Monday, February 3, 2014

Interview with Jessiqua Wittman

With us today is writer Jessiqua Wittman. She write gritty fiction, yet has a very strong faith element. She was personally endorsed by a friend of the administrator of Homeschool Authors. Young readers should ask their parents before reading this interview. 

Jessiqua, welcome to Homeschool Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I am a child of God, a happy wife and mother, and a dedicated author of gritty fiction novels. That combination makes me a bit of an oddball in this world. Especially considering that I come from a conservative, religious, homeschooled background.

Everyone’s homeschooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
My parents were supremely dedicated to my education. My mom spent hours every day tutoring and coaching us in several subjects. Then my dad came down sick when I was fifteen years old and I had to drop out of school to get a job. Years later, after I married and had my own kids, my husband suggested that I get a GED so that it would be easier to legally homeschool our children. I took his advice, and the official assessment of my completed GED score said I was in the top 1-3 % of the nation (except in math, which was slightly lower). All that work my mom had poured into my early life paid off!

How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
Being homeschooled gave me the freedom to “break out of the mold”. My parents are very independent thinkers, and they passed those tendencies on to me. I was also encouraged to read a diverse selection of books, so that provided a vast background of reading to base my writing on.

What caused you to start writing?
The words just wouldn’t stop coming. In my mind there were characters having deep conversations about bitterness and faith and life. I started writing those scenes down, thinking that maybe someday I would have a little book to pass on to my struggling children.

You write gritty fiction. Would you tell readers why that is?
First, for clarification, another word for “gritty” fiction is “realistic” fiction. Our world is a dark place, and although I’m an idealist by nature, I’m a realist by choice. I don’t believe in sugar-coating things. I went through some hard knocks growing up from child to adult, and many of those “bumps” were because of my own rose-tinted expectations. I believe that some sheltering is good, but that we as Christians really avoid talking about subjects (like sex and violence) that should not be avoided. If we don’t talk to our children about these sensitive issues, they’ll be left to find out about them for themselves, and usually in a hard way.
Therefore, I write gritty/realistic fiction because I learn best in story form. I don’t want to just tell my children to be abstinent before marriage, I want to provide them a story to help them see why to stay abstinent before marriage.

While your books are gritty, I have been told the faith element is strong. How do you balance the darkness and light in your stories?
God is awesome. I gather a lot of inspiration from the Bible, especially the Old Testament stories. There is a lot of stuff in God’s Word that is gritty and dark. Many times, I wonder why He put it in there. But my mom has an answer that really means a lot to me. She says: “It’s because He wants to show His strength in EVERY situation.” No matter how strong the darkness is, God’s power always triumphs. In fact, the darker a room is, the brighter a candle shines. God’s power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) I want my writing to show the full reality of that fact.

What inspired your first book, A Memoir of Love?
It just started coming to me, piecemeal, out of order. I kept hearing conversations and scenes between several of the characters and writing them down. Eventually, the pieces merged together and made sense. It was like a big connect-the-dots puzzle without number guides. It was mysteriously fun while I was doing it, and also an adventure and exercise in faith.

Would you give us a synopsis of A Memoir of Love?
First, some background.
A Memoir of Love’s characters dwell in a future, war-torn version of our own world. Most governments have been destroyed or overthrown, and people flock to “settler cells” instead of rebuilding their former nations. The populace of Marna (MOL’s specific colony) has split apart into factions, and each faction has its own leader that they want to put in power.
Three main threads make up the actual storyline of A Memoir of Love.

First, there’s the advent of Hazael, the Revolutionary faction’s leader.
Hazael is a reclusive pessimist. He’s not the boss of Marna’s Revolutionaries because he wants to be, but because he has to be. Brave and dedicated in his political pursuits, but grumpy and insecure in his personal life, Hazael is an ordinary man trying to do extraordinary things.

The second offshoot in this twisted tale is Clarisse’s story.
Clare is damaged goods. She’s a runaway, orphan sex slave who thought that fleeing from her master would heal her soul. However, recently she’s found that the road to freedom is harder than she anticipated. Her mind and thought patterns are still bound to her past. Not to mention her former master is still haunting her…

The third thread braids the other two threads together.
Love and Thomas are a couple devoted to each other. They are Hazael’s encouraging brother and sister-in-law, and Clare’s mentors. From the outside, this pair seems to be the perfect couple, but on the inside, their marriage is imploding because of tough circumstances and ancient grievances. One skilled blow is all it would take to destroy what they hold most dear.

Who will enjoy A Memoir of Love?
Older, mature teens and adults, especially those struggling with relationships, bitterness, infidelity issues, etc, would enjoy A Memoir of Love. My writing is specifically aimed towards Christians in the “dry time” or “winter season” of their faith. Although A Memoir of Love may be enjoyed by even non-believers, the principles and concepts allegorically displayed in the storyline will particularly inspire those looking for deeper meaning.
Do you plan to write more books?
I recently published the sequel to A Memoir of Love: A Memoir of Mercy. And I’m finishing the sequel to that: A Memoir of Hope. And I’m working on a biblical fiction series called Unsung Heroes. The first installment of Unsung Heroes will be Salmon: Wilderness Warrior. (A redemptive love story between the Israelite spy Salmon and the Canaanite harlot Rahab) 

Do you have any final thoughts?
Be warned: my writing contains mature themes, coarse language, and sexual dialogue.
If I could write a book alone, I would have written very different books than what I’ve written. I would have written light-hearted, gently romantic books instead of gritty, adventure novels.
But, I don’t write my books alone. My Father in Heaven whispers them to me. He hasn’t called me to do what is easy or comfortable, He’s called me to do His will.  And communicating His love, mercy and grace in this seemingly rough manner is part of His will for me.

