Good morning. I met Melinda V. Inman through SeriouslyWrite. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, and a writer. I’m so glad to have her here on Women of Faith and Fiction. Let’s get started!
Good morning, Melinda. Please tell us about yourself.
My bio reads: Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the coastal South. Her faith-filled fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives.
My fiction writing has its roots in a broken place. Laughter and well-told punchlines shaped my early life. Then, during years of relocation, personal tragedy struck. Wounded and heartbroken, I ran from myself and from God. After making a general mess of my life, a journey of trial and heartache gradually brought me home again. A prodigal now returned, I write to illustrate God’s love for wounded people as he makes beauty from ashes. My fiction is all about illustrating our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives.
“A prodigal now returned, I write to illustrate God’s love for wounded people as he makes beauty from ashes.” I like that, Melinda. Tell me, why did you choose to write in your particular genre?
As the mother of a large family, I chose to focus on their language first, rather than the language of fictional characters or theological concepts. We homeschooled for twenty-eight years, my kids are precocious, and that kept me fully engaged. During those years, I journaled.
As a student of theology, I assumed I would write non-fiction. But, as the children began arriving at adulthood, one by one, and the time to write drew near, I realized God was leading me toward fiction, for that was how Jesus shared truth most effectively. I write to share the truth of the Gospel—God with us in Christ Jesus, a life-changing reality that transforms our lives. Jesus was a master storyteller, and parables were his most impactful storytelling strategy to promote the Gospel. Fiction is the modern-day parable, and so I borrow his strategies in my fiction.
During the years when the house emptied, I dissected the foundational events in Genesis and engaged in theological classes. When I wrote my Biblical stories of Good and Evil—Fallen and Refuge, I displayed the theological truths of those earliest events in the hearts, minds, and actions of my characters. I wrote imagined conversations and interactions not shown in the Bible, all while adhering carefully to the Biblical record. I hoped that these foundational events in fictional form would impact hearts and lives like Jesus did with his parables. Both books have won international awards in Christian Fiction in this genre, so, thanks be to God, my strategies and hard work were effective. Links: http://bit.ly/RefugeReview and http://bit.ly/FallenReview.
I also wanted to tell the story of my great-grandparents’ courtship and early marriage as World War I began. Their lives are inspirational, and they teach us about the quiet rural life that existed in our heartland and how faith can grow when attempts to reach another with spiritual truth are not forced but are left in God’s hands. So, I added Christian Historical Fiction to my Biblical Fiction. Truth conveyed in story based upon real life is powerful in both genres. No Longer Alone is the first historical novel (http://bit.ly/NoLongerAloneNovel), and The Shadows Come is the sequel. It will release in late 2019, hopefully by Thanksgiving, just in time for Christmas.
In the pile of rough drafts that accumulated when I first began writing fiction, I also had a contemporary love story, because I wanted to explore real Christian stories as lived today. In line with that longing, recently a multi-published author, Parker J. Cole, invited me to join a group of other experienced Christian authors to write a series of novellas. These novels are reminiscent of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, though set in modern times. We deal with serious topics like racism, misogyny, organized crime, and, of course, love. My novella, a contemporary romance titled Benjamin’s Blessing, is part of our Mafia Princesses and Mountain Men series. Our Book 0 is already available for pre-order here: http://bit.ly/MafiaPrincesses. We publish in October.
Each genre requires different types of research, but all have woven into them unique ways in which the Gospel impacts the characters’ lives. This is true in everything I write. The reader will find faith lived out in a real way, along with trials, failings, and real-life conundrums. No neat and tidy solutions are presented all tied together with a bow. Realistic struggles and remedies are written, so that modern readers can relate and can resonate with the lessons of God’s love shown.
I’ve read No Longer Alone. I loved it! I can’t wait to read The Shadows Come. Now, in your opinion, what is the hardest part of the writing process?
