It’s September and we’re
to Tennessee, where author Tamera Alexander lives. I savor the ride.
It’s been a long hot summer, and I’m sure the temperatures will be a
bit more moderate just a few states north of my home on the sun coast
of west central Florida.
My husband and I had already
ventured out last month to Tennessee, so we’re familiar with the route
we are taking. Only this time, we’re taking a rest stop at the northern
border of Florida near the panhandle.
early evening, we’re almost ready to hunker down for the night. The
commuter traffic has dwindled, and the open road is ours to enjoy.
Bill, my hubby, suggests, “Let’s ride until dark, and we’ll be better
than halfway there.”
I’m okay with that. “You’re the
The golden hour is one of those
amazing times in the early evening when you’d have to be a fool not to
want to observe it. The sun is usually very low on the horizon, and the
blush it leaves, before it melts and disappears in the west, is
The heavens literally glimmer, a
kaleidoscope of color. Brilliant hues of pink, purple, and orange wisp
across the deep, aqua blue canvas.
The trees and grass with earthy
tones of green and brown take on an eerie iridescent radiance. My eyes
have to keep adjusting to the ethereal beauty. It’s a miraculous sight.
“I feel so close to God out
Bill nods. “Me, too.”
I couldn’t help but smile.
“Let’s stop here and capture this wonderful moment. It’s all part of
His gift, ya know.”
“That’s for sure.”
Tamera Alexander and her prose
have earned her devoted readers, multiple industry awards, and many
best-selling titles: Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered,
the critically acclaimed Fountain Creek Chronicles, to name a few. For
over ten years she has entertained us with many inspiring novels. Her
2009 and 2010 scheduled releases will just get better!
After living in Colorado for
seventeen years, Tamera returned to her Southern roots. She and her
husband make their home in a small town just south of Nashville,
Tennessee, with a rich history dating back to 1799. There they enjoy
life with their two college-age children, and Jack, a precious—and
After a virtual night’s sleep,
the rest of the jaunt seems easy, and we plan to meet Tamera Alexander
at her home. As we arrive and emerge from the Jeep, Jake’s pulling on
his leash. He must have seen the “doggy in the window.”
“That must be Jack, their silky
terrier.” The little ball of fluff was pawing at the front window as we
Bill restrains our
dog. “Jake, that’s about ten pounds of doggy. He’s just a little guy.
Calm down boy. You have to be on your best behavior! Val, I’m going to
take him for a walk.”
“Good idea; I’ll go introduce
Among all the commotion, I’m
greeted with a warm hello and kissed by the cutest pup. “Hello . . .
I’m so glad to meet you.” Ms. Alexander is wearing a T-shirt that
reads, Heaven is typing THE END on a first draft.
“Love your shirt.”
“Thank you. Let’s head for my
backyard, the flagstone patio, or the back deck. I write a lot out
here; I think the setting is relaxing. Care for some sweet iced tea?
Being from and in the South, I serve it with fresh mint leaves from our
herb garden. I have a Buttermilk pie cooling on the stove . . .”
“Yes. That sounds wonderful.”
Knowing how demanding her life is, I hoped I wouldn’t be a bother. I
wanted her to feel at ease with me, so I told her I would understand if
she had to take care of unexpected duties. “Don’t mind me . . . no need
to fuss. I’m just going to sit here and pop out the questions, one at a
time. When you’re ready to start, I’ll take notes. By the way, the pie
smells so-o-o good!”
She laughs. “Ready!”
Me, Lord” . . . You are the Potter, I am the clay. This has to be one
of the best songs ever, and I loved the way you sang it. WOW! You are
so talented. Would you explain why this song means so much to you?
smiling because obviously you’ve been watching my interview with Herman
and Sharron on their show. Either that or you’ve listened to my visit
with the employees at Christian Book Distributors in Boston (cbd.com).
First, thanks for taking the time to watch/listen to those interviews.
And second, thanks for the kind words. I do enjoy singing and always
The song “Mold Me, Lord” came to
me at a point in my life when God was impressing upon me, yet again,
the absolute and unyielding truth that if we want to follow Him, then
we must surrender to Him. Surrender everything to His sovereign will.
For the past twenty years and counting, my personal prayer has been
“Break me, Lord, until I’m wholly yours”—a theme that’s reflected in my
book The Inheritance (Women of Faith Fiction). And
that petition has taken on new meaning as the years have passed.
The words to the song “Mold Me,
Lord,” especially the first verse, so perfectly reflect the desire to
surrender to God, to be clay in His hands. Something that’s far easier
said than done. Here’s the first verse:
stand, I come before you now.
Before your throne I bow, and I bring you my life.
Lord, I try to do it all myself, though I know I need your help.
I need your hand. And I need your strength to mold me, Lord.
Take my life, my will, my heart.
Take me, break my world apart.
For you are the Potter and I am the clay.
