We're 'crossing the pond' as they say for this installment of The Tenacity Interviews. Think being a writer takes tenacity - well, yes, you're right, it does! But it also takes some savvy moves and determination to succeed as a publisher. Today we talk to Gaynor Roberts, a woman who simply would not listen to the voice of "reason" - and ended up succeeding at her dream.
Gaynor was born not far from London, England. When she was nineteen she emigrated to Canada where she studied Social Sciences at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. After 5 years she returned to England and studied Human Resources and later qualified as a lawyer. She taught Law for several years and wrote her first novel, a crime thriller, for one of her Law classes. She now lives in Derbyshire and has two grown up daughters but no grandchildren as yet.
Q. You started your own company in order to publish Christian fiction in Britain. Tell us how that came about.
I always felt comfortable writing purely factual documents but didn’t think I had a creative imagination. Then a colleague from work showed me a story he had written about Noah’s Ark, filling in those aspects that the Bible does not tell us. I thought it would be wonderful to be able to write about those almost ‘throw away’ lines of the Bible, where so much is unexplained. I prayed about it for five years and never totally gave up hope, though I confess I had my doubts. What surprised me was that I ended up writing a thriller called ‘The Herodian Stones’ set at the time of the Crucifixion. It was not what I expected. Although perhaps it was an obvious choice since it is my favourite genre of book, particularly where there is a central investigator who has to unravel clues. My interest in Biblical history started when I became a Christian twelve years ago.
When I finished the book I had no idea what to do next. I pushed a few doors but nothing happened. So I waited, editing the text and obtaining feedback in the meantime. I wrote to several mainstream publishers but was told there was no market for Christian fiction. I prayed and really felt that I should set up my own publishing company and call it ‘Godsend’. A few months later I teamed up with David from ‘Two by Two Worship’. Not only did he help me with the book cover, he also had contact with a printer whose prices were reasonable, and a proof reader, and he set up a website. A friend established a company for me. What a Godsend! I learned a great deal.
Q. Where can we find out more about your company?
The company has a website: www.godsendbooks.com
Q. Why didn’t you just throw your hands in the air and say “forget it!”
I didn’t say ‘forget it’ because I’m absolutely certain that God played a major role in its authorship. I felt that He was guiding me from the beginning when I found some old books in second-hand book shops that triggered ideas. When it came to designing the book cover, I wanted a lapis lazuli bracelet to photograph for the front. Again I prayed and felt directed to a particular shop which was so unexpected I was sure I was mistaken and ignored it. However, that’s where I eventually found just what I needed.
Q. Did you have a motto/saying/scripture/mantra that helped you through the tough times?
I think the answer to this is ‘No, I didn’t.’ I felt incredibly close to God during the two years that I was writing and researching the book and I tried hard to listen as I was writing. I’m sure many Christian writers have experienced the feeling that they don’t know what to write until they actually sit down and do it, and at the end of the chapter feel surprised by what has happened. I know I did. It was very exciting.
Q. What does your support system look like? Friends, family pastor, etc.
I have a wonderful friend who never gave up believing in me and would sit and read while I was typing for hours on end. My daughters were thrilled when the book came out. But mostly my support system was the Lord.
Q. How does your tenacity work for you now?
I have just published a book for the colleague who wrote about Noah’s Ark. It is called ‘Antediluvia’ and contains beautiful illustrations by Lewis Lavoie. I have another manuscript to look at, as well as writing my own sequel to ‘The Herodian Stones’. There is plenty to do.
Q. What advice do you have for writers who are being told “there’s no market for what you’re writing”?
If you feel that what you have created comes from God then He would not have given it to you without a purpose. The people who reject us are only human. Ask with confidence that He will open the right doors. Meanwhile push as hard as you can against whatever comes your way. Then just leave it to Him.
This is a wonderful interview for anyone who believes there is more than one way to succeed - and is willing to go out there and make his own dreams come true. Be inspired!
I bid you good writing.