What inspired you to write The Toymaker's Doll?
I'm actually not quite sure. I was supposed to write a short story as a school assignment, and as I was contemplating what to write, the idea of a 'children's' story came to mind. From there I decided it would be neat to try an allegorical style, and the rest of it just flowed as I thought about the themes and lessons I was wrestling with at the time. I like to think God provided the inspiration as a way for me to do some healing, and I've been blessed to learn that others have found healing in it too.
The Toymaker's Doll can be considered an allegorical story. What did you enjoy the most when writing the story in this format? What were some of the challenges, if any?
Even though there's nothing about allegories that says they have to be written in a poetic style, many of my favorite allegories are, so that's the approach I took when choosing a writing style for The Toymaker's Doll. I really enjoyed it, and it was a great learning experience. It also just seemed to fit the story well.
I think the most challenging part was making sure that I portrayed the allegorical elements--particularly the Toymaker's dialogue--appropriately. He was a character in the story, but not just a character, and I wanted everything he said to be something that is in line with God's true character. So although the dialogue flowed pretty easily, I was a lot more meticulous with it than I usually am with other characters' words.
Do you have a favorite character in this story? Why or why not?
The Toymaker, definitely. His conversation and conduct toward Jane just melt my heart every time, and even more so when I allow myself to read it as how God might speak to me when I'm struggling. I don't claim to know exactly what God would say or do of course, but I believe the story captures His loving heart toward each and every one of His creations.
Do you relate to any of your characters in this story? If so, how?
I relate the most to Jane. In fact, Jane pretty much acted as 'me' as I was writing this story. I didn't expect it to share the story except for school, so I let my fears, insecurities, and weaknesses bleed into her to see what the 'Toymaker' would do with them. I learned right along with her about accepting the way God made me, and trusting that He can use the broken and bruised parts for good--even through the pain.
What is one skill or talent you wish you had?
I'd really like to be able to draw. Stick figures and tracing pictures from coloring books is the extent of my artistic ability, but I'd love the talent to illustrate my own stories, sketch out characters, draw maps, and a bunch of other things that I have neither the patience nor the skill for. I'll just have to hire my sister (who is insanely talented in that department).
If you could describe yourself in a sound, which sound would you choose?
This is a hard question... After thinking for a while, I think I'd choose the sound of birds singing as the sun is just coming up. It's usually calm and sweet and musical, but it can also be pretty emotional and melancholic (at least to me). I feel like that kind of sums me up, haha.
What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?
Oh, good question. My entire life, my family has always done some sort of matching Christmas pajamas. When we were younger, my mom would hand-make pjs for my siblings and I, and as we've grown older, we will typically pick a theme of T-shirt (Scriptures verses is a recurring favorite) and all get shirts that match the theme. I also really enjoy driving around town to look at all the Christmas lights.
Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? If so, what?
Off the top of my head, I'd say Arthur Christmas. That one just never gets old. The humor, the characters, the creative plot and 'North Pole' situation, the character arcs...there's a lot of fun and heartfelt themes packed in, and I enjoy it.
Do you have a favorite Christmas treat? If so, what?
Fruitcake--and before you're overcome with disgust (or maybe you like the typical store-bought fruitcake), let me clarify. The fruitcake that my family makes is pretty much just nuts and dried fruit, with just enough flour and honey to stick it together. So it really doesn't seem like a cake at all, more like a delicious granola bar. It's very good!
What’s your favorite Christmas song and why?
I really like the song Do You Hear What I Hear. I'm very fond of (most) Christmas music in general, but that particular song has always been a favorite. It was one I got to perform with my high school choir years ago, and enjoyed it very much.
What is the most thoughtful Christmas present you’ve gotten?
I don't think I can even answer this one. I've been blessed by many thoughtful Christmas presents over the years, and since I tend to be touched by the motivation behind a gift rather than the object itself, I sometimes have a hard time remembering specific gifts. Just the people that gave something to me, and how I felt knowing they thought of me. I'm a 'Words of Affirmation' kind of gal, rather than 'Gifts', so honestly the ones that have meant the most are probably heartfelt cards.
