Today Tammy L. Gray is graciously answering questions about her writing life. Tammy’s new book, Her Hope Next Door, released last week! I have all the links and book info below.
Let’s get to it.
THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH TAMMY L. GRAY
1. How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I honestly never expected to become a writer, and the way this whole career has played out is none other than God’s mighty hand. When I decided to write my debut novel, Shattered Rose, it came after a very hard weekend for me mentally and emotionally. I was struggling with a sin that I just couldn’t seem to overcome and was broken over my failure.
I sat down that next Monday and started writing a book with one goal in mind. I wanted to show an analogy between the freedom in Christ and the temptation of sin. How even when we know it’s wrong, we are pulled back in over and over. Eight weeks later, I had a novel. I sent it to a few friends and they adamantly said I needed to publish it. My brother said he’d make me a cover, build me a website and set up my social media. So, with the beauty of independent publishing, my story found its way into the world.
Since then, writing has become more than a one book anthem. It’s about offering high quality fiction that is culturally relevant and includes messages of hope and healing. I believe fiction can inspire us if the message is authentic, which is what I try to be.
2. What is unique about your process?
Unlike when I first began, my story process is now very collaborative. I am extremely blessed to be surrounded by several writing friends who not only help me plot, but also take the time to critique my writing along the way. This has made the first/second draft process longer and sometimes more exhaustive, but I feel every one of my books are better because of their honesty and input.
3. What inspired your book?
I am one of those Christians who had a very rocky path to Christ, and that means Satan uses shame and regret to consistently make me feel less than. Even years after redemption.
At the same time, I’m now a pastor’s wife, so I’ve seen more masks in the Church than I care to count. The thing is, behind each one of those plastered on smiles is a story. Usually a story of heartbreak, struggle, failure and victory. In Christian circles, we tend to only show people our shiny parts, not the ugly, rusted sin that mars all of us.
I also find that we tend to judge people less when we see things from their point of view. So introducing Katie, a “bad” girl, and pairing her with a man who grew up in the Church allowed me to show how in so many ways we all fight the same battles, but do so with different weapons.
And above all, I wanted to show the amazing healing power of God. So often in Christianity, we only talk about what everyone else shouldn’t be doing, and we have this perception of being judgmental, elitist, and disconnected. What we fail to show is how amazing God is in our life. Because to show His glory, we have to first admit we’re flawed and broken.
My hope is that someone can identify with one of my characters and then desire that same peace each of them find at the end of their journey. A peace that is only possible with Christ.
4. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Honestly, the best advice I’ve been given came from two different amazing authors. First, Lynne Gentry was gracious enough to invite me into her writing circles and encouraged me to use other authors to help elevate my work. Second, my dear friend and writing partner, Nicole Deese, told me that no matter how many books we have out, we should always work on improving our craft. She encouraged me to take Margie Lawson’s immersion class, and that’s when I truly felt like I transitioned from being a story teller, to be a career writer.
Tammy, I love your story. I think we can all relate to struggling with sin, pain and regret. I know I certainly do! And what a blessing to have writers you can plot with and who will critique your work. I agree with you that great Christian books help us focus less on what we shouldn’t be doing and more on what God IS doing in us. Thank you so much for being my guest!
My Hope Next Door ~
Can love grow in the shadow of a broken past?
Former bad girl Katie Stone can feel the weight of her reputation settle over her as she drives home for the first time in years. Feeling deeply guilty about her past mistakes, Katie wants to do the right thing for once. But the small town where she grew up is not nearly as forgiving as she’d hoped. Despite it all, she’s determined to help her parents cope with her mother’s recent illness, and Katie finds a surprise ally in the man next door.
Asher Powell never minded being the son of a small-town pastor until a recent breakup leaves him wounded by lifelong members of his church. He remembers his new neighbor as a mean-spirited high school troublemaker, but he senses that her newfound faith and desire for forgiveness are sincere.
Through an unexpected friendship, two people from different worlds find peace, hope, and a second chance they never dreamed was possible.
About Tammy L. Gray ~
Tammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas, even the erratic weather patterns. She writes modern Christian romance with true-to-life characters and culturally-relevant plot lines. She believes hope and healing can be found through high quality fiction that inspires and provokes change.
When not chasing after her three amazing kids, Tammy can be spotted with her head in a book. Writing has given her a platform to combine her passion with her ministry.
Has a book ever helped deepen your faith in God?
Have a wonderful day!