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Interview with Fay Lamb

You may recognize author and editor Fay Lamb from her tireless service to ACFW in the past. Or perhaps you’ve heard her name in association with Pelican Book Group or from the various workshops she’s done. Either way, her story is an inspirational one and will encourage you as a writer in any stage!

Tell us a little bit about your latest release, Stalking Willow.
Willow Thomas is a young woman who has a lot to be bitter about. Her parents left her on her grandmother’s doorstep immediately after her birth; she grew up believing a lie, and when the truth is unveiled, the aftermath causes her grandmother’s death, and Willow flees from the only home she’s ever known.

When Willow flees the life she’s made for herself and returns to Amazing Grace, North Carolina, she has to face an equally bitter aunt, a cousin who always despised her, and the young man she left behind. Oh, and the stalker has followed her, too.

God has an extraordinary journey for Willow, and a unique way of tearing out the roots of bitterness in her life.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Truly, I believe that the most significant part of my writing journey happened in 1999 or there about when I met a well-known agent. He didn’t like my work. He told me so, quite bluntly, in fact, and I stopped writing for almost two years. After two years of not looking at my writing and then going back to it, I realized something surprising. I didn’t like my writing either. That’s when I decided to become the best writer I could be. To do that, I needed to study the craft. I set my heart on it, and by 2010, I was a finalist in the ACFW Genesis Contest, and I was ACFW bound. During that time, I felt God’s insistence that I needed to meet with the agent again. I’m not one to lay out fleece, but I didn’t want to talk to him. I wanted him to go on his merry way, and I’d go on mine. As it would happen, every time I asked God to show me that He really wanted me to talk to this guy, God put him in my path at ACFW. Finally, I gave in, and we had a wonderful conversation. I knew then that God had really been working on my heart to get me to understand that He was in charge, and I couldn’t let pride stand in the way of me creating a book that would glorify Him with not only the message but in the creation. God desires our utmost. I don’t want to give Him any less when it comes to the desires He has placed on my heart.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Oh, boy. That’s a loaded question right now. I’m in one of those times when life is really pushing me to put my writing on hold. I’m not going to do it though. April through July have actually been “workshop” months. I’ve been writing, but the writing has been all about the workshops I’m teaching. In September, life will be back to normal for me, and I’ll be dividing my working time between writing and editing and getting back into a routine that allows me some breathing space.

Who/What spurs you to write? Is it the perfect setting (nice comfy chair, mug of coffee etc.) or the feeling of inspiration?
My characters spur my writing. They are in my head constantly. Each one is vying for a place on the written page, so they’re always whispering. “Psst. Psst. Come here. Let me tell you the plot I think you should write for me.”

How does your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Every message of my story points to the only solution. The world may not recognize it. They’re looking for answers in all the wrong places. Jesus is the only Truth. I write characters that have walked away from God, characters whose faith is hanging by a thread, characters who need God. I write about some tough issues, especially in my Amazing Grace series, but always—as in real life—Jesus is the answer for my characters, and I pray that readers who are facing similar problems and issues discover that He is their answer, too.

What is your favorite part of being an editor for Pelican Book Group? Least favorite part?
One of my favorite joys in life is working with authors. I used to love the interaction I had with ACFW’s Scribes critique group, and I have every hope of getting involved because I get to work with writers at all levels. Some are beginners, some are breaking out, others are multi-published, but all teach me. At Pelican, I get to work with some of those authors who finally break out and some who can teach me a thing or two about the craft. It’s wonderful bringing a story to life, working with the authors so that they can have a product that they can feel proud of—a product that they know glorifies the Lord.

The least favorite part of my job: I hate writing rejection letters. I work so hard at them to give the authors something they can take away from the experience. I believe it is harder for me to send a rejection letter to an author than it is for me to receive a rejection letter as an author.

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?
My inspiration usually comes from characters. As I stated, they’re on the stage of my imagination 24/7. Sometimes, they audition for a long time, and then I’ll see an actor in a role (maybe two or three), and that character will come to life for me, story and all. Sometimes, it’s a location. I love the Western North Carolina Mountains, and that area has become home for many of my characters. Mixing characters and locations has brought forth many plots for me.

What have you found to be most influential in your own writing journey?
My grandmother was a reader. She had a house full of novels. I’d sit in her library, and as a small child, I’d read her books. Often she’d have to take one out of my hands and tell me that it wasn’t appropriate reading for me, but that didn’t deter me. I’d pick up another story and delve into another world.

My grandmother was also a soap opera addict. My developmental years were spent watching The Edge of Night, The Secret Storm, As the World Turns, and The Guiding Light. I don’t recommend soap operas for anyone (I vowed never to watch another one ten years ago), but I was recently asked how I know what to layer into a story. I had to give it some thought, and I had to be honest. I just know. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that those daytime dramas, as ungodly as they were, taught me how to build conflict and layer in twists and turns into a story.

My grandmother has been gone awhile, but my wonderful aunt tells me every time she sees me, “Grandma Fay would be so proud of you today.” And since I believe Grandma Fay instilled the love for writing within me by providing me literature and by teaching me some pretty good writing techniques through unconventional means—I have to say that she has always been my greatest influence.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I think this answer changes each time I’m asked. There’s the cliché: Don’t’ give up. That’s prudent advice.

Today, though, I think I would like to encourage authors to practice patience. And while they are practicing patience, practice the craft. Get into a critique group, attend writing workshops, or online courses like the ones taught at ACFW. Make sure that you understand the elements that go into writing a truly great novel, and don’t hurry the study along. Why do people who sit down to write believe that they can plunk words on a paper and have a masterpiece? It takes years for a musician to master their instruments. It takes time for a sculptor or a painter to learn their art. Go at the art of crafting a story in the same way. Master the elements and put them together to create a masterpiece.

Any parting words?
Yes, I want to say thank you to the membership of ACFW. I have developed many deep and meaningful friendships through this community of writers. I won’t start naming names because there are so many that I’d leave someone off the list, but ACFW members are some of my favorite people.

Thanks for sharing with us, Fay!

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