Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. This week, I am so excited to introduce you to Molly Noble Bull. I so thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview, especially reading about her writing process. It fascinated me how she learned how to do it and how she applies it. I hope you enjoy reading about her scary Christian Gothic novel. Molly is also generously giving away TWO copies of her book, Gatehaven, so be sure to check out the Rafflecopter!
Tell us about your current release. I’d be delighted because hey, this is October. Take a look at the cover of Gatehaven, and see what I mean. A lot of people, especially teenagers, like to read scary books and see scary movies in the month of October, and I’ve been told that Gatehaven will scary the socks off any reader brave enough to read it. But it also has a strong Christian message—spiritual warfare vs. the occult.
Set in Scotland and a scary mansion in the north of England and ending in the state of South Carolina in 1784, Shannon Aimee and her life-long friend, Ian Colquhoun, battle bad guys and evil forces. Will they be able to protect themselves and their loved one? Or will evil win?
Tell us a little bit about yourself. A brand notes the kind of books an author writes, and writers know from day one to have only one brand, if they expect to be successful. Write in one genre and stick to it. But some writers ignore that rule. I’m one of them.
I have a Texas ranch background, and when calves are branded, they are given the same brand as the Mama Cow. When calves are sold, the brand is often changed, making it unique to the new owner, and I am like that. I started out writing sweet Christian romances, some historical and some modern day, but Gatehaven, my newest novel, is a scary Christian Gothic historical with a completely different brand. I married my college sweetheart, a history major, and we are still married after all these years. But all three of our grown sons are cowboys and involved in cattle ranching in Texas today.
My upcoming novel, When the Cowboy Rides Away, is being published by Elk Lake, and will be available in 2015. And what am I working on now? Another scary novel tentatively titled The Gatehaven Legacy.
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? I am a Christian. I write for the Lord. So yes. I would write a book even if my book would benefit only one person. I learn a lot while writing books; so in some cases, that one person could be me.
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful?
I read romance novels before the Christian market came to be, and I did it to learn how to write romances. At least, that is what I told myself at the time.
I’d sold a couple of short stories for children early in my writing career, and a friend told me that I needed to forget the children’s book and story market and write adult romances. She also said that the best way to learn to write romances was to read them and outline them chapter by chapter. So I bought a paperback or two with the sweetest covers I could find and began reading. I would read a chapter and then tell in a sentence or two what happened in that chapter, hoping to learn how to outline sweet romances in the process.
The trouble was that you can’t always tell a book by its cover. What I actually learned from reading some of these books was a lot more about sex than I ever wanted to know. I soon realized that if I was going to write romances, I would have to compromise my standards and values and that was something I was not prepared to do.
I stopped reading romances, waiting for something better. Several years later, I found it in the form of Zondervan’s Serenade/Sage series. In 1986, I sold For Always to Zondervan as a Serenade romance and I also sold The Rogue’s Daughter, a western romance, to Zondervan that same year as a part of their historical, Sage series. Now you’ve heard the rest of the story.
Do you have your plot-line and character development already laid out before you begin writing, or do you develop as you write? When I write a novel, I write the first three chapters by the seat of my pants without any real knowledge of where this novel is going. These three chapters introduce me to the story and to my characters and give me a starting line.
Next, I get a long sheet of paper and number the page or pages depending on the number of chapters I plan to have in my book, and I leave about four or five lines between each number. If it’s a short novel or a novella, I might number from one to eight or ten. If it is going to be a long novel, I number from one to say thirty or more. Then by my number one, I write down what happened in my chapter one just like I did when I outlined the sexy novels all those years ago, and I do the same with chapters two and three. Then I skip to the very last number on the page or pages and write on my outline what will happen in the last chapter of my book, telling in a sentence or two how the story ends. Next I backtrack. I tell what must happen in the next to the last chapter of the book in order for the story to end as I wrote it in my outline, and I continue backtracking until I get to about chapter five. The outline for chapters four and five are blending chapters designed to make the first three chapters make sense with the rest of the book.
Finally, I write the book. Sometimes my chapter outlines must be changed or discarded completely. Scenes and new characters might have to be added as the book progresses, and this could change the focus of the book. Nevertheless, outlining—knowing how, where and when the story will end is worth it because it forces me to stay on track as my story rolls along toward a satisfying ending.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Never, never, never, never, never give up.
Which of your characters most reflects your personality? Gatehaven has some good characters, but it also has some really mean characters. One character, Leon, is down right evil. Some have said that knowing me, they cannot see how I could write the kind of bad guys found in some of my books. Others complain that some of my main characters have unlikable traits, and an example of that would be Shannon Aimee. Shannon is the nineteen-year-old heroine of Gatehaven, and though she is not mean, she is exasperating. Reviewers have told me they wanted to strangle Shannon for being so naïve and for making the same bad decisions over and over.
How many young people have you known who made bad decisions? I guess I would have to say that all my good characters are pictures of what I would like to be, and my bad characters are symbols of the enemy, Satan, and the evil powers that surround him. My middle-of-the-road characters are really more like me because they have problems and struggle to resolve them before Jesus comes.
It is my hope that readers of Gatehaven will learn a little bit about how to fight those evil forces and powers while reading a fast paced novel.
To learn about all my books, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot at online and walk-in book stores or click here.
Find Molly’s website here.
You can find Molly Noble Bull at Amazon
or on KOBO
Molly is giving away 2 copies of her book in print (US only) enter below:
Thank you for sharing. What a fascinating interview. I am not really into scary but love how you approach it as a Christian author.
Great to hear from you, Heather. I like what you might call “Old Time” scary. . . scary with a way out . . . a means of escape. I don’t like vampires, ghosts or werewolves, but when I was a young adult, I did. So my purpose in writing Gatehaven was to reach those who like scary books and help them learn the truth about the occult and about the saving Grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Maybe you know something who needs to read Gatehaven.
I just went over and bought this! I love the concept of good vs. evil, and I like the Christian theme, too. I can’t wait to read it.
Great to hear from you too, Lauralynn, and I love the fact that you have already bought a copy of Gatehaven. I went to your blog and your book sounds really interesting. You and everybody, drop over to my blog, look around and leave a comment. http://writersrest.blogspot.com
This has been on my TBR list for a while. Sure would love to win a copy. I grew up reading a lot of gothic genre books, and it’s neat that Molly has written one from a Christian world view!
I read Gothic romances too, Naomi, and really liked them. Go to my page at Pinterest to see the covers of other old Gothic novels?.The Gothic novels I read were clean and really exciting.
Gatehaven is like that except I added the Christian element. We are losing our young people to the occult, and people have told me that Gatehaven scared the living daylights out of them. I hope Gatehaven will also point them to the Lord.
To learn about all my novels, write Molly Noble Bull in the search slot at online and walk-in bookstores.
Molly, I love the way you plot. Never thought of starting with the end and moving forward. Going to give it a try! Great intwrview. Anita
Thanks for your kind words, Anita. I write the ending first because of something a writer friend told me years ago. She said you have to have a destination in mind before you get on a train or a plane, and the same is true when writing a novel. The end of a novel is the destination.
I hope you like Gatehaven, and I hope to hear from you and everybody again soon.
Here is my blog address.
I love scary stuff, more so if it’s Christian! This is going on my “need to read” list!
What a cute name you have, and I am so glad you like scary novels with a Christian message. I hope you like Gatehaven, too.