A forum for CMEX delegates, speakers, and prospective participants to voice their opinions on the issues being discussed at the conference. In creating this blog, delegates Amber Sizemore and Lisa Adjei, visioned an environment in which curiosity and ideas can be nurtured and respected. So from our minds to yours, please feel free to use this blog as a spring board for any ideas,suggestions, or concerns about maintaining sustainability in the tourism industry. Happy Blogging :) !

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rhonda McKnight on Urban Christian Fiction: Interview with Author, Marilynn Griffith

Rhonda McKnight on Urban Christian Fiction: Interview with Author, Marilynn Griffith
Interview with Author, Marilynn Griffith
Today we welcome one of my favorite authors and an all around great person with a wonderful spirit, Marilynn Griffith.

Rhythms of Grace has a beautiful cover, very different from your other novels. I’m used to seeing bright colors when I see Marilynn Griffith. Tell us about the story and what’s different about this novel for your readers?

Rhythms of Grace is my true first novel. I started it almost ten years ago. It’s about a group of friends who all have a heartbreak growing up that makes them believe differently about God and about themselves. There is one woman common to all of them, a teacher whose love and strength once helped them all. Now she needs help and to give it, each of them much come to terms with their trouble pasts…and their uncertain futures. Especially Grace Okoye.

Who is your favorite character in the novel and why? Who is the character you found most difficult to write and why?

I’ve lived with these characters so long and loved them so much that it’s hard to say, but off the top of my head, I’d say Dr. Brian Mayfield. Brian isn’t always right (sometimes he’s downright messed up) but he always tries to be real. He has a good heart underneath it all. In this story, none of the characters were really hard to write, but sometimes I had to make sure that the reader could really see the good and bad in some of the people

What do you want readers to take away from this story?

Hope. I want readers to put down Rhythms of Grace knowing that there is hope and healing available, that God never stops playing your song, even when you run away covering your ears.

I absolutely loved your Sassy Sistahood series with Steeple Hill (Made of Honor, If the Shoe Fits and Happily Even After). Are we going to see any more of Tracey?

I never say never. Tracey is very close to my heart and I get emails all the time asking if the Sassy Sistahood is really over. We’ll see… I’m so glad you enjoyed the series though, Rhonda. I did too.

Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

Writers see stories everywhere. I get many of my ideas in church, especially during worship. Other ideas come from poems, a few words someone might say, crazy situations that arise… Ideas are everywhere.

Marilynn tell us about your journey to publication and why you choose to write Christian Fiction?

My journey to publication started with me thinking I was having a heart attack. While my friends and family passed before my eyes, the characters to all my secret stories passed before my eyes too. I told God that if He’d let me get up from there I would write instead of waiting for the someday that might not ever come. I’d been playing around with some stories for a couple years before that, mostly the beginnings of Rhythms of Grace.

Joining ACFW was a turning point because there were workshops and critique groups available. There were some really hard years of waiting and working, working and waiting. And now…things haven’t changed that much though. Published authors get rejected too. It just takes one person to say yes!

Marilynn I know from following your career that you blog, you speak and teach at writer’s conferences, you also have a very large family – six kids that you used to homeschool, and obviously you write and market your novels. Please tell me how you balance it all? What’s your writing schedule like?

I actually have seven children and yes, we homeschooled for seven years. I’d love to tell you that my life is all perfect and balanced, but that would be a lie. We all try to support one another in our gifts, knowing that might mean that someone has to be away or unavailable. I don’t travel as much as most authors though, especially during the school year. During school, I try to do most of my writing during the day, though sometimes I have to edit after the children go to bed.

What are some recommendations you have for aspiring writers seeking publication?

Don’t give up. God’s delays don’t always mean denial. Read. Write. Read. And write some more. Keep seeking the Lord first in all things.

You’re a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and in the past have served in leadership in this organization, tell us the benefits of belonging to ACFW?

I’ve been a member of ACFW almost since its beginning and the organization, critique groups and fellow authors have helped in more ways than I can name. I’ve served on the national board as vice president and publicity officer and both those experiences taught me a lot about the Christian book industry and publishing in general. I look at you Rhonda, a president of one of the chapters that I proposed from the office in my bedroom closet and I think of how amazing God is! It’s a wonderful organization and I always recommend that people join it whenever I’m speaking. This year, two authors we both know well, Sherri Lewis and Stacey Hawkins Adams are finalists for the ACFW Book of the Year. I’m so proud of both of them.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what’s on your nightstand right now?

Oh…I dread this question because I read so much and I love so many books, all for different reasons. I just finished Trading Dreams at Midnight by Dianne McKinney Whetstone, who can turn a phrase on its nose and make it do the cabbage patch. This week I also read Graceling, a debut fantasy by Kristin Cashore (it came with a tattoo! How cool is that?), Think Big by Ben Carson, Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Balwin, Who am I Without Him? By Sharon G. Flake, The Folk Keeper by Frannie Billingsley (another YA fantasy) and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I’m blessed that many of my friends are my favorite authors, so you’ll always hear me talking about Claudia Mair Burney, Lisa Samson, Sharon Ewell Foster, Amy Wallace, Pat Simmons and so many of the authors I’ve been blessed to meet on the Internet and in real life. As for favorites, my short list (for today) would be: Delores Phillips (The Darkest Child), Kalisha Buckhanon (Upstate), Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns), Lalita Tademy (Cane River) and Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man). That’s a short list that changes about every day. LOL

Let’s get personal with Marilynn:

What’s your favorite color? This week? Gold. That changes too.
What’s your favorite food? Grr! Another hard one. I love anything ethnic, but not to spicy. Pizza and cherries rank high.
If you could spend one hour with anyone living or deceased who would it be?
Oh boy. Of course, I’m supposed to say Jesus, but He’s always with me now and I probably wouldn’t have known what to say. Virginia Hamilton, the late children’s writer, I think. I would just want to listen to her and write her a poem.
Beach or mountains? Hmmm…. Are we talking hotel or cabin? LOL You’d think I’d say beach since I live in Florida, but I’m going to go with mountains.
If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go and why? That’s easy. I’d go to Nigeria to meet my father.

What’s next for Marilynn Griffith? What are you currently working on?
I just finished my January release and I’m working on the conference for Sistahfaith, a wonderful nonfiction anthology I’ve been blessed to edit. Other than that, I have ideas, but we’ll just see what God does. J

Thanks so much for having me and everyone please stop by MarilynnGriffith.com and say hello.

Thanks again, Rhonda!

Marilynn has several Internet sites where readers may reach out to her. Her books can be found at Amazon.com, Walmart, Barnes and Nobles, Borders, Books a Million and where ever books are sold. You can also look for Marilynn on the Soul Expression Book Tour. More details about the tour can be found at Marilynn's website http://www.marilynngriffith.com