I often interview authors who have published books similar to my genre—historical/Biblical fiction. But today, I'm not only interviewing a debut author whose novel is soon-to-be-published, but she writes YA Fantasy. It is probably the fastest growing and sought after genre, by readers and publishers alike!
This week, I turn my focus away from my debut novel, The Heart Changer, and place it on a young author also publishing with Ambassador International. Her genre is fantasy — opposite end of the spectrum from historical fiction. But, there is still value in fantasy novels, as I’m sure many readers will agree.
I’m curious, Joanna — how your writing journey begin?
When I wrote my first story, it stemmed from a desire to write a good story. Back then, I was only ten-years-old. It became a hobby for me. I loved writing in my free time and I wrote books I wanted to read. Back then, I still read a lot, but as I grew older and matured, my writing grew with me. Eventually, in high school, I decided to try writing my first fantasy novel. That book was Hunter.
At the time, Star Wars inspired me to write my own epic franchise but I was like, “What is this franchise?” I had no idea. After Hunter came the other books in the Valiant Series. Years passed and I graduated high school and chose to make writing my career. I went to college online and there I was able to continue working on the Valiant Series and even created a few of them as ideas for some of my classes. I met my husband, whom I was dating at the time and together, we added more ideas to the Valiant Series and came up with the overall plotline. Little by little, we connected the books together, adding in snippets in the previous books I had written - such as Hunter and Shifter - to tie them to the current ones.
Then, we began to plan the final two books in the Valiant Series. I realized the entire series paralleled with the Bible and that each of the previous books had a Biblical theme to them that I had never noticed before. God had been with me this whole time, working on the series with me. The last two were meticulously planned out, because I wanted to do them right. Seven years and it was over. I finished it.
I love the way your husband came alongside you in your writing — now that’s a partnership! So where did you go from there?
That thought was constantly on my mind. I had graduated college, earned my degree and somehow had to turn writing into a career. I began freelancing, writing articles online for a website called Hirewriters.com. My husband and I married and started our life together.
We edited Hunter and self-published it. The problem with that was I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how to market it, so I joined a few Facebook groups and shared it there. I earned about ten dollars a month; not near enough for a person to live on.
In the meantime, I started writing full time on hirewriters and other sites. Every little bit I earned made me feel better, but it still wasn’t my dream. I kept writing books and was so focused on writing, I stopped reading. Instead, I wrote books I wanted to read. So I started another series but hit major block and stopped. I realized I’d been so focused on two series with no break that I’d never gotten to experience writing anything I wanted. So I started writing whatever projects I was inspired for, which was super fun.
During this time, I had stopped freelancing and had started working on traditionally publishing. Self-publishing wasn’t working out, but I kept getting rejections on the books I was sending in: Hunter, Shifter, Warrior, Samurai — books in the Valiant Series.
Until one day. . .
Let me guess — you received good news. No, great news. The news all authors wait for!
Yes! Ambassador International loved them and made contracts for both. The next year was spent working with them. I was able to write a short introduction to Hunter to help with marketing for its release. I decided it was best to re-read the Valiant Series and I did read the other ten books in the main series (17 total with 5 prequel novels) and edited them myself as I went on.
Now, the real work began: the book launch. . .
Hours of research ended with me learning and growing. I’m having so much fun with the entire process. It’s so exciting and it’s a dream come true!
This journey as a writer has been a hard one but it’s one I wouldn’t change. Being a writer has taught me to never give up on my dreams and it’s allowed me the chance to rely on God and put my faith and trust in Him as He takes this journey with me. I’ve matured with my writing and myself. Each of my books has seen me go from being a ten year-old-girl to the twenty-four-year-old married woman I am today.
Isnt it amazing to see how God takes us step by step towards the places He has designed for us? And, being a debut author myself, I certainly know the range of emotions an author experiences as she prepares her book launch — apprehension mixed with joy and a massive amount of hard work. That’s what I call a valiant effort!
Thanks so much for sharing your author’s journey, Joanna! I wish you God’s blessings.
Joanna White earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University. The Valiant series is her first published work, which first started off being updated on a website called Wattpad. She lives in the country of Missouri with her husband, where she continues to work on her other upcoming books. Writing has been a passion since she was ten, when she wrote her first book. Ever since then, writing has become her life outside of her family, God, and being a nerd.
A reckless young woman named Averella does what no woman has ever done.
She disguises herself as a man and purposefully gets herself arrested and thrown into Zagerah. Her brother Gabriel was taken, and with his disease, he will not survive on his own. She has no idea what to expect inside the prison; all she knows is that once men get taken, they never come back.
The Hunters will find her.
Genetically altered to be faster and stronger than humans, the Hunters use their powers to find and kill every prisoner who enters Zagerah. The only ones who can defeat them, are in fact, themselves.
Jared is a Hunter. It’s all he’s known, all he remembers. He kills ruthlessly and without regret, one prisoner after another. When a new prisoner Dalex shows up, everything begins to change. Jared goes undercover to make Dalex and the other prisoners believe he is one of them, a prisoner himself.
No one knows the truth.
He will trick them.
Toy with them.
Then, he will kill them.
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.