Lindsay and I have known each other for several years. We met at The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California in James Scott Bell’s mentoring class. I was writing my first Amish novel and she was pitching her fantasy piece, The Story Peddler. Even though we were on opposite ends of the writing spectrum, we found something in common in that class and became good friends. I recently hired Lindsay to do the substantive editing for my newest book, The Amish Heiress. She did an incredible job and the book is doing really well on Amazon—it’s been on the best seller lists for six weeks and I give a lot of the credit for that to Lindsay. Now…on with the interview.
We’ve know each other quite a while and been to several conferences together and become great friends. What did you think when we met in James Scott Bell’s class at Mount Hermon, lo those many years ago, and you found out this strange old guy in the class was writing Amish fiction?
Well, the first shock came when I was reading this Amish fiction excerpt and I glanced at the author name: Patrick? As in…a guy? But the more I read, the more I liked the voice—lyrical but not saccharine. It lent itself well to the genre, especially for those people like me who are hesitant to read the genre because they’re allergic to cheese (the proverbial kind). And I knew there would be an interesting story as to how a man came to be writing an Amish story involving a quilt. And there was.
You worked at Splickety Magazine for a while. What did you do there?
I was hired on as production manager when we were one magazine (Splickety Magazine). By the time I left, I was Senior Operations Manager of Splickety Publishing Group, which publishes three quarterly flash fiction magazines (Splickety Prime, Havok, and Splickety Love), has an active online presence via the Lightning Blog, and is moving into book publishing in 2016. I’m so, so proud of the folks at SPG, and I’m thrilled that my organizational, management, and business skills helped facilitate that growth. If you read or write short fiction, check out Splickety!
You recently started a new chapter in your career – freelance editor. You did such a great job for me on the Amish Heiress, and I’m wondering if that aspect of your career is picking up steam? Any projects in the works?
Yes! I’ve been overwhelmed—in the best possible sense—by how quickly the business has taken off. The summer was wonderfully busy, and I’m beginning to book projects for autumn and winter. I loved working on The Amish Heiress with you. I’ve been privileged to see drafts of every book in the Apple Creek Dreams series, so getting to work at a deeper level with TAH was such a fun culmination of our professional relationship and friendship. It was an honor!
You won the “Most Promising New Writer Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference and at that time you had several projects in the works. What’s your current hot project and when are we going to see Lindsay A. Franklin on the shelf at our local bookstore? Can you share a few paragraphs of your favorite project?
The third draft of my latest novel manuscript is almost ready to go out on submission, pending my agent’s approval. I’ve been working on this fantasy piece, titled The Story Peddler, for several years, and it’s been through a deep evolution. I’m finally happy with it (I think!), and I hope to have it on shelves somewhere within two years. Stay tuned… Here are the first paragraphs of Chapter 1:
Colored ribbons of light poured from my fingers. One strand broke free and soared above the crowd, glowing golden in the afternoon sun.
A child in the crowd gasped. “Lookit, Mam!”
I swallowed my smile and pushed all my focus back to my words—practiced over and over, till I could say each phrase in fancy, schooled Tirian. Couldn’t let any common village speak bleed into the stories all Tirians know so well. My storytelling mentor, Riwor, loomed near the edge of the crowd, eyes narrowed and watching my every breath. She’d sure as sugar make me pay for it if my practiced peddler words slipped into my usual lowborn drawl.
In the meantime, I’ve had forty short stories published in a couple different magazines. I continue to write flash fiction, set in Story Peddler’s world and other worlds. Flash is a fun way to explore my “wispy” ideas—those that drift through my head but I’m not sure I want to devote the time to them that a novel requires. But sometimes those wispy ideas grab hold and take root. I have a short dystopian piece being published this fall, and I keep returning to that story world in my mind. Maybe it’ll become the setting of my next novel.
You’re a spec fiction author mainly, but I know you have other interests. If you could write novels in three different genres, what would they be and why?
Ooh, I love this question! YA contemporary would be my first choice. It’s my second love, after speculative fiction. And—a little-known fact about this speculative author—the majority of my published short stories are YA contemporary! Next choice would be historical. I’m a homeschooling mom of three kids. I read a lot of historical fiction, and I absolutely love it. Which is probably why I find steampunk so appealing as a speculative sub-genre!
My third alternate genre would probably be science fiction. I know, I know. It’s a spec fic genre. But it’s so different from what I write, which is mostly fantasy with a little dystopian or occasional space opera sprinkled in here and there, it feels like a totally separate thing. I love science, but sci-fi readers are hardcore. It’s an intimidating genre for me, but a challenge I’d love to conquer.
What do you think the most important thing a Christian writer needs to be aware of or get across as they write?
My marketing brain wants to click in and say “That depends on your audience.” And there is truth to that. If you’re writing for a Christian audience, there’s always the question of “How Christian do I make my stories?” And let me tell you, sometimes it feels like you can’t win. Too overt and you’re “preachy.” Too subtle and you have reviewers say “I can’t believe she masquerades as a ‘Christian’ author. There was no Jesus in this book!” If you’re writing for the secular market, perhaps the question is even more complicated. In that case, are your stories strictly for entertainment purposes, or are you attempting to preach the gospel through fiction without actually uttering any Christianese?
My writer’s heart (which is more spiritual than my marketing brain, if you must know) says write what your story requires. Christian, secular, overt, subtle, faith-affirming, moral worldview—what does your story require? I learned the hard way that, as much as each writer is different, each story is different, too. My first fantasy series is quite overt with a fairly obvious allegorical backdrop. That became my “brand.” When I sat down to write the first version of The Story Peddler (my second series), I needed to stick to my brand, of course, so I shoehorned a Christ allegory into the story. What resulted was an oddly soulless piece. I’d inadvertently made a zombie of a story. I realized that what this story—this idea—wanted to speak about had much more to do with art and the way artists reflect our Maker’s creativity. It’s still a wholly Christian concept, but it doesn’t require a picture of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection to make its point the way my first series did. At the end of the day, it really isn’t about your brand or your audience. It’s about doing the story justice.
We see pics of your lovely family on FaceBook. Fill us in a bit on what’s going on with your kids and with Dave, your husband
My kids are active as ever, gearing up for the new school year. We’re starting second, fifth, and ninth grades, so this is my first year with a high schooler (eep!). Dave is currently out of the country on a business trip, and I’m working very diligently not to feel too sorry for myself. I live in a military town with lots of wives whose husbands are gone for months at a time. What’s seventeen days, right? *sniffle, weep, wail*
Anything you want to share with my readers / friends / family that you just need to get off your chest?
Yes! I once wrote a blog post titled “Patrick Craig Dared Me to Go Amish,” which was a review of A Quilt for Jenna. I thought it was such a gutsy move to send me, a speculative fiction and YA author, a review copy of an Amish romance novel. But I really loved it. And I’ve loved getting to work on the series in different capacities, deepest of all with The Amish Heiress. If ever there were to be an Amish crossover success, these books should be it. Because if I can love them, non-Amish readers of all stripes can love them.
What are your hopes and aspirations for your writing?
Like all writers, I long to see that gorgeous cover with my name on it sitting on a bookstore shelf. To be able to share my stories with the world is both a terrifying and glorious prospect. But I have also discovered very deep satisfaction helping others refine their work, facilitating their dreams. It’s nearly as much fun as chasing mine!
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