Today we have the honor of interviewing Janet Grunst. Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was the2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader.
My father was a career Naval officer, so I was blessed to live several different places growing up. Living overseas gave me a greater appreciation for the freedoms and blessings we have living in America.
What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?
I love historical fiction, but I also enjoy biographies and some non-fiction.
What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?
I grew up in a family of readers. My dad always had four or five books in different genres he was reading at a time and my mom was a great reader. Reading was a favorite activity from a very early age. I started writing when I entered a Redbook Magazine contest. Though I lost the contest, I enjoyed the experience so much I began writing articles for local papers. When I was in my thirties, God put writing fiction on my heart and I prayed for Him to guide me each step of the way.
Tell us about this book.
A Heart For Freedom is the second in a series of stories taking place in Virginia before and during the Revolutionary War. They are stand-alone novels. This story begins in 1775 at the onset of the war with the theme of God’s faithfulness.
What did you learn about yourself through writing it?
I enjoy structure, planning and list-making. The first story, A Heart Set Free seemed to write itself. I understood later that’s called “seat of the pants” writing.
By the time I rewrote A Heart For Freedom, I knew more about the craft and the importance of plotting and timing. I began plotting the story, but as much as I tried, it didn’t work. My nature was to plot out the story, but all my attempts felt like I was hitting a wall. So, again I let the characters take over and write their story.
The same thing has happened as I’ve been writing the third story in the series. God is reminding me that He is a lamp unto my feet, not a headlight, so I need to remember my prayer and trust Him to lead me one step at a time. I guess that makes me a “panster” and not a plotter.
Is there a special place you like to write?
My husband and I have our desks in a large room (a family room in most homes). This is where I work, but I also keep a notepad by my bed in case ideas come to me at night.
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?
I initially wrote A Heart For Freedom as historical fiction. Rewriting it as a romance was a challenging as romances between people who are married to each other are not common. I appreciate my publisher being willing to work outside the box.
What advice would you give a new author?
Learn all you can about the craft of writing and developing a platform. Connect with other writers and find a critique partner. Pray and persevere. Our timing is often not God’s timing.
What project are you working on now?
The final book in the series which is about the next generation and takes place toward the end of the war. Its theme is forbearance.
Where can we find your books?