Vanessa Davis Griggs: Jacquelin, first off, thank you so
much for accepting this interview invitation. Tell us about yourself?
Who are you? Where you're from
Jacquelin Thomas: I'm a girl who grew up in the small
coastal town of Brunswick, GA but I've lived in Philadelphia
PA, Richmond VA, New York, Miami FL and Los Angeles CA and now
in North Carolina-I felt the need to return to my Southern roots.
As to who I am-I'm just me
a person struggling to overcome
years of shyness to write the books God has called me to write.
I am the proud mother of three children and I'm married to the
most wonderful man in the world.
Griggs: How did you get started writing?
Thomas: I wrote my very first story when I was in the
3rd grade and it was Mrs. Appling, my teacher who nurtured this
seed of writing in me. I loved to read and because I was painfully
shy, writing became an outlet for me. I would read everything
from romances to encyclopedias.
Griggs: You originally started out writing romance, becoming
one of the true trailblazers of African-American romance. So
what propelled you to start writing Christian fiction?
Thomas: My personal relationship with God. I knew when
I wrote my first book, HIDDEN BLESSINGS, that I was called to
write books for God. I refused because I wanted to be popular;
I wanted to sell books; I felt I wasn't worthy; that I didn't
know the Bible well enough-the list could go on. God wasn't hearing
any of it. He convicted my heart with each romance until I could
no longer ignore His call. To be clear, it wasn't that I felt
writing romance novels are wrong. It was just that God called
me to do something else. You can only ignore the calling on your
heart for so long.
Griggs: Many authors and readers have you to thank for
the New Spirit imprint which released your novel The
Prodigal Husband in 2002 under what was then BET Books
(now Kimani Press under Harlequin). You're writing for several
new publishers now. Share with us about your 2006 releases for
this year with brief overviews.
Thomas: I'm so excited!! My January 2006 release is
OF GRAY and is a Steeple Hill Fiction. In this story, Sela
and her in-laws learn the meaning of forgiveness and striving
to maintain family unity after the death of a loved one. Also
due out in late January is A
WOMAN CALLED JOB, a memoir I co-authored with LaDena Renwick-Tilly.
This project is very dear to me and one I am so honored to be
a part of-LaDena shares her testimony of how she was stricken
with pustular psoriasis from head to toe. Her illness chronicles
the book of Job and is a lesson in how God desires for us to
respond to severe testing of our faith and suffering. I also
MOMENTS, the long-awaited sequel to THE
PRODIGAL HUSBAND coming out in April. I have a faith-based
anthology collection, titled HAVE
A LITTLE FAITH coming out this summer. Also I have my first
young adult inspirational novel titled, SIMPLY DIVINE coming
out in October.
Griggs: It's not always easy being a writer. What's been
the most challenging part for you in being an author? The most
Thomas: I guess my most challenging moment was temporarily
taking my eyes off God and putting my trust in someone who I
thought had my best interests at heart. It was a hard lesson
to learn, but God is so merciful. My career is in God's hands
and once I gave it to Him-I don't let things bother me anymore,
so I'm enjoying myself. I do what I'm supposed to do-WRITE. I
give the best that I have and I trust God to meet my needs both
personally and professionally.
Griggs: What advice would you give people who may face
a desire to obtain success whether it's in writing or life and
at times find themselves dealing with heartaches and setbacks
but might be looking at all you've accomplished and are wondering
how you've managed to make it as gracefully as you have?
Thomas: Heartaches and setbacks are unfortunately a
major part of life-it's how we learn about ourselves and how
to become closer to the Lord. Storms of life don't last forever.
We can reacts a couple of ways when dealing with heartaches and
setbacks: We can either faint away and just give up or we can
do as God desires-He wants us to trust Him and hold on-ride the
storm. When you feel yourself slipping-ask Him to give you the
strength to hold on just a little longer. When the storm is over-just
think of your testimony. Oftentimes, our suffering is not for
us-we may have gone through just to be a testimony for others.
Griggs: I know you're getting into the teen/young adult
market later in 2006 with a book entitled: Simply Divine.
What moved you to do this? What are your hopes as you pursue
Thomas: Our young people are in crisis. I raised two
daughters who are now 26 and 22. I still have an 11 year old
son at home. My biggest struggle has been trying to get them
to discern between what the world says about sex, abuse, drugs
and gangs, etc and what the Word says. We have to stay on them
and keep them grounded in the Word. I can tell you it's not an
easy task. SIMPLY DIVINE is a reverse Rags to Riches story that
propels a Hollywood princess out of her mansion into the modest
home of her Uncle Reed and his family in Temple GA. 14 year Divine
is rebellious at first, but not only learns what it means to
be a family but she also learns about God and what He desires
Griggs: What, in your opinion, makes a good book? A great
book? What do you look for when you choose a book to read?
Thomas: Any book that tears into my emotions is a good
book to me. If I come to the end of a book and I'm upset to see
the story end or I'm an emotional wreck-it's a good book. I grew
up reading everything from romance to encyclopedias. I'm especially
fond of thriller/mysteries, so I read a lot of them, especially
books by James Patterson. I still love romance but I don't read
them as much anymore-I read more Inspirational/Christian Fiction
these days. I'm looking for books that speak to where I am right
now with my faith. I'm looking for stories that will not only
entertain but also minister to me.
Griggs: Of all your books, which one(s) was the most fun
for you to write and why? Which one(s) received a different reaction
than you expected, and please feel free to expound on this answer?
Thomas: I have loved writing all of my books. I am
most proud of THE
PRODIGAL HUSBAND because it was the first book written after
responding to God's call on my heart. It wasn't published first
but it is the first Christian Fiction novel I ever wrote. A
CHANGE IS GONNA COME is also one I really enjoyed writing
because God used that book to minister to me. I was going through
one of the biggest storms in my life during the writing of CHANGE.
The responses I've been getting on SHADES
OF GRAY have been a true blessing to me. I wasn't sure how
the book was going to be received but I get emails all the time
thanking me for writing SHADES. People are already asking for
Griggs: Oprah has as one of her magazine columns a section
where she talks about what she knows for sure. What do you know
Thomas: The only thing that I know for sure is that
God is who He says He is.
Griggs: Where do you see Christian fiction headed and do
you believe we as readers and writers are going in the right
direction? Whether we are or not, what (in your opinion) needs
to happen for this genre to go to the next level.
Thomas: I believe God is moving. He's moving in the
literary arena, movie industry, stage plays, etc. Christian Fiction
will be around for a long time, I believe. Our books are not
just for Christians-they are for the non-Christian as well. People
that might not ever pick up a Bible are reading our books. People
that don't go to church are reading our books. They are being
I believe we have to meet people where they
are and our books do that.
I also believe that writing Christian Fiction is a calling
and not something you just wake up one morning and decide to
do. For me, this is not about success and money-I love writing.
I love law as well and wanted to become an attorney at one point,
but I knew it wasn't what God would have me do. I have been blessed
tremendously in my career and I thank God for it, but I am deeply
aware that whatever I put on those pages and how I am living
my life whether publicly or privately-God will hold me accountable.
Jacquelin, we are honored you have taken time out of your
busy schedule to share with us. I personally appreciate you so
much for your heart! May the blessings of the Lord overtake you
and return all the gifts you have so freely shared with others
100-fold back to you.
Web site: www.JacquelinThomas.com
- Interview by: Vanessa Davis Griggs, Author of: Promises
Beyond Jordan &
- Wings of Grace
- Copyright ©
2006 For permission to use this interview, contact Vanessa Davis
Griggs at Vanessa@VanessaDavisGriggs.com