I am excited today to share with you a fun author interview with my personal friend-turned-author Emily Dana Botrous. I’ve recommended her books to friends who love fiction, and all of them have loved her. If you are a lover of the Christian fiction genre, you are looking for your next good read and/or you want to be a writer, tune in. We are talking about her favorite author, her upcoming books (sneak a peek) and insight into a writer’s journey.
Modern Witnesses (“MW”): You’ve written several books, since we last interviewed you! Congrats! You have a Family Fruits of Faith Series, which includes A New Shade of Paint and The Art of Messing Up. Additionally, you have the Hometown Holiday Heartstrings series, which includes The Miracle of Mistletoe, The Fault in Firelight and The Trouble with Tulips. Are there plans to add books to both series?
Emily Dana Botrous (“EDB”): Yes. I am currently halfway through my first draft of book 4 in the Hometown Holiday Heartstrings series, entitled The Loophole in Lilies. It will come out in May, and I’m super excited about this one, as it addresses infertility, something I have found to be underrepresented in Christian fiction. I love to use my stories to examine deep issues, both spiritually and physically, that afflict humanity, Christians especially. I have one more book planned to wrap up that series coming later in the summer, The Promise of Picnics. I also have two more books planned in my coming-of-age series, Family Fruits of Faith: A Portrait without Fear, which is partially written, and The Color of Joy.
“I love to use my stories to examine deep issues, both spiritually and physically, that afflict humanity, Christians especially.”
MW: When you think of your reader, who is this person (describe him/her)?
EDB: An avid reader who enjoys reading stories about broken people healed by God who fall in love along the way.
MW: Do you have a book that stands out to you as perhaps a favorite?
MW: Do you have any rituals when you begin to write a book?
EDB: I’m a plotter, so do a lot of planning first. My first step is to figure out who my characters are. Their personalities and histories inspire their story. Then I make a visual outline, followed by a chapter-by-chapter outline. I pray a lot as I plot, asking for the Lord to lead my thought process and give me the ideas He has for that particular book. Then, I start writing.
MW: What has writing taught you?
EDB: Writing and independently publishing fiction is a very competitive industry. It’s like no other field of writing I have ever done before. I wanted for years to be an author and had no doubts I could do it. I found out it is much, much harder than I ever dreamed. I doubt my abilities constantly and struggle with comparing myself to other authors, both in terms of acclaim/success and craft. It takes a lot of prayer and focus on my reasons for writing to keep my chin up and press on. So, I guess writing has taught me to stay humble and never give up.
“I found out it is much, much harder than I ever dreamed.”
MW: Is there a character you have created that you identify with the most, and why?
EDB: I don’t even have to think about this one. It’s Shannon Conrad from the Family Fruits of Faith series. She is the main character throughout the series. She’s been in my head and heart for many years. I wrote my first book at age 14, and she was the star. A book filled with horse-crazy teenagers. It was never published, but I couldn’t let go of the characters I adored. Years later in college, I took a creative writing class. For one assignment, I began writing a new book with the same characters, but different ages, setting, and plot. Although it took eleven years to finish and multiple drastic revisions, it became A New Shade of Paint. I identify with Shannon because she is a hard worker who wants to do what’s right, if only she can figure out what that is. She has a beautiful heart.
“I wrote my first book at age 14, and she was the star.”
MW: What are you reading at the moment?
EDB: I just finished up Is God Speaking to Me? by Lisa Terkeurst. My church’s women’s ministry group discussed it together, and it was such a blessing. God truly spoke to me through the pages. I’m also working through a historical fiction series set in England during WW1 by Christian author Roseanna M. White. This week I’m reading the last title, An Hour Unspent.
MW: Do you have a writer you admire?
EDB: My favorite Christian fiction author is Lynn Austin. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and she is a master at historical detail and accuracy without things getting boring while weaving in moving tales of people who make mistakes and find themselves broken, only to be redeemed by the power of God. If you’re seeing a trend, I have a thing for broken people and the beauty of God’s power to heal and restore. Because that is every single one of us.
“If you’re seeing a trend, I have a thing for broken people and the beauty of God’s power to heal and restore. Because that is every single one of us.”
MW: If a reader were interested in starting to read from your books, which book would you recommend he/she start with?
EDB: I would recommend starting with my novella A Second Chance for Sugarplums. This title wasn’t mentioned above because it’s not a volume in the actual Hometown Holiday Heartstrings series, but it’s the prequel to the series. It was my first stab at writing a romance. I recommend it because it is a shorter read that tells a complete story and gives a solid glimpse of my writing style and the real-life themes I always tackle. If a reader likes that book, he or she will like them all. If a reader isn’t quite so keen on a romance and looking for a more complex book with a bit of grit, intense character growth from multiple characters, and a bit of romance on the side, A New Shade of Paint is a great place to start.
MW: If one of your books was to be made into a film or Netflix series, which would you pick?
EDB: Such a hard question! I think I’d have to go with The Fault in Firelight. It has the most layers and several in-depth side-plots that could be fleshed out even more. It features a divorced dad realizing he needs to fight harder for his kids and a female police officer living under a false identity. Add in a sinister culprit making trouble around town and an estranged, pregnant daughter. It gets messy. But God puts it all together in His masterful way.
MW: Why do you write? And why do you write what you write?
EDB: My brain is a literal idea factory. It never shuts down. There are stories inside me clamoring to get out, and if I don’t let them out, I feel like I will explode. I choose to turn these ideas into Christian fiction because God gave me a gift with the craft of stories. As a good steward of His gifts, I choose to use them for His glory. It would be easier to write mainstream fiction. It would widen my audience, increase my sales. But for me, it would be in vain. I write stories that showcase His power out of gratitude for the ways I have seen that power manifested in my own life and a deep desire to share His goodness with others.
“I choose to turn these ideas into Christian fiction because God gave me a gift with the craft of stories. As a good steward of His gifts, I choose to use them for His glory.”
Emily Dana Botrous lives in San Diego, California with her husband and their four children. She lived in 10 states before she settled on the West Coast where she plans to stay for awhile. She started writing short stories at age 10 and studied English in college. The only thing she enjoys more than writing is motherhood. While there are a lot of things that matter to Emily, nothing is more important to her than Jesus Christ. It is her goal to point anyone who reads her writing toward Him. When Emily isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, long walks, music, and playing with her kids.
You can follow Emily’s writing journey at:
Until next time, keep witnessing!