(Hillarie Mason Smith, 1996)
If you were to ask me to write a
one-word synopsis of the purpose of our time here on earth, it would be
once we surrender our lives, our talents, our dreams, our desires, our
very selves to Christ, everything else follows in right order. Not
“easy” order, mind you, but according to God’s sovereign will for our
lives. I believe that nothing happens to me that doesn’t first filter
through the loving hands of my heavenly Father. He either brings or
allows everything that touches my life. Because if He doesn’t, then
He’s not the Sovereign Lord the Bible claims Him to be.
My earnest desire is to
surrender myself to Him. A little more every day. But it’s a process,
and one that won’t be complete until I stand before Him.
a heavy way to start a chat, huh?
have me all choked up. It’s a perfect way to begin. You mentioned you
met your mother-in-law before you met your husband. How did that
met my sweet mother-in-law, Claudette Harris Alexander, during college
through the girl’s social club that I’d pledged. Claudette was one of
the sponsors of the club, and I got to know her during my years at
Harding University. When graduation came, I invited Claudette and her
husband, Fred, to have breakfast with me and my parents. Well,
Claudette and my mom, June, really hit it off!
At the close of breakfast, my
mom leaned over and whispered to Claudette how much she’d enjoyed
meeting her. Then with a twinkle in her eye, she added, “I wish you had
a son!” And Claudette said, “Oh, I do! I do have a
Suffice it to say . . . arranged
marriages are alive and well.
As it turns out, Claudette
played an instrumental part in my writing journey. She gave me a copy
of a novel back in 1995, saying that I’d love it. I glanced at the
cover and thanked her graciously, though I doubted I’d like it very
much. Then I promptly shelved the book. Weeks passed, and several times
Claudette asked me whether I’d read the book yet. I said I hadn’t but
that I would. Then one afternoon we got a call informing us that
Claudette had died very suddenly of a brain aneurysm.
A few months later, I ran across
the book she’d given me and immediately sat down and read it in one
sitting. I loved it! Claudette had been right. That “simple love story”
gave me a deeper perspective on God’s unconditional love. I’m ever
grateful to Janette Oke for penning Love Comes Softly
and to Claudette for sharing it with me and starting me on my writing
I was so glad when you mentioned you hadn’t always (meaning from the
time you could hold a pencil) wanted to write. But can you let us in on
the moment you knew this was the “right” decision?
Reading Love Comes Softly started me on a quest,
and I devoured every Inspiration novel I could get my hands on. And
back in 1995 there wasn’t nearly the plethora of titles we have today.
Skip ahead a couple of years to 1997. My husband, Joe, and I were on a
trip from Texas back to Colorado. I finished a novel and tossed it to
the backseat. Then I turned to him and said (just kidding, of course),
“I think I could write one of those.” Without skipping a beat, he
responded, “Well, why don’t you?”
So, I did.
I spent the next year or so
writing my first novel then sent it in. After I completed three
requested rewrites, the manuscript made it to the final review board at
Bethany House Publishers in 2000, after which I received a very nice
rejection letter (which they were right to send; the manuscript needed
major work). Writing that first story was a learning experience for me,
and one I took to heart. I then determined to set about seriously
studying the craft of writing and spent the next two years doing just
did you feel when your efforts showed promise and you actually won your
first book award?
Hmmm . . . may I say that the
first time I felt like a real writer
didn’t stem from receiving a book award? Instead it came through
receiving a letter from a reader.
of the most unexpected—and
treasured—aspects of writing is the connection I’ve made with my
readers. To have a reader tell me how a particular story encouraged
them, or how one character’s struggle aided them with something in
their own lives . . . that’s better than any award I could ever get.
I take steps closer to Christ as
I write, and I pray that readers will do that, too, as they read.
What’s happening for you during the rest of 2009? Deadlines,
challenges, any breaks?
breaks, I’m afraid, and lots of challenges. My mother was diagnosed
with metastatic gallbladder cancer in February, so the past few months
have seen me keeping the roads hot between Nashville and Atlanta. I’m
incredibly grateful to God that He saw fit to “relocate” my family back
to the South two years ago (I’m originally from Atlanta). I’ve had more
time with my parents in the past two years than I would have had if we
still lived in Colorado (where we lived for seventeen years), so for
that I’m very blessed.
I’ve got deadlines looming, but
my publisher has been most gracious about giving me extra time with
this book, the last in the Timber Ridge Reflections series. Within
My Heart—that was due to released in October—will actually be
released next spring. And I’ve got a six-book Southern historical
series that I’ll be starting very soon.
faith is so obvious, but have you ever wondered, “Why me, Lord?”
gracious, yes. Everyone asks that at one time or another. I ask it when
I see all the incredible blessings in my life because I know who I am
and what I would look like without Jesus Christ. And it’s not pretty.
Then I sometimes find myself
asking, “Why me, Lord?” when the bad times come. But then just as
quickly I think, “Why not me, Lord?” Just because I’m a follower of
Christ doesn’t make me exempt from life’s struggles. Quite the
contrary, in fact. Jesus promises that we’ll have trouble in this
world, but He also says to take care, that He’s already overcome the
Again, it leads back to
surrender, doesn’t it? Whatever you want, Lord. No matter how
much I want what I want (and I often do), please don’t give me anything
that isn’t centered smack-dab in the middle of Your will for my life.
