Favorite Bible Verse: Hebrews 12:1,2a(NLT) "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish."
|Our Interview with Tamera Alexander|
|How did you choose to become a CBA author?
It was more or less the response to a dare. On a trip driving back to Colorado from Texas one night, I finished reading a novel, tossed it in the back seat, turned to my husband and said (just kidding at the time), “I think I could write one of those.” Without hesitation he said, “Well, do it!” A bit competitive at heart, I took his challenge.
But to back up a step, I need to fill in how I even started reading Christian novels. My mother-in-law, Claudette Harris Alexander, gave me a novel years ago and said she thought that the story would really touch my heart. Unfortunately I glanced at the cover and didn’t think it would be a story I’d necessarily enjoy, so while I appreciated the gift and told her so, I shelved the book. Didn't read it. On occasion she’d ask me if I’d had time read it yet and I would say no, but I will! Then I got a call one afternoon… Claudette had died very suddenly of a brain aneurysm. About six months after her passing, I was cleaning the bookshelves downstairs and ran across that book again. I took it off the shelf, read it one sitting, and loved it! I had read a ton of non-fiction books in the Christian market but never fiction. The book? Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke. I’m so grateful to Ms. Oke not only for her writing but for the foundation she laid in the CBA market for future writers. She, among others, paved the way for those of us writing inspirational fiction today.
I wrote my first manuscript over the next year and sent it to Bethany House for review. The manuscript went through a couple rounds of rewrites with an editor there (Ms. Barb Lilland). As High as the Heavens got to the review board where they finally chose to pass on it. But I’m so thankful to Ms. Lilland for her willingness to work with me on that story. I learned so much through that process. Even in a rejection, God never wastes the experience! There’s always something to learn. As High as the Heavens is now tucked away safely inside my desk, where it should be. I had a lot to learn and they were right in ‘taking a pass’ on it.
|At that point I thought…well, if I really want to do this (try and write for publication) I need to buckle down and learn how to write! I shifted into high gear, got tons of books on writing and joined American Christian Fiction Writers (www.americanchristianfictionwriters.com, ACFW). I went to ACFW’s annual conferences and attended the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) in Estes Park and soaked up as much information as I could. In 2004, through the generosity of Ms. Colleen Coble and Ms. Kristin Billerbeck, I also attended Mount Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference in California (MH). Colleen and Kris sponsored a contest through ACFW where they paid the way (out of their own pockets, mind you—those two have such a heart for helping unpublished writers) for an unpublished writer to go to the MH conference. Krista Stroever at Steeple Hill judged the final entries in the contest, and she chose my women’s contemporary fiction as the overall winner. So off to Mount Hermon I went, huge thanks to Colleen, Kris, and Krista! That conference turned out to be a pivotal point for me because that’s where I met my agent, Deidre Knight, who then sold Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, Currently unnamed Book 3) historical series to Bethany House Publishers in the fall of 2004. Rekindled is currently available. Revealed releases November 2006, and Book 3 will come out mid-2007.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
Hebrews 12:1,2a | New Living Translation:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.
This passage challenges me to run my own race in this life. Not someone else’s, but the race that God has specifically designed for Tamera Alexander. I’m to keep my eyes on Him, instead of the race someone else might be running beside me.
Is there something special about the dress on the cover of the book?
Paul Higdon and the creative art team at Bethany House did a wonderful job on this cover, and I appreciate their hard work! The dress the model is wearing is vintage 1860s which Bethany House chose from an assortment of photographs they received from a vintage clothier in California. They hired a model and did a photo shoot that perfectly captures the feel of the love story in Rekindled. The dress is also one that Jane Seymour wore in her TV series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
Do you live in Colorado?
Yes, we've lived in Colorado for the past sixteen years. My husband is Dean of the Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado. UNC is what brought us to this area sixteen years ago. I was originally born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. We moved here when our children were very young so Colorado is the only home they’ve known.
|Is that why you chose to write about the area?
When we moved here I quickly grew to love the history of this area. I've always loved the Americana West, 1850-80s, and stories set near the Rocky Mountains. Using historical towns can be very tricky with fiction because you want to stay historically accurate to the town’s documented history and yet your fictional story needs to have room to move and breathe as well. In the end, I went with detailed historical information about the area and time period and then created a fictional town. Rekindled is set in the Colorado Springs area in a town named Willow Springs. I did this for many reasons, but the final decision was made when I was speaking with a foremost historical expert of that time period. I discovered that despite what some history books say, there wasn't a brothel in the town of Colorado Springs until the latter part of the 1800s. The brothel in Rekindled was integral to the storyline so that’s when I decided to create Willow Springs and place it “in the shadow of Pikes Peak.”
