Hello, dear readers,
I’m excited to have Jebraun Clifford with us for our May interview! I met Jeb at the American Christian Fiction Writers(ACFW) conference last fall, and my husband and I stayed with her at her home in New Zealand in February. Jeb is a fellow young adult fantasy author, and her friendship has been a great encouragement to me. I admire the way she combines writing with mothering and working with her church people. I hope I can organize my life so well!
Be sure to check out her new website, jebraunclifford.com, for more info on her writing.
Sheri Yutzy: Welcome to Made to Create, Jebraun! I’ve been looking forward to talking with about your writing for a long time.
Jebraun Clifford: Thank you, Sheri. It was such fun to meet you at the conference, and then have you and your husband visit us in Rotorua. I love that we can maintain a friendship across the ocean, and I’m also excited to be a part of this series!
SY: Yes, technology can do wonderful things for overseas friendships! Let’s get started. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
JC: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love stories—reading or writing them. In school I persuaded my teachers to let me write and perform plays or short stories instead of reports. I studied English in college, and my fiction writing classes were definitely a favourite. But I put writing aside when my kids were born. Even though the idea of being an author dwindled away, God really spoke to my heart about three years ago. Dropped a complete story into my mind. I thought about it night and day and finally wrote it all down. I was amazed! The dream was rekindled!
SY: God is so amazing. I love when He does things like that. Have you ever wanted to give up writing? What encouraged you to keep going?
JC: Absolutely! I entered two stories in the 2015 ACFW Genesis contest, and they both got eviscerated. That was it, I was done. Then I learned having an idea for a good story is the easy part. The art of writing is much more difficult. What encouraged me to keep going is the amazing community of writers I met through ACFW. At first, I was connected only through Facebook and the online critique groups. Slowly, my writing got better as other writers jumped in to give me a fresh perspective on my work. I liked seeing what others were up to as well and got very inspired by their stories. I had an opportunity to attend the 2016 ACFW conference where I got to meet so many of the people (including you!) who I’d only ‘met’ online which was a huge boost of encouragement. I still have moments of discouragement, but all I have to do is email a fellow writer or jump on one of the FB writing groups I belong to, and my spirits are instantly lifted.
SY: It’s great to hear this part of your story because it’s so similar to mine. Meeting all those writers at the conference inspired me deeply. What are three authors who have inspired you the most?
JC: I really enjoy C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia series. L.M. Montgomery and all her ‘Anne of Green Gables’ books also had a huge impact on me. But my favorite writer of all time is Madeleine L’Engle. I loved ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and the beautiful theme of sacrificial love conquering all that’s woven through it. Although she was a Christian, her books weren’t categorized as ‘Christian fiction’ but appealed to a wide audience without compromising truth.
SY: I love L’Engle too. I didn’t discover her until a few years ago, so if I have children, I’ll make sure they read them. How has God spoken to you through writing?
JC: The first story I wrote was about forgiveness and what happens when we don’t forgive. For me, it was a journey I was walking through at the time. There was some unforgiveness that was burning a hole in me. God really revealed to me the ‘why’ of forgiveness, and I’m so thankful. My current WIP is about the power of words, and God has shown me again and again His power and majesty displayed throughout creation that He spoke into existence. And there’s something so exciting about being stuck in a place with my story, asking Him to help me, and then seeing a beautiful idea or new plot-twist unfold that I know didn’t come from me. I love that we get to share in His creativity through something like writing.
SY: Amen. Most of the time, I’m grateful when writing is hard so I need to rely on God for inspiration. The rest of the time, I’m frustrated. :/ What other forms of creativity inspire you?
JC: I love to knit socks, dabble in watercolor, and especially enjoy cooking and baking. It’s so fun to take raw materials and turn them into a fantastic creation to wear, hang on the wall, or eat!
SY: Yes! Good food is vital. Thank you so much for taking time to do this, Jeb! I wish you all the best on your writing journey.
JC: Thanks, Sheri. I enjoyed spilling my heart out.
SY: Thank you, readers, for being here. Have you received God’s inspiration while you were stuck on a project? Tell me about it below. I’d love to hear from you.