Believe it or not, the synopsis is what I find most difficult. Condensing a 330-page novel down to a one-page account is hard work. The more years I have under my belt as a fiction writer, the easier this becomes. However, for those first books, it was rough!
LOL! The dreaded synopsis. Here are some fun questions.
First draft: Pencil or keyboard?
In the Dark Ages before home computers, I wrote in longhand on yellow legal pads. On our first computer, my novels were then written in a font that looked like handwriting to imitate those legal pads. Jump forward to today. Now, I write in 12-pt. Times New Roman font.
Plotter or pantser?
I’m a pantser with Contemporary Fiction, for sure. But I must be a plotter in both Biblical Fiction and Historical Fiction, for the words of the Bible and/or the events of history have already given me an outline, which I adhere to strictly. The dialogue and the personal events that are woven throughout that God-given outline, however, come to me in pantser-type as I determine what my characters would have felt in that particular situation.
Tea or coffee?
Both. I used to drink two enormous cups (bowls) of Black Tea every morning, but a change in my health prohibits this. Now I drink two half cups of coffee (hand-ground beans, French pressed or pour-over) each day, one half cup in the morning and one in the afternoon.
I like the two half cups idea. Favorite thing to do when not writing?
Read, of course, or watch Masterpiece Theatre or PBS remakes. But, when they’re available and nearby, I love most of all to spend time with my husband, children, and grandchildren.
This year’s theme is sharing hope. In Hebrews, the writer tells us to encourage each other while it is called today. Would you please take a moment to share a brief testimony to encourage our readers?
Gladly! When my first novel was in production, all the pieces of a difficult health challenge that had been brewing for years came together and presented as an autoimmune disease that we eventually identified as Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder. I was bedridden for months, and it took several years to diagnose, all while I worsened and struggled to press on.
However, this wasn’t the dream crusher it would appear to be. The Lord has used this illness to teach me to rely on him for the strength to be a good wife, mother, and grandmother, to write the stories he has placed on my heart, and to trust my health into his hands. As a self-reliant workaholic and perfectionist, this crushing blow has proven to be the best character development program the Father ever could have given me. Recently, the prayers of many have been offered for my improvement and healing, and I’m seeing big changes in my health for good.
I certainly wouldn’t have asked for the trials the Lord has allowed to touch my life, but he always uses trials to grow us in faith and to uplift others who suffer, for every one of us goes through hard times. Trials have a purpose. Sometimes only God knows the whys, but his promises are true.
If you’re suffering, remember that the Lord is with you in it. He never leaves you, and he never forsakes you. He will use this for good in your life, reshaping your immortal soul. His promises are true. And then, one day, if you are his, he will bring you to himself, wipe away your tears, and replace your losses with an eternity of great joy.
Thank you for sharing your testimony and reminding us that God is faithful, Melinda. Praying your health improves more and more!
“In the Dark Ages before home computers, I wrote in longhand on yellow legal pads.” ~ @MelindaVInman #WomenofFaithandFiction #interview via @GailJohnsonTweet
Benjamin’s Blessing (Mafia Princesses Blurb)
Benjamin always follows his plan, working alongside Papa and keeping the family’s Idaho lumber industry ecologically sound. Someday, maybe he’ll meet the right woman and settle down. But there’s no time, and he’s never met anyone.
But then, a beautiful woman and her friends are harassed by the local racists and misogynists. Benjamin steps between these women and the threat. That step changes his life, putting everything at risk.
Benjamin and his brothers have no choice. When women are attacked, Woodsman men intervene. However, unknown to them, this threat is greater than anything since their military combat service.
Sofia is in shock. Her father’s life is a farce. He isn’t a businessman, but a mobster, a Mafia kingpin. After discovering their fathers fighting, Sofia and her friends catch the first flight west, hiding in an Idaho resort town.
When hate-filled men attack Sofia and her friends, out of nowhere a group of men appear, brothers, standing between them and the threat and offering them safety.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MelindaVInman/
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/MelindasBooks