Interview with Becky Wade
I am STOKED to welcome one of my very favorite authors to my blog today!!! I have been a huge Becky Wade
stalker fan ever since I read her debut novel, My Stubborn Heart, and totally went fan-girl on her when we met at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis in 2013. Since then we’ve been social media and e-mail buddies, mainly because I can’t shut up about how much I love her stories, and she graciously lets me message her to say so! 🙂
Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children. When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction. She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance! She’s the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine, and A Love Like Ours.
Amy: Becky!!! I can hardly believe it’s been nearly two years since we met at ACFW! What have you been up to (besides writing fabulous novels)? What’s God been teaching you lately?
I’ve been raising kids! On a daily basis this looks like: waking up early, packing lunches, driving morning car pool, driving afternoon car pool, driving to activities (can you see why audio books have become my mental ‘vacation’ while behind the wheel?), house cleaning, cooking, and grocery shopping.
The last time I looked my kids were little. I have no idea how they’ve suddenly reached the ages of 14, 11, and 6.
Lately, God’s been teaching me (again and again) that He is sufficient. During my “deadline months” of March, April, and May when I have a book due and a book releasing I feel overwhelmed most of the time. There’s not enough of me to go around and there’s certainly not enough hours in the day to be a mom and a writer and have time to myself to rest or relax or exercise. But in His strength, the necessities get accomplished because of His sufficiency. “He gives power to the faint,” Isaiah 40:29
I love that. And I love audiobooks! The writing life is a great lesson in becoming more dependent on God . . . even when you’re single! I don’t know how you married-mom writers do it (but I’m glad you do!)!
A Love Like Ours is your fourth novel published with Bethany House. If you could go back in time and visit the Becky who was working on My Stubborn Heart, what advice would you give her?
- Enjoy this phase of writing without a publisher, without pressure, and without deadlines.
- Remember to take great delight in the season after My Stubborn Heart sells and before it releases, because that season is a honeymoon full of wonder and excitement and hope.
- Bethany House won’t have an author’s email loop. Start one!
- Find a prayer partner to share the journey with. That new author, the one publishing her first book the same month as you? Dani Pettrey? She might make a good prayer partner.
- Remember that criticism and career setbacks are also opportunities to surrender your work anew to God. In fact, lean on God for everything. For the ideas, the equipping, for His glory to speak through the books. You’re right in your supposition that you’ll fail unless He’s in it.
- It’s your job to write the novels, it’s His job to handle everything else.
- Write what you love. The work itself is the greatest reward of this profession.
Great advice! And how awesome that you and Dani connected as fellow debut authors!
Many of my readers are aspiring writers who love to learn about an author’s writing process. What’s your process? From concept to submission, how long does it take you to write a novel?
I typically think about an idea for a minimum of a month and a maximum of several years before I begin. I thoroughly enjoy that part. I love dreaming up characters and story! Once I have a story premise and two characters in mind, I spend time thinking through the hero and heroine’s backstory, their goals, their conflicts, their faults, and quirks. I ask each of my characters a set of “Character Interview” questions that I ripped out of a Romance Writer’s Report in the early 90’s.
For those of you who like examples, here’s the Character Interview I did with Kate Donovan for My Stubborn Heart.
Next, I jot down all the plot points I can envision for the novel in a simple bullet-point list. Sometimes, let me tell you, this list is quite short. During these early preparation stages, I’m also researching. My favorite way to research is to read books written by people who’ve experienced what my characters are going to experience over the course of the story. Jake, hero of A Love Like Ours, is a Thoroughbred racehorse trainer struggling with PTSD from his time in the Marines. When preparing for his book, I read three non-fiction books. Two written by horse trainers. One by a Marine who’d battled PTSD.
