|Valerie Anne Faulkner
interviews Colleen Coble
Christian Fiction On-line Magazine, June, 2009
I get from my own Southern back porch, an occasional exploration keeps the juices flowing, if you get my
drift. It can’t always be just about orange juice and warm weather!
Hubby and I are borrowing our daughter’s R.V. The fashionable ’50s style silver cocoon will be our home
away from home while in Wabash, Indiana.
“Bill, I’ve been checking the Internet, and I’m sure we’ll find a campground when we get there. I’ll pack
our clothes and food. Will you gather the bikes and Jake?”
A pleading for mercy look crosses his face. “Why do want our bicycles?”
“Because Wabash has a ninety-two-mile trail! We’ll be able to see everything from an up-to-the-minute
“Ninety-two miles of perspiration . . . I mean perspective is a bit long, don’t you think?”
“C’mon. It’s going to be fun. Did you know Wabash became the first electrically lighted city in the world
back in eighteen eighty? We can even check out the original lamp. It’s on the Wabash City Court House.”
“Hum . . . that’s along the trail?”
“Yes, and, Bill, there’s an old covered bridge of board and baton structure. It’ll be wonderful. Listen to this.
‘The old Stockdale Mill, built in eighteen fifty-seven, is a watered-powered flour and grist mill that uses
water from the Eel River. It’s operated by community volunteers.’ There are even duck races!”
“Yes! The people in Wabash float little yellow rubber ducks down the Eel River, and have races.”
“Okay. That’s something I’ve got to see. Has your author this month tried that?”
“I don’t know. But I’m meeting Colleen Coble at the Joy Christian Book Store in Wabash. She’s having a
book signing! Maybe I can find out.”
In Wabash Village Shopping Center, I enter the bookstore to find an array of inspirational gifts, music,
afghans, music boxes, and my favorite, Willow Tree Angels. By the full line of books and Bibles, I see Ms.
Colleen Coble with quite a number of people gathered around her at a table set up for her signing. She’s
wearing a red jacket with tiny black beads embellishing the sleeves and down the front, black slacks, and
mule shoes. Her classic style includes a honu (turtle) necklace.
I am so glad she remembered I was coming and she greets me warmly. “Hello, Valerie. Come sit down
right here, and we’ll let every one listen in on the interview, okay?”
“Thank you so much, Ms. Coble.” As I place my notes on the table, a few more of her fans arrive. She
cordially introduces me to the newcomers and invites them to stay. “Shall I begin?”
With a beautiful smile, she nods her head. “Absolutely.”
Valerie: When I first started writing this column, I interviewed one of your comrades Denise Hunter. I recall
asking her some questions about blogging. Four of you are writing as a group, and you’ve all done such a
marvelous job. Whose idea was this, and when did you come up with the concept “Girls Write Out.”
Colleen: It was my idea because I’m the extrovert of the group. The others were a bit hesitant, but I can talk
them into just about anything. Since we each blog only once a week, it’s not a huge time commitment. Lots
of blogs focus on writing, but ours is targeted to readers. I wanted a blog that celebrated friendship and
pulled our readers into a relationship with us. We’ve recently added long-time friend Hannah Alexander to
the group. We all started out writing Barbour Heartsongs.
Valerie: Do you have a schedule or order in which you take turns, or do you just pick up the pen, so to
speak, when the spirit moves you?
Colleen: Early on we just jumped in, but for those of us who aren’t very organized (me, for example!) that
got hard. We came up with a schedule so we always knew whose turn it was.
Valerie: I read one you wrote on coffee . . . I love coffee! My hubby weaned me off cream and sugar years
ago. So we drink it black, but it has to be Arabica beans. Are you familiar with them? Would you describe
your all-time favorite cup of java?
Colleen: Oh, you are my hero! I’ve recently managed to get used to drinking iced coffee black with just a
teensy bit of Sweet’N Low, but I didn’t think I’d ever give up my creamer. My favorite cup of java is pure
Kona from the slopes of Big Island, lightened with International Flavors Hazelnut creamer, and served in a
Valerie: Colleen, I read this on your Web site bio: “The first idea for a book came to me, fully conceived. I
was working full time, so it took a year to write it. Then seven years to sell it.” Could you explain how you
managed to keep your dream alive during those seven years?
Colleen: Oh, it was so hard! I knew no other writers and often felt I was following an impossible dream.
When the rejections came, I would cry for a while and resolve to just forget it, but my husband kept
encouraging me. And God just wouldn’t let me quit. So I’d fire up the computer again, rework the story and
send it out again. Don’t do that, by the way. Work on something new. Once the story is as good as you can
make it, move on. You learn to write by writing. I don’t believe it would have taken seven years if I’d
moved on to another story. This particular story was what I call my grief book. It was the story my
younger brother Randy would liked to have lived in the 1860s. His death by lightning was the catalyst that
propelled me into writing, and I wanted it published.
Valerie: Had you truly believed during those beginning years as a writer your efforts would actually bring
you this far? How big a part did doubt play in the scenario?
Colleen: Oh no! I never dreamed I could come this far. My initial goal was to have a book in the library.
