Author Interview: Lindsay Harrel

I absolutely loved this interview from author Lindsay Harrel. It's full of inspiration, challenges overcome, and wonderful advice for any writer.

When did you begin writing? What inspired you to start?
I’m one of those I’ve-been-writing-since-I-was-a-kid people. I remember creating “books” by folding over a stack of papers and stapling them together, then writing and illustrating them (although the writing was much better than the very poor illustrating!). I took creative writing in high school but decided there was too much competition to consider writing books as a career. I decided to pursue journalism instead, which ended up being a great route, since you learn how to “write tight” in journalism school. I went on to receive my master’s as well, but during my program, something happened. I took a fiction class as an elective and remembered how much I loved creating stories. At the time, I also worked with several people who were writing fiction on the side. We talked about writing all the time, and it got me excited about trying my hand at it. So when I finished my degree in 2011, I began to seriously pursue publication.

What author inspired you the most?
I would probably say Francine Rivers. Her books have so much heart and depth to them, and as a person, she is very humble about her talent.

What book inspired you the most?
The book that got me reading in my genre was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. But my favorite book from childhood is the Anne of Green Gables series. I really related to Anne as a young writer with a dream.

What was your first book? What was it about, and when did you write it?
The very first book I ever wrote was called "How to Make Mud Pie." I was six. :) But the first full-length novel I wrote was in 2011. I jokingly call it "The Book That Must Not Be Named," because it really was pretty awful. It was about a mom who kept secrets from her daughter, who was a new college student and struggling with her identity.

Share a 'turning point' in your life as a writer.
Like almost every author, my writing life has been paved with rejection. I wrote my first book quickly. Once I pitched that book at a conference and figured out it was not very good, I attended several retreats and other conferences and read a ton of books to strengthen my craft. I wrote another book and landed an agent, who asked me to rewrite the book because “the premise [was] flawed.” Double groan! But I did it, and I learned a lot in the process. Then, when nothing came of pitching that book, I wrote another book, and it was finally contracted by a small press in 2016. I wrote yet another book, and it began to look like I might never land the “big contract” I’d always dreamed about. I even took a break from writing for several months and prayed about whether to set aside my proverbial writing pen for a season, since I had a toddler and was pregnant with my second son. But God had other ideas. In late 2016, I was offered a two-book contract with Thomas Nelson (an imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing), my dream publisher. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a well-known publisher and to improve my craft with the help of the amazing team of editors there.

What projects are you working on now?
My third book, The Secrets of Paper and Ink, releases February 26, 2019, so I'm currently busy with launch activities. This book is about a bookstore in Cornwall, England, that connects three strangers to each other (one from the 1850s, two in modern times). Each woman, though different, has her own struggles with identity. I pray that readers take away a lot of hope from reading the book, and that it inspires them to live out and take pride in their own story.

What character (from any project) was the most fun to write, and why?
I probably related most to Crystal from The Heart Between Us. Like her, I've experienced having a very ill family member (in her case, her sister, and in mine, my mom) and allowing that to almost define me. I too have struggled with ambition and letting work and success become my identity.

Do you have any tips for your fellow writers?
Keep writing. It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. If one book keeps getting rejected, move on to a new project. It will bring a fresh perspective and an opportunity to strengthen your craft. Also, join a writing organization; if you’re writing Christian fiction, American Christian Fiction Writers is the best! My Book Therapy is also an amazing organization that helps writers learn the craft. I would not be published without what I learned from both of these groups. I’d also say to attend conferences and get online—and network! Get to know others in your industry and never stop learning. Finally, stay focused. Redefine success. The writing industry can be slow-going and it can be difficult to feel like you’re making traction. Keep your eye on the prize and remember that forward progress is exactly that—progress.

What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a writer?
Self-doubt, for sure! We are our own worst enemies. Nothing makes us less effective than when we tell ourselves we can't do it.

Thanks for interviewing with me today!
Thank you so much for having me!

Find Lindsay: