Interview with Ann Tatlock

» Posted on Feb 3, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off on Interview with Ann Tatlock

Ann Tatlock

This week I’m hosting Cara Lynn James with Love on Assignment, Ann Tatlock with Promises to Keep, and Ginny Ytrrup with Words. If you want to enter the drawings, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you can enter is to email me at The drawings end Sunday (February 6th) evening.

Interview with Ann Tatlock:

1. What made you start writing?

I simply love stories. My original goal was to be a journalist so I could interview people and write their stories for magazines. I spent five years with Decision magazine doing just that, but around the same time, in my mid-20s, I went through a series of losses that left me needing to express my grief in a new way. I turned to fiction and wrote my first novel.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I sold my first book to Bethany House Publishers in 1996. It was published in 1998. By then, I had been writing fiction for 13 years. My road to publication was a long one!

3. How do you handle rejections?

Rejections are always hard, no matter how long you’ve been writing. It’s a bit of a slap to a writer’s sensitive ego. So I let it sting for a time—a short time—and then I put it behind me and keep going. There’s no use letting rejection knock you down for good. If we did, we’d be out on the first round and would never get anywhere at all.

4. Why do you write?

To make sense of the world. To tell the truth about life from a biblical point of view. I want my stories to mirror God’s larger story of sin, redemption, restoration and hope in Jesus Christ.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

Writing is the job I do every day, along with teaching at writers conferences. I’m fortunate not to have a “regular day job” while trying to write in my free time. If I weren’t a novelist, though, I’d like to think I’d be a nurse on the mission field somewhere. But since I can’t stomach broken bones, it seems God knew what he was doing when he had me drop out of the college nursing program and turn to writing instead.

6. What are you working on right now?

It’s a story about an Iraqi war vet who returns home permanently injured, and the woman who loves him. If you want to know more, I hope you’ll read it!

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

I’m sure I put a little of myself into every book I write. It would almost be impossible not to. But if I had to choose one character who is based most closely on me, that would be Beth Gunnar, the main character of Every Secret Thing. While the plot of the book is fictional, much of the details are true and actually happened when I was in school. Plus, the person Beth was as a child….definitely me.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.

My newest book is called Promises to Keep. One of my characters, Tillie Monroe, first came to me about 25 years ago. And she’s a character, all right. She’s probably the most eccentric woman ever to nudge her way into one of my books, though she did wait patiently all these years for me to tell her story, and I have to thank her for that. The book deals with the serious issues of family abuse and alcoholism, but Tillie is there for the wife and children who have fled and are seeking a haven. They don’t necessarily want her around at first, but she elbows her way into their lives too–ultimately for their own good.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

It’s very easy for this profession to become all-consuming. You find yourself living for the soaring sales figures, the glowing reviews, the prestigious awards. I have to make a conscious effort not to measure my worth by the number of books I sell (or don’t sell) or the number of awards I get (or don’t get). I remind myself that what I’m doing is not about success, it’s about service. Writing is one way I’ve been called to serve God. But it’s no more important that the other ways I’ve been called to serve: as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, volunteer. My advice: Keep it in perspective by remembering the One who called you to this work in the first place.

10. How important is faith in your books?

Faith is central. I can’t write a book that doesn’t deal with some aspect of faith. If I didn’t include faith in the story, I wouldn’t be writing from a biblical worldview.

11. What themes do you like to write about?

Forgiveness, family relationships, servanthood, racism, restoration, grace, hope. And beauty and truth which—in spite of what the poet John Keats said—are not necessarily the same thing.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

Some authors say that’s like asking, “Which child is your favorite offspring?” If I had to choose, though, I suppose I feel a “special affection” for All the Way Home and I’ll Watch the Moon. In completing them, I gained a deep sense of satisfaction that doesn’t necessarily come with every book.

13. What is your writing schedule like?

The creative juices seem to flow best in the morning, so I do most of my writing between 9:00 and noon. Once my daughter is grown and I’m no longer getting her ready for school, I’ll probably start writing at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. But that’s a few years down the road.