Valerie Anne Faulkner
interviews Tamera Alexander
Christian Fiction On-line Magazine, June, 2009
Tamera Alexander
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    It’s September and we’re heading to Tennessee, where author Tamera Alexander lives. I savor the ride. It’s
    been a long hot summer, and I’m sure the temperatures will be a bit more moderate just a few states north
    of my home on the sun coast of west central Florida.

    My husband and I had already ventured out last month to Tennessee, so we’re familiar with the route we are
    taking. Only this time, we’re taking a rest stop at the northern border of Florida near the panhandle.

    By early evening, we’re almost ready to hunker down for the night. The commuter traffic has dwindled, and
    the open road is ours to enjoy. Bill, my hubby, suggests, “Let’s ride until dark, and we’ll be better than
    halfway there.”

    I’m okay with that. “You’re the driver!”

    The golden hour is one of those amazing times in the early evening when you’d have to be a fool not to want
    to observe it. The sun is usually very low on the horizon, and the blush it leaves, before it melts and
    disappears in the west, is astonishing.

    The heavens literally glimmer, a kaleidoscope of color. Brilliant hues of pink, purple, and orange wisp across
    the deep, aqua blue canvas.

    The trees and grass with earthy tones of green and brown take on an eerie iridescent radiance. My eyes have
    to keep adjusting to the ethereal beauty. It’s a miraculous sight.

    “I feel so close to God out here.”

    Bill nods. “Me, too.”

    I couldn’t help but smile. “Let’s stop here and capture this wonderful moment. It’s all part of His gift, ya

    “That’s for sure.”


    After a virtual night’s sleep, the rest of the jaunt seems easy, and we plan to meet Tamera Alexander at her
    home. As we arrive and emerge from the Jeep, Jake’s pulling on his leash. He must have seen the “doggy in
    the window.”

    “That must be Jack, their silky terrier.” The little ball of fluff was pawing at the front window as we

    Bill restrains our dog. “Jake, that’s about ten pounds of doggy. He’s just a little guy. Calm down boy. You
    have to be on your best behavior! Val, I’m going to take him for a walk.”
    “Good idea; I’ll go introduce myself.”

    Among all the commotion, I’m greeted with a warm hello and kissed by the cutest pup. “Hello . . . I’m so
    glad to meet you.” Ms. Alexander is wearing a T-shirt that reads, Heaven is typing THE END on a first
    draft. “Love your shirt.”

    “Thank you. Let’s head for my backyard, the flagstone patio, or the back deck. I write a lot out here; I think
    the setting is relaxing. Care for some sweet iced tea? Being from and in the South, I serve it with fresh mint
    leaves from our herb garden. I have a Buttermilk pie cooling on the stove . . .”

    “Yes. That sounds wonderful.” Knowing how demanding her life is, I hoped I wouldn’t be a bother. I
    wanted her to feel at ease with me, so I told her I would understand if she had to take care of unexpected
    duties. “Don’t mind me . . . no need to fuss. I’m just going to sit here and pop out the questions, one at a
    time. When you’re ready to start, I’ll take notes. By the way, the pie smells so-o-o good!”

    She laughs. “Ready!”

    Valerie: “Mold Me, Lord” . . . You are the Potter, I am the clay. This has to be one of the best songs ever,
    and I loved the way you sang it. WOW! You are so talented. Would you explain why this song means so
    much to you?

    Tamera: I’m smiling because obviously you’ve been watching my interview with Herman and Sharron on
    their show. Either that or you’ve listened to my visit with the employees at Christian Book Distributors in
    Boston ( First, thanks for taking the time to watch/listen to those interviews. And second, thanks
    for the kind words. I do enjoy singing and always have.

    The song “Mold Me, Lord” came to me at a point in my life when God was impressing upon me, yet again,
    the absolute and unyielding truth that if we want to follow Him, then we must surrender to Him. Surrender
    everything to His sovereign will. For the past twenty years and counting, my personal prayer has been
    “Break me, Lord, until I’m wholly yours”—a theme that’s reflected in my book The Inheritance (Women of
    Faith Fiction). And that petition has taken on new meaning as the years have passed.

    The words to the song “Mold Me, Lord,” especially the first verse, so perfectly reflect the desire to
    surrender to God, to be clay in His hands. Something that’s far easier said than done. Here’s the first verse:

    Here I stand, I come before you now.
    Before your throne I bow, and I bring you my life.
    Lord, I try to do it all myself, though I know I need your help.
    I need your hand. And I need your strength to mold me, Lord.
    Take my life, my will, my heart.
    Take me, break my world apart.
    For you are the Potter and I am the clay.
    (Hillarie Mason Smith, 1996)

    If you were to ask me to write a one-word synopsis of the purpose of our time here on earth, it would be
    surrender. Because once we surrender our lives, our talents, our dreams, our desires, our very selves to
    Christ, everything else follows in right order. Not “easy” order, mind you, but according to God’s sovereign
    will for our lives. I believe that nothing happens to me that doesn’t first filter through the loving hands of my
    heavenly Father. He either brings or allows everything that touches my life. Because if He doesn’t, then He’s
    not the Sovereign Lord the Bible claims Him to be.