(I pray the very same thing for each member of my family.)
you hadn’t begun writing what career path had you planned to walk?
was a business major in college, so when I graduated I worked in
banking for a number of years, and loved that. I also coordinated
conferences for large corporations and really enjoyed that, too. No
matter what I’ve done, my favorite part has always been the interaction
with people. So . . . LOL . . . writing all by myself, alone in a room
for hours on end, sometimes isn’t my favorite thing. Go figure . . .
husband and I have an ongoing joke: “If you want to hear God laugh,
tell him your plans.” How do you cope and find the patience to watch
and wait when it seems “your” plans or goals are difficult or are
taking longer to achieve than you expected?
husband and I have laughed about that, too.
Being in God’s waiting room is
oftentimes the hardest place we can be. Give me a task, something to
work toward, anything. But don’t ask me to wait. A favorite Scripture
of mine is found in the thirteenth chapter of Exodus. It says, “When
Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main
road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the
shortest route to the Promised Land . . . [instead] God led them in a
roundabout way through the wilderness . . .”
I return to that Scripture often
and am reminded that God rarely takes shortcuts. He’s noted for leading
His people in roundabout ways and often through deserts. But He always
has a Master Plan for me, which always involves my eternal good. And in
the end, it’s better than any route I could have mapped out for myself.
next questions are just for fun: What’s your favorite food when dining
in and dining out?
Dining out—Mexican food! I love chips and salsa, guacamole,
quesadillas, sopaipillas. All of it! Dining in—I love it when Joe
grills. My favorite is grilled chicken, but I also love breakfast food
for dinner—pancakes or waffles with bacon. Yum!
you dance as well as you sing?
LOL. Um . . . no. Picture Elaine on Seinfeld. Then double that in every
uncoordinated move you can imagine. It’s so not good.
you’re at home with family, your favorite casual outfit is . . . ? (You
know when nobody’s going to see you.)
Black exercise capris, T-shirt, and socks. My clothing budget has
plummeted since I started writing. And I love that because I’m not an
many times a day do you talk to your dog and feel he’s really
Wait . . . you mean there are times when Jack doesn’t really listen to
was your most recent reason to pray?
ask God to heal my precious mom of all cancer. I want more time with
her here, but I feel that time all too quickly slipping away.
of your titles would you absolutely love to see made into a movie?
Seeing any of them made into a movie would be a thrill. But I think
From a Distance has the best chance right now because it’s currently
being reviewed by a producer who plans to pitch it to the Hallmark
Channel. It’s a long shot for a historical to be made (over a
contemporary) due to higher production costs (costumes, setting, etc.).
But I can dream!
one. You have been asked many questions during your career, but is
there any one thing you would like to share with your fans? Something
they haven’t asked but you think they would enjoy hearing?
love to be asked the following question: Is there a book (or series)
you’ve read and loved so much that you wish you’d
My answer would be . . .
Yes! The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers (A Voice
in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, and As Sure as the Dawn).
They’re phenomenal books, life-changing stories, and have characters
whom I’ll carry with me into eternity. It’s my all-time favorite
series, and I recommend it every chance I get.
Thanks for this chat, Valerie,
and for making me so comfortable. Continued blessings!
you, Tamera. And although we didn’t have a chance to talk about it, I
love your blog and definition of igbok. Take care and God bless.
P.S. I’d like to add something
to this month’s interview. While writing this column over the past year
it’s been customary to submit the scripts into the magazine a month in
advance. Tamera Alexander and I enjoyed working on this post during the
month of July, 2009. I knew at that time she was extremely concerned
over her mom’s health and I prayed often, in her behalf.
In the end of August 2009, she
emailed me that her mom had passed away. Saddened by this latest news I
wished for the words to comfort her, and then thought about my opening.
“The golden hour is one of those amazing times... when we are closest
Tamera, I'll pray and hope
you'll find comfort in the wonderful moments you've had with your mom,
and consider all those ‘golden hours’ a legacy of blessings...surely
His gift to you, and your mother. Cherish them, and believe... you'll
May peace be with you.
Award winning author, Valerie
Anne Faulkner, came from New York, moved to the Gulf Coast of
Florida in 1973. Author of I Must Be in Heaven, A Promise
she spends her days working side by side with her husband, Bill, as an
electrician, then evenings, as a writer. The CFOM interviews have been
a great way for her to meet other authors and hone her writing craft.
This back-porch writer’s family is very important
to her, and
she cherishes time spent with her three grown children and seven
grandchildren. A few hours with family or a day enjoying one of
Florida’s Gulf beaches are her favorite ways to relieve stress and
refresh from her busy lifestyle.
Valerie was honored to receive First
Place (Memoir) 2008 Royal Palm
Literary Award by the Florida Writer’s Association in
November, and now is celebrating her latest achievement as Winner
Next Generation Indie Awards.
Valerie’s motto is “A day with
prayer . . . seldom unravels.”
Visit her at www.imustbeinheaven.com