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Interview with Lori DeJong

Debut author, Lori DeJong, a 2022 Genesis Award winner, sees a childhood goal come to fruition with the release of her first novel. A Christian wife and mother, Lori hopes to share the gospel through her stories, and prays her characters will touch the lives of readers as they face similar struggles.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
At this point, pretty much everything. Ha ha! This being my first novel, readers don’t know much about me yet, but I hope they find something worth sticking around for.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Christian, Wife, Mom. That may sound a bit boring, but those are the most important things about me.

What was your favorite book when you were a kid? Did it play any part in your writing style today?
I don’t recall any one book that was a favorite, but I loved any kind of mystery. Of course, the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries were favorites. Later, I discovered Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I don’t believe their style has influenced mine at all, but it’s a nice thought!

What book is currently on your bedside table?
The Words We Lost by Nicole Deese. Highly recommend!

Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
It isn’t but I wish every day that it was. I consider being an author my main career, although I do work a full-time day job.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamed of being a writer, even when I wasn’t writing. A few years ago, I found an old list of goals I had written back in the 90’s where one of my long-term goals was to be a published author. And that was years before I ever did anything to achieve it.

Tell us about your first published book? What was the journey like?
Love’s True Calling is my debut novel coming out in June. That’s been an interesting journey because I had written many manuscripts prior to that. However, because of some personal hardship our family went through, I didn’t write from 2009 to 2020. When I decided to start again, I knew I needed to re-educate myself a bit. During that time, I took a class from Laurie Schnebly Campbell called Plotting via Motivation and the subsequent class, From Plot to Finish. We had to come up with two original characters, not from anything we were already writing, and plot a novel based on their motivations. That’s how Love’s True Calling was born. I never intended to write it, but I fell in love with the characters, and they were begging me to tell their story. It went through several rewrites, I entered it into the 2021 ACFW Genesis Contest, and it went nowhere. I worked on it for another year, re-entered it, and it won the 2022 Genesis Contest for Romance. It was picked up by Scrivenings Press in November 2022 to be published as part of a three-book series.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
I love Melissa Tagg, Nicole Deese, Becky Wade, and many others. I think they influence my writing only in that I learn so much just from reading them. How to deepen emotion, how to do a better job of showing, not telling, use of description to enhance POV, and so many other things I learn from these authors who are miles ahead of me in their journey. As I told a friend the other day, I think any time you read someone who is so much better, you only up your own game, if you’re paying attention.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
Usually characters, but characters with opposite goals or motivations. Then a plot that would have them gravitating toward each other while at the same time having this thing that keeps them apart. I’m a plantser, so I plot a little, then write by the seat of my pants.

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?
Wyatt, my male protagonist, lost his best friend in high school to suicide after being brutally bullied. This led him to his chosen vocation as an adolescent psychologist and to also start a student ministry to help kids find their way through the often-turbulent high school years, especially if they feel they’re on the outside looking in. Kids, like he had been in high school, who were considered the kids with no social value.

Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
I love them both so much, but I think it would have to be Harper, who as a girl tried so hard to fill up the space parental apathy had created inside her with popularity and putting her value in her status. After suffering a devasting loss in her early twenties, she finally found her way to the Lord and fell head over heels in love with Him after experiencing His grace and redemption. I love how she adores the kids in the ministry, even though her high school experience was much different than what most of them are going through.

What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
The balance between writing a book about a ministry but not sounding preachy. The gospel message is clearly shared in this novel, but I hope I did that through how the characters changed through the book by seeking what the Lord would have them do, regardless of the sacrifice.

What was the highlight of writing this book?
The scenes that took me by surprise even as I was writing them. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t plot every chapter and scene. I plot out certain turning points and then write scenes between each of those. And sometimes in those scenes, something will happen I had no idea was coming. There’s a scene in the book where my protagonists are “catching up”, if you will, after having not seen each other since high school. During that scene, Harper shares something with Wyatt I had no idea she’d experienced, and it changed so much about her character and how I wrote her after that, knowing what she’d gone through. I cried through that scene while I was writing it, it touched me so deeply. I hope the reader experiences the same thing and that they come away from it with the hope and peace that Harper did.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?
They can visit my website and sign up for my monthly newsletter. I don’t send a lengthy one, just usually a quick share about something going on in my life or something I’ve learned, sometimes a book recommendation, and always a giveaway. They can also look me up on Instagram (loridejongwrites) and Facebook (Lori DeJong Author page).

Any current or upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’ve just finished the first draft of Love’s True Home, Book Two in the series. It features two characters from Book One and I’ve had so much fun telling the story of how Ally and Zane find their way to each other, and to a feeling of home neither of them expected.
Gina Holder is an indie author and stay-at-home mom. She’s had an infatuation with books for as long as she can remember. She loves sharing uplifting messages from God’s Word and introducing readers to new and new-to-them authors on her blog at When she’s not writing, Gina enjoys playing the piano, cooking, reading, watching Hallmark mysteries, and solving “escape room” puzzles. She’s been a member of ACFW for several years, and loves growing in her craft as an author. She published her debut novel in 2017. Gina lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter.

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