    My earnest desire is to surrender myself to Him. A little more every day. But it’s a process, and one that
    won’t be complete until I stand before Him.

    Whew! That’s a heavy way to start a chat, huh?

    Valerie: You have me all choked up. It’s a perfect way to begin. You mentioned you met your mother-in-law
    before you met your husband. How did that happen?

    Tamera: I met my sweet mother-in-law, Claudette Harris Alexander, during college through the girl’s social
    club that I’d pledged. Claudette was one of the sponsors of the club, and I got to know her during my years
    at Harding University. When graduation came, I invited Claudette and her husband, Fred, to have breakfast
    with me and my parents. Well, Claudette and my mom, June, really hit it off!

    At the close of breakfast, my mom leaned over and whispered to Claudette how much she’d enjoyed
    meeting her. Then with a twinkle in her eye, she added, “I wish you had a son!” And Claudette said, “Oh, I
    do! I do have a son!”

    Suffice it to say . . . arranged marriages are alive and well.

    As it turns out, Claudette played an instrumental part in my writing journey. She gave me a copy of a novel
    back in 1995, saying that I’d love it. I glanced at the cover and thanked her graciously, though I doubted I’d
    like it very much. Then I promptly shelved the book. Weeks passed, and several times Claudette asked me
    whether I’d read the book yet. I said I hadn’t but that I would. Then one afternoon we got a call informing
    us that Claudette had died very suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

    A few months later, I ran across the book she’d given me and immediately sat down and read it in one
    sitting. I loved it! Claudette had been right. That “simple love story” gave me a deeper perspective on God’s
    unconditional love. I’m ever grateful to Janette Oke for penning Love Comes Softly and to Claudette for
    sharing it with me and starting me on my writing journey.

    Valerie: I was so glad when you mentioned you hadn’t always (meaning from the time you could hold a
    pencil) wanted to write. But can you let us in on the moment you knew this was the “right” decision?

    Tamera: Reading Love Comes Softly started me on a quest, and I devoured every Inspiration novel I could
    get my hands on. And back in 1995 there wasn’t nearly the plethora of titles we have today. Skip ahead a
    couple of years to 1997. My husband, Joe, and I were on a trip from Texas back to Colorado. I finished a
    novel and tossed it to the backseat. Then I turned to him and said (just kidding, of course), “I think I could
    write one of those.” Without skipping a beat, he responded, “Well, why don’t you?”

    So, I did.

    I spent the next year or so writing my first novel then sent it in. After I completed three requested rewrites,
    the manuscript made it to the final review board at Bethany House Publishers in 2000, after which I received
    a very nice rejection letter (which they were right to send; the manuscript needed major work). Writing that
    first story was a learning experience for me, and one I took to heart. I then determined to set about seriously
    studying the craft of writing and spent the next two years doing just that.

    Valerie: What did you feel when your efforts showed promise and you actually won your first book award?

    Tamera: Hmmm . . . may I say that the first time I felt like a real writer didn’t stem from receiving a book
    award? Instead it came through receiving a letter from a reader.         One of the most unexpected—and
    treasured—aspects of writing is the connection I’ve made with my readers. To have a reader tell me how a
    particular story encouraged them, or how one character’s struggle aided them with something in their own
    lives . . . that’s better than any award I could ever get.

    I take steps closer to Christ as I write, and I pray that readers will do that, too, as they read.

    Valerie: What’s happening for you during the rest of 2009? Deadlines, challenges, any breaks?

    Tamera: No breaks, I’m afraid, and lots of challenges. My mother was diagnosed with metastatic gallbladder
    cancer in February, so the past few months have seen me keeping the roads hot between Nashville and
    Atlanta. I’m incredibly grateful to God that He saw fit to “relocate” my family back to the South two years
    ago (I’m originally from Atlanta). I’ve had more time with my parents in the past two years than I would
    have had if we still lived in Colorado (where we lived for seventeen years), so for that I’m very blessed.

    I’ve got deadlines looming, but my publisher has been most gracious about giving me extra time with this
    book, the last in the Timber Ridge Reflections series. Within My Heart—that was due to released in
    October—will actually be released next spring. And I’ve got a six-book Southern historical series that I’ll be
    starting very soon.

    Valerie: Your faith is so obvious, but have you ever wondered, “Why me, Lord?”

    Tamera: Oh, gracious, yes. Everyone asks that at one time or another. I ask it when I see all the incredible
    blessings in my life because I know who I am and what I would look like without Jesus Christ. And it’s not

    Then I sometimes find myself asking, “Why me, Lord?” when the bad times come. But then just as quickly
    I think, “Why not me, Lord?” Just because I’m a follower of Christ doesn’t make me exempt from life’s
    struggles. Quite the contrary, in fact. Jesus promises that we’ll have trouble in this world, but He also says
    to take care, that He’s already overcome the world.

