Interview with Joanna Davidson Politano, Christian Author

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

Joanna Davidson Politano: “I honestly just love stories so much—that’s my primary inspiration. God is woven into my real-life story so deeply that I can’t really come up with a story that doesn’t involve him, and some of the bigger truths of life with him, so there you go.

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

JDP: “I’ve heard that every pastor has one sermon they preach over and over, from a different angle, every Sunday. Every writer has a heart thing, and it shows up in every book, no matter the specific theme. Mine revolves around the value of each person—especially the ones the world undervalues or overlooks. In grade school, I actually made superheroes out of bullied kids in my earliest stories, and I tend to make the underdog shine somehow in my book—or have my characters peel back unexpected layers of a character to reveal surprising elements of their nature. I don’t set out to do it, but I love doing that! Writing has also been a true deepening of my connection with God—talking through every nuance of every book.”

BOR: “What do you think is the hardest part of writing a good Christian book?”

JDP: “It’s hard to find a balance between including “Christian content” and being overly preachy with it. Often authors start writing because they have messages they want to share, but to be honest, my most authentic work has come from a place of “ok God, I don’t understand this—let’s untangle this throughout a story” rather than, “Here reader, here’s what I’ve learned.” It’s hard to write that way because you don’t have the answers when you start—and you have no idea where the book is going! It’s a great adventure, though.”

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

JDP: “Authenticity. It’s like a rare gem when you find it, because it’s hard to be authentic and to write the things that scare you, to expose your vulnerabilities. Again, this goes back to writing to learn rather than teach, and it isn’t easy. I love when I find a book that’s raw and real and honest, and I soak those books up.”

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

JDP :”Wow, we’ve come a long way as a broad genre! When I first started reading Christian fiction, there wasn’t much variety in storylines, settings, or subgenres. Publishers and authors have really stretched their boundaries to include very diverse voices, real life character flaws and dilemmas, and new and unusual rule breaking books. It’s been amazing to see what is being released now. That said, I’d love to see more truth-filled books that non-Christians find accessible. I always think about how Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles didn’t mention God at all, but his books were full of God’s truth.”

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

JDP: “I’ve never known of a book that didn’t have a team behind it, and I’ve never written a book worth reading without loads of help and input. From beta readers to marketing teams and even friendly cheerleaders, everyone contributes brush strokes to the canvas, and the final artwork is richer and nuanced because of it. The biggest difference in my own writing journey happened when I first off made it a collaborative effort with God instead of letting the sound of my own voice bounce around the empty pages!”

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

JDP: “I mentioned the broadening in publishing limits, and that’s been true even in the few years I’ve been involved. I’ve seen books published that no publisher would have touched a few years ago—stories that are a little creepy or set far off or even simply far outside the box that are now shaking up (in a good way) the way readers walk out their faith. Those books really make us think, and I’m extremely grateful for them!”

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

JDP: “I’m new on the scene, so I can’t speak to general market publishing companies, but the absolute support and almost “family” feel I’ve found at Baker has been a delightful surprise. It’s wonderful knowing I have extremely talented people who can help me with the aspects (like cover design and titling) in which I have zero skill. It frees me up to focus on writing, knowing my team has my back.”

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

JDP: “For my next novel I’ve ventured into a place I’ve hardly ever gone in real life—the theater. The Victorian ballet theater, to be exact. I started on this project when my sweet little daughter fell in love with ballet, and even though I’ve never been coordinated enough to dance, the first time I took my girl to a live performance I was mesmerized! I poured all those impressions—and a whole lot of research—into a mysterious, romantic story about a ballet dancer who is determined not to be one of those “doomed” theater stories. I can’t wait to share it this fall–there was so much energy in life in the hero that I can still picture him!”

BOR: “Thank you for your time and input Ms. Politano! We value your perspective and can’t wait to read your upcoming novel!”

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