Find a Christian store

Interview With Sharon Gillenwater

Welcome, Sharon. Your second book in The Callahans of Texas Series, Emily’s Chance, has recently released. Have you been busy promoting your new novel or are you already at work on the next?
I've finished Megan's Hero, the third (and last) Callahan book, and am catching my breath. My husband and I took a nice long vacation to Texas where I had a fun book signing in my hometown. Then he had knee replacement surgery, so I'm mulling over some story ideas while I help him. I'm doing a lot of fetching and carrying these days.

What is your favorite part about being an author?
Writing stories that people enjoy and that hopefully touch their hearts in some way.

Your least favorite?
The long hours I spend working as a deadline approaches. After all these years, I still haven't gotten past having a crunch-time.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Moving into the Christian market. In 1993, I received a call from a friend who was working for Questar Publishers. (The name was later changed to Multnomah.) They were starting the Palisades contemporary romance line, and he thought I might be interested. I'd published six historical romances in the general market and known I'd done so with God's blessing. But I wanted to share more of my faith in my books, and God gave me that opportunity. My friend put me in touch with the editor, Lisa Bergren, and I went on to publish five books and a novella with them.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Getting it all done and still have a life. I don't succeed very well. I find that the older I get, the slower I write...the slower I do everything. I've gently hinted to my recently retired husband that he should become my maid and secretary. He isn't excited about that idea.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
My faith is an integral part of who I am thus it shows up in my books. Even my general market books had a faith element, but that thread is a crucial part of my Christian books. I've always tried to honor God and please Him with my writing. In the Christian market, especially, my prayer is that my books bring Him glory and that He can use them to minister to someone.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
Holding the first copy of Jenna's Cowboy in my hands. The hero, Nate, is an Iraq War vet who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. My husband had PTSD after Viet Nam, so it's a book of my heart. Doing the research for it, discussing what I'd learned with him, and writing the book brought some healing to both of us.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
Often a scene with the hero and heroine will pop into my head and the quest to figure out their story begins. I ask God what story he wants me to tell and then let the ideas simmer for awhile, maybe days or months. I've also gotten ideas from news articles, or in my historical romances from tidbits of history.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
My editors and readers say I have a great "Texas voice." Which makes me chuckle because living in Washington, I've lost my twang. Some reviewers call my books a gentle read. The stories are character driven and move at a leisurely pace as the reader gets to know them. Since I grew up in a small West Texas town, the setting and the people are what I like to write about.

If somebody had told you what your journey to publication would entail, would you still have pursued it?
Probably. I might have taken a few different turns along the way and not bounced back and forth between continents and time periods. I definitely would not have let writing be my main focus in life nor put in so many long hours. It's too detrimental to family relationships and to your health. I have a lot of back pain from spending way too much time at the computer all these years. And at one point, because I was behind on deadlines, I spent so much time working that my husband almost left me. It's important to keep your priorities straight – God, husband and kids, then work!

Any parting words?
May God guide each of you on the path He has for you, whether it's as His scribe or in other endeavors. Thank you, Cathy!

Thanks for sharing with us, Sharon!

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.