Find a Christian store

Interview with Izzy James

Romance novelist Izzy James loves to spin a yarn—both literally and figuratively. One of the author's hobbies is to put fiber onto a spindle and turn that into a ball of yarn just like they did in the Colonial Period days, which is the time frame in which the author's historical romance novels are set. It's in these books where Izzy does the figurative walk of "spinning a yarn"—another term for telling a fictional story.

All of Izzy's past historical novels, and her newest book that was released this month, The Dollmaker's Daughter, are set in Virginia—the state where Izzy was born and raised and still lives today. She has visited all the places mentioned in her books because the areas from Williamsburg to Fredericksburg are her "stomping ground." Living in the coastal area of Chesapeake Bay all her life definitely influences her writing.

"Daily I walk in the imprints of those who were instrumental in founding our great country. It fascinates me that people from the distant-to-me past lived right here where I live. They saw the views I see from my windows. Experienced the same kind of weather, the same mud. How did they deal with that? These questions and others, and more importantly the answers, bring the past alive to me."

Other than living in a historic place, another reason Izzy chooses to write romance novels set in another century is because historical romances tend to follow the rules most Christians try to live by.

"I like that. That past has its challenges, especially here in Virginia, but there are some things I do not have to deal with when I'm writing these novels, such as why it's a good idea to abstain from physical intimacy until marriage."

Writing romance over other genres came about after Izzy started reading romance fiction in her thirties. She says she can't remember where she got her first romance book, but it was a historical. Also, it read just like her favorite movies, so she was hooked!

Izzy writes romance not only because she likes to read this genre, but also for a couple of other reasons. She once heard a secular romance writer suggest this genre was important because it reminds people of their values and reinforces them. That secular author went on to argue that the United States has not seen the same decline in marriages as Europe due somewhat to the acceptability of the romance genre in American culture.

"I'm not sure about that last bit, but I do agree that the narratives we tell ourselves support our ties to God and our families."

This sentiment plays into why Izzy writes Christian fiction.

"The world we live in is a supernatural place. The world I create for my characters operates on the assumptions that God is real, He can be trusted, and the Age of Miracles has not past. That does not mean they are perfect believers—they are not—but they come to the problems of life in a world where hope is real."

Perhaps writing novels in the Christian fiction genre also came about with a little divine intervention, especially since being a novelist is something Izzy thinks God might have whispered into her ear to do.

Izzy comes from a long line of storytellers. She says rarely did a day pass when her family didn't gather around the table and tell tales of today and yesterday over coffee. Izzy first starting writing in elementary school by adapting stories into little classroom plays. In junior high, Izzy and a few friends wrote and exchanged stories based on their favorite television shows.

She stepped away from writing for a long while but came back when her kids were small. Izzy, her husband Jim, and their three children lived in a rural town at the time, and Izzy was lonely for her family.

"So, I complained to the Lord, and I thought I heard Him say, 'Write then.' Then I thought I'd really lost my mind. It didn't take me long to realize that what I did have was time. So, I thought, 'What have I got to lose?' If I heard Him, it would be great. If I didn't and failed, that would be okay too. At least I tried."

When she first starting writing novels, she wrote what she loved to read at the time: cozy mysteries. She read everything she could about how to write them, including how Agatha Christie said a mystery should be no longer than 60,000 words. That became Izzy's word-count goal.

Most of Izzy's novels fall under that word-count. Her two Christmas series novellas come in around 20,000 words each, while her two full-length novels published under White Rose Publishing, an imprint of The Pelican Book Group, run about 52,000 words each.

"I do tend to write short. Whether it's because I trained myself that way or not, I'm not sure. As a person, I'm not long-winded at all, and I'm concerned sometimes people find me a bit abrupt. That being said, I do like to read the shorter form too. In fact, I love Christmas novellas. I can read several of those during the holidays and still get all my work done!"

Even though her novels may be small in size, Izzy can still get a whole lot of story into a little bit of space, as she's done with her current release, The Dollmaker's Daughter, a historical romance set in 1776. In this book, a scientist named Simon thinks he lost his chance being with a girl named Amity Archer ten years ago. But then, a sea captain comes along and tells Simon that in exchange for a meal, he'll give Simon an ancient stone rumored to have the power to give Simon his heart's desire. Soon after Simon receives the stone, he runs into Amity, which leads to other events, giving Simon the opportunity to prove his love for Amity.

What is one "big thing" Izzy wants people to take away from this "smaller form" novel?

"I want readers to know that although the Age of Miracles has not passed, you will not find God in a talisman or other trappings of the world. He is there with you, ready to talk to you and walk with you."

Amen to that, Izzy!
Melinda Freeland wrote her first "novel" at age 8 about Mr. & Mrs. Texas Toast, and their struggle to get off the plate before someone ate them. Today, Melinda writes fiction you can relate to—about humans—and their real struggles, not only in relationships, but also with understanding and trusting God. Love, Texas – Population 2 is her debut Christian contemporary romance novel. It was inspired by Melinda's reunion with her first love, her life as a small-town reporter, and her faith journey. Melinda lives in Texas with her handsome husband, two great kids, and her lovable Pug. She'd love to connect with readers at and on social media @authormelindafreeland and @melindafreeland.

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.