How did you get into writing?
By reading! I started reading when I was four and haven't stopped or slowed down since. After receiving a 'special story' notebook from my dad, I started coming up with my own stories, and I discovered that I love making plots and characters come to life about as much as I love reading about others' creations. Now the trouble is getting me to stop.
Do you have any future projects?
Yes! A pirate novel that I'd like to publish in 2022, as well as rewriting the prequel and possibly even writing its sequel. I also have a dystopian novel and a medieval fantasy novel that need to have their rough drafts finished, which I'd like to get to in the next year, as well.
Why are you pursuing indie publishing?
For the freedom and control over my own rights. I have nothing against traditional publishing, and wouldn't necessarily be opposed to publishing traditionally some day, but for me, having complete say over what happens with my story is huge. No one can take my messages and twist them, or tweak themes to be more appealing, or do anything really that I'm not at peace about. So it's a lot of pressure to manage it all, and be solely responsible, but I'm glad for the opportunity.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Hannah Hurnard, Nadine Brandes, Daniel Schwabauer, Rosey Mucklestone, C. S. Lewis, Maggie Stiefvater, Jill Williamson, Max Lucado, J. R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, Charles Stanley, Joanna Weaver, Katherine Paterson...the list goes on, haha!
What are some of your favorite books?
The only easy answer to this question is to say the Bible. After that, it dissolves into a sea of excellent books, and I am never able to pick favorites. When in doubt, it's pretty safe to say that any books written by the authors I listed above are probably ones I enjoy quite a bit--fiction and non-fiction.
What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I hope they take away a lesson each time. What the lesson is for them will change depending on the story and where the reader's heart and life is at, but I pray someone can always finish one of my books feeling like they've learned something that betters their life in some way. Even if it's a small way. And of course, through those lessons, I want people to have been brought closer to God in some way, and to have learned more about His character.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Write. Don't worry about whether your story will be popular or sellable or the next big thing. Don't stress over trying to make it perfect (trust me, it never works). Don't obsess over the tiniest details until the big picture is on the page. Just give yourself the permission to tell the story in your heart, and let it flow as if you're telling it to a good friend. Unless you already know that you write and edit best at the same time, let the whole story come out before you step back, view the whole piece, and start polishing. No matter what, stay true to the message you want to communicate and don't let fear, insecurities, or want for perfection stop you from sharing it with the people who need to hear it. Just write.
Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, JadeSky! I really enjoyed it, and I appreciate all your encouragement! :)ReplyDelete
Of course! It was such a joy to read through your answers. Hope that your writing continues to be a smashing success!Delete
This was a great interview, JadeSky!!!!! I loved your questions and E.G. Bella's answers!!!!! One of E.G. Bella's answers that really caught my interest was when she was talking about her future writing projects! They all sound cool!!!ReplyDelete
One of my favorite Christmas treats is peppermint bark! I have an easy recipe that I use every year.
The Toymaker's Doll sounds SUPER amazing!!!!!! (It kinda reminds me of the book You Are Special by Max Lucado.) I'm definitely adding this story to my TBR list!
OoOoOOOo I LOVED THIS REVIEW, JADESKY AND E.G. BELLA!!!!!!!!!!!! The Toymaker's Doll was SUCH a fabulous short story!!! And the Toymaker was my favorite character too!!!ReplyDelete
I REALLY LOVED E.G. Bella's answer to what she hoped readers would take away from her books. I thought that was such a brilliant answer and a great thing to aim for! Instead of it being one specific message, cause readers with different experiences will take different messages out of stories, but to aim for just the reader taking away SOMETHING! I LOVED that perspective and idea SO MUCH!! FABULOUS review, and I'm SUPER excited to hear you'll be back to posting regularly sometime. <3333333333