Monday, July 15, 2013

Meet Author Ann Tatlock

Hello, Ann,
I have read several of your books and I had to devour each of them, only putting them down when absolutely necessary, so I am looking forward to talking with you today. I hope our readers will enjoy this conversation as well.

Juanita: First, please tell us about your faith and why you write Christian novels.

Ann: The first blessing in my life was my parents. Mom and Dad were wonderful people who loved the Lord, each other and their children. Because of them, Jesus has been my Savior from the beginning and he has kept me in his grace all my life. My desire from an early age has been to serve him, which is what I strive to do through my writing.

Juanita: I know you attended Wheaton college and worked for Decision magazine and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for a few years. Did you think that would be your life work, or were you pulled toward writing novels early?

Ann: Early on, I thought I would be solely a writer of non-fiction. I attended Wheaton College Graduate School to earn my master’s degree in journalism, with the hopes of joining the staff of a Christian magazine. When I graduated, I was offered the position with Decision. I really enjoyed interviewing people and writing their stories of conversion and faith. So yes, at one point I thought this would be my life work. I didn’t see the point in making up stories when there are already so many fabulous true stories out there.

Eventually, though, I began to realize that fiction is a powerful vehicle for relaying the truths of the Bible because people are hard-wired to learn through stories—which is why Jesus taught so often in parables. I had always loved to read fiction, so I decided to try my hand at writing it. I discovered I loved it! I write stories to entertain, but I also want to leave readers thinking about biblical concepts such as forgiveness, mercy, redemption, hope and restoration.

Juanita: I read somewhere that you kept on persisting, even after years of rejection notices. How long was it after you began writing that you finally received an acceptance from a publisher for your first novel?

Ann: Eleven years! And then it was another two years before I saw my first book in print, so a total of 13 years from the time I started writing fiction to the day my first book was published. As I tell aspiring writers, persistence is key! Don’t give up.

I had started writing non-fiction articles in college and did some freelance writing after graduating. Then I went on and got the degree in journalism, so I was trained in non-fiction but I’d never had a fiction-writing class. I learned to write fiction simply by writing fiction (and reading good fiction), so it was a long process of trial and error (and rejection and trying again).

Juanita: I’m pretty persistent, but I believe you would outdo me! I have read some of your novels and have looked at the reviews for all of them. I notice you insert American history into every book you write. For example, All the Way Home was about the Japanese internment during World War II and the friendship of two little girls—one American and one Japanese. A Room of My Own was about the time during and after the Great Depression, and many historical incidents were inserted in that story. I understand that your new book, Sweet Mercy, is also set during the Depression, and it has gangsters and illegal alcohol, and how a young girl dealt with that. How do you choose your settings and why is history so important for an author to deal with?

Ann: Twentieth-century American history fascinates me. It was a remarkable century, with each decade filled with both amazing advances and overwhelming struggles. What interests me most isn’t so much the overarching events themselves, but how those larger events impacted individual lives. How did the Japanese internment camps affect one child? How did the 1948 polio epidemic alter the dynamics of one family? How did the era of Prohibition forever change the heart and mindset of one teen-aged girl? We are all products of the historical setting in which we find ourselves, though we may not always view our life in that way. (In other words, No man is an island!) I’m always looking for an intriguing era to use as a backdrop for the development of my characters.

Juanita: Many of your main characters were young girls and many times, you wrote in the first person. Do you do this because you put yourself into the situation you are writing about to make your books so real and compelling?

Ann: I think you’ve nailed it! I like to pretend I was really there and that now I’m telling the story. It’s a writing device that comes naturally and seems to work.

Juanita: Tell us about your most recent books, Travelers’ Rest and Sweet Mercy, published in 2012 and 2013. What do you want the reader to take away from each of these books?

Ann: Thank you for asking about the take-away; that’s so important!

Travelers Rest is about a woman whose fiancé returns from Iraq seriously wounded. He wants to call off the engagement; she has to decide whether or not to stay with him.
Take-away: The knowledge that when you put your heart in God’s hands, it will never be broken by unrequited love. His throne is the one sure place we can lay our heart and never have to take it up again. It’s the end of the journey. His is the love we long for and the only love that ultimately satisfies.

Sweet Mercy is the story of teen-aged girl who fancies herself “a righteous person” among the many criminals and law-breakers of the Prohibition era—until she too finds herself breaking the law for the sake of family and love.
Take-away: None of us is good by our own merit. Righteousness is a gift of God’s mercy.

Juanita: Can you relate a funny situation that happened while you were working for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association?

