Today, we interviewing Janet Sketchley, a Canadian Christian writer, who has a passion for fiction. She’s published in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, plus over 100 articles, reviews and stories. Her debut novel, Heaven’s Prey, was published last month.
Jim: First, how did you get into writing? When did you start? What prompted you to start? And how did you start?
Janet: I’ve been writing for over 20 years now, and I started because my husband knew I needed more than being an at-home mom (wonderful as that is). When a friend from church started a writing group, my husband told her, “Janet writes.” I hadn’t written anything in years, and with a toddler and another baby on the way, the last thing I had time for was another meeting! God, as they say, has a sense of humour. I went, got into writing personal experience articles, and when the seeds of Heaven’s Prey came along I didn’t want that story inside my head so I started writing it.
Jim: You said you had a quirky imagination. Give us an example of that quirky imagination. And did that get into your novel?
Janet: Well, I say “quirky,” but that’s a euphemism for “my friends think I’m weird.” It’s actually hard for me to pick out the quirky bits because to me they’re normal J In Heaven’s Prey I think it comes out quietly in one-liners. Ruth, the heroine, is abducted by a villain who prefers younger victims. He’s complaining about her not being his type, demanding to know her age. Her first thought is “Does he want to check my teeth?”
Jim: You have over 100 published articles. Do those cover a particular area of interest, or do you write on many topics?
Janet: Most of my articles have been for the Christian market, personal experience or inspirational. Like fiction, these are things I can pull from my own mind and supplement with research as needed.
Jim: You were also the fiction columnist for InScribe’s FellowScript. What kind of columns did you write for that?
Janet: I covered the basics: characters, point of view, planning and seat-of-the pants, revision. The columns were short, so I highlighted different issues of the same topics over time. One of my planning columns was called “In Search of Smaller Elephants” (is that quirky?) on the premise that a bit of pre-thinking could result in less-extensive revisions later on. It came from the old motivational saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Jim: Your debut novel is Heaven’s Prey. Can you give a brief glimpse into the book?
Janet: Here’s a brief blurb on Heaven’s Prey.
A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.
Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?
Heaven’s Prey is about a villain’s last chance at redemption and a vulnerable woman’s obedience to pray for her enemy—not the gentle inspirational read many associate with the Christian genre.
If you would like to read the first chapter, visit my website and click the “free download” button. http://janetsketchley.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Heavens-Prey-Chapter-1.pdf
Jim: I noticed you have a piece in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. What is that story about?
Janet: That one’s a true-life story. “The Road Trip that Wasn’t” shares how God showed Himself faithful when my car died on a remote stretch of highway—when I had three young kids and no cell phone.
Jim: On your web site, you offer bonuses to visitors. And those are interviews with the characters in Heaven’s Prey. Did those come from the book, or after the book and strictly for your bonuses?
Janet: The “meet the characters” posts were new for promotion leading up to release date. I’ve now added the prologue to Heaven’s Prey (cut from the final version).
Jim: What has been the reaction to those?
Janet: I’m not sure how many people have gone looking for them on the bonus features page, but when I originally posted the “meet the characters” segments I had some good feedback. Personally, I wish more authors did this. As a reader, I find it fun. Another type of extra content that was well-received was a “blog chase” promotion where seven different blogs linked one to the next and readers followed to the end for a chance to win a book. Each post had a snippet of back story leading up the novel opening, and those came from segments that didn’t make it into the final copy of the novel. It really seemed to draw participants into the plot.
Jim: And I’ve got to ask, being a dessert fanatic. Tell us about your blueberry pie recipe.
Janet: It’s an unbaked blueberry pie, with the filling made in the microwave and poured into a pre-cooked pie shell. For me, there was no going back to the oven-baked version. In Heaven’s Prey, Ruth’s pastor says she makes the best blueberry pies he’s ever tasted. That’s just a throwaway line, but I decided to share “her” recipe (which is actually my aunt’s as adapted by me). It’s on my bonus features page. http://janetsketchley.ca/heavens-prey/hp-bonus-features/
Jim: Well, that ought to get us over to her website – a free chapter and a blueberry pie recipe. We’ve given those links above. For her book, you can go to:
The Book Depository (free shipping anywhere in the world): http://www.bookdepository.com/Heavens-Prey-Janet-Sketchley/9780984781645