Join us today, here at Paperback Writer for our interview with Christian Fiction author, Angela Benson as she talks about her latest novel The Amen Sisters.
Angela has published nine novels, one novella, and a nonfiction writing book. Her books have appeared on national, regional and local bestseller lists, and she has won several writing awards, including Best Multicultural Romance from Romantic Times magazine, and Best Contemporary Ethnic Romance from Affaire de Coeur magazine. She was a finalist for the 2000 Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award in Multicultural Romance.
Welcome to Paperback Writer
Will you share with us how you came up with the idea for this book?
The idea for The Amen Sisters came to me in 1990, about the time that I was able to start talking about the abusive church situation I had experienced a few years earlier. I had a story I wanted to tell, but I had no idea I’d tell it in a novel. I wasn’t even a published author at the time!
Do you plan your stories first with an outline or does it come to you as write it?
A little of both. I like the security of having an outline, so I start with one. I’ll write a general outline for entire book, with placeholders for key events and a lot of blank space. I only have detail for about the first 3-5 chapters.
Detail for me means a phrase describing the 3-4 scenes in each chapter. Armed with that beginning outline, I write the first 3-5 chapters. After those chapters are finished, I outline the next 3-5 chapters. I continue this method until the book is finished.
Do you know the end of the story at the beginning?
I know in general that my characters will resolve their issues and grow in their faith, but I never know how. The how reveals itself as I write the book. That’s the fun part of writing for me.
Do you have a process for developing your characters?
I tend to do character sketches/bios before I start writing and during the writing of the first three chapters. I spend a lot of time making sure I understand the relationships among the characters. Once I have that in my mind, I start the first three chapters. It’s only after writing those chapters that I get a real handle on my characters.
It is said that authors write themselves into their characters. Is there any part of you in your characters and what would they be?
My life experience shows up in every book I write. It’s there in the characters’ emotions, not necessarily their actions. I make an effort though to make sure that my characters aren’t me. They have their own identity. While I understand their motivation for doing and saying the things they do, those actions and thoughts are theirs, not mine. As a new author, I often asked the question: What would I do or say in this situation? Now I ask the question: What would this character do or say?
What is your most favorite part about this book?
The relationship between the sisters, who are twins. I fell in love with them as they argued, fought and loved.
When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
With my first book, I had a synopsis and three chapters written before I started querying publishers. With The Amen Sisters, my tenth book, I went to contract on a paragraph description of the book. Actually, the book wasn’t even The Amen Sisters. It was another book that I have yet to write.
What struggles have you had on the road to being published?
The same struggle as other writers—finding a publisher and an agent. Like most writers, I have a stack of rejection letters from agents and publishers.
What has been the best part about being published?
The reader mail. I want to write stories that touch people’s lives, that give them a moment of laughter, hope, and encouragement. Letters from readers let me know how well I’m doing this.
What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your novel?
The Amen Sisters is my tribute to survivors of church abuse. I tell their story, a story many of us never think about. We see the ministers on television who give their repentance sermons and we get to hear the stories of how God helped thempull their lives back together, but we never hear about the broken parishioners who get caught in the chaos. I wanted to write about those broken people to show that they do exist and to show how God heals their hurt and restores their faith.
People laugh at the things that go on in some churches. I want The Amen Sisters to be a reminder of all the people who arehurt by the nonsense. For those who have been hurt, I want The Amen Sisters to serve as an affirmation that recovery is possible.
Do you have plans to write another book?
My next book, Up Pops the Devil, will be published by HarperCollins in September 2008. It’s the story of “Preacher” Winters and the four women who complicate his re-entry into society as a law-abiding Christian after being incarcerated for two years for drug trafficking. It’s a fun book that demonstrates how individual decisions have community effects. The devil even makes an appearance.
Would you care to share with us how the virtual book tour experience with Pump Up Your Book Promotion has been for you?
I have tried a lot of different things to promote my books over the course of my career, and I can honestly say that this blog tour, is by far, one of the best things I’ve done. I have added it to my list of activities to do with every book.
Where can readers find a copy of your book?
Readers can find The Amen Sisters at most online bookstores, including Amazon.com, BN.com, and ChristianBook.com. Your local bookstore should also have copies. If it’s out of stock, they can easily re-order it.
Do you have a website for readers to go to?
You can reach my blog and website on the web at www.angelabenson.com and www.theamensisters.com
I also have pages at MySpace (www.myspace.com/angelabenson), Shelfari (www.shelfari.com/angelabenson) and Shoutlife
Thank you, Angela for sharing your book and characters with us today. It has been a pleasure and I hope you have had a successful virtual book tour.