Christian Romance Author Ruth Johnson Tells Us About Her Third Novel To Hit The Printers.. And Why Romance Was God's Idea!
'Retired but refired' romance author, Ruth Johnson's third book in her romantic Hearts Desire series; 'David' has just hit the printers! This inspirational lady who's romances are aimed at the secular market, but have the hallmark of God and His love at their centre, tells us why romance is so close to the heart of God. And why her series is based on Psalm 37:3-4 'if we trust, commit and delight in the Lord He will give us the desires of our heart.'
Why do we all love a good romance? Do her books have more than human comfort found in relationships? And what do they tell us about Christianity? Find out more!
(PICTURES: RUTH JOHNSON, HER LATEST BOOK: DAVID, PREVIOUS TITLES; JANE AND JILL)
Ruth how would you describe yourself?
Retired, but refired, although the spark has never gone out! I celebrate at the end of the month 40 years since I gave my life to Jesus, and in that time my relationship with Him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit has grown in leaps and bounds. By reading His Word and through life’s experiences I’ve learnt to trust God, whatever happens He is with us. I just love having the peace that passes all understanding, knowing I’m loved and am in love and fully committed to the Lord, and certainly believe that those who know me would agree that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I enjoy people, but equally happy to be on my own for days at a time.
I’m contented with life in one way, but want so much more in another. I have been trained by the Holy Spirit to always have a positive and healthy attitude in every circumstance and keeps me hoping, praying and believing God is on the move and confessing that He and His promises to His people are true, and He is going to do great things in the days ahead.
Your latest book DAVID is at the printers.. and I'm imagining a Christian romantic fiction which has a bit more punch to it than many of the other twee books around at the moment.. How would you describe it?
My books are written to romance the soul and the spirit. They aren’t just good page-turning stories with moving scenes and interweaving plot to the last page, but that as people come to know the characters through the six book series and understand their journey, they will imbibe the reality of God in their lives. Romance is a genre today of love-stories in the atmosphere, or spirit, of imaginary adventures.
The imaginary adventures that happen to my characters brings them to learn, as I have done, how to come through the difficulties of life and know God is always with them, loves them and can bring good from adverse circumstances. I make no excuses for what the world would term ‘mild sexual scenes’, and would equate those with Song of Solomon, and compared to Old Testament stories it’s ‘mild violence’ in a modern era. These are always addressed in a conversation or scene that brings truth of God’s love and His ability to heal. It is life as it is often is, with laughter and tears to draw the emotions of the reader, with the underlying aim to show Christianity isn’t religious or boring, but a relationship with God who loves them, and desires to speak to them, through dreams, visions, His Word, pictures, and all supernatural events that happen to my characters have actually taken place in my life, or someone I personally know.
Why is Romance so close to the heart of God do you think?
I see God as one entity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who uses each facet of who He is, to show how He loves all those He has created in His image. In so many different ways He brings that atmosphere, that imaginary of hope, desire to love and be loved into our hearts to draw us into, dare I say it, an ‘intimate’ relationship with Him? It’s when we spend time with Him, we find this isn’t fictional romance, it’s a true love affair.
As we start to trust and speak to Him of our deepest hurts and fears His loves flows in us and through us to bring us healing from the effects of a world that has often maimed, stolen and tried to destroy us. God will go to great lengths to draw us after Him, and romance us in ways we can’t deny him, until we have to ‘taste and see’ that He is good.
Why do we all love to read a good romance? Is there a need in us which really needs fulfilling? Not simply based on 'human comfort' relationships?
Human comfort is good, but no-one knows us like God does, and no love can surpass His. Part of the dictionary definition for romance is ‘a love affair’. Everyone wants and needs to be loved. Why? Because in God creating us in His image we have that same desire as He has, to love and be loved. I’ve heard that called a ‘God shaped hole’, as the place where He wants to be which is in the heart of all we do, the centre of our being, the centre of our lives.
Tell us about the other books you have written? Is there a common theme or string throughout them all?
I still have a huge sci-fi novel that I wrote many years ago, that one day I’d like to work on, plus several romantic novels that could be revamped one day.
In Heart's Desires', each book is written from the perspective of the character’s name, and is part of a saga that interconnects people which starts with ‘Jane’, a naïve Christian in London in 1966-67.
The second, takes up the story in 1968 with ‘Jill’ her non-Christian friend, and David, the third in the series moves on to 1970-72 where “he goes from the greatest exhilaration to the darkest despair…” If you would like more of the flavour of these novels, the back cover introductions, and/or the first chapters they can be read from our website.
What would you like to write about next?
I still have three more novels to write in The Hearts Desire Series. And as each novel takes about a year to bring together, time to pray over allowing the Lord to add or subtract, and David was written two years ago, but I felt the Lord had more to add, and so it was turned around, a new story interweaved, and a lot of the original dropped in favour of a more exciting script!! So that has taken another two years to produce, and next comes ‘Rosie’ and I know the beginning and the end, but what will be in the middle has yet to be inspired! I think this series will keep me busy for some considerable time. However should I still be raring to go after I’ve finished these I’d probably revert to my sci-fi novel that started life when I was 16 years old, was revampled to 250,000 words about 20 years ago. It needs considerable re-thinking, re-writing, but the story is as relevant today as it was then. I’m also interested how technology I thought of in the 1990’s is nearly a reality, with watches that were integrated with telephones and computer technology. Haven’t quite got to ‘beam me up Scottie’, but suspect that will come when the Kingdom of heaven arrives in its fullness.
