Interview With Jaime Jo Wright, Christian Author

The Writers Alley: Interview with Author Jaime Jo Wright {VIDEO + ...

Box Office Revolution: “What inspired you to first write Christian books?”

Jaime Jo Wright: “I’ve always harbored a deep love of story. When I was little, my first read that completely captivated me—I still vividly recall the feeling—was Dick and Jane. It was an old, hardback copy and seeing Dick run was riveting. It sounds silly, but as a four-year-old, those words made such a lasting impression on me. Movement was encapsulated on the page and became a story that breathed life into my imagination. From there, I devoured books until I was introduced to authors like Janette Oke, Tracie Peterson, Michael Phillips, and then I saw that not only were stories a reflection of life, but they could also reflect our Spiritual walk. The marriage of story and relationship with God became a passion of mine by the time was an early teenager.”

BOR: “What do you feel is your underlying philosophy of writing?”

JW: “Wow. What a great question! My underlying philosophy of writing is to write stories that can influence hope in Jesus, but also in a way that will touch the heart of someone who may not be familiar with faith. My passion is to show the reality of hope in real-to-life people—in broken people—and in circumstances that are less than ideal. I want Jesus to be real in the broken places, and even though the broken places may remain dark, there is hope. Hope is the driving force of each and every one of my stories. What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book? For me it’s finding the balance between writing solid thematic messages without being overtly evangelistic in my approach. There is a place for that approach in fiction, for sure, but I’ve felt led to write stories that come alongside and walk with the reader rather than a more bold, outright message. Because of that, trying to show faith and hope in action while not watering down the Gospel into a non-existent message, can be very challenging. It’s a balance between wanting to inspire the faith-driven reader, while not wanting to drive away the reader who may be exploring Christian fiction for the very first time.”

BOR: “What do you think we need to see more of in Christian novels?”

JW: “Diversity. Hands down, diversity. We need more authors from varying backgrounds, because we can’t all reach all cultures. I would write a very poor representation of an African American or Asian heroine as compared to an author coming from that specific background. And those stories need to be told so those who love to read and who want to grow in their faith, can do so under the representation of characters they can relate to. In this need for diversity, I also believe we need to diversify the characteristics and backgrounds of our characters. It’s time we realize humanities’ flaws aren’t something to be hidden, but embraced, challenged, and even confronted.”

BOR: “What do you think needs to be improved about Christian books as a whole?

JW: “I think Christian books could afford to be less concerned about portraying a “separate from the world” hero or heroine. This tends to set them so apart that the only readers who can relate, or even want to relate, are Christians themselves. While this is good in some respects, it can ostracize non-believing readers as they see characters being caught up in trivial issues like drinking wine or using a slightly off-colored word. Instead, I’d like to see humanity represented as humanity truly is. We’re imperfect, searching people. Whether drinking wine or dropping a cuss word is or isn’t allowable, to me, isn’t so much the issue as the character’s journey toward faith and toward a relationship with Christ. When we vet all Christian fiction to be “clean” and “separate”, we can run the risk of vetting out reality. It’s a fine line, I realize. I would never argue that overt sexual material or dropping four-letter words are necessary to reach the non-believing reader. But I would argue, that sugar-coating our characters can make them very unrelatable in a world where very little is sugar coated any more.”

BOR: “How do you feel about Christian novel writing as being a collaborative effort rather than a ‘lone ranger’ creation?

JW: “Oh, I definitely feel Christian novel writing is a community effort. There is a distinct, warm atmosphere among Christian authors where we support and back one another. It’s less competitive and more “how can I help”. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the collaborative efforts of established Christian authors nudging me, mentoring me, and helping me along.”

BOR: “How have Christian books improved during the time you’ve been involved in writing?

JW: “I see an upswing in Christian books attempting to reach a broader readership. While I feel there is still plenty of room for growth, I’ve been thrilled to read authors like Kara Isaac, Rachel McMillan, Natalie Walters, and Joanna Davidson Politano who aren’t afraid to tackle deep topics, relatable characters, and create clean reads without incorporating sermons and soapboxes.

BOR: “Is working with Christian publishing companies any better or worse than working with ‘secular’ publishing companies?”

JW: “I honestly haven’t worked for ‘secular’ publishing companies, so I would have to defer on this question.”

BOR: “What are your future plans for new novels?  Can you tease any specific upcoming projects?”

JW: “My upcoming novel, releasing in Spring 2021, will be the first novel where I touch on the Civil War, and also the first novel to incorporate a treasure hunt. It was so fun to write and so eye-opening to research the Civil War and how far north the Confederacy actually reached. But that’s all I’ll say for now.”

Thank you for your time and input Ms. Wright! We look forward to reading and reviewing your upcoming novel when it is released!

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