Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interview with Gayle Roper

by Kathy Ruff

GAYLE ROPER, award-winning author of more than 40 books, will speak at the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers’ Group The Write Stuff Conference held March 16 & 17 at the Four Points Sheraton, Allentown, PA.

Roper’s awards for her work include the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award, the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award and three HOLT Medallions.

She has been a Christy finalist three times and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times Book Report.

For her work in training Christian Writers, Roper has won special recognition from Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, St. Davids CWC, Florida CWC and Greater Philadelphia CWC.

Roper shared a few of her thoughts for readers of our blog:

Kathy Ruff: How do you define “inspirational” writing?

Gayle Roper: An inspirational story is one that lifts the spirit and offers that overcoming against great odds idea. It offers the reader hope. In recent years that phrase has become euphemistic for work having a strong faith line as an integral part of the story, offering that sustaining hope of a belief system faith lived out in everyday circumstances. My books fall into that latter category.

K: If a writer has ideas about writing inspirational works, what guidance could you provide to help him/her to clarify those ideas?

R: As you work to develop your characters and your plot, you must also work to establish your faith arc. What issues of belief do your characters wrestle with? How will these issues develop over the story? How will the story line and the actions of the other characters affect belief or disbelief? You have to build these elements into the book as deliberately as all other elements.

K: What do’s and don’ts can you offer to those interested in entering the inspirational realm?

R: Do think deeply about the area of faith you want to develop. Say it's forgiveness you want your characters to struggle with. Research what forgiveness is in a theological sense, not just a cultural sense. Discover all the subtleties of forgiving and decide which of these you want to dissect through your characters.

Do have characters who react positively and others who react negatively to whatever truth you're dissecting. Then show the results of the choices made.

Don’t try to write for the inspirational markets if you never give faith any play in your own life. Your lack of familiarity with anything God-ish will show.

K: How can writers find markets to pitch their inspirational works?

R: The best place to find markets at least for Christian-based faith material is the annual Christian Writers Market Guide. Writers' Market also has a section on inspirational markets with a broader range of faiths.

K: Please offer any other words of wisdom you feel may inspire other inspirational writers to pursue their passion.

R: I think most people wonder about God. Who is he? Does he care about me? What should be my response to him? Why does he let bad things happen? Who was Jesus? So many books never acknowledge this curiosity, never acknowledge God's existence except by characters swearing in his name. Writing a fascinating story full of interesting characters and a dynamite plot is great, but adding the element of interesting characters wrestling with these hard God-questions as they face the plot dilemmas is even better. One of the great strengths of story is that it shows people living their choices and the consequences. Let's show them living all of life. Let’s offer hope.

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