I hope you enjoy the giveaway of my book!
Blessings on your journey!

My links are:
(I’m currently doing a series on my blog called My Journey to Gritty: Memoirs of a Teenage Author. The series is about the crazy events in my life that inspired some of the stuff in my novels, and it’s been a lot of fun. I hope you can join us there!)

Jessiqua is giving away a digital set of her books A Memoir of Love and A Memoir of Mercy.


  1. Jessiqua sounds like someone I'd love to meet! Writing with a deeper purpose then just entertainment - being real, talking about the hard things. This has always interested me. I've not been brave enough to go as far as I would like to yet, but maybe soon... Her book sounds amazing.
    Jessiqua - have you ever written any "gritty" books for children?


    1. Hi, Rebecca! Thank you so much for your kind words. I haven't written any gritty books for children yet. I'm working on one though. (Don't hold your breath, it's not even close to being finished. *sigh* ) I know people that read my books for themselves, then they read them again aloud to their children (skipping over the coarser parts.) My little sister enjoys A Memoir of Mercy so much, I'm hoping to recreate a gentler version of it for her someday so that she can read if for herself instead of having my mom read it to her again and again. :) If you're interested in gritty Christian children's books, I know of a couple authors I can refer you to that write awesome material!

  2. This was a wonderful interview! I loved reading about your book A Memoir of Love; it sounds like a fascinating story. I also have to add that I agree with you wholeheartedly on the subject of writing more darker, "grittier" material, and I am glad someone else who is also a Christian and homeschooled sees it the same way. It is important that we don't sugarcoat reality and that we are willing to tackle some tough subjects. I have met extremely sheltered Christian kids whose parents just didn't talk about the heavier issues, like they were pretending those things didn't exist, and when temptations came along those kids fell hard. I love how you put it: "They’ll be left to find out about them for themselves, and usually in a hard way." But I don't believe in including those subjects just for shock value or to scare people; it has to be intentional. It has to be there for a reason. Or as I like to think of it, a story can be very dark and gritty, but not so much as a cave that descends into total blackness, but as a tunnel with a light at the end. Anyway, I loved reading your interview and I will be checking out your book very soon!

    1. Awesome! Thanks for your input. I completely agree with your cave analogy. All of my stories, though dark, have happy endings, just like the Divine story.

  3. I'm looking forward to having time to finish reading A Memoir of Mercy! How do you balance "whatsoever things are lovely..." with the topics you cover? It's a constant question I wonder about, in the books we read, the movies we watch...

    1. That's a very good question! I've wondered the same thing many times while going over hard subjects.
      The answer I've personally come to is this.
      What do we focus on? What is "the point" of our thoughts? And what is our interpretation of what we are receiving?
      Depression often comes by focusing on the negative, right? I mean... you can read a happy-as-a-lark blog post on the internet, and come away depressed and jealous that your life isn't more like the life of that author.
      Similarly, you can read the story of Jacob's son Joseph in the Bible, (a story of hatred and near-murder and lies and sexual intrigue and years-long imprisonment) and and come away inspired.
      What's the difference? Your perspective is the difference.
      The Bible is God-breathed, so we expect to find something beautiful in every dark place.
      Therefore... I think we should look at life like we look at the Bible. We should look for hidden treasures in every dark cave. Even when life is rough, God's grace is to be found. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
      So... that's my desire for anyone reading my books. I pray that they focus on the jewels hidden in the dark writing, and I pray that they learn to develop that same grace-tainted, night-vision eyesight in their real lives.
      Dwell on the good, take note of the bad, learn from it all.

  4. Hi Jessiqua! Your books sound so good. I like the fact that they are gritty and real, because we live in the real world. I would love to see how you have your characters grow. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of both!

    1. Ohh! Character growth is my favorite part of my books! It's one of my favorite parts of real life, too. ;) Thanks for your encouragement.

  5. Love to see a home school author who has written a different genre of books. Gritty is sort of rare. Keep up the writing! Thanks for the giveaway and loved the interview!

    1. Thanks for your encouraging words, Taylor. Thankfully, although gritty is rare now, it is becoming more and more popular as the indie market grows. I just ran into a gritty Christian author I had never heard of the other day, and he's written NINE books!

  6. Sounds like a interesting book. I would love to read

  7. Love the interview! I would like to just win a copy of the book about Mercy as I've already read, enjoyed, and have a copy of "A Memoir of Love"!

    1. Oh, Anonymous! I wish you weren't Anonymous! I'm so glad you enjoyed A Memoir of Love. Hopefully you'll write a review for me someday? *hinthint* :)

  8. How long have you been a writer?

  9. Elanee, it's been about ten years since I started consistently writing.

  10. Hi Jessiqua! Your novels sound very interesting!

    Do you consider yourself a "plot first" writer, a "character first" writer, or something else? :)

    1. Kaycee, I consider myself a confused, piecemeal writer! haha! Basically, a scene will come to me, and I'll write down what I see. Then a little while later, another, totally unrelated scene will come to me, and I'll write that down. After a couple years, the scenes gradually start to connect, and I have a complete, meshed, interwoven book. It's a grand connect-the-dots adventure! I love the mystery involved in it, because I'm just as shocked by plot twists and nuances as anyone else. :)