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Monday, February 26, 2007

Bonus Spotlight on Annette Irby and Love Letters

We wanted to get this feature posted around Valentine's Day, but power outages and real life got in the way. However, we're still in the same month, so here's an extra spotlight this week and an extra chance to win a free book.

This one, though, is an e-book, and it will be e-mailed to the winner. And don't forget to check the comments of previous spotlights for the winner announcement. At least one winner every week here.

Annette M. Irby enjoys writing songs, articles and novels. Her work has appeared in Northwest Christian Author, The Christian Journal, the devotional The Secret Place, and the 365-day devotional book Penned from the Heart, vol. XII and XIII (SonRise Publications, 2006 and 2007). On line, you can read her articles at or She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Northwest Christian Writer's Association. She was a finalist in ACFW's Genesis Contest, 2006. In January 2007, her first book, "Love Letters," released through The Wild Rose Press ( Married since 1991, she lives with her husband and three children near Seattle, Washington. For more information, please visit her website:

1. Your book addresses a topic that affects thousands of married couples today...lack of real communication or the inability to be truly vulnerable and open. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
A few Christmases ago, during vacation, I was reading Christmas novellas. As happens often when I read, I became inspired for my own story in a novella form (with a completely unique plot). The story actually began as a Christmas-centered novella about a married couple and a writer's deadline. Since then, it's changed into a Valentine's Day/Tenth Anniversary story. This aspect of their inability to communicate clearly and be vulnerable was an aspect that developed after the original version.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Jordan and Randy? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I always draw from myself (at least on some level) in order to paint a character. Like Jordan, I have misunderstood the love and pure motives of those around me, whether that love originates from God or family members. As for Randy, I wrote him as a guarded man because of fear. I can relate with that. I think readers will, too. It's natural to try to protect ourselves from pain by guarding our own hearts. What's challenging is that once we shut down any part of ourselves, we limit the experience/expression of other parts of ourselves, too. We have to entrust our whole selves to God in order to be free.

As for traits that were theirs alone—Randy's battle with anger and Jordan's ongoing bitterness towards her husband.

3. What themes exist in Love Letters that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
That the path to freedom begins at the cross of Christ. Like Christian in the Pilgrim's Progress, we have to lay our burdens down there so that Jesus can take them. Unforgiveness or bitterness will only keep us from our destinies, not to mention happiness, freedom and love. You have to take risks when it comes to love in order to fully experience it and even to elicit it from your spouse. Wives need affection from their husbands to thrive and that wholeheartedly loving her makes him vulnerable. Husbands need support and respect (as well as love) from their wives in order to thrive and that supporting him is risky sometimes.

That you can get free from the past.

Jesus is the key for true romance.

At first, I had written the conversion scene of Randy's as a reference in his thoughts, but not a flashback. In one of our final edits, I added the scene. I hope the reader will see that the key to life is deciding what to do with Jesus' sacrifice—taking it seriously. Do you believe it? If so, how will it affect your life from this point forward? How will it affect your relationship to/with God? It's like this: He died for your sin so you wouldn’t have to be separated from God for eternity. What is your response to that?

Another later development, from the first version of the story, were the misunderstandings between Randy and Jordan and how there are two sides to their problems.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The most "painful" aspect as a writer was the thread of their misunderstanding. It's difficult seeing both sides so clearly in a dispute. (I know, these characters aren't real.) But, since I chose to write in each of their POVs, I became acquainted with each of their reasons for being angry or avoiding the other person. The heartache was palpable. That and I found myself feeling sick sometimes right along with Jordan. Is that good, or bad?

My favorite scenes were ones where Randy would imagine himself with the courage to risk everything by taking a passionate step toward his wife, that after ten years of marriage, he would make a change and just go for it—put his heart out there.

I also loved the storm scene where Randy is outside his grandfather's cabin, unafraid of the storm. The very fact he faced that blizzard demonstrates he wasn't entirely paralyzed by fear. He could face it, if he needed to.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Currently, my agent is pitching my next series—a trilogy of novels around three sisters and their spiritual journeys to better apprehend God's love in their own lives, not to mention romance in their personal lives. I enjoy writing Christian romance; I get to delve into the lovesickness of the Bridegroom God who pursues His people relentlessly. I will update my website with news on this front when I have some. :) In the meantime, I have two anthologies, another trilogy and a new series in the works. I consider this calling a joy and a gift.

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Thank you, Annette, for allowing your book to be featured here at A Fiction-Filled Life. We look forward to hearing from you. Readers, don't forget to post a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a free copy of Annette's book. Have a great Monday!


Shauna said...

What a wonderful interview! I love stories where God works in the lives of a married couple. :-) Thanks for the spotlight!

Anonymous said...

Hey Cherie and Shauna, thanks for your kind comments. I hope you get a chance to read the story.

Tiff, thanks for your spotlight and for hosting the contest opportunity, too.

I'll be checking in all week. :)

Annette M. Irby

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Wow, you two had a 50-50 chance of winning a free book this time. :) The book has to go to someone, and that one is....


Since I have your information, I've sent it to Annette so she can get you your free copy. Thanks for reading and commenting. Another spotlight coming tomorrow.