Troublesome Creek, Troublesome Creek Series #1Troublesome Creek, Troublesome Creek Series #1
Jan Watson
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Born and raised in the hills of Kentucky, Laura "Copper" Grace thinks nothing could drag her off her beloved mountain. But when her stepmother threatens to send her away to boarding school, Copper faces losing all that's precious to her. Will she discover the true meaning of "home"---and God's plans for her life? 300 pages, softcover from Tyndale.
     

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Jan Watson
Favorite Bible Verse: Isaiah 43: 1-2 (NIV) - "But now, this is what the Lord says--he who created you, o Jacob, he who formed you, O Isreal: " Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Our Interview with Jan Watson:

I understand that you’re the “Winner of Christian Writers Award”?

In 2004 I submitted my manuscript to the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest. Out of nearly 300 entries Troublesome Creek won!

How did you decide to enter the contest?

I belong to the Guild and when I saw that Jerry Jenkins was sponsoring this contest along with Tyndale House, I knew I had to enter. I thought the deadline would force me to finish the book I’d been working on since 1998. I also hoped I would get some good feedback on my manuscript. I didn’t expect to win, but I hoped to place among the top contenders. I was seeking validation for my writing.

How did you get started as a writer?

My husband bought me a word processor and said, ‘Now write your stories.’ He always encouraged me to try new things and he believed in me. Once I saw my words in print I was hooked. I also began to attend conferences, writer’s workshops and book signings. Slowly, I started to immerse myself in the writer’s milieu. Everything I read strongly encouraged making connections, putting yourself out there. It’s really difficult for me to self-promote, but nobody’s going to come to your house and beg for your book. Gradually I started to feel like a writer.

When did you decide to become writer?

I’m an avid reader. I love how words look on paper, and I’ve dreamed of writing for many years. Book stores are my favorite places. Soon after my husband had given me the word processor, I was sitting in the drive through of a local McDonalds when the first lines to my book popped into my head: “Girl! You’d better get to the house. If your Mam catches you in that creek again she’ll skin you alive!” In those three sentences, I met the integral characters to my story, Copper and her father, Will. Troublesome Creek was revised many times, but those lines never changed.

Did you go to school to become an author?

No, I have no formal training in writing. I’m a registered nurse, specializing in the care of newborn babies and their mothers. My education is in the medical field where there is little room for creativity. But nurses are great communicators and that’s what writing is all about.

How did you take your interest to a professional level?

When I was a girl, I often visited my grandmother in eastern Kentucky. One time while we sat in the porch swing breaking beans, Granny told me the true story of a young woman who got caught in a flash flood. When she tried to climb a tree to save herself and her little daughter, she lost hold. The baby was swept away, never to be found. I carried that woman’s plight in my heart for nearly fifty years. I desperately wanted to save her baby and so, with God’s grace, I set out to write Troublesome Creek. I kept my Bible and favorite scriptures on my desk and asked for God’s guidance every day. It’s been just wonderful to give the lost baby life and watch her adventures as she finds her way in the world.

Is Troublesome Creek based on someone personal in your life?

Just the story as my grandmother told it.

Do you prefer to write Historical or Contemporary fiction?

I want to follow Troublesome Creek with two other books based on Copper Brown’s life. I also want to try some lighter medical romances written for the Christian audience. And, I have the first line of a darker contemporary novel.

What are the challenges you face as an author?

I thought you should know how to write a book before you actually wrote one. It was as if I had a box of commas on my desk, and I didn’t know where to put them all. That held me back for a spell. Also, the publishing business is frightening to first timers. That’s why organizations like the Christian Writer’s Guild are so important. The folks there will teach you what you don’t know about the business.

I found out the story is the important thing, the only thing that matters really. Plus, once you sell your manuscript, there are these wonderful people called editors who help you with the commas. Actually, I knew much more than I thought I did. It’s all been great fun. I feel so blessed to be doing this thing I love.

How long did it take you to write Troublesome Creek?

It took me about six years, but, unknowingly, I also wrote most of the sequel, Willow Springs, during that time. The two books were one long manuscript. I had an opportunity to meet with an editor before I entered the contest and he advised me that my manuscript was too long. I was disappointed, but I divided the book and sent the first half to the contest. Once I won, I was told the book was too short! I revisited the folks on Troublesome Creek and added 30,000 words. Finally, as in the story of Goldilocks, the porridge was “just right.”

How much research went into Troublesome Creek?

I have a small collection of medical books from the 1800’s that I read for pleasure so I already had knowledge of the practice of medicine in the 1800’s. Much of the daily living activities I learned while growing up on a farm. We canned and made apple butter, killed our own chickens, hung clothes on the line, ate what my father hunted and so forth. Plus, I spent lots of time in the chicken house as you can tell from the book. I did research on caves, hunting dogs, snake handling, mules . . . anything I didn’t know first hand. I like to do research in the library not the internet. I like to hold books in my hands.

Who was your favorite character?

My favorite character is probably Remy, the little cave girl, because I didn’t expect her or know she was coming. I hurt for her. Remy’s coming back for the third book, Torrent Falls. I also liked the complexity of Mam. She was not an easy character to write because she didn’t want to reveal her secrets.

Who is the person who most influenced you with your writing?

Mildred Chandler, a teacher I had in grade school. She read to us every morning which brought the whole world to life for me. She inspired my love for books and literature.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I read any book I could find: Little Women, Nancy Drew, Wuthering Heights. I lived for book mobile days.

What message would you like your readers to take from Troublesome Creek?

That God is in control of our lives. He has a plan and a purpose and all we have to do is seek His direction.

What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?

I want my books to incorporate scripture in such a way that people don’t realize that they’re getting a message. I want it to be not preachy but so much a part of the people’s lives they’re reading about that they want that too.

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