First, Miralee, will you tell us a little bit about how you came to be a writer. It's an amazing story!
I know a lot of writers say the Lord told them to start writing, and I'm among them, but my circumstances were a little out of the ordinary. Two-and-a-half years ago I attended a church service and sat under a visiting minister who I trust and respect. I went forward for a small prayer need, can't even remember what, now. He began to pray for me and stopped and looked me in the eye. "The Lord just told me you're supposed to be writing. I have no idea what...short stories, poetry, fiction...but it needs to be published." That was the jist of his message and I took it home and spent two weeks praying it through.
As Miralee tells it, when she got the idea for her novel, she wrote the first draft in five weeks. Through a series of almost miraculous events, she found an agent, completed rewrites, and contracted with a publisher in less than a year. Miralee, before that incredible service where the speaker told you God wanted you to write, did you have a desire to write novels? If so, when did that desire begin, and what form did it take?
No...it never occurred to me that I might have the ability or talent to write fiction of any type. I'd written a few pieces of non-fiction prior to this, but the idea of writing fiction was almost humorous to me, when it was first suggested. But once the idea took hold, it started racing like a wild fire and now I can't imagine not writing fiction!
So many writers have a long, long road to publication. Do you have any speculation as to why things moved so quickly for you?
Gee...I hope I won't be answering all these questions, "not really", LOL! It sounds a bit spiritually 'stuck up' to suggest that God wanted it to happen this fast, as there are so many wonderful Christian writers whose careers have moved much more slowly. I can only say that God spoke to me in a prophetic word that He wanted me to start writing and He wanted it published. I moved out in obedience and left the results in His hands.
I'm always fascinated by God's individual timing for our lives--and how perfect it is for each one of us. (Not that I don't have to remind myself of that almost daily!) Do you think you would have been able to write this book at a different time in your life? Why--or why not?
Another tough question to answer, but I think I'd have to say...probably not with the same depth of understanding. So many of my life experiences have gone into my writing, including the thoughts and feelings of some of my characters...both in The Other Daughter, and in the two books I'm currently working on. Besides, my writing, editing and marketing is a huge time drain and I can't imagine having worked it in to my life when we owned a growing business and we were raising our children. I'm definitely glad the Lord didn't choose to give me the instruction to begin writing ten years ago.
Do you feel there's a particular reason God wanted this story told at this time?
I don't think "at this time" is as important as just getting it told. There really aren't many books on the Christian market that deal with the difficult balancing act that happens in an unequally yoked marriage. Toss an illegitimate child into the mix that turns up on your doorstep, and there's a lot of stress to deal with. Unfortunately, there's more of that in the church than we'd like to think.....Christians married to non-believers and children fathered out of wedlock....and even as Christians, those situations must still be addressed.
As an unpublished writer myself, I know sometimes I struggle with whether God actually called me, or whether this dream of writing is something I came up with on my own. Your calling was perfectly clear--and if you did doubt, events are certainly giving you confirmation that you're on the right track! Do you have any advice to folks like me who need to determine whether God really wants us to write?
I have one way I test anything that I believe the Lord has asked me to do, or spoken to my spirit. My Peace level....am I constantly troubled and in turmoil about my decision, or is there peace regardless of the circumstances? I can have everything seeming to be against me in the direction I believe the Lord has called me to go...but if my spirit is settled with a deep sense of peace, I can know it's from Him. On the opposite side, I can have everything seeming to be perfect...but if there's a sense of unrest and a total lack of peace, I need to check with the Lord again.
A couple of questions on a totally different track: I noticed that you're considering different genres for future projects. Have you had any resistance from your agent or editors about that?
No, not at all. Of course, romance is close enough to women's fiction that it's almost considered an offshoot. I think those are two genres where you can pop back and forth quite easily without much repercussion from your readers. Also, I'm not established yet in a genre. While The Other Daughter is women's contemporary fiction, no one really knows me yet. So if I put out a romance set in the 1880's old west, I may pick up an entirely different set of readers. Hopefully, both sets of readers will end up crossing over, and I guess the direction I end up going will be somewhat determined by sales numbers. Unfortunately, that seems to be the way it goes. I'm leaning toward staying with contemporary for the long haul tho, as historical novels aren't my cup of tea....I'll freely admit I'm too busy for the research they take.
How did your husband and family feel when they first learned you were writing a story loosely based on a real event in their lives?
My husband has never had a problem with it, and neither has his daughter, Trish. I'll admit I didn't share it with her until I had the contract, as I wasn't sure how she'd respond, but she was thrilled. She wouldn't have minded having more true to life details where her life was concerned, but there are few if any similarities between the 13 yr old Brianna who appeared at the door, and the 18 yr old Trish who wrote us a letter years ago saying she might be my husband's daughter.
Our daughter Marnee was a bit more reserved about the idea. She wasn't too sure how thrilled she was that mom chose to write about a subject that had potential for misunderstanding. She worried that people would think the story was a picture of our family or our lives. I understood her concerns but felt strongly that this story was one that had tremendous spiritual potential....to help bring healing to others who've experienced similar things in their marriage. She's fine with it now, and my entire family has been very supportive, including our son and our kid's spouses.
Thanks for the wonderful, in depth interview Robin! You asked some excellent questions and I hope your readers enjoy a bit of a peek into my world!
And thank you, Miralee, for these thoughtful answers. I'm expecting great things from this book. God is so obviously in it.
And now for a tiny bit of housekeeping. Miralee is holding a drawing for a copy of The Other Daughter at the end of her blog tour, which continues through November . Whenever you leave a comment at one of the posts on her tour, you'll receive another entry into the drawing. Here are a few recent and upcoming blogs on the tour. (For a complete list, see Wednesday's post.)
24th Cecelia Dowdy---New Christian Fiction Reviewshttp://www.ceceliadowdy.blogspot.com/
24th Tiffany Amber Stockton--A Fiction-Filled Lifehttp://www.ambermiller.com/
25th Bonnie Way---The Koala Bear Writerhttp://thekoalabearwriter.blogspot.com/
25th Stormi Johnson---Write Thoughtshttp://writesthoughts.blogspot.com/
27th Delia Latham---The Melody Withinhttp://themelodywithin.blogspot.com/
28th Jennie McGhan---Jen's Life Journeyhttp://www.shoutlife.com/cmpctjen
29th Susan Lohrer ---Inspirational Editorhttp://www.inspirationaleditor.blogspot.com/
You can read the entire opening scene of The Other Daughter at Miralee's web site:http://www.miraleeferrell.com/