by Michelle Sutton
Tina Ann Forkner is a good writer friend of mine who looks eerily like she could be my younger sister. We discovered that last year at conference. Can you tell from this picture who is who?
Tina is a fantastic story teller. I’ve read both of her books. She is the author of the recently released Rose House from Waterbrook Press. Her debut novel, Ruby Among Us, also from Waterbrook, just released last year. Tina writes that she has been writing for as long as she can remember and authored and bound her first picture book with scratch paper and her mom’s sewing needle and thread. Tina loves serving on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors in her hometown and volunteering with her local MOPS group. She enjoys the challenges of gardening during the short summers of wild, windy Wyoming. The rest of her time is spent hanging out with her husband and juggling the activities of the children they share in their busy blended family (a gymnast/ballerina and two baseball stars).
Here is what Tina has to say specifically about her writing journey…
I have been writing fiction since I was a child. At night, after my mom said prayers and tucked me into bed, I would close my eyes and make up stories in my head. In my imagination, I would make myself the main character and go on grand adventures across land and sea. These were my earliest attempts at fiction. As I got older, I wrote pages and pages of stories, mostly poems and short fiction pieces about teen romance and growing up.
When I was in my early twenties, I enrolled in college, determined that I would get a degree in English. Poetry was actually my main focus then, but during the last semester of my
senior year as an undergraduate, I received permission from the fiction instructor to take one of her graduate-level fiction courses. I was so nervous! During each class, I waited for the instructor to tell me I couldn’t attend anymore or that I wasn’t ready. Thankfully, she didn’t and during my time in her course, I fell in love with fiction writing. Up until that point, I had still not completed a novel, but I was finally on my way.
It is no secret that my fiction writing dreams were derailed when I went through a divorce and was a single mom. I had absolutely no writing community, and for the first time in my life, my writing slowed down while I focused on working full time and trying to be a good mom. That was a tough journey, and I wondered if I would ever even be worthy to write a novel. Fortunately, and much to my surprise, in the midst of my tumultuous journey, God gave me a story.
I sat down one evening after tucking my toddler daughter into bed, wrote the title Ruby Among Us, typed a few paragraphs, and then closed the file. It was simply an idea I couldn’t get out of my mind and had to write down, even though I didn’t get back to it for a very long time. Eventually, and I know this will sound clichéd, I met my husband and my life changed forever. He encouraged and supported me in my writing so that one day I opened that forgotten file and reread the words I’d written as a single mom.
I thought, “I know this character.” I had been on a journey similar to hers. I could write her story. And that was the moment I became a fiction writer. I didn’t think the story would ever be a novel, but it did and that’s how I came to write CBA fiction. I may have tried my hand at fiction writing before, but God had to grow me before I could infuse it with any real meaning.