How long have you been writing?
A girlfriend and I began co-authoring a book about twin girls and their horses when we were in grade school. We never finished it, and I have no idea what happened to it, although I’m pretty sure it ended up in the landfill. My next writing effort didn’t come until I was in my thirties when I began writing historicals set in the 1860s, my favorite time period in American history. But I was an ICU nurse with a husband and four kids, so writing wasn’t exactly a full-time profession. In two decades I wrote two novels. I self-published them in 2006, and am happy with how they continue to sell and with the extraordinary feedback I continue to receive from readers.
What challenges did you encounter in your journey to getting published?
I know someone who calls query letters “invitations for rejection.” I’ve accumulated TNTC (Too Numerous To Count) over the years. Another challenge is length. Refining Fires started out as a short story, but it seems I’m incapable of such a thing. “Short” and “story” constitutes an oxymoron as far as I’m concerned.What motivates you to write?
I have only one motivating factor, and that is the story itself. When an idea comes, and grows, and I can’t stop it, and it simply must come out, that is my motivation. I’m not what other authors would consider “disciplined” in that I don’t write at the same time every day. Sometimes I don’t even write for long periods at a time, because I don’t write unless I have that spark inside that says I must. I’ve never written under a deadline. I once met with an agent at a conference, and we discussed my novel about a nurse during the Civil War. He wasn’t too interested, and asked if I’d be willing to write about a nurse in the Iraq War. I said no, because I had no passion to do that. I love historicals, and that’s what I write. Some might say I was stupid to say I won’t write a certain setting or time period if someone like an agent shows interest in it, but I believe that if I write something I have no passion for, my stories won’t come across as powerful and personal as readers are telling me they do.
I understand you had a book released recently. Tell me a little about your book.
It’s titled Refining Fires. It’s unique in that it’s in three parts, each with distinct main characters, although God weaves their lives together into a tapestry that glorifies Him. The first story, “Refining Fire,” is a love story between a disfigured veteran and a nurse with a ruined reputation. He tosses her out, but his anger is no match for her pluck, and her determined efforts elicit renewed life from his body while evoking a raw yearning in his soul. “Blind Courage” introduces a young girl who must act courageously in the face of tremendous challenges and overwhelming fear to save her mother’s life. The third is the story of a “Kept Woman,” of how she got to that point, and of “Who” has been keeping her all along. Paths cross and lives intertwine, showing how God’s hand is ever on us, leading and refining.
What do you hope the reader takes away from your book?
The title, Refining Fires, is taken from a verse in Isaiah that says:“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” The characters each go through a refining process in their own particular furnace of affliction. My desire is that these stories will show how when our faith is tested, God provides the courage and tools we need to persevere, achieve victory, and come out refined.
What was your best decision as a writer?
I have two really. One was joining a critique group, who’ve turned out to be invaluable to me, and I hope I have been to them. I’ve heard crit group horror stories, but mine is the best. My other great decision was joining the Military Writers Society of America. The Society members are such a supportive bunch, and there is a camaraderie there you only get among military-connected folk. Not to mention they awarded my Civil War-set novel, True Colors, the 2009 Gold Medal in Historical Fiction.
What is your greatest success?
Always, always I feel great success when a reader says they loved my stories and gained courage or hope from them, or that my characters were inspirational to them. Nothing like it.
You can purchase Erin’s book, Refining Fires by clicking below.