Then—the really scary part—I force myself to begin Page One, Chapter One. I write a fleshed-out first draft that’s as complete and good as I can make it, which is a slow, laborious process for me. It takes me at least six months. Then I print out the manuscript and read it straight through like a reader would. Doing so reveals to me all the story’s flaws. I don’t let myself mark up the manuscript at that point with red pen. Instead, I create a computer document and compile pages of notes re: everything that needs fixing.
I spend a minimum of two months revising. After I submit the book to my publisher I receive back revision requests. It takes me anywhere from two weeks to two months to finish those revisions. Thus, from beginning to end, it takes me between ten months to a year to complete a novel.
In an age when so much writing advice leans toward speed and fast-drafting and producing as much as you can, it’s great to know there are authors out there with a very different yet equally successful process!
But there are definitely times when we don’t feel like writing, or worse, don’t feel we have anything to write. What’s your favorite method for busting out of writer’s block?
Prayer. When my writing isn’t clicking, I try not to let myself go into a tailspin over it. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that creativity has ebbs and flows. When I’m in an ebb and the work is dry and miserable I pray over it. Also, I work at grasping onto the hope that He will come and will restore my inspiration and my enjoyment. He always does, in time.
While I’m waiting for His rescue, I spend my writing hours on marketing, updating my web site, crafting blog posts, etc. That’s still time well spent! That’s still forward progress.
Or answering gushing e-mails from
obsessed enthusiastic fans like me . . . 😉
As you know, I read and review a LOT of books, and writers are always encouraged to be prolific readers. How have your reading tastes/habits changed since becoming a published writer?
Sadly, I have much less time to read, especially during those torturous “deadline months” I mentioned above. Also sadly, I’ve become a very editor-like reader who has a hard time sinking into and enjoying a story. I wish it wasn’t so! I really wish it wasn’t so.
That said, when I find a book that comes to life for me, I’m hugely impressed and awed by it.
I am right there with you! I never would’ve believed it even three years ago, that there’d come a time when I would not only not like some books, but not even finish them, let alone keep them! Yet, like you said, that’s good in many ways because the cream truly does rise to the top, and when a story manages to turn that editor-mind off and let us just be readers again, we know it’s good!
Many people may not know that you once wrote romances for the general market. Some people say that Christian fiction, with its general lack of questionable content (profanity, sex, graphic violence, etc.) is irrelevant or unrealistic compared to life in the 21st Century. What would you say to them?
I’d say that there are a lot of Christians living on earth here in this 21st Century. And I’d say that there are a lot of non-Christians to whom the message inherent in Christian fiction is of paramount relevance.
I don’t write perfect characters. If I did, then yes. My books would be unrealistic. I write flawed people who are dealing with the same issues that real people deal with: faith and love and doubts. Stories about characters who find hope through God’s ability to redeem are as critically important now as they ever were or ever will be.
Having experienced both sides, did something inspire you to turn to Christian fiction? What does Christian fiction mean to you?
The “something” that inspired me to turn to Christian fiction had three parts:
- My sales were poor, so my general market publisher didn’t offer me another contract.
- I never felt right about some of the content in my general market books. When I wasn’t offered a new contract I heard it as a “no” from God to the kind of books I’d been writing.
- Seven years after leaving my general market writing career behind me, I heard God call me back to writing. By then, I’d learned from my past mistakes. When God gave me a second chance, I knew for sure that He wanted me to write for Him.
Christian fiction means a great deal to me. It’s not so much my job as it’s my ministry.
Amen to that!
Okay, okay, let’s get down to what everyone really wants to discuss . . . Jake Porter! While all of your heroes to-date have had some pretty dark moments and troubles from their pasts, Jake may be your most wounded hero yet. Was he a difficult character to write? What do you hope readers learn from him?
You’re right. Jake is my most wounded hero yet. Matt Jarreau from My Stubborn Heart was mired in grief, but he didn’t struggle with mental illness and he wasn’t physically scarred. So, yep. Jake wins the most wounded award.
