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Interview with Janet W. Ferguson

Janet W. Ferguson writes humorous contemporary romance that tackles tough issues in an inspiring way. Pair that with the fact that most of her stories are set in the South (and on a beach, if possible!), and you can see why each book just seems to get better. She joins us this week to talk about her latest release, The Art of Rivers.

What was your inspiration for The Art of Rivers?
In 2017, the year I started this novel, drug overdoses killed over 70,000 people in the United States. Drug addiction and alcoholism are devastating families and communities. The novel delves into the various sides of addiction: from those ravaged by the agony of addiction, to those heartbroken over a loved one lost in addiction, to those who have been brutally scarred because of an addicted person’s actions, to those who have been healed from its clutches. Our communities are losing so many dear people to this ruthless adversary. I felt led to address and understand the issue more. I felt called to shine God’s hope into the dark places of pain and shame.

How did you grow spiritually during the writing of The Art of Rivers? What important spiritual lesson do you hope your readers take away from the book?
God grew me in so many ways—sometimes hard but beautiful ways. I started this novel, and it was just so emotionally exhausting, I took a break and wrote a novella. During that time I walked through some difficult places with people I cared about. I had the opportunity to attend our state’s opioid summit, and my church began a jail ministry where I participated for a year. I also assisted during our state’s legislative session and learned some of the possible ways leaders are trying to deal with this epidemic. I read story after heartbreaking story of what drugs are doing to precious souls and the people who loved them. But I also heard stories of healing with God’s help.

Addiction is a cunning and dangerous enemy. But God is able to heal and restore. We were all addicts in a way, slaves to sin, but Christ refused to leave us in that place. He made a way to rescue and redeem us.

Which character in The Art of Rivers was the easiest for you to connect with? Why? Which one presented the greatest challenge? Why?
Honestly, I connected with all of my characters. I’ve been the guilty party, and I’ve been the wounded soul. I’ve been the broken hearted, the ugly hot mess, and the healed-by-grace Christian.

What does your writing routine look like, if you have one? What obstacles or challenges do you face in making time to write?
So embarrassing, but there is not much of one. I would love a routine. The thing is I get super frustrated when I try to make a writing schedule, and then life interrupts. That makes me grumpy, and I don’t want to be a grumpy Christian fiction writer, LOL. I do try to squeeze in writing at least one chapter a week. I watch for quiet moments, skip a day going to the gym, or just neglect house cleaning until I get that chapter done. I also make time to critique for several authors, interact with readers, and work on marketing every week.

As you look back on your journey to publication, how did God open those doors for you? What event or connection that may have seemed insignificant at the time ended up being enormously important?
I met Misty Beller early in my writing journey through ACFW. We became critique partners, and in many ways, she became a mentor to me. She’s guided me through so many aspects of this business, and I’m so thankful to the Lord for her!

If you could have coffee/tea/gratuitous amounts of carbs with any author(s), living or dead, who would you choose? What would you talk about?
I think talking to C.S. Lewis would be amazing. I’m pretty sure he could talk about anything, and I’d love to hear it. I’m a huge fan of The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and his other works.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Eat out as often as possible or have my son cook (I generally avoid cooking), walk outdoors and take pictures of God’s beautiful creation, Bible study with my small group, travel as much as my husband lets me, provide constant compulsory petting to my cats and dog, and hang out with my family and friends. I try to enjoy life!

How can we pray for you?
Please pray that I write for God’s glory and not my own. Pray that His Word is spread through my novels, and when that is no longer the case, I know it’s time to step away from the keyboard. Pray that writing not be more important that the real people who pass through my path. Lord, let me see those who need You through me.


Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of contemporary inspirational romance. Her contest wins include first place in the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, the 2017 Great Expectations Contest, and the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest. Also a professional cellist, Amanda has been spotted onstage with the worship team at the ACFW Conference. A lifelong lover of the flatlands, she lives in Kansas with her husband and their three adorable Wenlets. Amanda is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

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