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Interview With Aisha Ford

Meet Aisha Ford
Interview by Sandra Moore

Tell us a little about yourself -- age, married/single, children, how many books authored, etc.

My name is Aisha Ford. I love to read and write. I love old movies, especially musicals. I also like to watch movies that are based on books. I’m not married—I live at home with my parents and younger sister.

I have two published Heartsong Presents novels: Stacy’s Wedding (#362) and The Wife Degree (#405). An upcoming novel, Pride & Pumpernickel, is due from Heartsong Presents this December. I also have another novel, The Joy Business, coming out with Crossings book club in The Romance Collection for Crossings, release date TBA.

How did you become interested in writing?

I’ve written since I was a little girl. In school, I loved writing assignments for stories and poems., My parents (who were also my teachers-I was homeschooled) read everything I wrote and always encouraged me to keep writing. They encouraged us to read book by taking us to the library, and to this day, I still get excited about going to the library! I would check out stacks and stacks of books and read them from cover to cover.

When I was a little older, I became interested in writing longer fiction, so my mom located a group of writers who would be willing to let me sit in on their critique groups. I was probably fourteen or fifteen at the time, and this was so exciting for me. They wrote and critiqued children’s and YA fiction. While I was in this group, they taught me many basics of writing fiction (show, don’t tell!) critiqued my work, and let me critique their work. They were so supportive and I learned so much from them.

What was your biggest obstacle in regard to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

I think it was the fear of doing something wrong—not giving myself time to learn and make mistakes. I quit writing for a while in high school and college (except for school work) and focused on dance and theater. By the time I thought about writing again, I was too overwhelmed, thinking I would make too many mistakes.

My mom had an excellent idea to help me overcome this—The One Hour Rule. I had prayed for an idea for a story, and the Lord gave me one, but I didn’t know where to start.

My mom suggested that I take an hour every day just to write—no quotas, no rules, no editing. Some days I wrote a lot and went over an hour. Some days I wrote two sentences and couldn’t wait to get out of my chair. The result of that experiment was finishing a (rough) manuscript for my first published novel.

What has been the highest moment of your writing career?

It was pretty amazing. Seeing my name on the cover was very exciting and it took several days to really sink in!

Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write?

The Lord. This seems like a simple answer, but it’s true. He’s the greatest inspiration for everything I do. Without him, I wouldn’t have the ability to write. I wouldn’t have creativity or ideas for stories. He’s the one who redeemed my life by sacrificing my own, and that’s definitely inspiring!

Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer, or do you plot extensively before your fingers hit the keyboard?

Seat of the pants! I usually start with a nugget of an idea, A “What if?” scenario and work forward from there—with lots of prayer.

What's the nicest thing anyone ever said about your writing?

People have encouraged me in my writing in so many ways. It feels wonderful if people say, “I love your stories,” or “You really have talent,” but the most memorable comment isn’t necessarily a compliment, but it’s very inspiring and motivating.

A reader once wrote to me, “Keep using God’s words. They help.” This really stuck with me. Inspirational fiction is fiction based on an awesome truth--God’s truth. Whenever I’m writing, I’m always looking for ways to insert “God’s words” into the story.

Are there many books in the Christian market that have ethnic characters?

Currently, Ethnic characters are far more widely represented in mainstream publishing than what I have seen in the Christian market. Knowing that the Body of Christ is comprised of all different races and nationalities, it can be disheartening to check the shelves at a Christian bookstore and see a lack of fiction that features charactersof varying ethnicities. However, in recent months, I have seen some encouraging changes in this area. Christian fiction is really starting to become more diverse and this is very exciting to watch-and read!

How do I go about writing of a race of which I know little?

Researching a different race can be much like doing research for a historical novel-even if you're planning to write a contemporary novel. The history books are the tip of the iceberg, giving mostly the facts. Personal stories are very valuable, giving you glimpse into what it feels like to experience what others have experienced.

For example, we all know how powerful and insightful the Diary of Anne Frank is. Autobiographies, letters, essays, even fiction can be useful.

Museums and documentaries are also good sources.

We write what we know, but if I want to write from another angle, I have to do research. I have not lived the full spectrum of the Black experience in America, so when I need to know something, I have to find out the facts. Another way to get information is to find someone who does know and ask them to be completely honest with you.

You should strive to create believable characters. For the most part, characterization is characterization. People are people and all people have weaknesses, strengths, likes, dislikes, fears, hopes, dreams, etc. Find out who your characters are. Do a thorough interview with them. Many people already do this, but I think it's even more import important if you're writing an ethnic characters.

Sometimes, the little things that might seem inconsequential to the writer will be of great importance or hold great meaning to the character. People are products of past experiences. Our personalities are shaped by what we have experienced in the past. To some extent, we are shaped by what our ancestors lived.

Many groups have sensitivities based upon the past. At first glance, we can all understand these sensitivities. The Pilgrims experienced religious persecution. African Americans experienced slavery.

The same applies to the experiences of Jewish people and Japanese Americans during World War II. The scars may be healed or in the process of healing, but their descendants are still aware of what occurred and in some cases may still be guarded.

Be sensitive by being willing to explore these sensitivities and step outside of yourself and be the character. Ask yourself, “How would this make me feel?” Giving your characters realistic emotions will make them more true.

Be willing to own your character's fears, hopes, dreams, feelings, family, bank account, relatives, neighbors, job, etc. The story of Solomon and the two women who claimed to be the mother of the baby is a good example of putting yourself in someone else's shoes.

Do you have any books with African American characters as the central figures that you would like to recommend?

(Historical) Passing By Samaria, by Sharon Ewell Foster (Multnomah)
Awakening Mercy, by Angela Benson, (Tyndale/HeartQuest)

Both of these books are well-written and enjoyable AA fiction, and while one focuses more on racial issues, the other is mainly a romance. Both are true and believable-good examples of ethnic fiction and characters.

Another powerful resource is the non-fiction book Black Like Me, written in the late 1950's by John Howard Griffin, a white journalist, who, with the help of dermatological treatments, darkened his skin to appear as an African American. He then journeyed through the deep south of United States.

This book is a narrative of what he saw and experienced while being viewed by others as a Black man. This is not a Christian book, and some of the material is not pretty, but it is a very in depth look at how it is to live as a member of a different ethnicity.

"Mr. Griffin's book isn't fiction, but it's an excellent research tool to help people learn what it would be like to step into another's shoes.

If you could tell a beginner one thing, what would it be?

Pray! Pray about your writing. Listen to what the Lord wants you to say on those pages. We will have to account for every word we speak, but also for what we write. People may forget the words that we say with our mouths, but printed words are always out there. So use God’s words! There is a great deal of discussion about developing your ‘voice’ as a writer, and I think that God has given us all our own individual voices as writers. This is a great display of creativity from the Creator Himself!

But in the same way that people can recognize members of the same family by their looks, mannerisms, or voices, I want to develop a 'voice' that is Aisha's, but gives readers a clear picture of the identity of my Heavenly Father.


You can find more information on Aisha's books at Read reviews of Aisha's books here

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