I have something special for y’all today! Historical romance author Grace A. Johnson has graciously agreed to drop by and share her heart behind her writing. Enjoy!
I remember the day my destiny revealed itself to me…as a bright flash, a beautiful vision, a new beginning…
No, wait. That was my sisters turning the light on in our bedroom this morning.
In truth, becoming a writer and being led to Christian historical romance—which go hand-in-hand—were this slow fade rather than a sudden revelation. All my life, I’ve been in love with books. For a while there, my deep affection manifested itself in the act of chewing on books, but after a some time I mellowed into a regard and appreciation for the actual purpose of them: reading.
Believe it or not, my first beloved genres were actually speculative fiction, specifically apocalyptic fiction and allegorical fantasy, and mystery. I balanced my quest for the Left Behind kids series and Nancy Drew with finding contentment in the contents of my home library: Junie B. Jones, Henry and Mudge, Amelia Bedilia, Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, American Girl, and The Sign of the Beaver. I even indulged in some horror—not to worry, ‘twas only juvenile Christian “spine-chilling” mysteries by Fred E. Katz.
But it wasn’t until I picked up my first Christian historical romance (his-rom for short) when I was about ten years old that my world started to shift. The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson opened up a wealth of inspiration, new ideas, and a simple thirst for more. And so I read as many of her books as I could get my hands on, then began searching for similar authors. First Lynn Morris, then Roseanna M. White and Tracie Peterson, then Jody Hedlund and Kristi Ann Hunter.
Slowly but surely, ideas grew in my mind like never before, until I had to write them down. The stories I read spawned stories of my own, about princesses who found their princes, ladies who embarked on grand adventures, heroes who discovered their purposes.
And one day it clicked. My quick outlines and designs became paragraphs on paper, documents on computers, dreams and goals… and accomplishments. My first few chapters led to my first finished story, which led to my first published novel.
Now here I am. Several novels, novellas, and short stories in, and all my dreams of being a ballerina/chef/cowgirl/cosmetologist/quite a few other random things are behind me. My future as a Christian romance writer is before me.
Then, I never would have realized what God was calling me into, what He was preparing me for. And I still don’t think I have much of an idea how great His plan for my life is… but I know I wouldn’t ask for anything else. This desire of God’s has become a passion of mine: showing the world what love really means, how God’s love for us transcends time and space and any mistake we could ever make. Romancing the ages, you could say.
Even though I started out craving the thrill of the unknown, whether it was an unsolved mystery or unexplored world, I long now for the beauty of romance, something so many books these days have sullied or degraded. Something the devil has sullied and degraded.
So why do I write Christian historical romance? It’s not just because I’m in love with the genre and because it was that very thing that inspired me to become a writer… it’s because the Lord slowly wooed me into my destiny as an author.
It’s because every year, over 100 million copies of the greatest love story ever told are published and sent out into the world. Because every time someone picks up that book, their life is changed forever. Because God looked down at the marriage between Adam and Eve and the union between Jesus and the Church and called them good.
First and foremost, I write Christian fiction because I literally cannot write anything else. Trust me, I’ve tried… and every time, God steps in and says, “This is My story.” He is, after all, the One who gave me these stories, and it is my calling and my pleasure to be the mind He plants them in, the heart He stirs to write them, and the hands He places them into.
Secondly, I write romance because, as my friend H.S. Kylian said, “I get so tired of people saying it’s ‘refreshing’ when a book they read has no romance or when they brush it off as ‘fluff’ – I’m like, ‘We live in a fallen world where sin has distorted romance, marriage, and sex, and you want to call it ‘refreshing’ when a book doesn’t have romance???’ If anything, we need more romance, not less…” And so I’m committed to creating romances that promote traditional relationships, that emphasize purity over pleasure, reflect Christ’s love for His church, even when the world wants to write it off as outdated and Christians want to eschew it.
Thirdly, I currently write historical fiction because I want to teach readers to learn from history instead of repeating it, to relate to those who went before them, to understand the people and events that have brought us to where we are now. And furthermore, to appreciate this beautiful tapestry of times, cultures, places, and peoples that God is weaving together to become His Church.
So maybe your destiny doesn’t fall in your lap or slap you in the face or beckon you with blinding lights. Maybe it’s a slow wooing, a gentle calling, a journey you take through each season to the purpose God has for you. Whatever the case, there is a destiny. There is a light, a destination, a purpose—and it is going to be wonderful. It may not be anything close to what you had in mind or even remotely what you imagined, but as you seek the Lord, He’ll plant the seeds of His desires in your heart and cultivate them to blossom into your glorious passions.
Just be open to what He has for you, to where He’s leading you. Flourish in every season—spring, summer, autumn, winter—and always be ready to go, do, say, or write whatever the Lord lays on your heart.
About Grace A. Johnson
Grace is a teenage authoress who has loved books since she was two years old. From Junie B. Jones to Nancy Drew, words and the worlds they create have always been a part of her. At ten years old, she felt the urge to pick up her pencil and start writing some worlds of her own. Now, six years later, she has written and self-published two novels, a novella, and five short stories. She’s obsessed with history, etymology (the study of words; not to be confused with entomology, the study of insects), Jane Austen, art, and music—and when she’s not writing, you can find her reading, snapping photos of books, cooking, and rocking out to her favorite band.
She lives in beautiful (but humid) South Georgia, surrounded by farmland and forestry (and not as close to the beach as she’d like), with her parents and six younger siblings. Her dream is to be a wife and a mother, follow the Spirit to the mission field, and inspire other young writers to reach for the sky! You can learn more about her by checking out her blog, Of Blades and Thorns, subscribing to her newsletter, and following her on social media!