Monday, October 31, 2016

An Interview with Reagan Colbert

Two weeks ago I posted a review of Reagan Colbert's The Hidden Soul. This week the nineteen-year-old award-winning author was kind enough to grant me an interview.

Describe your childhood home. Does your childhood influence your work? If so, how?

Well, I didn't really have a “childhood home”. My family moved a lot when I was a kid, and I suppose that did influence my writing, because it gave  me something to do. I remember sitting in the car with nothing but a pad of paper, and I couldn't really draw, so I turned to words. I also read hundreds of fiction books when I was young, and that mostly shaped my love for writing it.

How did you first get into writing?

Well, like I said, I adored fiction ever since I could read. I would always daydream and come up with little stories that, to me, were the books I wished I could read. I wrote songs as a kid, but writing a book never even crossed my mind, until one day when I was fourteen. I came up with the idea for a story, and it was so detailed and exciting that it suddenly dawned on me, “Hey, why don't I write it?”
     I label that as the day God called me to write, and I'm convinced He gave me that story to set me on the path to become a writer. That was five years ago, and He's still making things happen, so I guess this is where He wants me!

What is your writing process?

It is very, well, different from most! It's pretty simple, too. After initially being inspired with a story concept, I'll mull it over in my head for days, even weeks, before writing it down. Once it takes on a rough shape, and really feels like it could be a complete story, I write an “info dump (the pantster's form of an outline)."*
     That cements the idea in my brain, and once I feel ready, I write. Scene one, sentence one, and I just don't stop until I finish the book. As I write scene one, I don't know what scene two will be, but as I finish that scene, it just kind of keeps playing in my head. I view my books as movies, and they play out in front of me as I write them. I'm usually surprised by what happens!

Where do you write? Is it always in the same place, or do you mix it up?

I write wherever I happen to be, but that's usually in my bedroom/office. However, I've been known to take my laptop pretty much anywhere and start writing!

What has contributed to your success?

I credit 100% of my success to the Lord, who called me here and keeps me going. He has used several people – fellow writers, mentors, teachers, and family members – to get me this far, which is farther than I ever could have expected. Without Him, I wouldn't be anywhere close to here.

Who inspires you?

Knowing that God has a plan for my stories inspires me, mostly. Seeing how much other writers have accomplished (Those who “taught” me, like Joe Bunting of The Write Practice, Jeff Goins, and Jerry Jenkins), makes me believe I can do the same. There are several Christian artists (Tobymac, mainly), whose music inspires me and keeps me focused on my writing.
     But #1, actually, is my readers. Reading their reaction to my stories, hearing what The Hidden Soul did for them, how God used the words He gave me to inspire someone, lift them up, or point them to Him is so astounding. They are my biggest inspiration and motivation to keep writing.

What do you love most about writing?

The power of feeling God writing through you is the best feeling in the world. I've spent hours writing before, then when I go back and read what I wrote, I don't recognize it. When I can read the words and say “Wait, I wrote that?” I know it's the Lord. 
     I really don't know what I would do if I didn't write. One of my favorite quotes is by Flannery O'Connor, “I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.” Since becoming a writer, I have really found who I am, and especially who I am in Christ. I look back at myself before I became a writer, and it's nothing like who I am now. Just seeing what words have done in my life, and what they're doing in others' lives, is the best part about being a writer.

Which do you prefer, print books or ebooks?

Definitely print books! Even though I write e-books, my goal is to get them in print someday, because nothing beats a good book in your hands.

Are you traditionally published or self-published? Do you recommend one over the other?

I'm currently self-published on Kindle (which is more self than actual self-publishing!), but I definitely want to go with traditional publishing once my books are ready. I have spent years researching both options, and actually attempted self-publishing with a company a couple of years ago, but based on my minimal experience I would recommend traditional.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Well, that doesn't happen often! Usually I'm either writing or thinking about writing, but when I'm not doing either, I spend time with my family. I also catch up on my favorite TV series, StarTrek. (Yes, I'm a Trekkie :). And when I'm not doing “real” writing, I write fan fiction with my sister.

Do you remember the first thing you wrote?

Wow, it's been awhile, but I think the first thing I wrote was a song when I was nine or ten years old. I first tried my hand at writing fiction based on a book series when I was around twelve, but didn't seriously write until I was fourteen. 

What are you working on now?

I'm currently writing the final installment of my “Roman Soul” series, Soul's Redemption. The series is set in first century Israel, and tells the story of Jesus' last days on earth and the start of the early church, from the eyes of Marcus, the Roman who crucified Christ. 
     In this third book, Marcus returns to Jerusalem three years after escaping the legions to find his friend has been murdered. He then seeks revenge, but it leads him to the most unexpected and life-threatening experiences yet, bringing him back to the truest meaning of forgiveness.
The book is almost finished, and I'm shooting for a November 1st release. 

Follow Reagan

You can learn more about Reagan, her writing, and her ministry at her website:
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* "Pantser" is a term for an author who writes "by the seat of the pants." It is the opposite of an Planner, who outlines each event of a story before writing details like description and dialogue. 

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