I’m chatting with the lovely Jill Eileen Smith today about her reading habits! She has some wonderful book recommendations so be sure to check them out. Be sure to enter the giveaway of her last Biblical novel, Redeeming Grace, via the Rafflecopter form below.
Are you a re-reader? Why, or why not? And if you are, what are some of the books you have read over and over?
I do not normally re-read a book, but there are a few (I can count on one hand) that I have read several times. I don’t normally re-read a story because once it’s completed I want to move on to something else.
A few books I have re-read when we homeschooled (because I read them aloud to my children as supplements to history) were: Francine Rivers Mark of the Lion series and Lynn Austin’s first three books on Hezekiah in the Chronicles of the Kings series (which I have in the earlier versions). I’ve read both series twice.
For me personally, I re-read Two From Galilee by Marjorie Holmes nearly every Christmas starting when I was sixteen. However, there was a long period of time when I stopped reading it until five years ago when my dad died. I returned to that book for comfort. I also re-read Mara, Daughter of the Nile when I was preparing to write my Solomon novella, Daughter of the Nile. (They are completely different stories. I re-read it for historical setting.)
I re-read the Bible more than any other book. Sometimes I might re-read parts of a non-fiction self-help book, especially those that I heavily underline.
When is your optimal time to read – do you prefer to read in one long block, or do you also read for five minutes here or there when you can?
I read constantly. I will often read while I’m eating lunch if I’m alone, though sometimes I’m just catching up on email on my phone. My main ritual read time is before bed. It helps me unwind and get my heart in the right place after a long day.
I’d love your thoughts on novellas. Are you thumbs up or down? Or does it depend?!
I don’t read a lot of novellas. But I’ve written four of them (one is yet to be released) for The Loves of King Solomon series. So I’m a thumbs up for sure. Short stories are fun to write and a quick read, though they are limiting in that we can’t always dig as deeply into the story as some readers may want us to. On the other hand, it is often harder to write short, so it’s another fictional writing tool or ability worth learning.
Are you faithful to a genre, an author, or simply quality writing?
Some authors will probably always remain on my “want to read” list, but most of the time I just want a really great story. Something unpredictable that takes me away to a place I have not been before and since time-travel has not been invented, reading is the closest we get.
When famine visits Bethlehem, Boaz holds out hope for rain while his relative Elimelech moves his wife Naomi and their sons to Moab. For a while, it appears the Lord is blessing Elimelech’s family, and his sons marry two lovely Moabite women. But calamities strike, one after another, leaving Naomi alone in a foreign land with only her childless daughters-in-law for comfort. When news reaches Naomi that the famine in Bethlehem has lifted, only Ruth will hazard the journey to her mother-in-law’s homeland. Destitute and downhearted, Naomi resigns herself to a life of bitter poverty, but Ruth holds out hope for a better future. And Boaz may be the one God has chosen to provide it.
Combining meticulous research with her endless imagination, Jill Eileen Smith gorgeously renders one of the most beautiful stories in Scripture. Readers will adore this third installment of the inspiring Daughters of the Promised Land series.
Which factors most influence your selection of a book?
That depends. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction for personal reasons, so I select books that will hopefully meet a need I have or a trial I’m faced with or a habit of thanksgiving I want to cultivate, etc.
For fiction, the back cover copy will usually influence me most. First the title, then the back copy. The cover art doesn’t usually influence my choice, though good cover art tells me that the story had some professional work behind it. Ultimately, the story has to sound intriguing.
Your fiction pet peeve?
Predictability. I see this more when I watch a TV show, but it’s true of books as well. When I can predict what is coming and it comes, I tend to roll my eyes or look at my husband and say, “saw that coming.” I like originality but not over-the-top weird.
What book have you read this year that you could not put down, and why?
This is where I’m a little different than other readers. I don’t think there has ever been a book that I could not put down. I just don’t allow myself to get that absorbed because I don’t have time. I did spend one Sunday afternoon caught up in a novel a few years ago and finished it that same day, but that’s really rare for me. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that I tend to read more than one book at a time. I might be reading a novel and a non-fiction and just switch between the two. I never used to leave a book unfinished, but that’s changed. If it doesn’t grab me or if something better (this pertains more to non-fiction) comes along, I will stop and start something else. I’ve gotten much pickier over time.
How do you mark your spot – folded page corner, bookmark, dollar bill, whatever is at hand?
Never fold a corner! Usually a bookmark, but any unnecessary piece of paper will do. I’ve been known to use a band aid when nothing else was available.
Whose debut novel impressed you more than you anticipated?
My son’s. I know that sounds super biased, but it really isn’t from a writer’s point of view. My youngest son, Ryan (now Ryan Galloway – his pen name became legal) used to go with me to ACFW Conferences when he was in his teens. He’s been writing since he was twelve. He’s written several full-length novels, a few of which I’ve read. One I thought was good and publishable, but the one he decided to Indie Publish this year called Biome blew it out of the park. Two multi-published friends said, “Wow!” after reading it for endorsement. And honestly, he can write circles around me. I taught him to read. But he has taken his passion for writing and never gave up. I’ve read Biome twice, and I could read it again. This book is that page-turning type I enjoy, even though the genre was not what I would normally read. (YA Science Fiction)
When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you?
Flat characters and predictability. I don’t enjoy a story that has a given ending. I like to figure out the mystery, and every genre can have at least a little mystery woven throughout, in my opinion. And I don’t like characters who sound the same. They need to feel like real individual people. Also, the ending has to satisfy me. (Like I said, I’ve grown pickier with time.)
What are some of your favourite CF reads from around 10 years ago, or further back?
Two From Galilee, by Marjorie Holmes, Lois Henderson’s Abigail, Tamera Alexander’s Fountain Creek Chronicles, Lynn Austin’s first three books in her Chronicles of the Kings series, Francine Rivers Mark of the Lion series, Angela Hunt’s Shadow Women, Maureen Lang’s The Oak Leaves. There are too many to remember them all!
Snack/drink of choice while reading?
If it’s research reading, probably tea or Kombucha. No snacks when I’m reading before bed.
What book cover has really caught your eye?
Honestly? I love what Revell does with their covers – and not just mine. Bethany House does a good job too. I think Rachel Hauck’s royal wedding bride covers are pretty cool. But I don’t have a specific favorite.
Which author makes it easy to turn off your internal editor?
Julie Klassen and Tessa Afshar for fiction. Ann Voskamp and Lysa TerKeurst for non-fiction.
What book do you wish you had written? Why?
Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, because it challenged me to develop an attitude of gratefulness and thanksgiving, which is something I need to continually learn. And in a world of discontent, I think we could all benefit from being grateful to God for all He has given, rather than complaining over what we think we are missing.
Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, the Daughters of the Promised Land, the Wives of the Patriarchs, and The Loves of King Solomon series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.
When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.
Contact Jill through email (email@example.com), her website (http://www.jilleileensmith.