Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. Today, I’m happy to introduce you to Tamera Kraft. Tamera is heavily involved in children’s ministry – something that I absolutely admire because I have long ago figured out that children’s ministry is not my ministry. She also has some very insightful thoughts on Christian fiction. I really enjoyed this interview — and love that A Wrinkle in Time was one of her favorite books. I hope you enjoy it as well, and check out her Christmas novella. It is 99 cents right now.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I have always loved adventures. That’s why I write Christian historical fiction set in America. There are so many adventures in American history. I’ve been married to the love of my life for almost 36 years. Wow. That’s a lifetime especially considering I was married when I was 19. I also have two grown children who I’m very proud of and two of the most wonderful grandsons in the world. Really, they are. I was born and raised in Ohio, and have lived in Akron, Ohio since I was married.
I’m also the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where I mentor other children’s leaders and teach at workshops and conference. I travel around to other churches as a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. I’m a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry and have written some children’s ministry curriculum.
I currently have two novellas published: A Christmas Promise through Pelican Book Group and Soldier’s Heart through Helping Hands Press. Recently I received third place in the TARA (Tampa Area Romance Writers of America) Writing Contest.
Tell us about your current release. A Christmas Promise is a novella about a Moravian missionary family celebrating Christmas in the first white settlement in Ohio, Schoenbrunn Village.
A Moravian Holiday Story, circa 1773
During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.
When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.
Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? That’s a great question. I don’t ever feel pressured to compromise my standards, but sometimes I feel pressured to write something that’s not me. Contemporary Romance and historical romance are big in Christian publishing circles, but I write Christian historical adventures. Although almost all of my stories do have a lot of romance in them, the romance isn’t the main part of most of my stories. The adventure and the historical events surrounding the story are. It would be easier to compromise on that and write straight romance, but I have to write what is in my heart.
What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? I’ve thought a lot about this question and have come up with two answers.
First, because of the business side of publishing, large publishers tend to like to go with formulas that work. Who can blame them in this economy? But it also makes taking chances on different kinds of stories a risk they aren’t willing to take. This means that there is a sameness in most Christian stories. Not that there aren’t great Christian writers writing great novels, but that formula always seems to be lurking underneath.
Second, romance seems to be the money maker and king of Christian fiction. I feel there’s too much emphasis on romance and “getting married to the right guy” in the Christian community today. Since there are roughly 60-65% women in church congregations, this puts enormous pressure on them. There’s so much more to Christianity. It would be great to see more novels about married couples or about Christians risking it all to follow God. It would even be great to see some stories about women who discover God has a call for them that doesn’t include marriage especially if they thought that was the only way they could serve God. Those are the stories I’d like to see.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher? This speaks to our self-confidence and how we handle rejection. Nobody like to be rejected, whether by an agent or publish or by readers after our novels are published. And we all reel from the scathing remarks of critics. But in order to do anything in life, not just writing, I remind myself that I don’t have to give into my fear of failure or rejection. I continue to work on my craft, take valid criticism to heart, and continue on the writing journey. As John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
Whats the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? (ie. Moon Walk, Watergate, Pope being shot) That’s a hard one. I grew up in the 1960s and so much was happening at the time that it all is jumbled up in my mind. I remember Civil Right protests, Vietnam protests, and protests against things like book banning and speech suppression. Around the same time, Robert Kennedy was shot, and then his assassin was shot. Also Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. I also remember Richard Nixon running against Herbert Humphrey and winning. I remember a reporter getting into a fist fight at the Democratic National Convention. It was a turbulent time.
After all of this jumbled mess of history in the making, I remember two events clearly. I was with my family vacationing in Washington DC when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Instead of seeing the sights that day, we were huddled in the hotel room glued to the TV set. I had just turn 10 years old a month earlier.
I also remember when I was in fifth grade the next school year in May. I lived in Ravenna, Ohio, and my elementary school was a little over a mile from Kent State University. Riots had been going on for days in the city of Kent. The ROTC was burned down, and store owners had rocks thrown through their windows. Despite the rewriting of history, it looked more like Ferguson than a peaceful protest. One day an announcement came of the school loud speaker that the protesters were breaking through the police barricades and were headed toward the school. We were ordered to leave the school and get on the busses to go home. School was cancelled. Those who walked were instructed to go straight home or to go to the nearest friend’s house and call their parents to come get them. It was a scary time.
What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.) I’m amazed at the authors who go old school and write with paper and pen. My friend, Mary Ellis, author of a ton of Amish books does that. But it honestly drives me crazy. My hand gets tired. I hold my pen wrong, and that makes it so I write slower than most people. It’s a habit I picked up as a child and I can’t break it. I love computers. I love how easy it is to fix mistakes so I don’t dwell on them. I love how fast I can type, sometimes even faster than the ideas come to me. And I love the organization I can do on the computer through MS OneNote without notebooks and research cluttering my office. Also when I need the answer to a research question, like when did the train come to a certain town, I can take a moment to look it up, copy it to OneNote, and go on with my writing.
Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?) I loved A Wrinkle in Time, Little Women, Encyclopedia Brown, and the Little House on the Prairie Series, but my favorite was Black Beauty. My grandmother read it to me before she died. I was nine at the time. My grandmother used to read to me all the time. She lived with us and took care of me while my mother worked. I think she’s the one who started my love of literature.
I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? Ideas don’t really pop into my head. It’s more like they germinate until they are full grown. Most of my ideas come from historical events. I read about some historical event or time in history and I wonder about what it was like for the people who lived at that time. What struggles did they face? I mull it over for a while and research it some more until the stories take root and form in my mind. That’s probably why I write historical fiction.
Thanks for having me on your blog.
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