How did you get into writing?
I learnt typing at night school when I was 16 while working in an office in London. I was paid to sit most of the day with little to do, to practice my typing and gain speed I started to write stories, that developed into a 90 page sci-fi book. Writing is beginning to appear to be a generation gifting as my uncle and mother both enjoyed writing and wrote journals of their lives. And I hear recently my grand-daughter who is five writes stories on an internet site, and has recently received a commendation for her stories at school.
Once the children were at school I worked long hours for the church and had instigated, written and issued a monthly magazine, similar to the one I had started in my last years in a company in London. But when that job suddenly came to an end I was at a loss to now know what to do with my time. I was praying with a friend and she saw lego bricks and felt God wanted me to enjoy myself, and like lego, design and build in small blocks. I came home prayed about it myself and saw how I liked words, they could be designed and built into something, and so that writing gift was resurrected by taking the original sci-fi novel and letting my imagination run riot. Even in that I wanted to reveal the Lord and His reality in our lives, but wasn’t sure I could write sufficiently well to do that having left school at 14. So I wrote, and sent Mills & Boon several novels and had a very positive response, 'except certain elements of your story…don’t fit with our genre…but if you’d like to try again' the elements being Christianity. But I knew then I could write, wanted to use my Christian faith to help others find the Lord, and thus was born The Hearts Desire Series using London, my working experience and very loosely based on people I knew.
Has this been a dream come true for you?
It is has been a partial dream coming true. It was wonderful the day my first book was put in my hands as I’d waited years for that to happen. But my dream is far beyond publishing a book. It’s knowing millions are reading it, having their lives touched by the characters, personalities and seeing how God moved in their lives, and ‘tasting and seeing’ that the Lord is good in their own. And to have an income from those books so I could live on 10 percent or less, and give 90 percent to support others who desire to build the Kingdom of God with their particular talent or gifting.
Have your family/friends been supportive?
Absolutely! One friend frequently prays for 40 million of my books to be sold worldwide, I say ‘Amen’ to that because that would fulfill, and do so much more than the vision God gave me 30 years ago. My daughter reads the books, and puts in a younger perspective, different friends over the years have given me their comments and thoughts. In the past few weeks two friends have burned the midnight oil in order to edit out grammatical and typo errors. But the rock behind it all is faithful husband, Brian, who brings the original manuscript to birth in the format for the printers, sorts out my technical difficulties as I battle with front and back covers, width of spines, bleed and printers marks, and as I say in the dedication of my latest book, often putting up with unmade beds, unwashed clothes and uncooked food, when the writing juices are flowing.
What are your hopes and dreams for your writing career and this book?
My hope is much as above, for them to change peoples’ perspective of Christianity, bringing them to the reality of a relationship with the Godhead, and that my books be bestsellers so I can invest in others. My commission from the Lord is to ‘touch heaven and change earth’ and I see my books as part of that channel. I’m investing my talent, my gift from God, in my desire to bring His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
My dreams are that as hope becomes reality, millions will come to know the Lord, my books the labours to bring in the end time harvest. And the monies made will enhance other’s hopes and visions. An example of the way the Lord set up my distribution centre. BDWE warehouse my books for free, but I give them a gift of a £1.00 an order handling charge and this money goes towards the cost of a container. When filled with our unwanted goods from Charity shops, it is shipped to third world countries, where Alan goes to help locals to set up small business and sell those goods on to their people. This brings cheap goods, employment, and the profit made is ploughed back into bringing out another container. As this develops, and people become self-sufficient it can then be developed in other places. BDWE also sell secondhand books from Charity Shops on Amazon marketplace to make money for container shipping and in dispatching my, and their books, use people on community service, ex-prisoners and those who are employable, but through circumstances are at a disadvantage in getting employment.
Which authors would you read at the moment?
I love a quick Mills & Boon which usually takes me about three hours to read, and some of the plots are quite good. But mainstream well-known authors would be Lesley Pearce who is a Bristol woman who I’ve met on a couple of occasions, Penny Jordan, Nora Roberts, Jeffrey Archer, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Josephine Cox, Maeve Binchey, John Grisham. And do sometimes read Christian romantic fiction authors of which there are few in this country, but US authors Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury write good books.
Anything you wish to add?
The story I don’t believe ends here. Twenty years ago with Emanuel Publishing I tried to sell my books on the internet, there wasn’t Kindle or Paypal, and so it didn’t take off. Today technology has so changed that my books are in Kindle format, people can go to the website and read the back cover and first chapter, and buy straight from my Paypal store and receive the book in about 3 days. When you have an ISBN number this automatically goes on Amazon and the major stores listings. However, customers are told they are out of “out of stock, three to four week delivery”. But when someone places an order, I get an email from Neilsen’s who hold information on all published books, I pass to Alan my distributor and its in the post to the shop within a day! But until I get £30,000 sales a year, I also can’t join the main secular distribution network either.
For self-published authors this cuts down all sales opportunities, but I am now looking to connect with other Christians who want to sell their books via Emanuel to higher their profile and mine. We don’t have to publish their works, but it would only take one book advertised to attract sales, for others to get their work seen too. My latest idea is to connect with Christian charities who are looking for funding and would be willing to advertise Emanuel Publishing on their websites. The aim that the sales they attract would be made with a special code and attract a £1.00 donation to their charity.
If anyone reading this article would like to gain funding for their charity, would desire to discuss this further, or wish me to speak at their event with tales of a relational, supernatural and loving God please contact me.
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