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01 July 2014

Francine Rivers, author

Francine Rivers, author

Award-winning novelist Francine Rivers has written over 20 bestselling Christian novels including Redeeming Love and A Lineage of Grace. She lives in Northern Carolina, USA. Francine became a Christian later in life when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. She speaks to Sarah Stone about staying immersed in Scripture, why she writes what she does, and her tips for young Christian writers.

Who are your inspirational writers?

Oh I have quite a few. I'm in a group that meets every summer for four days where we plot, pray and play. I admire all of them –really good writers….Brandilyn Collins, Robin Lee Hatcher, Karen Ball, Sunni Jeffers, Trisha Goyer.

Nicole Baart is a very new strong literary writer. It seems like the whole market is just opening up and God is on the move in literature and in the movies and in music. And of course the classic writers like C S Lewis. He was an inspiration.

How do you choose what to write about?

For each book there's just been a question in my mind that I'm struggling with and that's where I start. What's on my mind lately? What's really eating away at me that I need to work through and take to God to find out what he's trying to teach me? Sometimes it takes a whole year to get an answer to the question. Very often I'll finish the whole book and then I'll realise, oh, there, now I get it.

Can you give us an example?

The first question was: 'how do I share with unsaved family and friends who do not want to hear about Jesus and do not want to read the Bible?' That's where A Voice in the Wind came from. The answer I got was really that we live for Christ and people watch how we live and that makes more of an impact than anything we can say. But, eventually, the question will come up, 'Why are you different from other people? Why do you have a serenity that other people don't have?' And then God gives you the words to share. It's not something that you can prepare for.

What advice would you give to budding writers?

The main thing is just to start and do a page a day. At the end of the year, you've got 365 pages. When they're beginning as writers, people tend, I think, to want it to be perfect. They want it to be brilliant. But just remember that when you're writing, you're writing to communicate. Everybody has a different style and a different voice. And that's what I love about reading other writers, it's like spending time with that individual because everybody has a different way of speaking or writing and they're all worth reading. Writers read for two reasons, for information and formation. To me, the best place for both of those things is the Bible, and if you're reading it every day and staying in the Word it's going to permeate your work in a very natural way.

How do you hone your craft and allow God to use you?

In my opinion, if you have a deep desire to write and it doesn't go away, then God has already given you the gift. Your job is to learn the craft, which is hard work and takes practise. I'm still an apprentice, I'm still learning. Just like a doctor would never stop learning, but has to keep up with the newest techniques and the newest science. It's the same thing with a writer. You're constantly learning and trying to grow and to stay immersed in Scripture.

What do you do when you finish a book and it's out in the world?

I don't read the books that I've done in the past, I move on to the next project. I find I don't want to go back and read what I did because I'll see all the errors and things that I should've fixed or done differently. And because that question has been dealt with and God's given me another. Now I need to focus on that and keep moving forward. So it's like once the book is done he's taught me the lesson I needed to learn and now there's another lesson ahead.

Interview by Sarah Stone