It is my honor today to interview Colleen Coble. What a wonderful and humble lady! She is an inspiration!
Best selling author, Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA's Rita, The Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, National's Readers Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over one million books in print and writes Romantic Mystrey's because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and a member of the Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana, and is a proud grandma. When she is not spoiling her granddaughter she is teaching at a conference or researching a new book. Visit her website at: www.colleencoble.com
I've visited your website and I have a hundred questions I'd love to ask but I'll try and keep the numbers down in the 2 digits.
1) Where are you right now (LV, DR, Bathroom) and what are you wearing? You have to tell the truth.LOL! I'm in my recliner by the window. I'm barefoot and I have on jeans and a long sleeved shirt. No makeup.
2) Colleen do you have any new books coming out? How many books do you have published now? And what genres do you write in?My newest just released: Lonestar Secrets. The next book out is a new genre for me. It's a historical romantic mystery set in northern California in 1907. It's actually about Bree's ancestor (Bree is the main character in the Rock Harbor books) and it was fun to see the parallels between that Gilded Era and our current one. I started out writing historical romance but my dream was to move into romantic suspense. God has opened some amazing doors for me!
3) Can you tell us a little about your writing journey? When you decided you wanted to be a writer. Did anyone inspire you to write? When you started, how long before you were published, what you found difficult?
I can still remember the first story I ever wrote. It was in first grade and was about twin colts. My teacher praised my writing, and the seed was planted. Someday I would be a writer.
The seed lay dormant through the early years of marriage and raising a family. "Someday" I was going to write. I devoured books by the armloads from the library, and it bothered me to read the hopelessness in them that assumed there was no God. Through those years, I told God if he'd give me a story, I'd love to write from the viewpoint that He exists and cares about His children. But nothing came.
August 25, 1990 changed everything. The phone rang late that night with the news that my younger brother had been killed by lightning in a freak farm accident. In the coming months, as I emerged from the storm of grief, I realized that if I was ever going to follow the dream I believed God had put in my heart, I needed to get started. I was approaching my fortieth birthday, and time was marching on.
As part of the grieving process, my husband and I made a trip out to Wyoming to see where Randy had lived during a two-year stint. As I stood on the parade ground at Fort Laramie, the first idea took root and sprouted. The fire of grief and adversity had finally cracked open the seed that had lain dormant in my heart all those years.
It still wasn't easy. Getting published is hard and takes work and commitment. Every time I was tempted to let the computer go dark, God whispered in my heart that I could do it. That He had given me everything I needed to go on. When a rejection came, I'd cry for a while. Then I'd pick myself back up, rework it and send it out again.
Seven years later I finally made the first sale. But God taught me about faith and perseverance through those seven years. In those days I knew no other writers. It was lonely and soul-crushing at times. I'm so thankful for the American Christian Fiction Writers and other authors whose friendships I treasure now after wandering so long in the wilderness. Looking back, I'm glad it wasn't easier. It makes me appreciate so much more the joy and privilege I have to share my novels with my readers and to hopefully make them a little thirsty for the One who holds out a cup of living water.
4) Are you or any close family members in the characters personalities?
Do you want to be responsible for my murder? ;-) But no, I try to come up with, uh, fresh personalities.
5) What does it feel like to see your books in stores all over the United States and to know you can google your name and pull up thousands of results?
Amazing! I'm constantly humbled by what God has done. And He HAS done it. It's been nothing from me except obeying what He told me to do with fear and trembling.
6) What kind of advice can you give other unpublished writers?
Never give up. Go to a writing conference every year, always be reading a book on craft, and make friends in the writing world. Joining ACFW (www.acfw.com) is a great way to find help and support too.
7) If the Lord told you that you were allowed to bring one material thing with you to heaven, what would that be? (Material being not a person.)
My MacBook! Oh my gosh, I so love that thing. I'm a new Mac convert, as of three years ago this month.
8) If you could meet any person alive or dead who would that be and why? (excluding the Lord because we would all choose Him! ;-) )
Peter. He's just like me: impulsive, too quick to speak, but one who loves the Lord anyway.
9) When and how did you come to know the Lord?
It's kind of a dramatic story. It was my birthday, January 19, 1979, and we'd just been at a birthday party my inlaws had for me and our son whose birthday was the day before. Freezing rain had come down while we were inside but we thought we could make it home okay. They lived in the country about ten miles out of town. When we turned onto the highway, the roads were still like glass. Dave was driving slow and being careful. I was holding my 3 year old daughter back in the days before carseats and we were both dozing. I heard Dave shout, "Look out!" I looked up to see a car heading at us and knew in that moment we were all about to die. And I wasn't ready. None of us were. I remember screaming, "Oh God," and it was a prayer in that moment because I knew He was the only one who could save us. The next thing I knew icy rain was pouring in the broken T-top, the horn was blaring in a nightmarish fashion and we were sideways in the road with more traffic coming. All of us were only half conscious and our five-year-old son was crying. Our baby girl was only half conscious and had blood trickling from the corner of her mouth. I could tell she was terribly hurt. I had part of the dashboard in my leg. Dave's mouth was bleeding from teeth that had been knocked out.
Dave stumbled outside to try to flag down traffic before we were hit again. One of the boys in the other car was already dead. The first car to stop was a family that went to a local church. One of the family members rode with our daughter (broken jaw) to the hospital while we waited for the 2nd ambulance. We all had various injuries that kept us in the hospital about 10 days. When we got home, the pastor of the church were the family went that had stopped to help us, Don Gutwein, arranged for food to be brought in. He led us to the Lord within six months. So everything that has happened in my Christian life started there. Would we be Christians without that accident? I don't think so. God in His kindness did what was necessary for our eternal future.
10) Is there any person who has been a strong influence in your Christian walk?
The Gutwein family mentored us from day one and we have been supported and taught by Steve and Paula Parks who pastored our church for nearly 18 years before going on to a church in St. Charles, MO.
11) If the Lord came down today and ask you what the last good deed you did for someone was, what would that be?
I'm a mom. Doing things for others is part of my makeup and I can't help it. I don't like to brag so we'll just let that one slide. But I think people who don't automatically reach out to others are missing a huge blessing.
12) I read a little about a life changing experience that happened to you years ago and how you met up with an amazing young man that is related to the people who left a lasting impression on your life. Could you share with us that experience and how you reconnected with the grandson?
I already told you about the life-changing way we came to know the Lord. Fast forward thirty years. We'd kind of lost touch with the Gutweins over the years. I follow Mike Hyatt on Twitter and he mentioned a young man named Austin Gutwein who started a Hoops for Hope ministry to raise money to help orphans in Africa. Nelson is bringing out a book about his story and Mike just heard him present at the sales conference. Hmm. Austein Gutwein, I think. Gutwein is a very uncommon name. I shot off a tweet to Mike and asked him to ask Austin if his grandpa would happen to be Don Gutwein. Amazingly it is! He's Danny's boy.
When we went to AZ in July, Dan arranged for us to surprise his parents at breakfast. The entire family has had such an impact on our lives and it was wonderful to get caught up. I know I would not be writing books today if it weren't for that family. And to SEE God's hand bring all this together just gives me chills!
His book, Take Your Best Shot, is in stores now and it's an amazing story about what just ONE person can do. Austin was just NINE when he decided he wanted to do something for the orphans in Africa. His parents encouraged him. It's so amazing to see what God has done in his life--and continues to do!