Jake was difficult to write because, for one thing, he didn’t want to talk. I’m a writer who loves to write dialogue and he was not talkative. Also, it was emotionally heavy for me at times to dig around in his mind and heart and past. I’d made him who he was in the previous Porter family novels and I felt honor-bound to stick to that, to be true to him. So that’s what I did even though he was a challenge. In order to deal with him, Lyndie and I were both forced to develop a sense of humor or go mad. 🙂
It’s my dearest hope that Jake’s story communicates God’s ability to restore hope that once was lost, even to the bleakest soul. I especially love that Jake, my fictional hero, will be raising money for real life heroes. I’m giving a percentage of my earnings on all sales of A Love Like Ours through May 17th to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. IFHF provides care not just to veterans who’ve been physically wounded but also to vets who have traumatic brain injuries and psychological conditions.
Not to be outdone by Jake, Lyndie has her own set of troubles in the form of a disabled younger sister. Mollie was such a moving and magical character! What or who inspired you to create her?
Thank you! Mollie was inspired by my friend Kari’s daughter Claire. Kari lives in my neighborhood and when I got to know her, her husband, and her two daughters, I immediately wanted to write a family exactly like their family. The only difference between Mollie and Claire is their age. Mollie’s an adult and Claire is 12.
You and I have discussed this before, but I am a huge horse lover from way back, and used to dream of becoming a jockey (Zoe and I have that in common!). What kind of research did you have to do to enter Lyndie’s mind as a jockey?
As you know, I’m a horse lover from way back, too!
In order to understand Lyndie’s perspective as a jockey, I watched every episode of the reality TV show Jockeys. I also scoured through lots of online articles, especially those pertaining to female jockeys like Chantal Sutherland and Rosie Napravnik.
Then, when I was almost done with the novel, I took all my remaining questions to blogger and writer Nicole Petrino Salter. Nicole worked in the world of Thoroughbred racing for years and is an expert on the subject. She and I communicated via email and phone and she lent me her insight and suggestions.
You mean you didn’t saddle up and enter a race yourself? Tsk tsk. 😉 Just kidding! It’s a dangerous and exciting job, two elements you manage to capture well in Lyndie’s story!
A Love Like Ours not only reunites the Porter siblings, but also brings back a lot of characters from the previous two books in this series. One of my favorite surprises in this book was the story of Amber and Will—a whole second romance to savor! What inspired you to revisit Amber’s story in this book? (And a fireman? Yes, please! 🙂 )
I introduced Amber in Undeniably Yours, intending to give her a secondary romance in that book with Meg’s brainy cousin Brimm. But when I put them together in scenes I didn’t feel anything between them beyond friendship. Perhaps this was because Amber wasn’t yet ready for a real romance. (Don’t you love how we writers and readers speak about these characters as if they were real and we’re all down with it?) Amber was a mess in Undeniably Yours and she needed years and years to get her act together. So I gave her the time she needed, but I didn’t forget about her. I always wanted her to have her happy ending.
I guess I don’t need to explain why I was motivated to write a fireman hero. It goes without saying, doesn’t it? 🙂
Of COURSE they’re real! 😉 And no, a fireman really needs no explanation . . . LOL.
Speaking of the Porter siblings, the hunky Porter brothers have a lot of dreamy-eyed fans (I know, real shock there). And I’m sure you had to glean some of their wonderful, swoon-worthy traits from your real-life romantic hero. In what ways are they like “His Highness”? How do they differ? And has “His Highness” ever read your books? If so, what does he think of them?
Ha! I affectionately call my husband His Highness because he’s a bit . . . shall we say . . . high maintenance? Just a bit. Well. More than a bit.
Like the Porter brothers, His Highness is honorable, funny, trustworthy, a man of faith, a great friend, and loves his wife very well.