How did you choose the story line?
I got the premise for Rekindled from a lasting snapshot of a dream I had. I woke up and couldn’t get this mental picture out of my mind. It was of a man riding through the mountains on horseback, coming home after he’d been gone for a long time. He saw a grave and rode over to check it out. A sparse handful of people were gathered there, and he was curious as to what type of a life a person would have led that would draw so few well wishers. Once everyone was gone, he walked over to the grave, stooped to read the name on the marker, and found the name was his.
Do you use an outline or does the story just flow?
A little bit of both. The story of Rekindled “flowed” in about three months, then came another couple months of revision. I'm not a huge plotter which surprised me because coming from a business background I like everything pretty regimented. When starting to write Rekindled, I knew the opening scene and the closing scene, and certain points along the way, but there were some twists in the story for me. For instance, the times when I expected a character to do one thing, and they did another. No matter how I tried, the character wouldn’t “cooperate.” I've discovered since then that when something like that happens, when I’m trying to force something, there's either something amiss within character motivation or perhaps I just don’t know the heart of that character well enough yet. So I go back and keep digging. Some writers plot out every single scene on a note card, and while I admire that (and sometimes wish I could do that), I just don’t write that way. Part of writing, for me, is the faith walk and the discoveries I make along the way. When a character learns something, I’m right beside them taking that very same lesson to heart.
|Is any part of the book factual?
There are tidbits of historical accuracies about the location and particular slices of Americana throughout the book, but the storyline itself, the characters and the events that occur, are not based on real individuals. Rekindled is a married romance about how God can rekindle romance in a marriage. To me the best love is love that develops over time—through experiencing both “the better” and “the worse.” Kathryn Jennings, the heroine in Rekindled, brings unrealistic expectations into marriage and soon realizes that she needs to grow to love her husband for the man he is, not for the man she expects him to be. And Larson Jennings, in turn, realizes that he needs to learn to love his wife like Christ loved the church.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
I love the relationships that I have with other writers both online and locally. But, by and large, writing is a very solitary occupation. I love to laugh, I love humor, I love being around people. And when you're alone for so long it can become lonely, you feel shut off from the rest of the world (which you are because you’ve barricaded yourself in your office until you’ve met that daily word count). And left on your own like that, a person can start questioning their ability to see the task through.
In walks Insecurity.
There’s something about insecurity in a writer’s life. It creeps in most unexpectedly and tends to want to set up camp. It’s funny because in the past I’ve heard from talented multi-published authors who are downright certain that the last book they’ve just turned in will likely be their last. They think, “My publisher is now going to discover I can't write and they're going to cancel my contracts.” I used to laugh at that, thought it was so funny. Before I became published. Now it has a frighteningly familiar haunt to it.
In recent weeks, I’ve struggled with that “voice” that says I’m inadequate to this task. I just keep returning to the forever truth found in 2 Corinthians 12:9. So when that voice says, “You’re…not…adequate.” I respond, “Yes, you may be right, but His power is made perfect in my weakness. So go back where you came from.” And then I get right back to the task of writing.
|How many books are in The Fountain Creek Chronicles?
Fountain Creek Chronicles is a three-part historical series set in the Colorado Territory, 1860s. Rekindled, book one, is currently available. Revealed, book two, will be out in November 2006. Book three’s title is still up in the air at this point. Rekindled actually wasn't the original title either. One of the acquisitions editors at Bethany House (Charlene Patterson) came up with it. And it perfectly fits the theme of the story. (Thanks, Charlene!) Following the pattern, I chose Revealed as the title for the second book and was pleased when they decided to keep it!
Do you have a favorite character in Rekindled?
I would have to say that it's Larson Jennings. I learned so much from him as I wrote this story. I went to my husband and other men for input on how men would react to this situation or that. Because we all know…men and women react very diffently to circumstances. It was insightful for me to make this journey with a character who is so transformed—obviously on the outside, and not by choice—but also on the inside definitely through his choice and through his surrendering to God's will.
Are there any other projects on the horizon?
I’ve got the third book to finish writing in the Fountain Creek Chronicles series, and beyond that, I don’t have anything contracted at this time. I’d love to keep writing historical fiction if God opens that door.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
My goal is to write stories interwoven with a thread of faith that will, prayerfully, draw people closer to Christ. So that once they've closed the cover not only have they gone on a mini-vacation (because I love to be transported to another time and place when I read a book), but I hope they’ve also experienced a small rekindling of their faith in some way. I took a step closer to Christ in the writing of Rekindled, and I hope others do too, in their reading.
|Don't Miss the Next Titles in the Fountain Creek Chronicles Series!|