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Interview with Sharon Rene

Spending a little time on Sharon’s lovely website will quickly help you realize not only her love for writing, but her recognition of the importance of this passion for this moment in her life. Whether she is writing flash fiction for Splickety, blogging as part of the Storyteller Squad, or penning YA novels, her passion for God shines through. The first book in her young adult dystopian series, Hesitant Heroes, launched on September 7, 2021, and we are so excited to talk with Sharon about her journey toward writing this first novel in her Divine Destiny series.

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Tell us a little about what sparked your desire to write fiction?
I have always loved to read and to write. I started writing manuscripts as a teenager. I didn’t know all the rules for writing, but I enjoyed the creative process.

What prompted you to want to write for children and teens?
I changed schools several times in middle school and high school. I know how hard it is to feel like the outsider. Everyone thinks the teen years are so much fun, but they can be difficult. I try to write teen and child characters that young people can relate to.

The Divine Destiny Series is a brilliant concept. How did you come up with the world building idea for the Global Collective Council?
I’ve studied Biblical prophesy and read many dystopian novels. We know that the world governments as we know them today will not last. Things are going to change. I can picture the day that a Global Collective Council could rule the world. I started with that idea, and it grew as I wrote.

In Hesitant Heroes, we are introduced to a cast of teens from across the globe. How did you go about creating these characters?
Creating the characters was my favorite part of writing the book. I enjoy books that are character driven. I came up with the idea of throwing a bunch of teens together at a boarding school. The teens are from all over the planet, and I wanted to bring out their unique characteristics. I fashioned a background for each of them and used this background of experience to shape their personalities.

Which member of Team Seven is most like you and why?
The main character, Jordan Scott, is a lot like me other than the fact that she’s a computer whiz and I am technically challenged. Jordan is shy and lacks self-confidence. She thinks the other girls are prettier, and she’s surprised when boys are interested in her. She’s also a klutz, which is exactly like me.

There is an obvious parallel to Esther in Jordon’s character. Did any other characters or books from the Bible inspire you while writing this story?
The story of Esther is the theme that runs through Hesitant Heroes. I’ve always loved the “for such a time as this” concept. Jordan believes that she and her friends, Team Seven, were placed at Global Collective University “for such a time as this.” God has a special mission for them, and just like Queen Esther, they will have to risk their lives to accomplish His will.

At one point in the book, I reference the Biblical story of Gideon. Matthew remembers this story when he and his friends are attempting to rescue someone, and they are outnumbered. He is inspired by the fact that God can work wonders through a small army.

What message do you hope readers take away from this first book in the series?
I want readers to realize that they are important to God. Their lives have been arranged by Him and He has put them in a certain place “for such a time as this.” Hesitant Heroes shows that life is not easy. The characters go through many difficulties, but they keep moving on with faith and God’s help.

You mention on your website that your journey to publication has been a bumpy one. I think many writers can resonate with this. Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
I didn’t stop. That’s the key. You have to keep trying no matter how many rejection letters you receive. Study the craft and join groups like ACFW, national and local. ACFW led me to a critique group, and that helped my writing improve. Even my rejection letters got better.

How do you prepare yourself spiritually and creatively for writing?
I always pray. Sometimes I’m blank when I sit down to write, but somehow God gives me the words. I’m sure all Christian writers can relate. Ideas pop into my head and words follow.

If you could have coffee with an author, dead or alive, whose work you admire, who would that be? What would you ask him or her?
Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games trilogy is one of my favorite writers. The Hunger Games was the first YA/dystopian book I ever read. It got me hooked and made me want to write YA/dystopian myself.

I’d ask a million questions about her writing process, character building, and how she came up with such an exciting trilogy.

And what novel do you have waiting to read next on your nightstand?
Shadow by Kara Swanson. I read Dust and loved it. Shadow is the sequel.

If you could provide one piece of advice to hopeful writers wanting to finish their first novels, what would it be and why?
Enjoy the process and keep writing! That is not always easy. Life gets in the way and discouragement pounces on us. The road to publication can be a very long one, and that’s why it helps to be involved with other writers. We all encourage one another. You have to concentrate more on the writing process than the ultimate goal of publication. Enjoy the journey!
As a teen, Tara Ross first discovered how hope-filled prose can change the entire trajectory of a person's life. Case in point: her life. She now has the joy of sharing this truth with youth every day - as a Speech-Language Pathologist, youth ministry worker and YA author.
Her debut novel and blog, were created to ignite sparks of faith for Generation Z. You can follow Tara on instagram (tara.k.ross) or twitter (tara_k_ross) for more book reviews, tattoo-worthy quotes, and updates on her publishing journey.

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