Jayne likes to interview Canadian authors and writers on her website: Canadian Christians Who Love to Write So we’re doing an “interview exchange” on both our blogs. I know it would make her day (and mine) if you hop over to her blog and check out my interview there…even better…subscribe to both our blogs!
One of the amazing parts about being interviewed is it forces you to look at yourself in ways you might not have done before. So who is Jayne Elizabeth Self? Well, I derive my identity from four things: my faith, my family, my country and my calling. These four things define who I am and influence everything I do—from breathing to writing to shopping to watching TV.
My faith: I am a traditional, evangelical, charismatic, Christian with mildly conservative-liberal leanings. What I think that means is that I am a little bit of many things and I do not fit comfortably in any box. Although I personally consider this a strength, not fitting in often functions as a handicap.
My family: I am an adopted child. Until very recently I did not realize how much that colours the way I look at the world. I see family as a gift and a choice, not something defined by bloodline or birthright. And so my family is more than me, my husband and my three sons—whom I love with all my heart. My family includes every person God brings through our door, who eats at our table, and finds shelter under our roof.
I am Canadian. I have lived coast to coast, visited every province, and one territory. I love the diversity of this land. I am immensely proud of this country’s history as a nation of peaceful, generous people. And my heart grieves every time we turn our backs on those values.
My call: I believe God has called me to share His gift of hospitality. I see the gift at work as I gather people and nurture others in my home, my friendships, and my extra-curricular activities—Bible studies, writing groups, involvements in Write!Canada.
What was the inspiration (motivation) behind your writing? (Why do you write it in the first place?)
I write because I suffer from OIS—Overactive Imagination Syndrome. For years I kept this to myself, writing and re-writing stories in my head, until every now and again I’d find myself unable to keep the long, rambling tales straight in my head and I’d write them down. Inevitably, that’s when I’d get caught. Someone would read what I’d written and encourage me to keep going.
I went through a painful period where I tried to purge myself of this condition. I thought imagination was sinful. I abandoned reading. I tied to eliminate TV. I focused on my activities of daily living only. And I was miserable. Absolutely miserable.
I am so thankful God brought me to a place where I could rediscover His purpose for story in my life.
What do you hope it accomplishes?
My goals have changed over the years. The desire to entertain morphed into the desire to be published, to the dream of making a fortune, to the longing to get paid anything at all.
A friend once challenged me to create my own mission statement and after pondering that for a number of years I realize what I want to do with my writing is move fences. I want to open people’s eyes and encourage them to see how wide and deep and long and all-encompassing God’s love is. To see that when we build fences (or walls) between our self and someone else, we are really building them between our self and God.
I personally don’t want to miss out on a single thing God has for me, and I don’t want anyone else to endure that loss either.
Do you have a primary target audience you write for, if so why do you target that group?
Target audience? Good question and one I’m having a hard time delineating. I write from my Canadian Christian world view which, as I’m sure you’ve already gathered, is rather all-embracing. I write adult-friendly mysteries with smattering of romance, and a dollop of humour. I do not include graphic language, sex or violence. (I try not to write anything I would be uncomfortable reading aloud in front of my husband.)
I challenge my characters—especially the Christian ones—to step beyond their pre-conceived boundaries and move fences of understanding. I try to show God’s love in action and avoid the preachy Christianese we Canadian Christians distrust, but most American Christian publishers consider essential.
I feel very blessed to have found a Christian publisher who is willing to push that envelope a bit.
Do you have a “life verse” that you have claimed? If so what is it and why is that verse so meaningful to you?
Isaiah 44: 3 “I will pour out my Spirit upon your seed and my blessing upon your offspring.” I believe God gave me that promise when I was pregnant with our first son. I stitched it, framed it, and it has hung on our living room wall ever since.
My three sons are grown and I am awed as I watching His promise extend into the next generation.
Who (or what) is your greatest encourager when you write and why?
I find most folks are excited when they initially discover you’re a writer. They’re bright eyed and full of questions—for about thirty seconds. Then their eyes glaze over—like most folks do about thirty seconds into a sermon—and you know they’ve tuned out on what you’re saying. I have a couple of friends who never tune out. No matter how long I ramble, no matter how many times I repeat myself, no matter how often I cry on their shoulders, they listen. It’s that care and encouragement that’s kept me going every time I’ve thrown up my hands and said, “I quit!” (Did I mention it took twelve years to get my first book published?)
And second is Write!Canada. It’s been over a dozen years since I first attended this Christian writers conference, and found the place I belong, among people who understand OIS. Many are fellow sufferers. I’ve became involved in the conference. And through Write!Canada and its parent organization The Word Guild, I have grown and matured as a Christian, a person and a writer. I would not be who I am today without them.
You can learn more about me, follow my blog, read some of my poems, short stories, read reviews on books about writing at jayneself.com
And I am excited about my new blog, Canadian Christians Who Write, a forum created to encourage my fellow writers, to share our uniquenesses, and—I hope—to move fences.
I am a contributor in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider
Jayne E. Self is a member of The Word Guild and Crime Writers of Canada.