Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Interview with author Robin Jones Gunn
Today we have an author interview with Robin Jones Gunn author of Coming Attractions and many other books.
Where did you get the idea for the book Coming Attractions?
The idea was with me for many years. I wanted to find out what happened to Katie and Christy and the rest of the God-Lovers gang. But after I finished writing “I Promise”, Christy and Todd had just walked down the aisle and my 14 years of writing about these characters ended. The day I typed the last line I clearly sensed the Lord impressing on me that I had finished what He invited me to do when I started writing for teens. So I asked Him, “What’s next, Lord?” What followed was the Glenbrooke Series, the Sisterchicks Series and 4 non-fiction books. But no more teen novels.
Every week for the next seven years I received requests from readers all over the world asking me to write more novels for teens. With every letter I’ve asked the Lord, “May I, please?” The answer was always silence. I even approached two different writers about the possibility of them writing about these characters. Both times the projects didn’t develop. So I surrendered again, stepped back and asked God, “What’s next, Papa?”
The answer came in a unique way one afternoon a few summers ago. I was stretched out on the couch for a little nap with my eyes closed. In my heart I distinctly sensed the Lord saying, “I’m giving Katie back to you.” I opened my eyes and looked around to see who spoke because the words seemed so clear. The sun streamed through a high window bathing me in light and a sweet sense of peace. Out loud I said, “Am I making this up or are you directing me, Father?” Just then the music on my computer switched to a song I have long considered Christy and Todd’s love song. I felt a rising sense of excitement. God was doing a new thing.
From there all the doors swung wide open and I am overwhelmed and grateful and thrilled that I was able to write these three Katie Weldon novels. “Peculiar Treasures” released from Zondervan in March, 2008, and picked up where “I Promise” ended. Then came “On a Whim” and now “Coming Attractions”.
The question I’m asked now every single day is, “Will there be more?” My answer once again is, “I don’t know. I’ll keep asking God and see what He says!”
What are the major themes of the book?
Katie is a college student and in each book she is facing all the struggles that come with that season of life; what am I going to do next? Do I really love Rick? Does he really love me? Are we supposed to get married? What about this nudging I have toward one day going to Africa? How can I resolve this ongoing unsettled relationship with my parents? How am I going to get the money I need for tuition? Where am I going to live after I graduate? Who are my true friends?
The themes, as with all the novels I’ve written, revolve around friendships and moving ahead in relationships with others as well as an authentic relationship with God.
What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
Before I started the series I went to a university in southern California, similar to the setting of the imaginary Rancho Corona University Katie goes to in the books. (Yes, I’m sorry to have to say it, but Rancho Corona is an imaginary college! I receive letters every week from readers who want to go there.)
My editor and my agent went to the California college with me and since my daughter was attending that school at the time, she gave us the grand tour, answered a bazillion questions and gave me lots of details of what her experience was like since she was an RA that year, like Katie. I told lots of photos, talked to groups of women in the dorm at night, spoke in chapel, ate in the cafeteria and sat on a bench by the fountain and just watched. That was a very helpful trip. Having my daughter working in tandem with me on the books was the biggest help, though. She allowed me to draw from a deep well of her own feelings and experiences and I think that’s what helped make the books feel true to life for readers.
With which character do you, personally, identify most and why?
Katie, I think. But I was a lot like Christy when I was growing up and so I’ve always been able to relate to Christy’s timidity. I like to put all my “spiritual” thoughts into Todd’s dialog, though. So I don’t know. I feel connected to all the characters in different ways.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
That was actually my daughter’s word for the year when I started writing the Katie books. Yes, my daughter has begun her own tradition of running away with Jesus for a day in January and asking Him for a word. I hope readers will see how deeply and intimately they are loved by God and how He has pursued them and called them by name and longs to have a close relationship with all of His daughters. I hope they will see that in every situation there is hope. When you shake all the frivolous stuff out of life, as Paul said, “These three things remain; faith, hope and love.” We all know that the greatest of these is love. We also all know that our journey with the Lord begins with faith. But I think we forget that the bridge there between the two is hope. For Katie, hope is what kept her going. Hope is what she was willing to take risks for and release the past in order to embrace the future. “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22
While I was writing these stories I loved listening to a band named “Ruth” http://www.myspace.com/ruthrock Their lyrics gave me such a great sense of what Katie and Rick and the rest of the gang were feeling throughout this series. Plus I like the music! Give a listen and see if their music reminds you of Katie and the gang, too.
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Read more about this book here.
Learn how you can win a copy of Robin's featured book here.
Read my review here.