Interview with Sherryle Kiser Jackson
It’s another New Year. Most of
us want to start the year by leaving some of our bad habits behind:
weight loss, money management, finding balance, or having better
relationships with our loved ones. This month we chatted with Christian
fiction author Sherryle Kiser Jackson about her novel Taylor
This book is a great novel for
Christian readers contemplating change for the new year, especially
with finances. It’s also a great cautionary tale for Christians.
Tell us in fewer than
fourteen words what the story is about.
A young couple learns to love
and heal their past through the mirror of
Why is Taylor Made a
great novel to start the New Year?
would be an excellent read to start the year because it’s about a young
couple who must come to terms with some unresolved issues in their past
to save their marriage. The first of the year tends to be when we take
a hard look at ourselves and what we’d like to do better, whether
changing old habits or enhancing relationships. My novel gives insights
into modern, high-maintenance women and the men who love them. Pamela
“Pill” Taylor presents herself as shallow and superficial, but she
shows layers that get painfully close to our own lives. You’ll shake
your head at Pill’s predicaments and learn from her mistakes.
Is Pill based on
someone you know? If yes, why did you think she was perfect for this
novel? If not, whom does Pill represent?
Don’t we all have some Pill in
us, or better stated, aren’t we a bit of a Pill sometimes? Literally,
I’ve had friends finish the book and ask me, “Am I Pill?” I wanted her
to be universal, flaws and all. I believe a lot of us are one daily
stressor away from coping or escaping life with a full-fledged
addiction. Hers just happens to be shopping. As you read the novel, you
find she’s covering up huge secrets under her fly façade. I am proud
that Pill’s character resonates with so many people, because while I
was writing it, I didn’t think Pill had many redeeming qualities until
I got into her psychology.
Why is Pill’s story
relevant for today’s Christian woman?
I love to write about two
things: burgeoning love and burgeoning faith. Pill lives on the
extremes. She’s a young married woman living like she’s single (with no
regard to her husband’s feelings or the family budget). Her loving
husband provides for her, but she is not content. She’s a commercially
successful hairdresser and fashionestta, but she often lives by the
survival codes of her old neighborhood. To paraphrase the Bible, we
Christians should not try to conform to the world or the world’s
standards, but be transformed. Pill straddles the fence in many ways. I
think women can learn from her transformation as a babe in Christ and
new wife to a faithful Christian woman that God will show her true
Then there is the diva aspect.
Women have a special place in the kingdom. Femininity is God’s design.
We put a big emphasis on beauty and fashion. We can see that not only
with my character Pill but also with the First Lady of Corey and Pill’s
church home, First Lady Rawls. Sometimes we women can get carried away
and make our adornments our idols. First Lady Rawls, a recurring
character in two of my other novels, is the first to admit she battles
a shopping addiction. I think one of Pill’s older patrons says it best:
“Our need to beautify ourselves should be about order and not about
What advice would you
give to married couples who are in a situation similar to Pill and
Marriage is a ministry. A couple
can get through a lot of tough times if the pair could just buy into
that notion. We throw out the word ministry so much
that it loses its relevancy, but I see it as my way of serving Christ.
I cannot serve Christ if I am neglecting my spouse. Like I say in my
heart service and not lip service. Part
of the novel is a cautionary tale against lack of communication and
neglect in the marriage that can damage the fabric of a marriage. Once
that happens, I believe the couple needs a common desire to make their
marriage work and a whole lot of faith. A couple should seek counseling
from a professional, like my characters did.
you attended a Marriage Care Class at church? Why is it helpful? What
did you learn that you didn’t know before?
I had about six sessions of
marriage counseling. At our church we have monthly married couple’s
ministry activities, retreats, and Bible study that my husband and I
often support. I remember my pastor said that half of the problems in a
marriage can be averted if we treat our
spouses with the common
courtesy we give a stranger, office mate, or an acquaintance. We’re at
the very minimum courteous. We respect them enough to hear them out and
give them their space. We picked our spouses and declared to everyone
that this person is extra special in our lives, but we don’t greet them
when they come in the door. Corey and Pill got into a tit for tat rut
very quickly because they forgot their vows, or never understood them
to begin with. They didn’t realize that the vow that they made to each
other was also made to God and that it came with an obligation. Love is
active. Some other Christian reference books I used for reference were The
Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and The
Language of Sex by Dr. Gary Smalley and Mr. Ted Cunningham,
which provide a formulaic approach to successful relationships. I
suggest these references for any couple.
What is the spiritual
takeaway from this novel?
Nothing is too hard for God! Not
even a relationship that seems to be coding or in need of life support.
How you treat people and, in the case of my novel, handle fiscal
responsibilities have a direct correlation to your spiritual life. Give
it all to God, ask Him to help you, and be prepared for Him to show you
yourself in the process.
What’s your novel
Write when I can! I literally
drive myself nuts trying to find blocks of time to write, but I do it
daily. I outline my novel for the purpose of turning in a book proposal
to my editor, which has proven helpful. I open a blank document and
begin plugging away. I pretty much draft in order, but I find myself
embedding lines, whole scenes, or bits of research in the middle of the
manuscript to be used or expanded later. Music and visualization are as
much a part of the process as writing dialogue and narration. I usually
create a music playlist of songs whose lyrics remind me of my
characters. Basically, I obsess over the possibility of my characters’
lives until it is done.
I am in the thick of my fifth
novel, The Land of Promiscuity. I sent in a
proposal and received my contract that should cover this book and its
sequel. I am so far gone with these characters, uber-obsessed and
excited about the story they will ultimately tell.
What would you like
Christian Fiction Online Magazine readers to know that I haven’t asked
Every one of my novels have a
spiritual takeaway and ministry activity to hopefully bring people
closer to God. It’s nothing I set out to do, but it helps me take my
characters on a spiritual journey and come out a less-flawed Christian.
I’ll let you find the heart service journal idea embedded in Taylor
Made. While you are searching for that, you can find me
online at sherrylejackson.com, on Facebook, or e-mail at