Welcome to the four hundred and ninety-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with historical / biblical fiction and non-fiction author Laura J Davis. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Laura. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Laura: I am Laura J. Davis, I am from London, Ontario and I have a passion for biblical / historical fiction and bible studies. I love digging deeper into the Bible and sharing what I learn with those who are truly seeking to know Christ and follow Him. Before I started writing fulltime, I was a singer / songwriter with over 30 years of experience in music ministry. In the winter of 2000 an emergency surgery resulted in the loss of my singing voice, so I began writing full-time out of a sense of loss really. I needed to do something creative and writing seemed a logical choice.
Morgen: How awful but it does sound like a positive out of a negative situation – I’d love it if you could write me a guest blog post about songwriting, something I’d like to do. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Laura: I generally write historical or biblical fiction and I also write bible studies. I have considered other genres and do enjoy stretching myself a bit, but I also seem to come back to historical fiction.
Morgen: Write what you love, and historical fiction is incredibly popular; I had three agents tell me last year that they want more of it. What have you had published to-date?
Laura: My first book Come to Me is about the life of Christ through the eyes of His mother. This was followed by a bible study guide to go with the novel; it is called Learning from the Master: Living a Surrendered Life. Come to Me won a Reader’s Favorite Award in 2011 for Historical Fiction.
Morgen: Congratulations. Are your books available as eBooks?
Laura: Both books are available on Kindle.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Laura: I absolutely love Mary in Come to Me. When I was writing her I almost started to believe she was still alive. Of course I loved Jesus too, but His character is kind of set in stone in scripture so I didn’t want to deviate too much. Plus I could improvise and develop Mary more as a wife and mother because she isn’t in the scriptures that much. I can’t imagine who I would choose for leading actors if Come to Me were ever made into a film. I love how Jesus is portrayed by Bruce Marchiano in the Matthew videos. As for Mary, there would need to be at least two actresses, one to play her when she is young and another for when she is older. Not sure who.
Morgen: Maybe your readers can tell you. Did you have any say in the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Laura: I had some say, but not much choice. I think book covers are so important. The bench portrayed on the covers of Come to Me and Learning from the Master, symbolize two things – sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from Him and in Come to Me in particular, Mary has this bench that Joseph made her and she takes it everywhere, so it kind of becomes a familiar place for all.
Morgen: It sounds lovely. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Laura: I am currently working on a sequel to Come to Me.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Laura: I suffer from writer’s block every day! And I write every day. It is when I choose to write about certain things that I get stuck, but usually if I blog or turn my attention to other things I find my creative juices flowing once again.
Morgen: Absolutely, switch your mind to something else and the original project will seem fresher. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Laura: I’ve tried both ways. Plotting a story makes me antsy to get into the story. However, it fills up the holes that usually come when I just “run with it”. So, I try to plot first, and then write.
Morgen: Sounds like a good plan. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Laura: I edit as I go. I know I shouldn’t because it takes me longer to get things done, but I can’t seem to help myself. I think the more you write the better you get, but there is always room for improvement.
Morgen: It is all about practice – no different really to playing the piano. Do you have to do much research?
Laura: Tons! Especially when writing about historical fiction. I research the culture, places, and customs of the times. I pour over scripture to get an accurate timeline of events as well.
Morgen: Because there’ll always be someone out there who knows more than we do. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction or short stories?
Laura: As a former songwriter I do find myself writing poetry from time to time. I find it is very helpful when I am going through writer’s block as it has a different flow to it. Learning from the Master is my first non-fiction attempt and I loved doing it! I believe most of my books will have a follow up study or book guide to go with them because I really enjoyed writing that study.
Morgen: It’s so important to enjoy writing because if it bores you, it’s bound to bore the reader. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Laura: Yes. Next question.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Laura: Yes, I have had a few. I don’t get over excited about them. If they come with actual reasons why they were rejected and helpful criticisms, then I happily learn from them and know better for the future.
Morgen: Editors rarely have time to comment so if they do then it’s probably nearly there. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Laura: Pretty much all of it! My publisher is good in that they put out emails and fliers and publicise on their website, but for the most part it is up to me to get my books “out there”.
Morgen: It does tend to be. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Laura: My favourite aspect of my writing life is finishing a book! LOL! Seriously, I think my favourite part is meeting other writers. Writing is such a solitary thing that you need to get out from behind your desk and meet like-minded souls. So I love going to conferences. My least favourite part of writing? Editing, followed closely by marketing. I’ve been surprised by how much marketing is involved. Wasn’t expecting that.
Morgen: Marketing is usually the answer to that question. Even if an author enjoys it, it takes so much time away from writing. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Laura: Never say you “want to be a writer” say you “are a writer”. If you are writing something every day – you are a writer! If you think you need improvement – take a class or a writing course. Work hard at your craft and you will be confident of saying that you are a writer.
