Vanessa Davis Griggs: Tell us: Who is Ryan Phillips?
Ryan Phillips: I can say, without any sense of uncertainty,
that I have absolutely no idea who I am! At 24, I feel like I'm
just now beginning to grow into myself and into my purpose. Most
days, I'm awkward and shy. Often, I feel my only redeeming quality
is that I'm head-over-heels in love with the Lord. So, who am
I? I honestly can't tell you yet. But my hope is that each time
someone meets me personally or through my books, they walk away
thinking to themselves, "Wow! Now she's a true bondservant
Griggs: What inspired you to write Saving Grace?
Phillips: I had several inspirations, one that I don't
often speak of because it's embarrassing. But, if you can't face
your past, you can't learn from it, right? So here it goes:
I caught my long term boyfriend, who shall remain nameless,
cheating on me (much like Grace discovered Stanley's indiscretion).
For a while, my world stopped and all I wanted to do was curl
up and die. But my heart proved itself to be quite resilient,
as hearts often do, and I started dating again, only to catch
that boyfriend cheating too.
Shortly after, a series of family problems occurred, and I
found myself harboring intense anger, bitterness and unforgiveness
toward quite a few of my relatives.
And as if that wasn't enough, I soon became very ill from
complications with my juvenile onset diabetes. I was forced to
drop out of school in order to reign in the condition.
I needed to get my emotions out, but I'd strayed so far off
the Lord's path for my life that I had a hard time praying because
I couldn't hear His voice or feel His presence.
So I began to write. At first, it was just a form of catharsis
- a way to purge myself of the poisonous emotions chipping away
at me from the inside out. But about forty pages in, I realized
I was on to something. A few months later, Saving Grace was born
and a couple of months after that, I had a publishing contract.
Griggs: Have you always known you wanted to write?
Had a gift to write?
Phillips: I knew from an incredibly young age that I had
a proclivity for writing and a love for English and the written
word. I didn't acknowledge it as a passion or as a God-given
gift until my sophomore year in college. Up until then, I was
a journalism major at Michigan State University. Of course, that
was the wrong type of outlet through which to try and express
my creativity because I was much more interested in concocting
my own stories than in reporting mundane facts. Also, I was (and
still am) very shy and introverted - two personality traits that
aren't conducive to a good journalist. On a whim the next semester,
I took my first creative writing class and I fell instantly in
love. That's when I knew I wanted to be an author.
Griggs: I understand this is a three book series. The
second installment, After the Fall, has hit the book shelves.
Tell us what's in store for us in this novel.
Phillips: Actually, there is no three-book series.
Saving Grace and After the Fall are two separate
novels with very different protagonists and very different plots.
Saving Grace does have a sequel, though. It's titled Fall
from Grace and it's slated for a mid-2006 release. The question
everyone's been asking me lately is: Why didn't you hold off
on After the Fall and release Saving Grace and
Fall from Grace back to back? The answer is: Because I
hadn't originally planned a continuation of Grace's journey.
There was such an incredible reader response to Saving Grace
that my publisher asked me to pen a second installment, and I
happily obliged. By then, After the Fall had already been
completed and sent to pre-production.
After the Fall may not be part of the Saving Grace
"family," but it's still a great read! It's the story
of Abigail Walker and Jarvis Daniels. They're longtime sweethearts
who find themselves drifting apart after Abby lands a recording
contract and moves to Chicago to pursue her music career. During
one of her visits to Detroit, she and Jarvis wind up in a near-fatal
car crash that leaves Abby badly disfigured and Jarvis without
legs. We follow their shattered lives throughout the ensuing
years and watch as both of them struggle to pick up the pieces
and push forward in the midst of betrayal, failure, heartbreak
and even more loss. And as always, the underlying message is
that the only One who can help us up after a fall is Jesus Christ.
Griggs: I have to admit; I love your writing and was
so impressed with how much you mastered the craft of writing.
There is the anointing along with true to life situations that
young and older adults can relate with. How were you able to
reach the level in your writing, specifically since you were
(still are) young (22 when Saving Grace was published)?
Phillips: Well, I could claim that I'm just oh, so
talented. Or I could credit my prolific reading. Maybe even pay
homage to my private school education. But those would simply
be surface answers.
The truth is, I spend time in the Word and in prayer every
morning and every night. When I sit down in front of my laptop,
I commit my spirit, my heart, my mind and my imagination to God's
will and then I wait for His leading. I've also been known to
fast in search of wisdom, revelation and guidance during extreme
bouts of writer's block. Every aspect of my craft is God-granted
and Christ-inspired. It's not me who's writing, but Him through
As for my age, yes, I am young, but the Bible admonishes,
"Let no man despise your youth; but be an example to the
believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith,
do not neglect the gift that is in you, which
was given to you
meditate on these things; give yourself
entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all
continue in them for in doing this you will save both yourself
and those who hear you" (1 Timothy 4: 12, 14-16).
God doesn't seek the oldest or the strongest or the smartest
or the prettiest or even the most competent to accomplish His
divine work. He's looking for willing vessels. And that's exactly
what I am; a willing vessel. I believe that's the reason why
my writing has reached the level that it's on. Because every
day when I wake up, the first thing I do is die to self. I sacrifice
my flesh on the altars of obedience and faith and I ask, "How
can I serve You today, Dad?"
Griggs: What's the great thing you've found about having
your books published and being available to the world as they
Phillips: As a Christian fiction author, the best thing
about publication and mass distribution is that I get to minister
on a worldwide scale. Novels are meant to be a form of entertainment,
I know, but as a born again child of the only living God, I have
a responsibility to, "Go into all the world and preach the
gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). So my writing, above
all else, is a ministry.
I receive dozens of emails a week from readers, many who tell
me that they repeated Grace's prayer of salvation and invited
Jesus into their hearts; or that they were so convicted by Mike's
pledge to abstinence that they made their own vow to stop having
premarital sex; or that they've chosen to work on their relationships
with their mothers; or asked for a friend's forgiveness; or joined
a church. These are great victories in the Kingdom of Heaven!
How many people can say that they absolutely love their careers
or that what they do for a living serves God directly? Very,
very few! But as a Christian fiction author, I can raise my hand
to both. That fact alone makes me blessed beyond reason.
Griggs: What do you look for in the books you read?
Phillips: A contemporary setting and fantastic dialogues;
pair those two elements with lots of drama and a smidge of romance,
and I'm hooked! I must admit, I've had difficulty finding those
types of stories in the Christian market. So I read mostly secular
fiction. Though lately, it's become harder and harder to find
good page-turners in the secular market as well because mainstream
fiction has grown increasingly profane, salacious and vulgar.
These days, I stick with a select list of "favorite authors,"
whose work rarely ever lets me down. On those rare occasions
when none of them have any new releases, I just don't read.
Griggs: When can we expect your next book and tell
us the name of it, if you can?
Phillips: My next book is titled, Fall from Grace.
It's the sequel to Saving Grace and it's slated to hit
stores in mid-2006. I don't yet have the exact release date.
My fourth novel, Ciao, Bella, will be out sometime in
early to mid 2007.
- I would like to thank Ryan Phillips for this absolutely
wonderful interview and to encourage you, if you haven't already
done so, to check out her books. For more information about Ryan
and her works, you can visit her Web site at: www.RyanMPhillips.com.
Interview by: Vanessa Davis Griggs, Author of: Promises Beyond
Jordan & Wings of Grace
- Copyright © 2005
For permission to use this interview, contact Vanessa Davis Griggs