When a personal crisis tested and strengthened her faith, award-winning journalist Beth Wiseman was advised by her agent to consider writing a Christian novel, particularly an Amish one. Encouraged by her agent’s urging, she began exploring the Amish lifestyle and soon developed a great appreciation for the more peaceful way of life. In 2008 Wiseman wrote her debut novel, Plain Perfect, featuring the Amish lifestyle within the context of a fictional love story. It was a bestseller, as have been all of the full-length novels and novellas she has written since.
While Need You Now is Wiseman’s first non-Amish novel, she is confident it will not be the last. She is already making plans to write a second contemporary novel in the near future. Like Need You Now, it will also be set in small-town Texas, a familiar background she thoroughly loves exploring and writing about.
Wiseman’s previous releases have held spots on the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller lists. In 2010, she received the INSPY Award for Amish Fiction (chosen by blog reviewers). In 2011, she received the Carol Award and was the Inspirational Readers Choice winner for her book Plain Paradise. Her novel Seek Me with All Your Heart was the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year.In addition, Wiseman has been a Retailers Choice Finalist, a Booksellers Best Finalist and a National Readers Choice Finalist. Prior to becoming a novelist she received many honors for her work as a journalist, including a prestigious First Place News Writing Award from the Texas Press Association.
Today, she and her husband are empty nest parents of two grown sons, enjoying the country lifestyle and living happily with two dogs, two cats, two pot-bellied pigs, two chickens and a single pygmy goat in a small community in South Central Texas. Along with writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, traveling and watching good movies. Her favorite pastime, however, is spending time with friends and family.
INTERVIEW: Beth Wiseman, Author of NEED YOU NOW
Q: As a former award-winning journalist, having received eleven honors including a prestigious First Place News Writing Award from the Texas Press Association, what inspired you to begin writing fiction?
Becoming a Christian novelist was a calling for me, and it came on the heels of a particularly rough time in my life. My son (then 15) had spent several weeks in the hospital, and when he finally came home to recover, my agent suggested Christian fiction to me, particularly Amish. She said she felt like I was in the right place spiritually. I’d always been a Christian, but when I thought my child might die, I was guided into a renewed, more “real” relationship with God. From the time I started writing my first book in the Daughters of the Promise series—Plain Perfect—I could feel God’s hand on it. And He has continued to bless me with stories to tell.
Q: What would you consider your biggest challenge as a writer of Christian adult fiction?
To make the messages loud and clear for those who need to hear them, but not be preachy. And to stay on the course God is leading me despite my own insecurities, fears and worries.
Q: One of the teenage characters in Need You Now practices an often misunderstood form of selfinjury. Why did you feel it important to showcase such a deeply personal issue?
I chose this form of self-injury because it IS so misunderstood. I’ve known of several teens who have coped in this destructive way, and I couldn’t understand it. So I set out to educate myself and others, hoping and praying that it would help a teen or family dealing with this issue.
Q: You also addressed high-functioning autism in your latest novel. What would you most like your readers to understand about children who have been diagnosed with this disorder?
I have a close friend who taught autistic children, and her experiences first sparked my interest in these very special children. I think it’s important to note that autism is diverse, and no child or diagnosis is the same. It’s very individual, from high-functioning autism to children who don’t speak at all. I believe that God places these children in the lives and on the hearts of people who can often reach them.
Q: What inspired you to write about such complex issues?
I usually don’t have a full-blown plot lined out before I start a book, but, in this case, I did know that I would write about self-injury. I also wanted to write about a married couple, as opposed to a “boy meets girl” romance. However, I didn’t set out to write about autism. I had already covered the subject in another book, Plain Promise, several years ago, but I felt God calling me to go a step further with an older child who was autistic. I also wanted to tell a very “real” story about the bond of marriage and the strength of family. And I think that anyone who has raised a teenager can attest to the fact that it is one of the hardest jobs on the planet.The rewards outweigh the hardships, but sometimes it’s hard to breathe when we are facing challenges with our kids.
Q: How much, if any, of the rural setting for Need You Now was drawn from your own experience?
Round Top, Texas, is one of the smallest towns in South Central Texas, and it’s right down the road from me, so there are lots of real places mentioned. I’m also a city girl who moved to the country later in life, and I’ve experienced a lot of the things I mention in the book. Not to give anything away, but when Darlene has an intruder in the first chapter—I’ve been there. It was a lot of fun writing about my area and incorporating familiar topics and descriptions, like coyote hunting and cow tipping.
Q: Several of your characters in Need You Now find themselves having to deal with forgiving past mistakes, their own and those of others. Do you believe that forgiving both ourselves and others is essential to individual and marital happiness and, if so, why?
I write a lot about forgiveness—another thing that I never set out to do, but it always finds its way into my books. I think that’s because I tend to carry my burdens from the past and have a hard time forgiving myself. I know in my heart that the inability to forgive—whether ourselves or others—hinders progress and can block the voice of God, but it’s still hard not to cart our baggage around with us. And if we can’t forgive ourselves, it’s even harder to accept that others are willing to forgive us.
Q: As a reader, it was very easy to fall in love with your main character and her family. Will you be bringing any of these characters back in future books?
Oh, I hope so. I guess it will be up to the readers…and my publisher. My characters are real to me, so I always hate to say goodbye to them.
Q: Will you be returning to the Amish background for your next book, or will it be non-Amish, as well?
The plan is to alternate between Amish and contemporary fiction. The next book to come out will be His Love Endures Forever, which is book #3 in the Land of Canaan series, scheduled for release in October 2012. Then from there I am going to write another contemporary, and it will be set in another small town near me.
Q: What would you most like your readers to take away from Need You Now?
Life can be a mess sometimes, and when that happens, our faith either gets stronger, or it takes a dive. I hope readers will close the book with a feeling of renewal and the certainty that there is no hardship that we can’t conquer with God on our side. I hope that this book will bring folks one step closer to Him.
by: Beth Wiseman
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: April 10, 2012
Format: Paperback (320 pages)
My deepest thanks to Beth Wiseman for visiting my blog, graciously answering my questions, and introducing fans to her first contemporary work of fiction. Like many readers, I am already looking forward to Beth Wiseman’s new titles from inside and outside Amish country!