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Interview with Hannah Joy Wilkinson

Depth, Authenticity, & Faith
Author Interview with Hannah Joy Wilkinson
By: Tiffany Amber Stockton


Hannah Wilkinson and I have an unusual thing in common. Her husband of two years read the rough draft of her first novel before they even started dating. My husband of ten years sent me his rough draft after I cracked the whip on him, and I read it from start to finish before we started dating. It’s not easy to show your unpolished work to someone else. A lot of faith and trust is involved, as well as a certain level of courage.

The same applies to our relationship with Christ. When we step out in faith and deepen our trust in God, He returns that trust with abundant blessing, and the lessons we learn along that journey help us writers become better authors. As a result, our characters showcase a deeper level of development, commitment, and spiritual connection.

This is what happened for Hannah. At first, she enjoyed writing the romance parts of Christian romance more than the spiritual aspects. She was also unable to truly write a scene of salvation or repentance until her trust in God deepened. The words sounded shallow and artificial until she spent time in the Scriptures and in prayer. Only after drawing closer to God and asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance did she write with more of a genuine focus on a character’s daily walk with the Lord, because she could add lessons she learned in her own walk.

Strong Foundations

Like many believers today, Hannah came from a solid foundation and strong family, but she needed to take what she was taught and make it her own. She grew up in the small town of McAlester, Oklahoma with an older brother and two younger sisters. Her father was a local pastor of a small church, and her mother was a homemaker and community Bible study leader. She and her family have always been close-knit, and she learned the valuable lessons of working hard, having fun using her imagination, and serving the Lord with all her heart from the daily encouragement and example of her parents.

It was at Baylor University (the same school touted by Chip & Joanna Gaines from the acclaimed HGTV show Fixer Upper) where Hannah started her first novel and shortly thereafter placed her trust in Jesus Christ. Just like the homes the Gaines family restore, our hearts and lives need restoration from God. Hannah prays daily that readers of her work “will see how self-righteousness, pride, and sin keep us from following our humble Savior in loving obedience, and how surrendering to God’s grace can open our eyes to reaching people with His love in ways we never thought possible.”

Life Lessons

The rejections she received and the discouraging pages of edits only served God’s purpose of humbling Hannah and returning her focus to Him. Throughout the writing and pitching of her novel, she had gotten too caught up in her own dreams of success, so the years of rewriting and editing were refining years until she was ready to be published in His timing and in His way.

“Slow and steady wins the race” has always been Hannah’s motto, and she never realized how true it was until the completion of this first novel after six years of steady progress. Though she hopes to speed things up in the future, a slower pace allows her to write a more quality story because of the life lessons she learns along the way that make it into the story.

Early Beginnings Fueling a Passion

Another similarity Hannah and I share is our mothers both introduced us to reading Christian historical romance novels at age twelve. As a result, Hannah began to also write in that genre, though as mentioned above, her spiritual depth was minimal. She appreciated then and now reading novels without fear of explicit content, and she aims to write novels that only benefit and encourage the reader in their spiritual walk with God. Christian historical fiction will always be a favorite, because she enjoys learning about the way people lived in different times and places. I could say the same thing about my interest and career with this genre.

Unlike most female authors, however, Hannah opted to start out with a male POV as her lead. She started writing this novel in college, and initially, she was embarrassed to read out loud to the class any female POV story with possible romantic elements, so she wrote from a male POV with lots of adventure scenes to appeal to the men of the class. Her main character has continued to be a man named Asim, though she has added female POVs to the story. She wanted to offer a balanced story of adventure and romance that both men and women would enjoy and learn from, while exploring controversial issues in Christian history like the Crusades, elitism, legalism, and racism. She hopes to challenge Christian men and women as she has been challenged in her own spiritual journey.

The Life of an Author

So far, in addition to this novel, Hannah has written a short story called Nachthexen, about the brave female Soviet pilots of World War II. She has also written a biblical short story called Jephthah’s Daughter, based on the controversial account of the Hebrew judge who sacrificed his daughter. There is a Christian allegory that’s been started, but it’s been placed on hold while she writes the sequel to this debut novel.

When she isn’t writing, Hannah loves baking, gardening, cross-stitching, reading, volunteering at the women’s shelter, and spending time with her husband. In the future, she plans to finish the current sequel to her first novel, and then continue to write as the Lord leads. She prays often for the time to remain in the writing realm even if their family expands in the future. As newlyweds, that is certainly a strong possibility!

Like any author wanting to improve, reading is a critical part of the writing career. We need to always be perfecting our craft and studying what’s being written or has been written, so we can glean the knowledge and wisdom from those other books. Right now, Hannah is reading The Story of the Year by Bonnie Howell and Extraordinary Faith by Sheila Walsh, both wonderful Christian authors! In Hannah’s words, “May God bless each of you authors and readers as you draw unto Him.”

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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 in the health & wellness and personal development industries, helping others be their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have a daughter and son, and a retriever-mix named Roxie. She has sold over 20 books so far, three of which have won annual reader's choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. www.amberstockton.com.




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