Morgen: Bob Frey wrote me a really interesting post last December called ‘When is a writer an author?’. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Morgen: I have a book reviews page on my blog and am always looking for reviewers to add to it… and I love being interviewed. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Laura: I am addicted to online games! In particular, Star Trek Online and some Facebook games. I seriously need help.
Morgen: Oh dear. The only game I play is Word Drop on Facebook but that’s rarely and even then I can say I’m practicing my words. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Laura: I am a member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network and The Word Guild. I find both extremely valuable as they are wonderful people who are in the same business and we support each other in so many ways. I am also on Facebook and Twitter.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Laura: You can visit my website at http://www.laurajdavis.com or “like” my fan page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laura-J-Davis/22722856504
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Laura: Yes, I’d like to let everyone know that Learning from the Master has been endorsed by Rick Larson, creator of the Star of Bethlehem DVD and if anyone decides to use it in their ladies group, they should contact me at email@example.com and I will call them at some point during their study for a question and answer period. I have a link on my site where anyone can read the first chapter of my book Come to Me. The link is http://www.laurajdavis.com/thefirstchapter.htm.
Morgen: Thank you, Laura.
I then invited Laura to include a synopsis of her latest book…
Are you sold out for Christ? Would you do anything He asks you to do? Many people believe they are living fully surrendered lives to God, but when the cares and worries of this world start to crowd in, they cry out in frustration and anger instead of bowing before Him and saying, “Thy will be done.”
Even the temptations this world has to offer can keep us from living surrendered lives. But what does Jesus say about this? How did He lay down His life so willingly? What of His mother Mary? How did she say yes to God, knowing she might be stoned for suspected adultery? By following the lives of Mary, Jesus and the apostles, we can discover what true surrender is all about.
Based on the award-winning novel Come to Me, Learning from the Master follows the life of Christ, from birth to resurrection. Each chapter in the study will take you through the book Come to Me, giving you the opportunity to know Jesus in an intimate setting as He interacts with His family and friends. From there, the study takes the reader through various topics such as: faith, family, trust, doubt, and even wilderness experiences. In addition, other topics of discussion include the significance of the Bethlehem star, the last supper and of course the resurrection.
With over twenty topics of discussion, Learning from the Master: Living a Surrendered Life is ideal for your ladies bible study group, or for private study.
What others are saying about Learning from the Master:
“Embracing the fullness of life means accepting the truth to find that life. Laura has captured the essence of pursing and getting hold of that truth from our Master, Jesus Christ. The beauty in this Study Guide is that Laura guides us along a rich journey of discovery through the tender and loving eyes of Jesus’ mother, Mary. This Guide is rich with compassion; but chock full of challenges and wisdom. Be prepared to be transformed.” – Heidi McLaughlin, Author of Sand to Pearls
“Learning from the Master will guide those who read it into a deeper understanding of what it means to live a surrendered life.” – Rick Larson, Creator, The Bethlehem Star, a top indie DVD worldwide
Laura J. Davis is a former singer/songwriter with 30 years of experience in music ministry. Her high soprano voice led her to sing in venues such as Ontario Place, The Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Centennial Hall and The Western Fair in London, Ontario to name a few. Her concerts and messages always pointed her listeners to a relationship with Jesus Christ
In 1981, her song “Lift Up the Lord of Salvation” won a national contest and was featured in an album that included various Christian recording artists throughout Canada. In 1982 while singing in Toronto at the Yonge St. Mission coffeehouse, Evergreen, she was invited to sing on 100 Huntley St., where she debuted another song she wrote called “Thank You”.
She released her first album and continued touring throughout Southwestern Ontario and the U.S. in 1989, appearing on 100 Huntley St. from time to time, until the winter of 2000 when an emergency surgery resulted in the loss of her singing voice. Six months later, a fall down a flight of stairs would leave her permanently disabled. In April 2008, she appeared on 100 Huntley St. once again – this time to share her story of surrendering to God when your dreams are shattered.
No longer able to sing, Laura began writing full-time. Her first novel, Come to Me, is about the life of Christ through the eyes of his mother. Laura says, “Writing this book brought me into a deeper relationship with my Lord. I wasn’t ready to give up singing and struggled for months with surrendering to the idea of writing full-time instead of singing. It wasn’t until I submitted to God and said yes, that this book came flowing out of me. I spent more than three years studying the life of Christ, researching the era and getting into the minds of Mary, the disciples and yes, even Jesus. My relationship with the Lord has never been closer. He healed me of my sorrow over losing my voice, by drawing me to write about him and in the end, Come to Me, is all about drawing people to Jesus, surrendering to him and getting to know him intimately, even if you’ve known him your whole life.”
Today, Laura loves to share her story with those who are in need of encouragement and is available to speak at your next ladies meeting or church event.
Update January 2013: I am now the book reviewer for Christian Life in London and online newspaper at www.clilondon.com, and I have a bible study blog called Learning from the Master at www.learningfromthemaster.com. Thank you, Laura.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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