awards, and have won the WILLA Literary Award, USABestBooks, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Medallion Award. Jane lives in Central Oregon with her husband, Jerry.
Jane, welcome to Interviews & Reviews!
For those who aren't familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?
When I was young living in Wisconsin, I loved words and their sounds and wrote what I called wretched little poems. I put writing aside for a career in mental health. Then thirty years ago my husband and I took a big risk and moved to a 160 acre rattlesnake and rock ranch in Oregon and began building a life there. I wrote Homestead, a memoir about that journey and soon after my first novel based on the life of a historical couple. I continued to work for 17 years on an Indian reservation in Oregon in mental health and early childhood education while I began to tell stories of remarkable pioneering people.
Wow! That is amazing and I did not know that about you! How many books have you written since that big move?
I've written more than 30 books now, most based on the lives of historical women and men. I interview descendants if I can find them and speculate about how they endured through difficult trials. I do lots of historical research to hopefully bring the period to life (mostly 1850s-1890s.) It seems to me it's been a good blend between my literary life and my mental health experiences. I've also written a devotional for caregivers, Promises of Hope for Difficult Times, and for those in a struggling place, A Simple Gift of Comfort.
than she was. I thought their love was inspiring but so was Jennie Pickett Parrish's perseverance. She's based on a real woman whose family supported my telling this story.
Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
It wasn't what I entered the story with, but when we settled on the title I realized that to listen to God's call for our lives we have to leave many things behind. The seven "stories" we often tell ourselves as we journey through life are stories Jennie faced. Guilt, anger, anxiety, fear, unworthiness, hurt feelings and our tendency to think we must be perfect in order to succeed -- or even begin. I suspect each of us faces one or all of these and my hope is readers will see how Jennie found her way through them to accomplish her life's dream and perhaps find paths for their own healing and hope.
I think you are right. You have such a full life with your writing. Do you have time to volunteer in your community or church?
My faith life is deeply enhanced by my involvement in our church. I'm an elder and my passion is a partnership we have in Burundi, the poorest country in the world. We partner with three villages of Batwa, indigenous people who were hunters and gatherers and who were moved from the rain forest onto marginal land and left without identify cards which are necessary to work, seek medical care, travel, marry, baptize their children, be known. In two years working with these 3 villages, our church and friends helped them acquire identity cards (800), helped them lease land to grow their own food for the first time ever, and have helped send 222 children to school for the first time. I visited there in 2015 when this project started. It has been the joy of my life. Donations are accepted through First Presbyterian Church FPC bend.org or AfricanRoad.org. Can I say that? :)
You most certainly can! I love to give plugs to worthy charities! What is your favourite Scripture verse and why?
"Desire realized is sweet to the soul." Proverbs 13:19. This verse says to me that we are created to be people with dreams, that we are sent out as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, by God who speaks to us saying "You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing, embody me." I am always looking at my characters lives asking what do they want, what is their desire? And it has been my own question as I step out on a cloud of faith believing I will not fall through because God wants us to find that sweetness to the soul.
Jane, you inspire me! When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
There is one scheduled for 2018, about a woman who traveled fifteen thousand miles by stage in the west in the 1870-80s. In my book she tells what was really going on when she wrote her memoir. I call it "Between the Lines" but its title might change. I hope you'll ask me back again to talk more about Carrie Strahorn.
I definitely will! What authors have inspired your own writing?
There are so many! Francine Rivers introduced me to Christian fiction and set the bar high. Frederick Buechner's work gave me a better understanding about the truth of fiction. Ann Lamott's authenticity inspires. Pastor Barbara Brown Taylor's essays make me emotionally fragile in a good way. Brian Doyle's love of language and his simple faith through poetry and essay and fiction make me want to be a better writer. Ivan Doig, a national book award winner and a north westerner, wrote a book called English Creek that showed me how fiction can bring healing in a grieving time. Mary Oliver shows me the simplicity of language and the importance of remembering that writing is "not a competition but a doorway into which another voice may speak." And then there are the parables of Jesus and my discovering that "parable" in Hebrew means "pebble" something one "tosses along beside." That's what these writers do for me and I pray it is what my stories do for readers in some small way.
They definitely do! I loved All She Left Behind and I know it will inspire many. Thank you so much for stopping by here today Jane!
If you would like to know when Jane's next book comes out visit her website at www.jkbooks.com.