Shannon here: Jessica White shares the inspiration behind her latest Romantic Suspense, Song in the Dark. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a signed copy. Deadline: June 6th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Jessica:
My favorite books are the ones where the characters live in my soul long after I finish the story. Their wisdom, personality, unique voice, and outlook on life add imaginary friends to my vivid internal world. Right now I’m getting to know Irene Hannon’s character Charlie, the Hispanic, fish-taco maker who is also an amazing artist (Hope Harbor Series). His laid back, follow his passions as the Lord leads attitude is just what I need in this pandemic.
I can hear him reminding me not to neglect my art just because the world has been turned on its head. To see God’s hand moving, listen for His voice, and follow wherever it leads, even if that’s a park bench reserved for me by two crazy in love seagulls.
My writing process always starts with discovering my characters. In my historical Healing Seasons series, my characters came from reoccurring dreams I had in my youth. The boy who fell down the stairs. His father, the doctor who threw himself into his work to avoid his grief. The heiress with scars that proved how far she’d go for those she loved. Her brother who could spin anything into a story.
They were all characters of my heart. And as they told their stories, I found friends who reminded me to breathe through my panic attacks, to commit all things to prayer, to remind me that no matter how hard things get, as long as God gives me breath I have work to do. And from reviews and emails and book signings, so have my readers.
We all need people who have walked this path before us to learn from. Likewise, we need characters we can fall in love with for other reasons. Characters who are brave enough to face their fears. Characters who show us how to use our energy and words for good. Characters who fail, who make mistakes, who hit rock bottom, but then use the lessons they learn to get back up and try again.
In my newest release, Song in the Dark, my characters came from Greek mythology. After rereading Rick Riordan’s
books with my girls, I wished there was a way to bring some of those iconic characters to life in Christian fiction without all the powers and magic. I settled into the idea of putting them in Romantic Suspense (because if you read the myths they are all about relationships and epic battles or quests).
So I prayed over the twelve Olympians, asking God who would they be if they met Him? And He laid on my heart that we all believe ourselves gods of our lives until we meet the Living God. We all believe we can control our destinies, have grand romances, and conquer mountains if we just set our minds to it. And that became the heart question for each character.
The first character God gave me a heart for was Hades. I’ve always felt he was the black sheep of the Olympians. He drew the short stick and became god of the underworld and made the best of what he was given. He took his job seriously and sought justice for the dead, making sure those who deserved torment stayed in Tartarus and rewarding those who died noble deaths with passage to the Elysian Fields. I also admired the fact he was the only one of his brothers not to cheat on his wife.
That loyalty was foundational to the character of Dean Blackburn. His name means “leader of the dark and scorched places.” As a homicide detective, he seeks justice for the dead. Dean taught me that the quiet, reserved, seemingly shut down people are often the ones carrying the heaviest burdens. But those most resistant to relationships are also often the ones who are the most loyal and willing to go deep.
Starting with Hades meant the heroine had to be Persephone. Literature and art often depict Persephone as the maiden kidnapped and plundered by a greedy Hades. But in all my readings, I noticed how easily she adapted to being queen of the underworld. And it made me ask why? How could someone so innocent accept and succeed at being Hades’s co-equal?
Jenna Fields’s name means “little bird of the field.” Little birds are often seen as fragile, but they are resilient in the storms of life. Jesus told us to be like sparrows, trusting Him for provision of food and shelter. And that’s how this harpist, who spreads joy like spring flowers through her music, finds her way out of the gilded cage her narcissistic mother created for her.
Jenna taught me to lean into my giftings and trust God for the rest. She also gave me a chance to encourage others who have dealt with unrealistic parental pressure and narcissists to find their freedom and set healthy boundaries, which is where the title came from. There is always a song of hope in the dark nights of our soul. Moments when we want to run away or give up, God is there.
I know I’m not alone in turning to stories to find characters that inspire me to be brave and step out and find the people God has written into my life.
About Jessica: Jessica is a prayer warrior who loves to encourage and create safe spaces for the hurting and lost. She’s committed to living out God’s love and standing for equality, diversity, and justice in her community and publishing.
She has a B.A. in Educational Studies and published her first book, Surviving the Stillness, in 2014. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She also is a founding member of 10 Minute Novelists LLC, an international group of time-crunched writers.
About the book – Song in the Dark: After graduating from Juilliard, harpist Jenna Fields returns home to Albany to escape her manipulative ex and prove to her controlling mother that she can orchestrate her own life.
Homicide detective Dean Blackburn spends his days seeking justice for the dead. But darkness taints everything, including him.
When his three Dobermans lead him to Jenna playing in the park, he tries to resist the beautiful musician and focus on his cases. At least until he witnesses Jenna’s ex attempt to blackmail her and learns she’s being stalked, just like one of his homicide victims.
When her world crumbles beneath her feet, and Dean learns she has her own dark secrets, he helps Jenna see that the key to escaping her mother’s gilded cage is already in her hands.
Can’t wait for the drawing or worried you won’t win? Get your copy now! Song in the Dark
Interested in Jessica’s other books? Healing Seasons
Question for Readers: Has there been a character you carry around in your heart? Even a childhood one that may have gotten you through a growing moment?
Come back June 2nd for debut author, Cindy Bonds!