Welcome back! Please join me for the second half of my interview with Jan. Go fetch a cup of coffee or tea and join us: (If you missed last week’s interview, here’s the link to catch up…….) Question #6: Tell us something you enjoyed while writing Buttermilk Sky…
Answer: I dearly love Chanis Clay. I borrowed his name from a boy from Robertson County. When I had a signing in the library there, he came and brought his Dad, Chanis and his Grandpa, Chanis.
Question #8: What’s your favorite story from when you were a nurse?
Answer: Once I wheeled a bouncing baby boy to his parents’ room for their first bonding visit. The new dad took one of the little towelettes from the end of the crib and asked what it was for.
“It’s for hand-washing,” I said.
The dad nodded seriously before he ever-so-gently began to wipe the baby’s hands.
I didn’t say a word. I wouldn’t have dared to spoil that sweet moment.
Question #9: Tell us about your family…
Answer: I have three sons and two close-as-daughters. They are all nearby. Also, I have three grand-cats.
Question #10: Do you have an all-time favorite character from all of your books?
Answer: Copper Brown is my all-time favorite character. She allowed me to indulge my desire to bring the lost, long-ago baby to life.
Question #11: Which was the easiest novel to write and which was the most difficult?
Answer: Troublesome Creek was the easiest to write because I didn’t know how hard it is to write a book. The second, Willow Springs, was probably the hardest because how do you top the first? Question #12: When you get stuck, what inspires you or helps get you unstuck? Please say chocolate….
Answer: I just listen for the story and write as it unfolds. (Chocolate gets me into trouble.)
Question #13: Will you please share with us why you inscribe Isaiah 43:1-2 on each of your novels when you sign them?
Answer: Sometimes when I am writing, a whisper of Scripture will come to mind. When it does, I stop and get out my concordance and look up the Scripture and ponder on it. The first time this happened, I was twenty-four pages in on my first book, Troublesome Creek. This book is based on the wisp of a story my Granny told me when I was a girl. It’s about a baby who drowned in a flash flood up a holler in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
Even tho’ the novel I penned was fiction, Isaiah 43:1-2 was a comfort to me as I wrote the character of Julie, a young mother who gave her life to save her baby. In my heart, I wrote the book to save the baby whom I unwittingly named Laura Grace.
Years later, I discovered the connection between my story and the real story when a reader sent me the biography of Nettie Alberta Myers. Mrs. Nettie Myers, along with her husband, ministered at a Bible College in Van Cleve, Kentucky. On July 5, 1939, Frozen Creek flooded taking the lives of many residents of Van Cleve including Mrs. Myers’ husband, her two sons, and her baby girl. When I opened the biography of that sainted woman, the Scripture from Isaiah fairly leaped from the page:
Isaiah 43:1b-2, says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
I’ve since been honored to visit the grave of Mrs. Myers and lay copper-colored roses by the stone commemorating Lela Grace, her swept away baby.
God truly works in mysterious ways.
—THANK YOU, JAN! ALWAYS A PLEASURE!!!—
Wow! Did you catch that amazing story? Go back and look at the babies’ names!!! God is good.
Last fall, Jan had a book signing in Louisville. Yes, I crashed the party for three reasons. One: if Jan is anywhere nearby, I don’t want to miss her, Two: I’d ordered several copies of Buttermilk Sky, deeming them perfect Christmas gifts which she most graciously signed for some friends, and Three: if you ever get a chance to hear her read from her books, it’s a priceless experience you do not want to miss. (You’ll never read her books the same without hearing her voice speaking to you. )
Jan reminded us she hails from Robertson County, and was raised on a tobacco and dairy farm. She frequently got to visit her Granny in Breathitt County.
Her Granny had thirteen children, two of which died. Her Pawpaw was a coal miner. You may remember Skip Rock Shallows is set around a coal mine and the eye-opening mishaps that can make or break you. One consistent thread in all of her books is the presence of Eastern Kentucky culture. She always honors these “strong and stalwart faithful people” because she feels they’re so often maligned. She also tries to make things fair in her novels since “too much is unfair in this world.” Amen and amen…
Finally, a teensy teaser from Jan’s most recent novel, Buttermilk Sky: You’ve already heard from Jan of her fondness for Sherriff Chanis Clay and Mazy Pelfrey. (Pelfrey is Jan’s Mother’s maiden name.)
A mind boggling romance is already in place between Mazy and Chanis, complicated by a rather rich young man in Lexington, where Mazy is attending secretarial school. Irony’s not lost on this fellow’s name, “Loyal”. Chanis seems a tad more smitten than Mazy which complicates the Lexington locale.
Chanis travels back and forth from Skip Rock. We readers begin wishing he were living in Lexington. Which suitor will Mazy choose?
Will she uncover Loyal’s disloyalty? Will she survive the frightening river episode? Oh, dear friends, so many challenges. How will Jan wrap this up? You know the answer…You must read Buttermilk Sky to find out!!!
One of many favorite parts where Jan incorporates God’s Word is found on page 171: “When Mazy was a girl, she had dreaded bedtime. The darkness seemed to rush at her, trying to pull her under its monstrous wings and carry her away. Her mother had taught her to recite a comforting Scripture when she was scared…
The words of Jesus were more soothing than any medicine could ever be.” Without realizing it, Mazy began reciting John 14:2-4, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”
Mazy’s friend Ernestine, listening said, “That’s so pretty…I like the way they sound. Can I borrow your Bible sometime so I can copy them?” Don’t you LOVE that???
I mustn’t give any more pearls away. Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Buttermilk Sky.
Or, try your chances first to WIN A FREE COPY! Post a comment and my sweet husband will draw one of your names next Thursday. I’ll contact you by email to find out where to mail the book.
‘Til next time!
Don’t forget to post a comment!!!