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Tina Ann ForknerTina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Originally from Oklahoma, she graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she lives with her husband and their three bright children. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors, volunteers with her local Mothers of Preschooler group, and enjoys gardening and spending time outdoors with her family.

Favorite Verse: Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." "I just find it so encouraging to be reminded that God cares about me no matter how things get."

 


 

 Christianbook.com Interview with Tina Ann Forkner


 

What prompted your decision to become a CBA author?


In the beginning, I didn’t really say to myself, “I’m going to write a CBA book,” but because I am a Christian, my first novel, Ruby Among Us, was naturally written from a Christian worldview. It just made sense to sell it to Waterbrook Press, a CBA publishing house. I love how CBA fiction has grown in the last ten years. There are so many options for readers now. 

 
How did you come up with the concept for Rose House?

 
It came from the prologue of my first novel, Ruby Among Us, in which there is a line that says, “I like to think all those photographs of the Rose House are hanging on the refrigerators of housewives, pushed into the visors of taxi cabs, framed and hanging on the walls of busy offices, or maybe even tucked into the wallets or purses of those who dare to dream that something as astonishingly beautiful might await them over the next hill.”


I knew I wanted to write a book that focused even more on the Rose House, so I decided to tell the story of how the Rose House becomes a symbol of hope for people. It is sort of a sequel to the first, but they don’t have to be read in order.


Is there a real “Rose House”?


Yes and no.  Years ago, when I was traveling in the Sonoma Valley, I came across a vineyard where there was an old cottage.  A massive rose bramble had taken over the entire front porch awning and one whole side of the house.  I was told the rose bush might be 100 years old, but I can’t remember where the vineyard was.  I like to imagine what it might look like by now, possibly engulfed by the roses. 

How did you choose the setting for Rose House?


It came from my first novel, Ruby Among Us. I created the fictional town of La Rosaleda from my frequent visits to the Sonoma Valley when I was living in California. I fell in love with the lushness of the valley and the vineyards. When I started writing, that setting came to mind and seemed to fit the story. In book two it was natural to keep the same setting.

How closely is Rose House based on your personal experience?

 
I have lived in California and like Lillian and her sister, Geena, I did grow up in a small town in Oklahoma.  There are many qualities that Lillian and Geena both have as a result of growing up in a small Oklahoma town and I would definitely agree that I have many of those same qualities.  Small towns shape who we are and tend to stay with us even when we leave them.

How long did Rose House take you to complete?

 
Initially it took about six months to write before the editing process began.

 

What is the symbolism for the title Rose House?


Rose House is not just a house, but a concept.  We all need a Rose House of our own. A Rose House, as symbolized by the house in the novel, is a place one goes to find hope. It is a place one goes to be comforted and encouraged, to basically be sheltered from the struggles of life. Maybe that place is a Grandmother, a family, a favorite fishing hole, or a group of friends, a garden or a tree.

Do you have a favorite character in Rose House? Why?


It seems like my favorite characters are very often the secondary characters. I like Paige, who becomes a friend of Lillian’s.  I love her life and the Bed and Breakfast she runs. I also love Geena, even with all of her problems.

How much research did the Rose House take? 

 
I didn’t do a lot of research, but did some reading and studying about painting and art. I was careful not to go overboard because I wanted the reader to see art through the eyes of my character and tell a story about art from the common observer without getting lost in the details.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Rose House?


I can’t really say without giving away the end of the story, but it has to do with roses.

Do you prefer to write Romance fiction? 

I don’t really see Rose House as a romance, but so many people have told me they do.  I don’t really prefer to write a romance over a straight women’s fiction novel, but certainly love stories are part of life and I like to tell a good one as much as the next person.  If it fits the story, I will go with it.  I didn’t really set out for Rose House to have such a romantic love story woven into the plot, but when Lillian met the artist in the novel, sparks flew and started reshaping my plot.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

 
One of the biggest challenges I face is self-doubt. I worry over my books more than I can tell you. I handle it by diving into my writing and focusing on a new story.

 

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?


I enjoy the actual act of writing. There is nothing better than creating a new story. I also like that I don’t have to dress up to do my job!

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?


I belong to American Christian Fiction Writers and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Those organizations keep me connected to other writers.


What do you do to keep your writing fresh and improve on it each time you write a book?


I read a lot of fiction, as well as books on the craft of writing. There is always room for improvement with each book. I just try to write a better book each time.

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?


Yes, I am working on two different books right now. They are both very different, but I’m passionate about each of them. I am looking forward to completing them.

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


I get asked this question a lot, but I can’t credit just one person. There have been, and continue to be, so many different people who have influenced me depending on what stage I am in. Some people have inspired me with their life stories and some with their instruction.


What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?

 
It helps to join some writing organizations, take a college class, read everything you can, and write every day. Those are all good things that I always suggest to people who ask me how to become a fiction writer, but the bottom line is that I stick by the old-fashioned advice that the only way to become a writer is to write and to write a lot. There isn’t a quick way to become a writer. You don’t need fancy tools or an office to be a writer. You just need to start writing and tell your story.

 

What message would you like your readers to take away from Rose House?


I love for my readers to feel what the story means to them and to find what touches them about it on their own. Sometimes I feel like if I say it, then it might ruin the story for them. What I can say and do want to say is that I wish for my readers to find hope in Rose House and in all of my novels.

 
What is your greatest achievement?


My greatest achievement is the family I share with my husband. We are blended and it’s not always easy being a family in the first place, but being a blended family has extra challenges. I have the best family in the world and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They inspire me every day.


What is your goal or mission as a writer?


To tell a good story that readers will continue to think about even after they put the book down.

What do you do to get away from it all?

 

 

I try to get outside as often as I can to take the dog for a walk, visit the Botanic Gardens, or work in my own little struggling garden. In the winter it’s not as easy, which is why I get up early in the mornings. As a writer, I need some alone time to reconnect, talk with God, and just relax.

 
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