Interview with Jericha Kingston
PT: Hi, Jericha. Welcome to the Diamond Mine!
JK: Thanks for having me, Peggy.
PT: You wrote an Easter story set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. How did that come about?
JK: Great question. I’ve always been fascinated by that era in our nation’s history, captivated by the photographs and documentaries about Black Sunday. I began writing about it. I’d entered a few contests with the opening chapter, and it scored well, so I thought I was onto something. One day, I reviewed the submission guidelines for Pelican Book Group’s Easter stories. Talk about a diamond mine – the publisher laid the ground rules, detailing exactly what they were looking for in a story.
PT: So you crafted your story based on the publisher’s prerequisites?
JK: Pretty much.
PT: Was that difficult?
JK: Not as difficult as I thought. In fact, I loved the process.
PT: How so?
JK: Writing-to-spec caused me to create a story that surprised even me. When I’d previously written, I drew from my own ideas, knew where the story was going. Sometimes it’s difficult to translate the thrill of a scene you’ve repeatedly envisioned. But writing-to-spec, my characters constantly surprised me. I delivered the thrill. The process was a blessing, really. And in the end, if Pelican rejected my story, at least it wouldn’t be because I hadn’t followed the guidelines.
PT: (Laughs) But that could’ve backfired. If your story was rejected, wouldn’t you have a hard time getting it published elsewhere?
JK: (Laughs) True. If the story was rejected, I’d have needed to increase word count, change the plot… even changed my heroine’s name. But you raise a good point, Peggy, because risk-taking is part of an author’s DNA. We’re mad, really. Which of us doesn’t labor at a computer for months at a time for the possibility of having our work published? Yet that’s what we do. We write stories because we must. Stories are trapped inside of us, clawing their way out.
PT: What do you try to deliver to your readers?
JK: A great story. A new setting, someplace we don’t read about all the time. I’m a reader. I understand how difficult it is to find a fresh read. Especially in inspirational romance.
PT: Explain that.
JK: An inspirational romance is a guy and a girl. They get together in the end. How am I going to weave a story that hasn’t been done before? I dig deep. Create complex characters. Develop an engaging setting and an intriguing plot. And always remember that if it’s boring me, it’s going to bore readers, too. Simple as that.
PT: What can we expect from you in the future?
JK: I’m editing a story I really love, a contemporary military romance. It’s good. And I know it’s good because it’s ripping my heart out. If I’m not in a puddle by the end, it’s back to the drawing board until I get it right.
PT: Until you can translate the thrill?
JK: (Laughs) Exactly.
PT: We look forward to it. Thanks for being with us today here at the Diamond Mine.
JK: Thank you for hosting me, Peggy. I’ve enjoyed it.
PT: Here’s a quick excerpt:
She looked to the front porch where James stood, his face leached of color.
“Walk toward me as fast as you can.” His voice cracked. “Now, Lily.”
What? The bully was at it again, this time issuing orders. She sighed and stepped off her rung on the fence. Mr. Bloom was about to learn she didn’t obey tyrants. She released the top plank and would’ve turned to go, but something in his voice startled her.
“Don’t look back, Lily. I’m begging you. Come to me.”
She glared at him.
His face crumpled, and he bounded off the porch and ran toward her.
The beast was chasing her! And he looked…crazed. No. Terrified. The only other time she’d seen such a look was when—
Everything turned red. She was enveloped in a cloud. Fine dust stung her eyes and throat, choking her. She gasped, inhaled dirt, and coughed. Her mouth snapped shut, sand grinding between her teeth. She closed her eyes and hid her face behind the flimsy sleeve of her dress, protecting her nose and mouth. But it was no use.
Shaking. The earth was shaking. Wind gusted, shrieked and moaned, almost as loud as her racing heart. Would it burst right through her chest? What’s happened? Is this a tornado?
Wind-driven sheets of dust blasted into her flesh like piercing needles. She tasted dirt, smelled dirt, cried dirt.
“Lily, grab the fence.” James coughed and sputtered. “The fence!”
She tripped over her own feet to reach the corral and latch on. She clung there, wind and dust swirling around her, lifting her braid up into the air. Please, God, help me!
Here’s your chance to win an e-book of Jericha’s novel, Waiting for Lily Bloom. Leave a comment to be entered!
James Bloom has prayed three years for rain and five years for a wife. His dreams are demolished on Palm Sunday, 1935, when a catastrophic dust storm hits Oklahoma, and his neighbor’s niece has to ride out the storm at his house–-overnight. The next day, he’s forced to marry her, an East coast city girl who can’t speak. Could this be God’s plan?
Married to a stranger in the dusty Oklahoma wasteland, Lily Driggers longs for her home. Yet somehow, her new husband is the only one who understands her silence.
As Easter approaches, Lily and James wonder if there is hope after the storm.
You can catch up with Jericha Kingston on:
Jericha Kingston–tomboy gone rogue–loves the visual, performing, and literary arts. She’s the winner of the 2013 Touched by Love Award contest (Short Contemporary), the 2nd place winner in the 2013 Laurie contest (Inspirational), and a Finalist in the 2012 and 2013 ACFW First Impressions contest (Historical and Romance). Her Easter novella, Waiting for Lily Bloom, released April 18, 2014 from Pelican Book Group.
A Georgia native, Jericha is comfortable in the solitude of the woods, or singing and acting before audiences. Her heart was stolen at age 16, and it’s never been returned. She and her husband have been married for a quarter of a century, and they have two grown sons. Ousting her inner tomboy has been futile, so Jericha is often found fishing, camping, or hiking with her Australian Cattle Dog.