I am so honored today to be hosting author Jo Wanmer on my Readers Write to Know Wednesdays. Jo is the author of Though the Bud be Bruised, which is a fictional story stemmed from her daughter’s real life sexual abuse. I cannot imagine the strength and beauty of character that allows Jo to write this story with the intent to focus on healing and the unconditional love of God. Please enjoy this interview as much as I did.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in beautiful Brisbane on the east coast of Australia, with Steve, my husband of forty-one years. We have two children and eight wonderful grandchildren. We are associate pastors, business owners, lovers of Jesus and besotted grandparents. My passion is to tell of the amazing love of God.
Tell us about your current release.
“Though the Bud be Bruised” is my first book. About twenty years ago, my family walked through trauma following the disclosure that one of our children had suffered sexual abuse. As we struggled to come to terms with the consequences, my whole life was changed. Everything I believed was challenged. Yet we emerged with a greater knowledge and understanding of life, faith and God. It was an amazing experience that I wanted to share, so I decided to write a book. It burned within me; a tale stranger than fiction; a story of God’s grace in extremity. The book is tragic and yet powerful, compelling and victorious, displaying the greatest power on earth – the unconditional love of God.
What made you take the plunge and finally do it?
My first several attempts at writing were bland and boring. Assuming I couldn’t write, I had nearly given up. On holidays two years ago, I read four novels in three days. They sparked an idea. I could tell my story as a fiction! I started that day and had 15,000 words done within days.
This genre hid people and places and allowed great flexibility, enabling me to bring the strengths of my story through characterisation and conversation.
Have you always wanted to write a book?
It is only in the last twenty years that I’ve wanted to write. I had files of poems and piles of journals. Whilst doing a goal setting exercise, I was asked to create a ‘dream chart.’ On this chart, I displayed a shelf of books, photo-shopped so my name was on their spines. So this, my first book, proves the power of visualisation!
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?
I wanted a publisher from the beginning. I was so ignorant about the whole writing process I didn’t know how to get a book published, let alone how to do the process myself! Fortunately, God seemed to lead me and before I had finished my first draft, I was offered a writing mentorship. My mentor, Mary Hawkins, gave me tools, books and instruction that sent me on a sharp learning curve. After a week living in with other authors, mentors and a publisher, I discovered the depth of my ignorance and realised I needed to re-write the entire manuscript.
I entered the re-written book in the Caleb Awards. Last November, my book was named‘Best Unpublished Fiction Manuscript.’ The prize was a professional edit and an offer of publication.
What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.)
Although keyboard inept, I trained myself to type all assignments when studying some years ago. Now I’d much prefer the keyboard to pen and paper, even if my dyslexic fingers still mean I have to re-type most words. I love the computer’s ability to correct me, and its willingness to allow room to add the missed sections .
What is your inspiration for writing?
This may sound corny, but it is God who inspires me. Even when stuck for a concept or idea, I find if I ask Him and wait, the beginning of a thought drops into my mind. If I follow, it seems to unfold before me. I don’t think I’d attempt any project without waiting for the seed of an idea, whether sacred or secular. He is the great communicator and He never runs out of ideas! Equally, as I am made in His image, I can create from that tiny seed. Every morning I walk for close to an hour. This is a great time for the Creator and the imagination to work together!
Who were some of your favourite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?)
Enid Blyton stands out. I read everything from Noddy to Famous Five. At that time, in Australia, there was a ‘Billabong’ series by Mary Grant Bruce. They were Mum’s books so quite old, but I remember enjoying them.
Who do you envision your typical reader to be?
My expectation was that Though the Bud be Bruised would be read by older Christian women. However since its release, I’ve had positive comments from many men and teenagers, as well as women of all ages. I can only attribute this to God!
Which of your characters most reflects your personality?
My Character, Zara, is very much like me and indeed relates my own struggles and spiritual growth. This meant I felt very vulnerable just before the release of the book, but that is a small price to pay for bringing a story that displays the wonderful love of my God.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write?
Walk away! Do the ironing. Ask God. Probably because the subject matter was so intense, I mostly wrote in small snatches. I had several Scrabble games running on my computer at the same time. That seemed to get the brain out of a rut. Sometimes I left the passage I was working on and went on to another one. It was always easier when I returned.
I assume when you start a book, you pretty much have the plot laid out. Do you ever change your mind later on in the book, and go in a different direction?
When I started the book I knew that it was built on a prophetic word we were given, ‘Though the bud be bruised there will be a flower.’ When I had written about 20,000 words I was floundering. Then I built charts, timelines, and plans. I also had character charts and chapter summaries. After I finished the first draft, I was fortunate to be offered the writers mentorship by Omega Writers. When I rewrote the book, it started in a different place. The first three chapters were scrapped. When I write another book it will be a very different experience. I learned so much on this journey.
What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done?
There are so many things I’ve done that I didn’t anticipate! God does that in one’s life. Preaching, writing, but maybe, most of all, marketing my book in any way I can think of. I thought that would be hard, but I’m so passionate about the message, that I continue to put it out there!
You can find Jo in the following places:
Being published in Australia, my book won’t be found on your shelves, but can be easily ordered from Amazon or any on the major book stores. It also available on Kindle.
My best link is my blog. www.jo-wanmer.blogspot.com
Or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jo-Wanmer/225587647532812
What a beautiful interview! Thanks so much for sharing your novel and its poignant backstory with us, Jo, and Congratulations on your Caleb Award!
Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of healing and restoration. I has encouraged me and perhaps could be the catalyst for me to write my own heartbreaking story of the tragic shooting of my daughter.
Thanks to God for giving you earthly rewards now, the Caleb Award and the promise of heavenly reward.
Wonderful interview. It’s nice getting to know you, Jo. You’re novel is on my tbr list now.
Tom Blubaugh, Author
Night of the Cossack