About the Author
Stephenia McGee is a wife, mother of two very active little boys, author, and lover of all things historical. Stephenia currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and sons where she writes stories of faith, redemption and life steeped in southern culture.
1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did becoming an author ever cross your mind?
I actually wanted to be a veterinarian. I worked in vet clinics growing up, and received a pre-vet bachelor’s degree in Animal and Dairy Sciences from Mississippi State University. But when we would drive down to my husband’s hometown from college on the weekends I would tell him my story ideas. One day he stopped at a gas station and bought me a black spiral notebook and told me to start writing those things down. I’d always loved to read, and I wrote my first story from a first grade spelling list, but I didn’t think I could really do anything with my love of words.
Thankfully, my husband saw a passion for writing in me that he didn’t see for the job I thought I wanted. He encouraged me to pursue that passion, so I began to spend time learning the craft and turned my focus to writing. Now I do it full time. In addition to writing my own novels, I own a small publishing company and I teach fiction two hours a day to high school students. I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
2. What does your writing process look like?
I am a hybrid plotter / seat of the pants writer. I start out with a concept of who my characters are and what the first roughly 1/3 of the story will be about. Once that part of the novel is written and I get to know my characters and the challenges they will face, I start writing out scenes on notecards. I shuffle those around until I like the way they look, and use that to finish writing the story. Sometimes the characters make changes and I need to add or delete a card, but it helps me stay on track without keeping my free-spirited writing style too confined.
3. What authors do you enjoy? Do these authors inspire your own writing?
Oh, boy. That’s a hard one! I read a lot of things in a lot of genres. I find that each author has exceptional qualities that inspire me in my own writing. Tamara Leigh weaves love, adventure, and intrigue into compelling plots, and the literary flair of Brandy Vallence’s Beneath the Veil is a true testament to the art of wordsmithing. Andrea Boeshaar’s books are deeply grounded in history, and Jen Turano can craft a tale of mishap that can make strangers look at you funny when you randomly start laughing out loud while reading in public. These and many, many other authors all have something to offer. I also jump outside of my normal realm and read fantasy by Brandon Sanderson because his ability to create the most unique and compelling worlds is fascinating. These days I read not only for my own enjoyment but also to take note of craft elements, all of which I think plays a part in my own continued development as a writer. As authors, we never stop learning and honing our craft, and can always learn something from one another.
4. What inspired your idea for In His Eyes?
I think this is a story I will never get tired of telling. In His Eyes is very special to me, and it came about in an interesting fashion. After finishing a trilogy and putting it out in ten months (during which time I had two back surgeries) I was worn out. I took some time off from writing and spent a lot of time praying over what to write next. They way God answered that still fascinates me. At one of the classes I attended during the ACFW conference last year the teacher handed out notebooks. He had prayed diligently over each of them and God led him to write a “from God” note in each one. He prayed over them again and then handed them out to the attendees. Mine said, “Use your stories to give others a glimpse of the not yet. This is a season where we will go into new lands and dream new dreams.”
Not too long before that, I’d had a dream where the colors were unreal and the place was stunning. I must have reread that note a hundred times, it so stirred me. The more I thought about what the themes would be for my next book, the more those words came back to me, as did my dream of that place of color and light. I didn’t do the things Ella does during her dreams in the book, but the place I saw in my own dream really stuck with me and inspired the story.
5. What do you want readers to take away from reading In His Eyes?
I think we all struggle with feelings of inadequacy at times. Sometimes we forget who we are and whose we are, and it can lead to all manner of insecurities. In In His Eyes, Ella struggles with these things as well. Writing this book was a journey for me, one where God gently led me to discover some important truths along with Ella, and He encouraged me to never forget that no matter what else goes on in life—good or bad—my identity is always grounded in Him. It’s my hope that there is a reader out there somewhere that He has the same message for and that this story can help point them toward Him.
6-When you are not writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?
When I am not writing, I spend a lot of time following my little boys around to their hobbies (drums, guitar, golf, and baseball right now) but whenever I find some spare time, I really enjoy painting. I have several paintings in my house that I have done over the years.
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