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If you could create a detective, what kind of detective would you create? I am happy to have Cole Smith visiting today to share with us about her new novel, Waiting for Jacob, and the detective she created for this cozy mystery. Before we visit, let’s take a quick peek at the story.
And life in Parkersburg, West Virginia, has no shortage. But when a church friend’s daughter goes missing, Rachel must decide whether to search for a woman who doesn’t want to be found, or to listen to the friends who know her best.
Relying on her faith in truth and logic, Rachel is hindered by a quirky newcomer who questions her ideals at every decision point. How can she uphold her duty but stay true to her beliefs? She can’t calculate all the unknowns but maybe this time, the risk is worth taking.
Welcome, Cole! What inspired you to write Waiting for Jacob?
Believe it or not, it all started with an eighties song I was blaring in traffic with my windows down. I thought, “Everyone knows this song. Wouldn’t it be fun for us all to sing it to each other?” Of course, I was too chicken to try it…
Around that time, I was basking in books with some of my favorite fictional detectives. I started to consider what kind of detective I would write. The two ideas sort of merged, and I ended up creating a mind map. The subplots spiraled out from there!
I write the stories I want to read. But I also keep my students in mind. I’ve been a teacher at a small private Christian school for over ten years, so some of my students are grown up and married with young children of their own now. What kind of stories might they want to read? How can I encourage and inspire young women like them? (I’m sure they’re too busy to read novels now but maybe in a few years, ha!)
Little ones do make it harder to read, but how fun to picture your students one day reading your books! Which authors have had the most impact on your writing?
As a young reader, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle. I loved the “what-ifs” of Narnia. L’Engle played with faith and science and fantasy and reality. Those were worlds I wanted to linger in. The family dynamics of L’Engle’s books are so tender, but reassuringly rock-solid. As a junior high student, I devoured her books.
As an adult, I’d say Alexander McCall Smith and C.S. Lewis! Smith has this remarkable ability to leave the reader with deep joy at the end of a book. And Lewis has woven layers of meaning into his fiction. I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to do that, but I sure want to try. I just read his space trilogy for the first time, and it left me utterly speechless. Perelandra was the most terrifying, most hopeful book I’ve ever read. I still can’t even grasp it.
They are definitely books that make you think because of all those layers. Can you share (briefly) about something you feel the Lord has been teaching you recently?
Very recently! I was worked up with worry about school and some projects, and whether I was communicating effectively. Then the Lord reminded me that I’m no one’s Holy Spirit, and that ultimately this wasn’t my work, it was His work and I got to be a part of it. So humbling.
The stress I was feeling immediately lifted and was replaced with wonder!
That’s awesome, and what a great reminder for us, too! What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
Hope. And to be open to the unexpected—God’s answers to our prayers can look very different from what we imagine!
So true… What does your ideal writing space look like (whether you actually write in an area like this or not)? What do you have to have handy, and what would you surround yourself with to make it easiest, and most inspiring, to write?
This summer, I’m redoing my office a little. I’m painting one whole wall with chalkboard paint so I can have a big space for structuring novels. For Waiting for Jacob, I taped a length of wrapping paper to the wall. That was good, but this will be better. I need to see all the subplots.
And even though I’m messy by nature, I love a pristine desk. I even created a clean desk challenge for my email subscribers. I know it works, because I have to use it every couple of months to reclaim my desk!
The chalkboard wall sounds like a great idea. I’m not sure my family would go for that in the dining room, though! 😉 If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?
When you want to accomplish a big goal, get really mad about it. I got so angry with myself for not pushing a novel through the publication process, I stopped caring about some of the hurdles that once intimidated me. Inspiration is important, but anger gives you extra energy for when you start spinning your wheels. I just knew that I was not going to write “publish a book” on my list of New Year’s resolutions ever again. This year, I’m going to write “publish more books.” 🙂
What a great feeling to know you’ve accomplished that goal! Thanks for taking the time to visit with us today, Cole!
Your turn! Do you have a particular area that you feel has to be clean in order to concentrate on other things?
More about Cole:
Cole Smith is a writer and teacher in West Virginia. She’s the author of the cozy mystery, Waiting for Jacob. She enjoys good coffee and great stories, and shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at www.colesmithwrites.com.
You can connect with Cole online:
Waiting for Jacob Giveaway:
Cole has generously offered to give away a signed paperback copy of Waiting for Jacob. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.