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Interview with Joanna Davidson Politano

Family stories gripped Joanna Davidson Politano early in life and didn’t let go, and the need to write them down set her on the path toward her debut novel, which released this month! Read all about her publishing journey and the odd childhood habit that became the catalyst for her first book, Lady Jayne Disappears.

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I absolutely love the heart behind this sentence on your website: Go out and “see” a person the rest of the world has written off and write them back into the land of the living. Can you tell us more about the heart behind that? And how does that factor into your writing?
Thank you! My heart always goes out toward the overlooked and undervalued people in the world, and often my favorite stories and novel inspirations have come from them. There’s something powerful that happens in a person when they share their story with you, as if their experiences and thoughts matter. People can easily feel invisible in this chaotic world, and no one should ever be that. Jesus sees every individual person, and we should too.

Tell us a little bit about your publishing journey. Name one of the high points and one of the low points, if you're willing. What kept you going?
I started writing fiction when a certain family story grabbed me and I couldn’t not write it down. I never intended to publish that story, but it did get me hooked on fiction writing. The high point is probably when I gave that completed novel, which was about my immigrant great-grandparents, to my grandmother as a surprise and she was speechless (which is rare for her!) Another high point would be receiving my first contract—I actually had three offers come in that summer and it overlapped with the birth of my son, so it was just a wonderful, memorable, exciting time all around. I can’t think of a specific low point, except maybe getting no response to the few submissions I sent when first starting out. It’s almost harder than a flat-out rejection. It leaves you to wonder all sorts of things! In highs and lows, my publishing journey has been so full of God’s presence, for which I can never fully express my gratitude.

Where did the inspiration for Lady Jayne Disappears come from?
Actually, it came from an odd childhood habit I had. Growing up in a family of non-confronters, I learned to deal with the frustrations and “villains” in my life by writing them into stories—and then punishing their characters. As an adult I read a lot of classic Victorian-era literature and thought, what mess if these proper people were written into stories—and those stories leaked out! So a quiet little writer-heroine was born, equipped with a famous pen name and a host of wealthy family members who made great characters in her serial novels. It was a fabulous outlet for her, until the characters started recognizing themselves in the widely-read serial novels circulating among their friends.

How have you felt in the weeks and months leading up to your book's release? Most exciting moment? Most nerve-wracking moment?
I have to say, nothing prepared me for seeing my own words, my little story, in a printed-and-bound book. How did it make me feel? Like God delights in lavishing so much undeserved good on us, even to the point of giving us our childhood dreams. My most exciting moment was hearing from an early reviewer who requested my book without knowing it was for the inspirational market… and it touched her heart with spiritual truths I didn’t even specifically put in there (fortunately God knows what to say better than I do). That was amazing. The most nerve-wracking part is realizing people I know will be reading my work—that’s even scarier than strangers reading it! I no longer have control over who reads it by sending out word documents to trusted friends. It’s out there for anyone who wants it.

What has been the most surprising thing about being a published author?
The support of so many people has nearly brought me to tears—and I’m not a big crier. So many writing friends, childhood neighbors, family members, even my husband’s friends have been so enthusiastic about my writing, championing my book and cheering me on. That means more to me than any sales rank or award. Without me ever requesting it, they’ve just jumped right in and done more promotion than I even have myself! It feels wonderful to have so many people around you with big hearts and encouraging spirits. This quiet girl has felt the love of so many friends.

How do you balance writing/motherhood/home life?
Honestly, I walk with God. Every single little step. That means I have to be flexible and willing to obey. He directs the way I spend every day, and it’s never the same two days in a row. If you invite God into your daily life and ask His advice, you have to say “Ok, Father” no matter what He says. Some days both my kids nap and I get to write, other days I just “mom” all day (with delight!) and know writing time is coming. I have a firm pact that I never open my computer while my kids are awake. Being a great mom is far more significant than any amount of writing, and I always choose my family. That said, words and writing time seem to appear from nowhere when they are needed, and God is faithful, even when wrangling a very difficult book onto paper with a looming deadline. The only time balance is hard is when I grow self-dependent and striving replaces relying. If I depend on God, even when things seem impossible to work out, they somehow do!

How long have you been a member of ACFW and what role did it play in your writing journey?
I think I joined ACFW in about 2012. The biggest impact it’s had is the wonderful writing friends that have joined me in this journey. It’s been amazing! I love my local friends, but there’s nothing like long talks with kindred spirit book lovers for critiques, brainstorming, encouragement, pep talks… you name it. I’ve also enjoyed conference classes and all the opportunities provided at the yearly gatherings. ACFW has been a great resource.

What drives you to tell stories?
The people who live them. There’s nothing I love more than hearing someone’s backstory or having them tell me a piece of their life in their own voice and words. I love trying to capture little elements of what I hear from interesting character traits I see between the lines or little life moments that tug on your heart. I feel like no one should ever be forgotten, and everyone’s story should be recorded in some form.

What's next for you?
My second book releases in the summer of 2018 from Revell. It’s about a man who has hidden his immense fortune somewhere on his vast vineyard estate, but he dies suddenly before telling anyone where it is. His daughter is the heroine, and her unlikely hero is the blunt and rough vineyard manager who is her only ally in finding the fortune that will keep her home and vineyard running. The romance dynamic is loosely based on my own love story, and the vineyard makes for a wonderful spiritual thread that explores Bible truths surrounding vineyard keeping. As her extended family turns up to “grieve” for the late vineyard owner and unpaid workers strike, the hunt for her father’s fortune intensifies with a few fun surprises along the way.


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Lisa Bartelt is a child of the flatlands fulfilling her dream of living near mountains in Pennsylvania. She loves reading, writing and listening to stories—true ones, made-up ones and the ones in between—preferably with a cup of coffee in hand. Wife, mom of two, writer, ordinary girl, Lisa blogs about books, faith, family and the unexpected turns of life at http://lisabartelt.com.





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