Interview for Carolyn Williford

» Posted on Jun 10, 2011 in Blog | Comments Off on Interview for Carolyn Williford

This week I’m hosting Roxanne Rustand with Second Chance Dad, Margaret Brownley with A Vision of Lucy, and Carolyn Williford with Bridge to a Distant Star. 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 (June 12th) evening.

Interview for Carolyn Williford:

What made you start writing?

I can still remember the absolute joy of first learning to read. Ever since then I’ve had a love affair with books.  And so I think my earliest desires to write a book began about that far back too.

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

I first started writing for publication (Sunday school material) back in 1980.  Then, around 1987, I began teaching the family devotions we were enjoying—creative ones with good content that also allowed (even encouraged!) our active boys to be in motion.  People started asking, “Have you ever written any of this down?  You ought to do that!” Back then, several publishers were still accepting unsolicited manuscripts, so I sent off a synopsis, an outline and a sample chapter to three of those companies.  Amazingly, it was accepted by one of those, and so in 1990 my first (nonfiction) book came out, entitled Devotions for Families That Can’t Sit Still (Victor Books).

How do you handle rejections?

I’ve had my share, believe me, and I tell people that it never gets any easier!  Pure and simple: it’s awful, and it hurts.  At the same time, I don’t give up.  I keep writing.  I keep sending manuscripts to my agent, and I keep trying, trying, trying.

Why do you write?

First of all, I feel called to do this.  God’s given me the desire and a gift; I judge I’m responsible for using it for his glory.  And secondly, it fills a creative need in my life.  I enjoy all facets of the creative arts, from the visual arts to music to performance to the written word.  In some way or form, I need to be creating something all the time.

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

That’s easy: I’d be reading.  I’m always into at least one novel and generally a non-fiction book at the same time.  (Of course, I’m always reading/studying a book of the bible for my devotional times too.)  I also love spending time with my husband and my family, and we’re pretty active: we enjoy swimming, hiking, biking – playing together in some way!

What are you working on right now?

Another novel…completely different from any of the other novels I’ve written.  This one is in first person, like Jordan’s Bend.  I’m really enjoying it and this make-believe character I’m inhabiting.

Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

Any author of fiction who says that he or she writes without doing so is not being truthful, in my opinion!  You write what you know and what you’ve experienced: feelings, impressions, ideas, thoughts.  A story is in some measure an extension of you and what you are.  I don’t think it’s humanly possible to write totally apart from yourself, outside of your experience.

Tell us about the book you have out right now.

Actually, I have several currently in print: Faith Tango, Questions from the God Who Needs No Answers and How to Treat a Staff Infection (mainly written by my husband, Craig).  But I’m sure you’re referring to Bridge to a Distant Star, a novel.  The themes for my novels come from my devotional life, and this one was no exception.


The verse Matthew 16:4 includes the call from Jesus to “deny [yourself], take up [your] cross and follow me.”  I remember the thought struck me: What about those who have such poor self-esteem that they truly had no self to deny?  Sadly, they have no idea what a real offering to God would look like. I began thinking of a story around that thinking…that character.


And then the three-fold structure of the verse suggested that an inter-weaving of three stories into one—with a common thread—would make for an interesting story.  I was originally going to use a car accident as the “meeting place” of all my characters.  But then I remembered the true tragedy of the Tampa Bay Bridge, and that became an inherent part of my novel.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read good books, read good books, read good books.  And after that?  Read more good books!  And practice writing, don’t be afraid to fail (you can’t get published if you can’t/won’t risk rejection), and keep trying.  Write what know and you’re passionate about.

How important is faith in your books?

All important.  As stated earlier, my themes come from my own devotional life.  If my writing doesn’t somehow impact the reader’s relationship with God, then I have failed in my calling.

What themes do you like to write about?

The overall theme of spiritual formation—how that happens, and always attempting to create an environment for spiritual growth to occur.


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

Oh, it’s always the one I’m currently working on!  That needs to be true for an author, I think.  Otherwise, I think you could be losing your passion.


What is your writing schedule like?

Not as much or as long or as frequent as I’d like it to be, that’s for sure.  But Craig and I are busy people; we’re incredibly active in our service for Trinity International University, and I am passionate about that ministry too.  Craig and I especially enjoy working as a team.  But Craig also deeply understands my need to write, so Tuesdays—all day, generally and hopefully without too many exceptions—are my days.  I also try to write on Thursdays and then just whenever I can: as we’re traveling (I tell people, “Have computer; will travel”), when I have an hour here or there, or when I have a deadline coming soon, CONTINUOUSLY!