Virginia Smith is an author, speaker and devoted scuba diver She has touched a cord with many readers with her genuine and loveable character, Mayla. You can read Mayla’s story in Just As I Am and the newly released, Sincerely, Mayla. Available now from Kregel.
Now enjoy some fun facts from Virgina:~
If you could have chosen your own name , what would it be?
I’ve actually thought about that lately. When my first book came out, I went to the bookstore and saw it waaaayyyy down toward the end of the Christian fiction shelves. I told my agent if I could change my name, I’d publish under Abigail A. Abbott, so my books would be right up front!
Your first pet’s name?
Pip. She was a beagle, a hunting dog, that my dad found racing after a rabbit on our farm when she was a tiny puppy. Nobody claimed her, so we got to keep her. I remember pressing my face through the slats on the pet gate Mom set up to contain her in the laundry room when she was being trained, and Pip bit me on the nose. I walked around with scabs on my nose.
Your best friend’s name in primary (elementary) school?
Jennifer Lynn Gregory. She was cute and smart, and she wore her long hair in curly pigtails. The first time I spent the night with her I was surprised to discover she slept in rollers so her pigtails would curl.
Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.
Oh, yes! I had a “Sister Belle” doll. But when I got her, it came out Peekabells, so that’s what I called her. Peekabells went everywhere with me. She has a hard plastic head and a stuffed red body. I say “has” because for my 40th birthday my mother found one on eBay and bought her for me. She’s in my bedroom.
If you were stranded on a desert island what one object would you want with you? (Besides your Bible of course)
Ibuprofen. I’m sure my back would be aching from all the work I’d have to do building a Swiss Family Robinson-style treehouse.
Just one? Okay, I love chicken and dumplings the way my mom fixes them.
What’s your favourite ice cream flavour?
Pralines and cream.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lawyer, and work my way up to judge. When I was in 7th grade, my social studies class we held a mock trial, and I was selected to be Judge Jezabell Justice. It made a huge impression on me.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’d spend some time traveling around Ireland. My husband and I were lucky enough to spend a couple of days in Dublin a few years ago, and we fell in love with the country. I want to see ALL of it!
Besides God, who has influenced you the most?
My mother, without a doubt. She has always told me that I’m unique, special, that there’s nobody else like me in the whole world, and God has special plans for my life. She encouraged me to explore my gifts and talents to discover those plans.
There is no way I can name just one. No way! But I love The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because it had such a profound impact on me as a child. It taught me about Jesus’ sacrifice for me.
Again, I can’t possibly pick just one! I love science fiction and fantasy, so right up near the top of my list is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Also the Star Wars movies – all of them. And Notting Hill. And 28 Days – that’s a powerful movie.
Where’s the most interesting place you have been?
London, England. I adore British history, and I’ve been to London three times. Each time I fall more deeply in love with the city. I love walking down the street past buildings that have been around longer than our country has been a nation!
What’s your most fervent prayer?
That God will keep me focused on Him, and not let me become distracted by all the stuff that goes on in my daily life.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Become a parent. I didn’t realize it at the time, though. But now I know raising another humabeing – caring for them, teaching them, molding their lives – is such a huge and scary responsibility.
What gift have you received that you will always treasure?
My husband, because he loves and supports me without question. He believes in me, and his confidence that I will succeed in whatever I do is precious.
What is your favourite Bible verse (or “one” of your favourites)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Tell us how you got into scuba diving
I was living in Florida at the time, and some friends from work decided they wanted to learn. Eight of us signed up for the classes together. The idea was that we were all going to become certified and take a trip together. Only five of us made it all the way to certification, and of those five, I think I’m the only one who fell so in love with diving that I stuck with it. One girl got certified, and on her very first recreational dive she jumped into the water and realized she was surrounded by a whole school of sharks. She got out and never got in again. I don’t really blame her, do you?
How much of Ginny Smith is in Mayla Strong?
A LOT! And I poured myself into her. In Sincerely, Mayla, she learns some lessons about manipulating others that I’ve struggled with. The cool thing about writing a character that has so many of your own traits is that you can “do over” things you’ve done in the past. For instance, have you ever second-guessed your response to someone by thinking later, “If only I’d thought to say this!” I’ve done that with Mayla time and again. There are many things Mayla says to her friends that I wish I’d said when I had my chance.
What do you hope readers take away from this story?
I hope people enjoy spending time with Mayla. I want them to laugh and maybe even shed a tear or two before the book ends. I strongly believe that fiction should entertain, not preach, so I hope all of my books are primarily entertaining. But because I am a Christian, and because Mayla is a Christian, elements of God’s grace show up naturally in the story. So if someone wants to learn a thing or two, they can. But mostly, I just hope they like the story!
What’s up next in your writing schedule?
I have five more books contracted and in various stages of completion. In October, the first of a mystery/suspense series will hit bookshelves. It’s called A Taste of Murder, and will be followed by Murder at Eagle Summit and Scent of Murder next spring. Then in February 2009 the second book in my Sister-to-Sister comes out, Age before Beauty. I’m writing the third right now, as well as working on an idea for a new series.
Thanks so much, Virginia, for a peek into your writing life It’s been fun!