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Posted March 11, 2010



HIGHLAND BLESSINGS



Today, I'm interviewing North Carolina author Jennifer Hudson Taylor about the writing life and also about her new novel Highland Blessings that will be out May 2010. Hi Jennifer, so glad you're available for an interview and I'll start out by asking you a little about your background:

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Greensboro, NC. I spent a lot of days out doors, riding bikes, climbing trees, and playing in creeks.

What did you like to read as a child?

I loved adventure, history and romance. My favorite series as an early reader were the Sweet Valley High novels with twins, Jessica and Elizabeth.

Who were your favorite authors?

As a teen I mostly read Julie Garwood, Judith McNaught, Theresa Medeiros, Catherine Coulter, but my tastes have changed. Also, some of those authors are writing different things.

How did you first become interested in Scotland?

I've always been interested in Scotland as I knew I had ancestors from there, but I really fell in the love with the country when I read some of the romantic novels set in Scotland during the early to mid-80's. Then I began to research the country and the more I learned about it, the more intrigued I became. And when the movies Rob Roy and Braveheart was released in the mid-90's, I was hooked. As my relationship with God developed in my adult life, I began to crave Christian-based romance and mystery novels set in Scotland.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was 12. I finished watching Gone with the Wind and knew I wanted to write the next one.

What is the most challenging aspect of writing historical romance fiction?

Getting the details correct. Historians don't always agree on things--and they can be quite critical of each other--sometimes unnecessarily so. That makes it difficult on someone like me using references and resources in writing my work. For every 3 sources I find, there are often 3 others that have opposing viewpoints--especially the further back you go in history. I read an excellent book on Scots-Irish history written by a local historian that took many trips abroad to Scotland and was published by a local university here in NC. I wrote a book review on it, and received this long-winded opposing view from a reader who put this book down and its author. I respect opposing viewpoints, but only when done tastefully, professionally and without so much obvious bias to one's own opinion.

How long did it take you to sell your first manuscript?

I started writing Highland Blessings in 1998. It was then Promised Betrayal, written for the secular market. In 2006, I converted it to Christian fiction and retitled it Promised Blessings. In 2008, I received the contract offer on it from Abingdon Press and it was retitled again to Highland Blessings.

Was it the first novel you wrote?

A Civil War novel that will never leave my house or my computer.

Are there more novels in the works?

Yes, the sequel, Highland Sanctuary will be released October 2011. Also, I'm working on a few other manuscripts, Regencies, an Irish historical, and a South Carolina novel.

When you're not writing, what do you like to read in your spare time?

Historical Christian fiction. I enjoy reading in the same genre that I write. I also enjoy historical reference books. I sometimes will read contemporaries, but they are usually Christian romances or romantic suspense. I do enjoy suspense and mystery quite a bit and try to include those subplots in my own work.

What's a typical day of writing for you?

I don't have writing days. I have a full-time job outside my home. I write whenever and wherever I can squeeze it in.

When plotting a story, do you outline first? Or is the process more organic for you?

I used to write without an outline, but now I find that having an outline is more helpful, especially when I receive interest in something from a publisher and have to stop working on one thing to get a proposal out on something else. It helps me keep up with where I was when I go back to that project.

Are you a more visual or auditory writer? Do you see scenes and characters in your head or do you "hear" the characters' voices when you write them?

I see the scene unfolding in my head like a movie and the conversation is there with the visuals--I'm not sure if that is visual or auditory, but definitely media oriented!

You're also a blogger. How do you find time to juggle blogging, writing, and work?

I struggle with the constant balancing act. On occasion I complain and then ask the Lord to help me re-prioritize my schedule. It seems like every 3-4 months I get a little out of balance with something and have to restructure myself. I blame it on my full-time job outside the home, but I keep reminding myself that I'm blessed to have my job.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Keep God first and everything else will fall into place--even in the right time. For years, I kept rushing publication, thinking my life was passing me by while I was in the learning, training and waiting zone. But God knew best what was meant for me, and I just needed to trust Him and His timing.

Jennifer, thanks so much for giving my readers a peek into the life of a Christian romance author and I hope Highland Blessings is a huge success.

Jennifer Hudson Taylorís fiction has won awards in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis Contest and has appeared in numerous national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Evertonís Genealogical Publishers, and The Military Trader. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, researching her own family history, and reading. She resides with her husband and daughter in the Charlotte area of NC. Highland Blessings is her debut novel.




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