Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Michele Chynoweth. She's a northern girl with a heart for writing modern re-tellings of Bible stories. Her latest is based off Cain and Abel. Without further ado, let's chat with her!
Michele, I know you said you were a newspaper reporter before you were a novel writer. Was it hard to transition from one style to the other? Or did it help in any way to have that writing experience?
I believe it helped a great deal to have the experience of being a news reporter for several newspapers (and on air at a local TV station!) because it kept me on my toes when it came to my writing; as a journalist you have to be concise and to the point, do your homework (research), and meet deadlines – all of which helps me in my writing as an author today. It wasn’t really hard to make the transition because good writing is good writing.
I know you said you have always wanted to be a writer. Can you tell us what your motivation was in that? What made you as a ten-year-old sit down and write a book in your spiral notebook?
I guess being an author is what God placed on my heart all along. The dream was just delayed by life (college, jobs, marriage, kids, etc.) but was never really buried. I have always been an over-achiever (first born and driven to succeed by my parents – a bank president and realtor). I remember that first “novel” as clear as anything about a girl and her dog, the cover was light blue, and I drew the cover design! When I talk about following your purpose in some of my inspirational speaking, I often encourage people to look back on what they really wanted to be when they were ten years old.
It's often hard to balance life and writing. On your website, you also mention that you coach other authors, too. Do you have a secret to staying organized and on top of things?
Wow, tough one. Sometimes I get so driven (and passionate about the books I’m coaching/editing) that I do get overwhelmed and have to remember God is steering the ship and I have to just “be still and know” that He will work all things for good according to his purpose (Romans 8:28) - and I just need to take a break once in a while! I make lots of lists and use lots of sticky notes to remind me of the day’s, week’s and month’s goals and plans. I also suggest reading Jack Canfield’s book, “The Success Principles.” I met him at a conference – he’s great! But if you are truly doing what you love to do – for me it’s writing and helping other writers become authors – you don’t mind the long hours and hard work.
Writing re-tellings of Bible stories is becoming more and more popular, right up there with re-tellings of fairy tales. What gave you the idea to take Bible stories and re-imagine them as novels set in modern times?
I was driving along in a very dark place in my life when I heard that still, small voice say “Michele, you should write a modern-day novel based on the Book of Job.” I look back now and see God was tapping me on the shoulder to help me through my own “Job” like stuff. At the time I was losing my marriage through a bitter divorce, my ad agency business through the recession of the 90’s, my kids who were becoming teenagers, and my health through the disease of alcoholism. I’m happy to report that like Job, God helped me through – and today I’m remarried to a great guy, I’m living the dream of being an author, speaker and book coach, we have a great relationship with our kids, and I recently celebrate 15 years in recovery. That book became The Faithful One and I now see God had a plan for me to help others through my books as well. I originally self-published then went with a traditional Christian publisher who was looking for books in this genre and The Jealous Son is now my fourth of my “Modern Day Bible Stories” or contemporary suspense that re-imagines Old Testament stories.
Is it hard to research and balance the Bible stories you use, staying true to the story and meanings behind it, as you transition it to present day? Or does it give it even more meaning to you?
Yes and Yes! It is hard but I do a lot of research and authentication by theologians and clergy and believe I stay very true to the Bible stories. Writing my novels really does make me dive deeper into the Bible stories themselves and really try to realize and impart God’s messages to my readers. For example, The Runaway Prophet, based on the Book of Jonah, is a story about so much more than a guy being swallowed by a whale! It’s about how we can try to run from God’s call but we can’t really hide, and sometimes when we rescue other people, God rescues us in the process.
I always end an interview with this question. Can you tell us one thing about you that very few people know?
I’ve been called “Mrs. Brady” before (remember Carol Brady of the TV show “The Brady Bunch?”) I was giving a Toastmasters speech in a contest and it was about my husband having a blended family of five kids and a dog (three girls, three boys) and all of the challenges that brings To this day a lot of people remember that speech and call me Mrs. Brady!
That is so fun! Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with us!
If you'd like to learn more about Michele and her most recent book, keep reading.
Banned from their home in the Navajo Nation as a result of their disobedience, Eliza and Alex Trellis build a new life for themselves and their two sons. Although life is a daily struggle, the boys grow up happy and healthy—until the oldest son Cameron starts to become envious of his younger brother and bandmate Austin, who gets everything he wants—fame, fortune and everything that goes with it. Jealous that his brother seems to unfairly gain the attention of their parents, the accolades of the world and the love of his girl, Cameron seeks to find justice and get rid of his brother once and for all.
A modern-day murder mystery based on the Bible story of Cain and Abel, The Jealous Son portrays how envy can go too far and begs the questions: What happens when a mother loses both of her sons? How can a family so broken piece itself back together again? And where is God in the midst of it all?
Amazon Kindle version for sale now: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07S7FKL8P/ref
Michele Chynoweth is the best-selling and award-winning author of The Faithful One, The Peace Maker, The Runaway Prophet and The Jealous Son, contemporary suspense novels that re-imagine Bible stories. Michele is also an inspirational speaker who has addressed a variety of writers’ conferences and other organizations across the country, a book coach/editor and a college writing instructor, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and lives with her husband in North East, Maryland.
Check out her website here or follow her on facebook.
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)