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Interview with Diana Wallis Taylor

Recently named “Writer of the Year” by the San Diego Writer’s Guild, award winning author Diana Wallis Taylor weaves together captivating tales of Old Testament Women whose lives promise to touch and inspire the reader. Diana’s newest release, Ruth, Mother of Kings, was released in October 2013. Please welcome, Diana Wallis Taylor!

How did you see the Lord’s hand in your writing career? Open doors? Prayerful partners, etc.
God has been inspiring my writing since I was around 12 years old and got a dollar and a half for my first published poem. I’ve gone through some difficult years and while I wanted to be a writer from that early age, it was mostly articles in church newsletters, auxillary newsletters, a magazine or two, short stories. My first book was self-published because I was on a speaking circuit and talked about the woman who met Jesus at the well in regard to my own life. That book was picked up by Revell and published in 2009, when I was 71 years old! Since then with the Lord’s helop and inspiration, I have had seven more books published.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Turning my writing dreams over to the Lord and recognizing that the gift of story was from Him and to be used for His glory.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Fortunately I’m retired and have been since 1990 when my husband Frank and I were married. We moved to a beautiful country community in Northern California for seven years where I began to write full time along with owning a used bookstore and coffeehouse called The Serendipity. In 1997 I sold the shop and we moved back to San Diego. I did some traveling with my children and grandchildren to Europe, and my husband loves to take us fishing in Alaska. My other responsibilities are light; serving on the board of my church where up until last year I sang on the worship team. After 10 years of serving as treasurer of our San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild I recently turned that task over to someone else. I enjoy seeing friends and taking care of my home, but take time most days to write. I just signed a contract with Whitaker House to do a book on Halloween, due March 1, so with our trip to Florida to spend Christmas with my daughter and her family over, I’m settling down to serious time to get that finished.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
The man who began our writer’s guild, Dr. Sherwood Wirt, once said, “The world doesn’t need more Christian writers, it needs more Christians who write.”

I began to see what he meant. It is our world view and our faith that comes through in our writing. Because my first five books were Biblical Fiction, I spent a lot of time in the Scriptures and in research. As I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me, He gives me the inspiration and the stories have flowed. From the e-mails I have received, those stories are touching lives and hearts and I pray, glorifying the Lord.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
When I signed the first contract with Revell in 1997 for Journey to the Well, the story of the woman of Samaria. It fulfilled my lifelong dream of being published by a major publishing company. I was ecstatic!

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
Just like my poetry, from life all around me and from the Scriptures. As soon as this Halloween book is done, I will be working on a contemporary Christian novel based on a Biblical character. Since my editor at Revell tells me Biblical Fiction is on the wane, it’s time to re-group and go a different direction. I write, as one person put it, because I have to. Because ideas and stories constantly flow through my mind and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than sit down at my computer and create stories that will touch lives.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I write from the heart and from experiences in my own life. Even though my character is Biblical, I can infuse my own emotions and feelings into the story. A publisher said, “Many times the author’s first book, even fiction, is a picture of the author’s life.” I didn’t have five husbands , like the woman at the well, but I had wrong relationships. I floundered after 21 years of a devastating marriage and a highly emotional divorce. I believe my characters touch lives and bring hope as they find the Savior. There is always a salvation message in my stories. I also delve carefully into the backgrounds and times that my characters lived in. I want my readers to experience those times as they read and feel they are there. As with Ruth, my research turned up some controversial information which led to quite a different story of Ruth.

Any parting words?
I always encourage budding writers in any way I can. It doesn’t matter what age you start, just sit down and get that first word on paper! Go to conferences and workshops and hone your chosen craft. No violinist ever picked up their first violin and played a concerto! Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. (I’ve gone to bed with a problem or an impasse in a story, and given it to the Lord. The next morning it never fails that I awake with a solution.) I am 75 years old and have published eight books in the last six years. God has blessed and I am grateful. As long as the Lord opens the doors, I will continue to write stories for Him.

Thanks for sharing with us, Diana Wallis Taylor!

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