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Interview with Gina Detwiler

From the start of writing the first book in the Forlorn series, Gina Detweiler has been on an emotional and spiritual rollercoaster. Although she began writing fiction in the historical and women’s fiction genres, this YA series has had the greatest impact on her life.

“I went through a season of intense spiritual warfare when working on the first couple of Forlorn books—I felt as though I was being crushed by some indefinable oppression,” she says.

Gina didn’t let that stop her, though. She participated in a deliverance ministry at her church that opened her eyes to the demonic influence in her life, and she took a stand of faith against the attack. Shocked that something like this could happen to believers, she used that experience to create the deliverance scene for Penny in Forlorn.

Throughout the writing of this entire series, Gina has seen evidence of God at work. That is one of the primary messages she hopes readers receive as they work their way through these books.

“Even in the bleakest of times…especially in those times. He can always be trusted, no matter the circumstances.”

That truth applies to her writing as much as it does to her everyday life. We might be completely unaware of the demonic influences in our lives and how that undesirable power can take hold, but there is such freedom on the other side if we remain faithful and trust God to be our guide. Gina stepped away from that heavy weight, and now there will be five total books in a series that began as a trilogy.

“What is that saying? Man plans. God laughs.”

Like when Jesus fed the multitude, God multiplies to fill the need.

This isn’t the only time great abundance has come from simple faith. After writing the first two books in this series, Gina’s agent called her on her birthday about the possibility of working with Kendrick Brothers' film War Room star Priscilla Shirer to develop some short stories on the Armor of God into a full-length fictional trilogy. Although she was one of six authors being considered, and she had been told not to send any writing samples, she trusted God and sent them through her agent anyway.

“I didn’t hear anything for several weeks and had given up hope. Then Julie contacted me and said they’d picked me for the job. I was in the beauty salon at the time, my hair in foil, when I read the email. I started jumping around the salon!”

As a result of her faith, God not only orchestrated the partnership between Gina and Priscilla, but that original trilogy ending up being four books, not three. Her agent later told her it was because of those samples that she was chosen.

“Since then, Ephesians 3:20 has been my go-to verse: ‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.’”

Sometimes, we don’t even have to ask.

Sometimes, we also will find God at work in the most unexpected places or ways. When Gina was doing research for this series, it turned out her characters spent a lot of time in caves. She doesn’t like caves. They’re cold and dark and have bats. Yet in all the cave tours Gina has taken, she has always been fascinated by what she’s learned. Since underground places became the only safe place in the world of Forbidden, that research proved helpful.

“Caves are mysterious and weirdly beautiful. It’s a wonderful glimpse into God’s creativity and attention to detail.”

Detail that has proven most helpful when depicting the underground living for her characters in her book.

Gina’s life and travels have also inspired settings in her books. From her time living in Germany, she utilized castle floor plans and underground tunnels to map out Darwin Speer’s secret lab in book three.

“The internet makes it possible to learn a lot of stuff without actually going there—a boon for writers who don’t get out much.”

Buffalo, New York, was the setting for much of the series, and Gina based the Buffalo Academy of Arts on the real-life Buffalo Seminary. She also patterned a lot of the setting in book two after Silo City, an abandoned complex of silos and grain elevators along Buffalo River.

Never discount any experience in life when you’re an author. You just never know when it might come in handy. Like Gina’s theatre experience.

“Theatre is the best training for a novelist. Plays are all about action—keeping the plot moving forward. My theatre training also gave me a good ear for dialogue. I’ve written many scripts for church dramas, and I’m much more comfortable writing straight dialogue than prose. It’s all the other stuff in between that’s more of a challenge. Description—ugh! I so admire those authors who can paint pictures with their words.”

Not to worry, though. What you don’t know, you can learn! Or copy! If Gina could have done something differently in her younger years to become a better writer today, she says, “I would have taken a creative writing course. I loved writing plays as a kid, but I never took it seriously. Now, I’ve learned by copying the styles of better writers than I.”

From those styles, Gina’s own voice and style have emerged, and she uses them both to give wings to her latest series. As mentioned above, book four isn’t the end. There is another book still to come. That one will be called Forever. Before that arrives, though, Gina is working on a novella entitled Penny’s Journal, which will fill in the fifteen-year gap in the middle of Forbidden.

After that, she’ll be back at work on Forever, but there is a lot of trepidation surrounding the content of that book. It will delve into the topic of the End Times, and Gina isn’t sure she’s qualified to tackle that. She is studying Revelation more seriously and knows prophecy isn’t meant to scare us, but prepare us. Nevertheless, “it will take quite a bit more research, especially concerning Israel and Armageddon. I get the hives just thinking about it. I would love to have a research partner for this one, so if anyone is interested, please get in touch. I’d love to talk with you.”

If anyone reads Forbidden and has questions about Gina’s theology or her take on End Times prophecy, you can reach her at You will also get free chapters from Penny’s Journal if you subscribe at her website.

“I hope I can let these characters go at the end of this series. They’ve been with me for so long, it will be tough to say goodbye.”

Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works as a homeschool mom and independent contractor, helping others become their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Kentucky. They have a daughter and son, and 2 cats. She has sold over 25 books so far, three of which have won annual reader's choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. (

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