Ann: I remember the afternoon Ruth Graham came to speak to the employees. A friend of mine from the art department had just found an old photograph of a young Billy Graham dressed in an outlandish and unfashionable suit and tie. My friend dared me, and I took the dare. After Mrs. Graham finished speaking, we made our way to her and showed her the photograph. “Mrs. Graham,” I asked, “is it true that you pick out your husband’s clothes for him?” She laughed heartily at that.

Juanita: If people knew, what it is about you that would surprise them?

Ann: In 1998, my husband Bob and I traveled to China to pick up our 7-month-old daughter and bring her home. Laura is 15 now and the joy of our lives!

Juanita: I notice you speak at Writers’ Conferences. What importance do you place on these organizations for new, aspiring writers?

Ann: I highly recommend that aspiring writers attend a writers conference—or several! They give you the opportunity to take helpful classes from published authors, meet and connect with other aspiring writers, brainstorm with a host of creative people, and meet face-to-face with editors, agents and publishers. Conferences definitely offer a foot-in-the-door to anyone wanting to be published.

Juanita: Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Ann: It has been a joy to be a guest on your blog, Juanita. I hope you and your readers will come with me to Marryat Island this summer and enjoy Sweet Mercy!

Juanita: Thank you so much, Ann. I appreciate your time in answering these questions for those who choose to read my blog.

Readers, it’s your turn again. Comment on this interview and leave your email address so I can contact you if you win, and you will be entered in the drawing for a free copy of one of Ann’s books. The book Ann and I have chosen for you is I’ll Watch the Moon, published in 2011. This story took place in the late 1940’s during the polio epidemic in America. Winner will be announced on July 19, (one week from today) and will also be notified by email.

Get extra contest entries if you "follow me" or "subscribe to my blog".  Mention on your comment that you have done this for the extra entries.

Ann's newest book, Sweet Mercy

I'll Watch the Moon

Promises to Keep

These are three of the nine novels Ann has written. Check for the other titles.


  1. Enjoyed getting to know Ann. Would love to win her book. I am a follower of your blog. pat at ptbradley dot com

  2. Thanks, Pat, for visiting my blog. Good luck in the drawing. Ann's books are all good, I know you will enjoy them.

  3. Excellent interview. Good questions and I enjoyed reading the answers and getting to know Ann a bit. I haven't read any of Ann's books, but I see what I've been missing. I would love to win one of her books.
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com
    I get your email and I also follow on my readers with WordPress and Blogger.

    1. Thanks, Kay, and you really have been missing something if you have not read any of Ann's books. I'm currently reading Travelers Rest about a man who was shot in Iraq and paralyzed. I can't put it down. I've entered your name on the list. Good luck!!

  4. a wonderful posting/interview...thanks for the chance to read ann's novel...i'm a follower, too.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    1. Thanks, Karen, glad you came back to read another interview. Good luck in the drawing.

  5. Ann's book sounds great. I love historical books the best. I seem to always gravitate to them the most. I'd love to read it. Thank you for having this giveaway! BTW, I'm a follower and subscriber. :)

    Wanda Barefoot

    1. Her books are great. The American history is well documented. I'm reading Travelers Rest right now, published in 2012 and it is spot on. It's about a man who was shot and paralyzed in Iraq and how he and his fiancee deal with this trauma.

  6. Thanks for this interview. I truly enjoyed it. Thanks for having Ann as your guest. I hope to win her book. I am a subscriber to this blog. Please add my name. I am a follower.
    MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

    1. Hi, Maxie. I wish you luck in the drawing. Winner will be announced next Monday. Ann is a tremendous writer!

  7. Juanita: you do such a great job with interviews.

    Ann: Thank you for sharing your writing world with us and for being inspiring! :) I would love to win a book. Margo (at)


    1. Margo, thanks for stopping by and reading the interview with Ann. I love her books. They are filled with history about America, yet they are so personal as you get to know the characters. Your name is on the list for the drawing and I'll announce the winner next Monday.

  8. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by! I'm so delighted to be a guest on Juanita's blog, and I'm looking forward to sending I'll Watch the Moon to the winner.

    1. Thanks, Ann, for being on my blog. I'm reading Travelers Rest right now and can't put it down. You are such a great writer.

  9. I'm enjoying Travelers Rest and can't put it down. Thanks so much for being a guest on my blog.

    1. I'm glad to know you're enjoying Travelers Rest, Juanita!

  10. Enjoyed the interview - all of these books have wonderful storylines, would love to read them all!

    I am a follower & subscriber.