Nora St. Laurent

Nora St.Laurent runs two book clubs near the Atlanta area and this year became ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Book Club Coordinator. She currently writes a Book Club Column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. You can read her reviews and author interviews on her Finding Hope Through Fiction blog located at Nora also runs The Book Club Network on Facebook 

Minds Behind The Pen

Many authors have spoken to the Finding Hope book club. Hearing them speak has given us insight into what authors do in preparation to write their novels; we glimpse into who they are and catch hold of their passion.

When a friend and I started a club that met at Borders, she was connected with ACFW’s local chapter. She arranged for Cindy Woodsmall to be the first author to speak at our meeting. We read her first book, When the Heart Cries, and loved it. We learned about her journey to publication, her faith in God as she stepped out to write her first novel, and her relationship with the Amish, which enhanced the story we read.

One very talented and fun author we talked with about her book, Havah, was Tosca Lee. She brought her laptop and shared all the questions she wanted answered before writing this book. She went to her pastor and a few other biblical scholars and asked her questions. She’s a deep thinker, and many of these theologians were surprised at her questions. Havah starts with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden before the fall. We see what their relationship looked like, how they interacted with the animals, each other, and God. She mesmerized us as she told us how she tackled this subject. All of us walked away from that meeting enlightened about the subject matter and in awe of the author.

Ginger Garrett shared about Queen Esther in her book Chosen. It was amazing the extensive research Ginger did in preparation. She became so immersed in discovering how they prepared women for one night with the king that she wrote a nonfiction book, Beauty Secrets from the Bible, detailing ancient beauty methods used back then to bring out a women’s beauty. Ginger Garrett was fun to talk to and captivated us as she spoke about uncovering the information she needed to write this powerful book.

Rebeca Seitz said her writing teacher thought she should get as many different jobs as possible so she would have something to write about if she really wanted to be an author. We were all amazed at the various jobs she had during high school and college. The books in her Scrapbooker’s Series are about family and fun and are laugh-out-loud funny. She was a blast and gave us a new outlook on her book and the groundwork she does for her writing. We discussed book one, called Sister’s Ink.

By having an author speak at book club, you learn so much. It can change the way you feel about a book and its author. For instance, my group read Illuminated by Matt Bronlewee. My ladies

were not fond of the violence in the book and thought it was over the top. They showed up the night of book club to tell him so. After listening to Matt articulate how he followed a line of investigation in historical documents to write this book, my ladies softened, especially when they discovered most of the violence in Matt’s book was true to life. They had a different opinion of him and his book after he talked. They could see Matt was a man after God’s own heart, a Christian telling action-adventure stories based partially on real facts from history, which is his passion.

When Dale Cramer, author of Levi’s Will, shared with the group, we could see the passion for this story in his eyes and felt it as he talked. This story was personal. It was based on his father’s life and how he grew up and left his Amish community. I loved this book because it was written from a male perspective and unlike the other Amish books I’d read. He got permission from his Amish family to write this story. It’s quite intriguing.

Creston Mapes talked to our group about his book Nobody. He went to Las Vegas to do his character research. He attended a big church out there that had a heart to love the unlovable. It was quite amazing to hear about his adventure in Las Vegas with the pastor of this megachurch. His book is a treasure. When he shared, you could see this man’s passion for God, his faith walk, and the courage it took to write stories that are on his heart.

There is so much you can learn from talking to the author about the books they’ve written. Authors are on the frontline, doing their best to write the stories God puts on their hearts. The research they do, the writing and rewriting they spend time doing, and what they go through while seeking publication is not for the faint of heart, not to mention what is required of them once they are published. That’s a whole other story.

It’s an endless job, but I’m thankful for all they do. Their stories are touching lives and making a difference. I’m thankful for the opportunity we’ve had to talk to authors on the phone and in person. We’ve been able to give them positive feedback, and they’ve been able to ask us questions about parts of their books: how we felt, and did a scene work or not. Immediate feedback is a win-win for both the book club and author. So don’t hesitate to contact a publisher and connect with authors via e-mail, the phone, or at a book signing. Oh, the wonders you’ll discover!

Until Next Time.

Nora St.Laurent, ACFW Book Club Leader