Interview with Janet Sketchley


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Blogger, author, and friend Janet Sketchley is here today to tell us about her soon-to-be-released novel.

Welcome, Janet.

I’m so happy for you. Your book, Heaven’s Prey, will soon be available. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to interview you.

Let’s jump right in.

1.       Exactly when can we expect to get our hands on your book?

Release date for Heaven’s Prey is November 1. All Saints’ Day. The Bible calls all Christians “saints,” not just the ones that have been canonized. As such, my heroine, Ruth, is a saint. And All Saints Day may be the perfect time to introduce her to the world. Apparently, it’s also Authors’ Day. I like that!

2.       Can you give us the Reader’s Digest version of your story?

A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.

Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?

3.       Who do you think will especially enjoy Heaven’s Prey, beyond family and friends, of course?

I’ve already told my family and friends that if it’s not their thing, they don’t need to read it. J Heaven’s Prey is for Christian adults who enjoy suspense, especially women who are interested in prayer or redemption stories. I’ve also included some fun stuff for car racing fans.

4.       Would you say the story is character-driven or plot-driven? How would you explain the difference to non-writers out there?

I struggle a bit with the definitions myself, but this is a plot-driven story. “What happens” drives it, and the characters’ choices and reactions spring from that. That doesn’t mean they’re cardboard cutouts, though. I’ve tried to get to know them and discover how they’d react in the situations they face.

To me, this is plot-driven, while character-driven stories rise more from who the characters are: their choices shape what happens. Whichever drives the narrative, the other needs to be well-developed too.

5.       Over time you got very attached to your characters. Can you tell us how you kept them alive even when earlier drafts of your manuscript were gathering dust?

They kept themselves alive, Stephanie, and sometimes they’d whisper to me. Because this novel went through so many revisions over the years, bits of it are pretty ingrained in my mind. I could go long periods without giving them much thought, like while I was working on another story, but then something would trigger a line of dialogue to pop back into my head—usually from the villain. A couple of years ago this happened a lot and I started talking back, asking him to please be quiet. But I didn’t really mean it. I’m very fond of them all.

6.       From what I’ve read on your blog, your family has been very supportive. How have they helped you keep the dream alive?

They’re amazing. It helps that my husband and sons each have creative streaks; they understand my oddness. My husband has read earlier versions for feedback and even performed a dramatic tech rescue (always make backup files). He and my parents have encouraged me to attend events like the Write! Canada conferences, and the whole extended family have been very positive.

7.       What kept you coming back to your story when “life happened”?

At first, to see how it ended. I did have the final bit of dialogue, which may be the only thing unchanged in this current version, except now there’s an epilogue after it. But I didn’t know how—or if—my characters would get there.

After that? I love these people and I want to do my best for them. My philosophy has been that as long as I can learn how to make it better, I will. Of course, each time I thought it was “done,” I’d go to Write! Canada or somewhere and get a professional critique and see a whole new level of rewriting I had to do.

8.       What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome on the journey to publication?

Not quitting. Discouragement is insidious, as you know, and with no contract in sight, I often wondered why I was spending such a huge amount of time writing fiction. I’ve actually finished a companion story as well, when I thought this one was as good as I could get it (the amazing editors at Choose NOW Publishing proved me wrong on that and it’s better now). Some people know they’re called to write. I just know that writing fiction fulfills me. Eventually, I decided to write anyway, even if it was just for me, and enjoy the gift. I still hoped it would sell, so I could share my imaginary friends with the world.

9.       How did you feel when you first learned Heaven’s Prey was to be published? Paint us a picture of that scene.

It was the weirdest feeling, not at all like I’d imagined. I kept re-reading the email, with a bit of a sinking sense inside. I’ve had lots of practice with rejection. It’s not fun, but I know the drill. Here was a long-held dream, coming true, and what was I supposed to do with acceptance? “Surreal” is the best word for it. But great!

10.   What would you say to unpublished authors out there who are ready to give up on their dream?

The only way you can be sure you’ll never make it is if you quit. If it was a fad and it’s over, quit. If it’s your dream, please don’t. (Or don’t quit for long.)

I’d also say, diversify. The project closest to your heart may not ever sell (sorry!) or it may, but in the future. If you’ve given it your best, let it rest while you work on something else. You’ll keep learning and developing your skill, and perhaps another book or article will find a home sooner. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right, and if you’ve tied all your dreams up in one story, you’re more likely to be hurt. If there’s one story in you, there are probably others.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us today. I look forward to reading your book. It will take its place above hundreds of others in the queue as soon as it’s available. I wish you much success!

Thank you, Stephanie! Your reading list is as long as mine, or longer, and I’m honoured that you’d jump queue for Heaven’s Prey. It’s been a privilege to be here today. God bless you, my friend.


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Janet Sketchley‘s novel, Heaven’s Prey, released November 1 from Choose NOW Publishing. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven’s Prey page at Janet’s website.

10 thoughts on “Interview with Janet Sketchley

  1. Stephanie, thanks so much for having me on your blog today. It was great to chat — although I so prefer it when we can chat over tea at Write! Canada 🙂 Blessings on you today, my friend!

    1. A chat over tea sounds lovely. Hopefully, we can make that happen before next June . . . if not, at the conference anyhoo. All the best with the release of Heaven’s Prey. It is a truly powerful story.

  2. Jeff Reynolds

    Great interview, Stephanie and Janet. It definitely is one I needed. I’ve been questioning if whether getting my book published is something God called me to do, or if writing is a good thing that might get in the way of the better thing God’s called me to. And when you’re talking to a person like me who could put in an eight hour day by going to 31 Flavors and picking out one — or even two for a double dip cone, I’m sometimes not sure which way to go.

    1. I am so very thankful God promises to give wisdom when we ask . . . perhaps not about our ice cream choices but definitely about the more important decisions. Thanks for commenting, Jeff. You’re welcome back any time. 🙂

    2. Jeff, it’s so hard to discern between the God-led things and the good things that get in the way! I wrestled with that for a long time, about writing fiction. And then if/when we know which it is, if it’s on the “go” list, how much time do we give it? I’m so glad God promises us wisdom, even though it rarely comes in a straightforward memo or angelic visit. Something that helped with my fiction was accepting that maybe He didn’t plan for me to be published. Maybe He’d just given me something fulfilling to enjoy, and here I was complicating it with questions and guilt.

      I hope you do get your book published, and that it has an impact on many readers. If He nudged you to start, don’t stop unless He says so!

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