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Interview with Renee Ryan

Multi-published, award-winning author Renee Ryan is best known for her character-driven romances. She sold her first book in 2001 by winning the inaugural Dorchester/Romantic Times New Historical Voice Contest. Renee reconciled her writing with her faith soon after that book hit the shelves and eventually sold her second novel to Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line in 2009. Since that sale, Renee has contracted fifteen more books with Love Inspired.

You have been blessed with a large number of book in a short period of time. Can you share a bit about that?
My initial writing success seemed straight from God, especially because of the way I sold. I received “the call” at the 2001 RT conference. The editors revealed the winner of the national contest (the grand prize was a book contract) by unveiling a poster-size version of my book. The Lord convicted me soon after that I was heading in the wrong direction. Despite my big “splash” every door shut at every publishing house. I reconciled my writing with my faith and started a new project, this one an Inspirational Historical romance. Seven years later (SEVEN!) my second book was released.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
The study of craft has been, still is and will always be the most important part of my publication journey. When I stop learning and growing, I’m finished. I absolutely credit my second sale to my dedication to my craft. My definition of craft not only includes all things pertaining to the writing itself, but digging into the Word as well. I consider my writing a ministry as much as a career and, thus, a huge responsibility. I owe it to my readers to present Biblically sound theology in all my books. I can’t do that without Bible study and prayer.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
My biggest challenge is maintaining my wellness, especially now that I’m trying to produce more books at a higher quality and faster pace. It’s too easy to let exercise and healthy eating fall to the wayside when a deadline is always looming.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
They are synergistically linked for me. One can’t exist without the other. I’m always in a Bible study, always digging into the Word, so whatever theme is showing up in my spiritual life inevitably shows up in my books. One theme, however, is always there. I’ve come to learn in the last few years that our God loves the lost. I mean, he really loves the lost. Every one of my main characters eventually discovers this Truth.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
The greatest moment was when I sold my second book to Love Inspired Historical. That validation that came from knowing I was finally on the right track has given me the confidence to swing for the fences every time I sit in front of my computer.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I’m a member of a large, mega-church and serve every Sunday as the Guest Services Team Leader. My job is to ensure every visitor is treated with love, respect and dignity, no matter what they look like, what they’re wearing or who they’ve come with to church. A lot of hurting people are looking for a little hope. I’ve been in this position for five years, and I can honestly say I have learned so much about God’s mercy and compassion. I’ve learned to look beyond the surface to the heart of a person. This is another theme that finds its way into my stories. None of the people I meet actually show up in my stories. But pieces of them do, the parts that are universally true to all of us

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
As an adult believer and author who once published in the ABA market, I write my Inspirational romances with an understanding of the secular mindset. Although it can be very tempting to want to stay in my safe Christian box, and only write for people who share my specific beliefs, I know what it’s like being on the outside looking in. I know the pain of wondering if Christ’s message of hope is only for the person who never makes a mistake.

Any parting words?
I’ve heard it said that writers should write what they know. As a Christian, I believe we are called to write who we are. What we believe and why we believe it matters. Our message is life or death for the lost. We must never forget that.

Thanks for sharing with us, Renee!

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