People laugh when I say that. Libraries are special places to me, almost holy. I’ve haunted the halls of the
library in my town all my life and dreamed that someday I’d have a book there. Now there are many books
there, and God has opened more doors than I could have imagined. In August my novel Anathema won the
Best Books of Indiana award in fiction, and it was incredibly special and humbling to be asked to place a
copy in the Indiana State Library collection!
Valerie: I believe I counted about thirty-five books, and wow, so many awards! Has anyone wanted to write
“your” success story? Or maybe a primetime inspirational movie . . . I can see the commercials: “Colleen
Coble’s life and legacy . . .”
Colleen: [laughing] I don’t believe anyone has ever dreamed of that honor. God has been so good to
me! Valerie: You could be holdin’ your latest grandbaby! I know exactly what that’s like. What’s the
best part of being a grandparent for you? You can mention more than one “best part,” but please don’t go
over our electron limit, okay?
Colleen: Oh, I have to be reined in when I get to talking about Alexa, so it’s a good thing you quantified it. I
never thought I’d get to be a grammy. My kids married rather late, and I thought I’d have to be content with
spoiling the babies in the church nursery. I sobbed when she was first put into my arms. And every day I
get to see her is a delight. She has started squealing when she sees us! The best part of being a grammy is
that I get to practice the unconditional love that my grandma showed me. And I get to pray for her to grow
into a woman after God’s heart.
Valerie: Have you ever incorporated your family members, traditions, or “babies” into your stories?
Colleen: Um, yes. When my editor read Cry in the Night, she said she could tell I was immersed in baby
land. And right now I’m writing Alexa into my story as the one-year-old baby. I get to put in all the fun
things she is doing right now.
Valerie: At this point of your success finding you at each of your many crossroads, do you figure you’ll
write forever? Have you ever imagined doing anything else that would have this much meaning in your life?
Colleen: I always say I’ll write until I drop dead at my keyboard! I love writing. I believe it’s the job God
has given me to do, and I’m so grateful to do something every day I love!
Valerie: Faith . . . have you always had it?
Colleen: My grandma started taking me to church when I was young, but I didn’t truly become a Christian
until my early twenties. We were in a bad car accident. When I saw the car careening toward us head-on, I
knew I was going to die and that I wasn’t ready. God gave us a second chance. The first people on the
scene were Christians. One of them rode to the hospital in the first ambulance with our daughter, who had a
broken jaw, and their church brought in food after we came home from the hospital. That incident changed
our lives and we accepted Christ within a few months. Sometimes it takes something hard like that to make
us stop and look at our lives.
Valerie: Hope . . . have you always had it?
Colleen: I’m always hopeful. Sometimes sickeningly so.
Valerie: Are you generally an optimist or a pessimist when dealing with things you’re not certain of?
Colleen: I’m an optimist. I always hope for the best and generally see the best in others, which means I can
sometimes be disappointed, of course. But I’d rather take a chance and look for the good than be expecting
Valerie: Touring . . . at what age will Colleen Coble think she’s ready to relax and take it easy?
Colleen: Shudder. Oh, I hope the answer is never! I love my life. Love writing, love encouraging other
writers, love building relationships with my publishing house, love spending time with my family.
Valerie: Speaking of which, what’s up next on your agenda?
Colleen: Right now I’m writing my first historical romantic mystery series. The Mercy Falls series is set in a
small town in northern California. The first book, The Lightkeeper’s Daughter, will ship to stores in January
2010. I’m nervously excited to see what my readers think. It’s still very much one of my normal novels
with mystery and romance woven together in a strong sense of place. And it has a dog.
Valerie: Cool! You’ve mentioned mentoring. Who have you mentored, and how are their careers coming
Colleen: Oh, I’ve mentored many. When I first started writing, I knew no other authors. I call that time my
wandering in the wilderness. And I’m such a mom. I’m the oldest of four, so I’ve relentlessly mothered my
younger brothers and still do. My personality is to mother others. Two recent mentees who come to mind
are Robin Miller and Cara Putman. They are both doing very well, and I’m so proud of them!
Valerie: My daughter-in-law is originally from Indiana— she grew up in the southern part near Kentucky.
She loves Florida but still calls Indiana “back home.” If you were to give Floridians a pitch about Indiana,
what could you tell us that would be better than our warm weather, aqua surf, and pure-white sandy
beaches? She’s hoping you’ll come up with something good!
Colleen: Crisp fall days with the leaves glowing red and gold in the sunshine. Bright summer days with the
smell of cut grass in the air. Midwesterners’ friendliness. (I love the way fellow Hoosiers help other people!)
The sun gleaming on mounds of snow in February. Daffodils popping up in the spring and waving a bright
yellow hello. Indiana rocks!
Valerie: [Smiling] How will you spend this Thanksgiving? Do you go out, or celebrate at your home?
Colleen: This year our son and daughter-in-law want to have Thanksgiving dinner at their house and
establish a new tradition there. So we’ll go, and I’ll take my specialties (sweet potato casserole with pecans
and cranberry salad, cherry pie, too) and that evening we’re going to fly to Phoenix to spend ten days with
our daughter and her husband.
Valerie: Sounds great! Have a terrific time. Speaking of time, I believe everyone’s ready now to get their
Colleen: Thanks so much for these questions, Valerie! I think this is the most fun interview I’ve ever done!
Valerie: Ah, [taking a bow] thanks . . . to all of you. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!