    Again, it leads back to surrender, doesn’t it? Whatever you want, Lord. No matter how much I want what I
    want (and I often do), please don’t give me anything that isn’t centered smack-dab in the middle of Your
    will for my life. (I pray the very same thing for each member of my family.)

    Valerie: If you hadn’t begun writing what career path had you planned to walk?

    Tamera: I was a business major in college, so when I graduated I worked in banking for a number of years,
    and loved that. I also coordinated conferences for large corporations and really enjoyed that, too. No matter
    what I’ve done, my favorite part has always been the interaction with people. So . . . LOL . . . writing all by
    myself, alone in a room for hours on end, sometimes isn’t my favorite thing. Go figure . . .

    Valerie: My husband and I have an ongoing joke: “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” How
    do you cope and find the patience to watch and wait when it seems “your” plans or goals are difficult or are
    taking longer to achieve than you expected?

    Tamera: My husband and I have laughed about that, too.

    Being in God’s waiting room is oftentimes the hardest place we can be. Give me a task, something to work
    toward, anything. But don’t ask me to wait. A favorite Scripture of mine is found in the thirteenth chapter of
    Exodus. It says, “When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that
    runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land . . . [instead]
    God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness . . .”

    I return to that Scripture often and am reminded that God rarely takes shortcuts. He’s noted for leading His
    people in roundabout ways and often through deserts. But He always has a Master Plan for me, which
    always involves my eternal good. And in the end, it’s better than any route I could have mapped out for

    Valerie: These next questions are just for fun: What’s your favorite food when dining in and dining out?

    Tamera: Dining out—Mexican food! I love chips and salsa, guacamole, quesadillas, sopaipillas. All of it!
    Dining in—I love it when Joe grills. My favorite is grilled chicken, but I also love breakfast food for dinner—
    pancakes or waffles with bacon. Yum!

    Valerie: Do you dance as well as you sing?

    Tamera: LOL. Um . . . no. Picture Elaine on Seinfeld. Then double that in every uncoordinated move you
    can imagine. It’s so not good.

    Valerie: When you’re at home with family, your favorite casual outfit is . . . ? (You know when nobody’s
    going to see you.)

    Tamera: Black exercise capris, T-shirt, and socks. My clothing budget has plummeted since I started
    writing. And I love that because I’m not an avid shopper.

    Valerie: How many times a day do you talk to your dog and feel he’s really listening?

    Tamera: Wait . . . you mean there are times when Jack doesn’t really listen to me?

    Valerie: What was your most recent reason to pray?

    Tamera: To ask God to heal my precious mom of all cancer. I want more time with her here, but I feel that
    time all too quickly slipping away.

    Valerie: Which of your titles would you absolutely love to see made into a movie?

    Tamera: Seeing any of them made into a movie would be a thrill. But I think From a Distance has the best
    chance right now because it’s currently being reviewed by a producer who plans to pitch it to the Hallmark
    Channel. It’s a long shot for a historical to be made (over a contemporary) due to higher production costs
    (costumes, setting, etc.). But I can dream!

    Valerie: Last one. You have been asked many questions during your career, but is there any one thing you
    would like to share with your fans? Something they haven’t asked but you think they would enjoy hearing?

    Tamera: I’d love to be asked the following question: Is there a book (or series) you’ve read and loved so
    much that you wish you’d written it?
    My answer would be . . .
    Yes! The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers (A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, and
    As Sure as the Dawn). They’re phenomenal books, life-changing stories, and have characters whom I’ll
    carry with me into eternity. It’s my all-time favorite series, and I recommend it every chance I get.

    Thanks for this chat, Valerie, and for making me so comfortable. Continued blessings!

    Valerie: Thank you, Tamera. And although we didn’t have a chance to talk about it, I love your blog and
    definition of igbok. Take care and God bless.

    P.S. I’d like to add something to this month’s interview. While writing this column over the past year it’s
    been customary to submit the scripts into the magazine a month in advance. Tamera Alexander and I
    enjoyed working on this post during the month of July, 2009. I knew at that time she was extremely
    concerned over her mom’s health and I prayed often, in her behalf.

    In the end of August 2009, she emailed me that her mom had passed away. Saddened by this latest news I
    wished for the words to comfort her, and then thought about my opening. “The golden hour is one of those
    amazing times... when we are closest to God.”

    Tamera, I'll pray and hope you'll find comfort in the wonderful moments you've had with your mom, and
    consider all those ‘golden hours’ a legacy of blessings...surely His gift to you, and your mother. Cherish
    them, and believe... you'll share again.

    May peace be with you.
    Love, Valerie

Tamera Alexander