Friday, June 13, 2008

Author interview: Tina Ann Forkner

We were nervously trying to make small talk over our first meal at the writers’ conference in May when the young woman across the table suddenly shook her hands excitedly. “I have to tell you all,” she said, “I just published my first novel.”

That’s how I met Tina Ann Forkner, who is now on a whirlwind summer adventure promoting her book, Ruby Among Us. She’s an enthusiastic new voice in Christian women’s fiction and she graciously agreed to an interview. So I’d like to introduce Tina Ann Forkner to you.

What inspired you to write Ruby Among Us?

For a time I lived in Sacramento and spent a few weekends a month visiting relatives in Santa Rosa and driving through the Sonoma Valley. The beauty of it really grew on me and served in many ways to heal my heart as I went through some tough moments known only to me at the time. I think the setting lent itself to the book easily because I had absorbed so much of it during that growing period in my life.

One evening a few years later, I was living as a single mom in Wyoming and feeling particularly down about my situation in life. I began to think about my daughter and worry about what would happen to her if I were to die while she was still young. I asked myself a question that amounted to, “What would she be told about me?”

And then like a typical writer, I expanded my questions to the hypothetical. “What if someone decided to take her away from everything that has to do with me? How would she feel? Would she try to find out about me?” And I sensed she would, so I typed out what amounted to a few paragraphs of fiction, or maybe a few pages, I can’t remember, and then I called it Ruby Among Us and closed the file. It wasn’t until I later married my husband that I pulled that file back out and it turned into a book.

What readers do you think would most enjoy this book?

I think anyone who likes to read Women’s Fiction would like the book. It is about women and I think we can all relate in one way or another about the complexities of being mother, daughter or grandmother.

People who like fiction by Mary E. DeMuth or Elizabeth Berg might also like my book, but I’m not saying I am as talented as either one of those authors.

What inspires you as you write?

I have always loved to hear my mom tell stories about her mother and my grandmothers and I was always very close to my paternal grandmother when I was growing up. She told me story after story about her own family. I think those stories really taught me some good life lessons. Plus, I have so many aunts that I can’t help being interested in intergenerational relationships between women. I think the wisdom that older women (older men, too) pass down to the younger generation is very important and that really inspires my stories.

Tell us something about yourself that we couldn’t discover from reading your website.

As I mentioned to someone else recently, I am really a daddy’s girl. I write a lot about the relationships between women and so it might seem to readers that I don’t have good relationships with men, but it’s not true. I have a wonderful father, brother and grandfather who impact my life in numerous positive ways. I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

What books do you plan to write in the future?

I have one book coming out May of 2009 that really deals with sisters, but it is related to Ruby Among Us. I have a few other stories under my belt that I’m working on, as well.

How is your faith expressed in your writing?

I think the redemptive qualities of my stories are where faith plays out, although I’ve had readers email and tell me other ways that faith has touched them after reading Ruby Among Us. I think redemption to each other and to God is really a universal thing that people relate to, and if the reader is a Christian, then the meaning goes even deeper for that reader.

I also received a compliment recently from a reader who said that after reading Ruby Among Us, she realized (and I’m paraphrasing) that we can see and learn about God in every day life and experiences. That was a compliment because I do feel that way. I love church, but God teaches me so much through living and his words are made real for me when I see His promises carry through into every day life. That probably comes through in my writing even though I don’t plan it that way.

What writing projects are you working on now?

I am just staring edits with my publisher on the book I mentioned that comes out in May 2009, but I’m focusing on another project in the early mornings. I wish I could tell you all about it, but the story is still so fresh and new that I want to keep it secret for awhile. Sometimes if one shares an idea too soon, it loses its “magic”.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for hosting me Kathy. I loved your questions. Have a blessed Father's Day with your hubby and kids.

Kathy at Sumballo said...

Tina, it was a joy meeting you and I know you'll have a wonderful summer.