Q&A: Jennifer Slattery on Her Debut Novel
Beyond I Do is about a woman seeking purpose, but along the way, she finds she may have to give up security. What inspired this novel?
Much of this novel deals with the homeless population, stemming from my own experience with homelessness as a teenager. Thanks to Christ, I got my feet under me and moved on. I thought my past was in the past. In fact, I begged God to leave it there, telling Him again and again I’d only write as long as no one ever knew who and what I once was. But then God began to open my eyes to the immense pain all around me. Pain I once had experienced had been healed from by God’s grace. I knew I couldn’t see such pain and simply do nothing. Through a bit of angst-filled prayer, I realized God wanted me to point others to the same ladder He had lowered down to me—Jesus Christ.
What themes emerge in this novel?
One of the biggest themes is surrender. To find God’s best, Ainsley will have to surrender her ideas of what that best is. This terrifies her for she fears she may have to give up all those things she believes give her security, though ignoring God’s leading terrifies her more.
Can you tell us more about your main character, Ainsley?
Ainsley hides her true self behind starched dress suits and heels while plotting her five-year career plan. Deep down, she’d rather be in a t-shirt and sneakers, listening to soft praise music. However, she’s spent so much of her life focusing on who and what she doesn’t want to be, she’s lost sight of herself. She’ll have to face her fears—and deal with some wounds from her past—to find herself again.
What do you hope readers feel when they finish this book?
I hope they feel closer to Christ and are encouraged to follow whole-heartedly after Him, even if doing so feels uncomfortable, uncertain, or frightening. Because I believe He has great things planned for each one of us; much better than anything we could plan for ourselves.
Who are some writers who have inspired you?
Francine Rivers for sure! I was reading her before writing was even on my radar. I also love, love, love anything by Mary Conneally and admire her ability to write about intense subjects with humor, authenticity, and grace. I’ve also been greatly inspired by the courage of Kathi Macias, a fellow New Hope Publishers writer, who has written about some very difficult yet necessary subjects.
This is your first novel for publication, correct? Do you have any more in the works?
Yes, it is, and I do, thanks for asking. I have a second novel coming out sometime in 2015 titled When Dawn Breaks. This one is also a romance. It’s about a fifty-one year old realtor displaced by a hurricane. She uses the disaster as an opportunity to reconnect with her embittered daughter. Along the way, she encounters three children abandoned by their mother. Can God use someone who deeply hurt her own child to bring hope to someone else’s. And will it cost her the man she loves?