they need me home right now. And I
know there are dozens of other qualified Christian military wife
speakers who could fill a speaking slot and bless their listeners. But
no one else can take my place as “mommy” so I really try to limit the
number of trips I take per year.
I also want to emphasize the
word “sometimes” in the line you quoted. Please use discretion when you
are reading this, because there will be times that God does call us to
leave everything and everyone we are familiar with to go serve him
somewhere else. My brother and sister-in-law, for example, are
missionaries to France. He’s the only brother I have, and no one can
replace him in that role, but God has clearly called him out to go serve
Christ half way around the world.
So my intention is not to tell people what to do or what not to do, but simply to prompt a little thinking.
MN-The idea of being free or set free is a strong element throughout Wedded to War. What does the word freedom mean to you?
it is. Freedom often conjures up the idea of democracy, liberty, and
rights. But the other side of freedom is internal. Even if I live in the
“land of the free,” if my heart, spirit, or mind is bound up by sin or
deception, I’m not truly free. Ruby’s character illustrates this—she
wasn’t really free for a long time. She was enslaved to guilt, shame,
and lies. But Jesus sets the captives free.
have stated on your website that you aren’t a blogger because you don’t
want to “become an overcommitted crazy person.” Being present and
available for your family is important to you, isn’t it?
JG-It is. I do blog a little bit, but if you visit my blog for military wives (faithdeployed.com)
you’ll notice that most of the posts are written from other military
wives. I’m happy to delegate both to give me more time to be with my
family, and also because there is so much wisdom that other women have
to share. I’m happy to give them an outlet for it through my blog.
I never take a book contract lightly, because I know when I sign the
dotted line, it affects my whole family because I’ll be spending time on
the book, away from them. Thankfully, my parents live close by and they
are wonderful to watch the kids when I need some more time. My husband
is really supportive in that way, too. So I do pray for a long time
before going into any negotiations for a new book.
As I mentioned
earlier, my family is my number one ministry. I’m blessed that they are
flexible so I can write books, too. I tend to write in spurts, so it’s
not like I’m always holed away up in my office. For example, I spent
nine months researching Wedded to War, and then three
months writing it. While I research, I can still be with the kids, in
the same room with them while I read and take notes, and take breaks to
take them to the park or play Candyland. Then for the three months of
writing, it’s sort of like cramming, and I try to find 4-6 hours a day
of uninterrupted writing time. It looks like this will be the pattern
for my second novel, The Widow of Gettysburg, too!
Author Bio: Jocelyn
Green, the wife of a former Coast Guard officer, is an award-winning
author, freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Faith
Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (Moody 2008), along
with contributing writers, and its sequel, Faith Deployed...Again: More
Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (Moody 2011). She is also
co-author of Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage
from the War in Iraq/Afghanistan (AMG Publishers 2009). Jocelyn's debut
novel, Wedded to War, releases in July 2012 from River North Fiction.You
can learn more about Jocelyn Green at her website (jocelyngreen.com) and through facebook (facebook.com/jocelyngreenauthor)
About Mary Nichelson: http://www.marysworld411.com/
Other interviews featured in the June edition of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine: Donita K. Paul, Donna Fitts and Judith Hugg
This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine
Good interview. I love books that make history come alive. And the civil war and western era are two of my favorite time periods. Can't wait to let my eyes feast on Wedded to War.ReplyDelete