Today, I have the honor of interviewing the one and only Grace A. Johnson! Grace is a good friend of mine, and when I heard she was publishing a devotional, I was so excited. She is such a versatile writer – fiction or nonfiction – I just enjoy reading her writing so much! So first, here’s a little about the devotional (it was just released a few days ago!), then be sure to check out the interview below.
Thirty daily devotions to inspire you to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling!
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” – Philippians 2:12
As Paul commanded the church of Philippi to rely upon the Word of God rather than man’s teachings, to cultivate their own faith rather than sharing in another’s, Grace A. Johnson has written thirty simple but inspirational devotions that are geared to readers of all ages and stages in life. Meant to motivate readers to dig into the Word, prompt them to examine their relationship with God, and encourage them to walk in victory, the devotions include applicable Scripture passages, relatable true stories, and inspirational prayers.
“My prayer is that God will use these devotions to prick your heart, fuel your convictions, and ignite a desire to grow more in your faith and start living according to God’s purpose for your life!” – Grace A. Johnson
Interview with Grace
VH: Hi, Grace, and welcome to the blog! I’m so excited to have you join me over here today (I’ve been wanting to interview you for so long!), and congratulations on the release of With Fear and Trembling!
GJ: Aw, thank you so much, Vanessa! It’s my pleasure to be here! 😀
VH: Tell me a little bit about your writing journey. When did you first start writing?
GJ: I’ll give the short version, shall I? I started writing as a side hobby (I already had, like, three other hobbies at the time, so writing wasn’t an official “hobby” hobby XD) when I was about nine years old, simply because I had a notebook and an idea (terrible idea, but I’ll spare you that :P). It wasn’t until I dropped some of those other hobbies, began reading and writing more, and came up with a whole host of ideas that writing grew into something more than a hobby! When I was twelve, almost thirteen (back in 2018, for reference), I began writing my second completeed novel, Held Captive, which eventually became my first published novel the next year!
VH: You’re the author of several wonderful books and short stories, and all of them are fictional. What made you decide to write nonfiction, and specifically, a devotional?
GJ: Ooh, good question! The crazy thing is, is that when I first began writing (I say began, but really all throughout maybe my first five years of writing), I basically swore to myself that I’d never write nonfiction. One, it’s boring. Two, it’s hard to write.
Well, time goes on, and I begin blogging–some writing/book-related posts and few inspirational posts. As I saw that nonfiction (about certain things, mind you) wasn’t as bad–or as difficult–as I’d thought, I started entertaining ideas of writing nonfictions for authors. However, I shared one of my old inspirational posts, “He Will Move Mountains,” on Facebook, and both my nana and my friend Iris mentioned that I should write a devotional.
For your information, I basically hate devotionals. (I should totally write a post about that…) Not a broad, all-devotionals-are-evil kind of hate, but just a personal distaste for them. So naturally, I wrestled with that idea, even though my family was on board and I, quite honestly, wanted to do it!
So I began by writing a devo a day for the month of January (this year, 2022) and posted them on Facebook. I won’t say they “took off,” but I did have a few people wondering if I was planning on writing a devotional or compiling them into a book. At this point, the hard work had been done. I’d broken the writing down into manageable tasks (without really intending to), and all I had done was flipped to a random place in the Bible and picked a Scripture that stood out to me, then wrote down my thoughts about it. All that I had left to do was edit them and have a few beta readers look over them!
Unlike most of my books thus far, the idea for With Fear and Trembling didn’t just pop into my head all of a sudden, very literally divinely inspired. The idea had always been there, but I’d never been sure of it, or ready for it, until now!
VH: What are the challenges you faced writing a nonfiction book compared to a novel or short story?
GJ: That’s what’s crazy…this was the second easiest project I’ve ever worked on. (The first would be The Gift of Her Heart, a 18k-word novella that I wrote and published in two weeks.) Like I said, I simply picked a Scripture each day for a month and then wrote about it! Sometimes, I did a little digging and research, but most of the time I just relied on the Holy Spirit to write the words people needed to read!
Really the only challenge I’ve faced so far–and will continue to face–is opinions. Not everyone sees things the same way I do, not even the Bible! I’ve had beta readers and reviewers, and no doubt I’ll have more people, who will disagree with what I have to say. And that’s fine. They have to find something to disagree with, after all! But, to be honest, that’s true for even my fiction writing, so… I guess it’s just different when you’re writing about the Word of God. It’s really quite weighty, and you feel slightly more on edge about getting something wrong or offending someone than you do with a fictional story. I’m not gonna say I have everything right, but I do know that I didn’t write this devotional from a soapbox or a pulpit. I didn’t write it with a specific doctrine or message in mind. I just wrote what God put on my heart!
VH: What is the biggest thing the Lord taught you through writing With Fear and Trembling?
GJ: Literally everything. Like, every devotional I wrote was a new truth God had revealed to me while reading His Word and writing my thoughts down! I get revelation as I write, even my fiction, and so it was just an amazing journey through Scripture and into God’s heart for us as I wrote each devotional and listened to His voice!
VH: Do you have any other upcoming nonfiction projects?
GJ: Nothing planned. I am (secretly) working with my grandfather on his memoir, but we haven’t made it past the interviewing stage, so I’m not certain when this project will become more than a collection of videos (which is still amazing to have)! His story is literally impossible, and it has been a blessing to hear of all the miracles God has wrought in his life, if nothing else!
Of course, I’d still like to write some nonfiction for writers/authors on publishing and marketing and whatnot! And now I’ve gotten an influx of ideas for Bible studies (I think I’m better suited to those than devotionals) and other Christian nonfiction! So we’ll see! 😀
VH: Thanks so much for chatting with me, Grace!
GJ: Absolutely! Thank you again for having me!