Unlike the Porter brothers, His Highness is not supernaturally hunky. He’s not tortured and/or given to moments of melodrama. He drops his socks on the floor and leaves the kitchen in a disastrous state when he dashes out the door on the way to work. Unlike the Porter brothers, he’s been married to his wife for more than twenty years. He’s been a father for fourteen years. He’s in his mid-40’s.
His Highness has read all my books! He reads them when everyone else reads them, once they’re in print. All year long, he devours CIA type thrillers. Just one time a year, he reads Christian contemporary romance. He tells me he’s a huge fan of my books. But then, he’s far too savvy to say differently.
Smart man! 🙂 If you have to pick one member of the ever-growing Porter Family to switch places with for a day, who you pick and why?
I’d pick Meg because she’s an heiress and because she’s (sigh) married to Bo. I’d spend the day receiving spa treatments somewhere posh, shopping, riding horses on her ranch. Then I’d bring in a personal chef to cook dinner for Bo and me.
There’s one more Porter sibling left—little sister Dru! We already know that she, like her brothers, has served her country as a Marine (which I think is totally cool and can’t wait to read!). Any hints as to what we can look forward to in her story?
I have so much fun writing feisty heroines and the youngest Porter sibling is the feistiest heroine I’ve written yet. Dru carries a gun, drives a motorcycle, and can take men down with her jujitsu moves. She’s an executive protection agent who’s been hired to guard a famous NFL player named Gray Fowler from the stalker who’s been sending him death threats. I’ve had a great time taking the bodyguard romance premise and flipping it so that the heroine’s the bodyguard.
Gray’s indignant when he meets Dru. He’s twice her size, older than she is, and a ten year veteran of professional football. He figures he can guard himself far better than a slim, twenty-something woman can. Little does he know . . .
Agh!!! I’m salivating here! Gray and Dru’s story sounds A. MAZ. ING. It’s going to be a very long year waiting to “meet” them!
What else is up next for you?
I’m not honestly sure what’s up next for me after the Porter Family books. I’m planning to take a vacation from writing for the entire month of June to rest and ponder new ideas and listen for God’s voice and direction. At this point, I’m still sleeping, eating, dreaming Porters.
Haha! That’s awesome! I guarantee your fans are all sleeping, eating and dreaming Porters, too! But before I let you go start that vacation, it’s time for everyone’s favorite finale, the Top Ten Speed Round!
Becky’s Top 10 Speed Round
1. Name 3 of your favorite authors of all time.
Will people throw rotten tomatoes at me if I mention general market romance authors? Remember that I discovered Christian fiction late in life, that I’m not endorsing any R Rated content in these author’s books, and that it’s their ability to write romance that I like….
- Susan Elizabeth Phillips
- Lisa Kleypas
- Kristan Higgins
2. Name 3 books in your TBR list/pile right now.
- The Thief by Stephanie Landsem
- Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas
- Fair Play by Deeanne Gist
3. Name 1 famous book people might be surprised to learn you’ve never read.
Pride and Prejudice
4. One novel you could read for the rest of your life and never get bored is…
Love’s Reckoning by Laura Frantz. Oh, the poetry of it!
5. Print or e-books?
6. What is the oldest book you own?
The Bible that I gave my husband the night before our wedding is still the one that I use daily. It’s twenty-one years old.
7. Favorite snack/beverage while reading or writing?
8. Craziest place you’ve ever been caught reading or writing?
I can remember being so addicted a Kathleen Woodiwiss novel while in high school that I was caught covertly reading it on a back stairway at the church during choir practice.
9. You’re having a dinner party. Which 5 fictional characters (none of your own!) would you invite?
- Colin Firth’s Darcy from Pride & Prejudice
- Ryan Gosling’s Noah from The Notebook
- Channing Tatum’s John from Dear John
- Clark Gable’s Rhett from Gone With the Wind
- Richard Armitage’s John from North & South
10. Favorite activity that has absolutely nothing to do with reading or writing or research:
Attending a tennis drill, especially outdoors on a beautiful day with friends.