Jill Elizabeth Nelson hears voices. Well, she listens to her characters as she writes her novels at least. In the novela Mistletoe Mayhem, she takes a small step away from her usual writing to listen as her characters tell her a story about Christmas… with a healthy dose of suspense, danger, and laughter, of course.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE MISTLETOE MAYHEM, ONE OF THE NOVELAS IN THE SEASON OF DANGER COLLECTION?
At the time, I was going through a time of self-examination about the nature and damage of gossip, which is the theme of the story. It was somewhat cathartic for me to write about the way our loose tongues can inflame situations, especially in small towns. As is my usual habit, I mix the sobering theme with a good bit of humor to offset the drama and danger. It was great fun to write a Christmas-centered novella. In fact, this is my only book fixed around a holiday, and it is my first published novella. My other books have been full length. Mistletoe Mayhem enjoyed the honor of winning the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference 2012 Selah Award in its category, which was great fun, too, and a great honor.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
Francine Rivers has always and continues to be a heroine of mine as a Christian fiction author. Her books inspire me to write with greater emotional depth and compassion for the human condition. A couple of years before I got my first writing contract, I read her book Redeeming Love and was so moved I checked to see which publisher had possessed the guts to get this story into readers’ hands. It was Multnomah–back in the days when they were independent and not a subsidiary of Random House. I remember standing in my kitchen and vowing out loud that one day I would also publish with Multnomah. Guess what? Multnomah published my first series–Reluctant Burglar, Reluctant Runaway, and Reluctant Smuggler. I guess words do have a powerful effect on shaping our world!
As far as on-going inspiration, I want to give a shout-out to dear critique partners who have done so much to help me on this journey: Donita K. Paul, Sharon Hinck, and Linda Wichman. I love you, ladies!
Oh, and when I grow up, I aspire to write as well as Athol Dickson or Davis Bunn.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
Whether writers intend to or not, their world-view always comes out in their writing. Art is as much a reflection of the artist as anything else. Jesus Christ is the core of my life. Giving Him glory cannot help but be the core of anything I write. Sometimes blatantly, sometimes subtly, it is toward Him I point my readers.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN THAT YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I believe that in the mind of God before the foundation of the world I was called to write; however, I became aware of the call in the 6th grade. By that time, I was already an avid reader, and my wonderful 6th grade teacher shared that love of books. Each day she would sit on a stool at the head of the class for a golden half hour and read to us the most entrancing stories. Sometime in the process of listening to her read, I began to understand that I longed not merely to receive pleasure from a good book but that I longed to be one who gave that pleasure to others. That year, I penned–er, penciled–my first novel. It was perfectly awful, and the world is grateful that not a shred of it yet exists, but I did finish, and that is a watershed moment for any writer. I have pursued writing in various forms ever since.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOME THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
It is my heart’s desire to impart to my readers a rich emotional experience that enhances their faith and builds their hope. I also desire to challenge their intellect and inspire them to become better people. Stories, I believe, are powerful and energizing containers for truth–hence, my writer’s tagline–Endless Adventure~Timeless Truth.