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Interview with Jodie Bailey

Jodie Bailey wrote her first story in 1st grade, on her grandmother’s old electric typewriter. She now writes for two publishers—Love Inspired and Abingdon Press—and is “living the dream.”

You consider yourself a life-long writer. Explain that to us!
I don’t remember ever not writing… or reading, for that matter. For me, the two go hand in hand. There are often-repeated stories in my family about me reading the dictionary, cookbooks… anything I could find. When my grandmother died in 2009, we found a stack of stories in a desk drawer that I’d written when I was as young as four years old. She had a yellow electric typewriter that I used to spend hours typing stories on. When I got my first computer for college, the first thing I did was write fiction on it. I used to tell stories over the phone to my friends and wonder why they couldn’t do the same. Making people and scenes up has always been a part of my life!

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Honestly, it happened before I wrote my first novel, which (like most first novels) hasn’t been published. I had come to a crossroads where my daughter was about to start kindergarten, but I knew God was not calling me back into the classroom. One day, I was at a Beth Moore Bible study and I thought, “Wow. She has the coolest job in the world. She gets to write and talk about God all day.” Thwack. God hit me on the head with a Bible. I started to dabble in my first love of fiction. An incredible prayer warrior friend of mine said to me, “I was praying about you, and God said you should write about a real person.” My first thought, honestly and truly, was, “God wants me to write about Eleanor Roosevelt?” No idea where that thought came from. I prayed and realized God wanted me to tell my story, at least a fictional portrayal of a spiritual journey I’d been on. I wrote that novel, though the main character and story is nothing like me outside of her spiritual aspects. I joined ACFW, where God gave me amazing critique partners, and that novel got me my first agent, Sandra Bishop. I still hope it will publish someday because it led to a sequel which to this day is my favorite thing I’ve ever written.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Now that I am—thank you, Lord!—writing full time, this is much easier. I think my husband was hoping the house would get cleaned more, but, sadly, that doesn’t happen. :-) The biggest challenge is when the end of the day comes and it is one of those days when I just want to keep writing. But one of the promises I made to my family was having all day to write meant I would leave family time to them… and I intend to keep that promise. In the past, writing on holidays and weekends was routine, but now that it’s my full time job, I want to make sure it doesn’t infringe on the time I want and need with them.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
The two biggest themes of my own personal testimony are redemption and deliverance. Those two keep cropping up, even though I’m not consciously trying to work them in. They are so much a part of me that they weave into the story as well. I guess it’s because I want people to know that there is such a thing as a second chance… and a third… and a fourth… with God. That He forgives and loves and that, in our relationships, we can and should forgive and love also. I love stories when two people who are broken can find healing together!

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
That’s a tough one! There are so many that stand out, so many moments when I knew God was at work. I’d have to say the memory that’s jumping out at me right now is the day my editor posted on Twitter that my debut novel, Freefall, had been reviewed by Romantic Times and they’d given it 4.5 stars. I had never even considered it would be reviewed by any publication at all, and it was a huge, shocking, awesome surprise.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I think the characters drive me. When I was in high school, I wrote a scene where the hero was injured, but I was so tired I went to bed instead of finishing the scene. Well, I couldn’t sleep because all I could think was how I’d left the poor guy on the floor bleeding. I had to get up and finish before I could have any peace. It’s still like that. These characters’ fates are so fascinating to figure out, and I really do want to see where they go next… and I definitely don’t want to leave anyone bleeding on the floor! So what drives me? Bringing characters to life.

Ideas come from different places. Generally, I get a scene, this vision of a person doing something. For one novel, it was a woman at a receptionist’s desk being denied access to her brother. For Freefall, it was the vision of a man hiding in a closet at a woman’s house… only he was the good guy. Things build from that instant flash of something that makes me go… hmmmm.

What led you to choose the genre in which you write?
My agent. Seriously. Sandra asked me one day why I didn’t try writing military suspense and I laughed and said no. But then I got that vision of the guy in the closet and Freefall was born. It turned out I had a lot of fun brainstorming with my soldier husband, so much so that we considered writing a book together. The contemporary romance, I have just always enjoyed reading and writing in that genre. I started there. It’s a fun space to breathe after all of the murder and mayhem in suspense.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Fishing at the beach. Okay, pretending to fish at the beach. You know, line in the water, book in my hand, toes in the sand… Or putting on really good music and just going for a ride. (If anyone is interested in giving me a Jeep Wrangler so I can go driving whenever I want with the top and doors off, I’d be happy. Anybody? No? Okay.)

What books are on your nightstand right now?
Krista Phillips’s Sandwich novella A Side of Faith.
Holiday Defenders, because I wanted to dig into Debby Giusti and Susan Sleeman’s novellas.
And… The Con Job, because I got hooked on Leverage and really want to see how the tie-in novels read.

Finish this statement: My favorite thing about fall is ...
...sweatshirts, blue jeans, cool mornings at the beach, and coffee on the back porch.

Any parting words?
Thanks for having me this month! What an honor!

Thanks for sharing with us, Jodie!

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