Today I’m interviewing author RJ Conte about her writing, and her new release: My Fault. It looks like a fun read!
First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
Hello! I’m the oldest of four, formerly homeschooled, Christian wife and mother of three. I’m an ESFJ from California who now lives in the Pacific Northwest. 😊
It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?
Yes! Issue-driven is my very favorite, but there’s so few true Christian issue-driven.
My favorite authors growing up were Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Ted Dekker. I’d now add Bethany A Jennings, Susan Vaught, Kimberly Rae, and Elyse Fitzpatrick to that list. 😊
What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?
Let’s see… I keep a file of every book I read all year. I started that two years ago and it’s fun to look back and see what I read and what star rating I’d give it. Each year I read over 50 books! The last book I read was Windswept by Sarah Delana White. It’s short and lovely – like candy. I highly recommend it. A sweet and unique little love story. Sarah is an acquaintance of mine who I met through another friend, so it’s fun to read books from people you know in “real life.”
About My Fault
What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?
I write about those hard-hitting teen and young adult issues, but from a very overtly Christian point of view. Every once in a while, I’ll write a little science fantasy short story – and I have plans for more speculative Christian fiction, but most of my books are contemporary and have some romance. 😊
Tell us about your latest book. What’s it about? Who will enjoy it?
“My Fault” is my first comedy. Usually I write extremely serious, often sad stories, so writing a comedy with a super quirky character was a brand new venture for me. I LOVED doing it. If people laugh half as hard as I did writing it, I’ll be thrilled.
“My Fault” is about a very outgoing, socially awkward young woman who is obsessed with getting to know the young man she hit while driving drunk, and making things right. The guy is a quiet, serious, mysterious young man who seems overwhelmed by her yet doesn’t know how to say no to her. They become really oddball friends who might develop further feelings for each other…
Well, if everyone from my 21-year-old fellow author to my 61-year-old father had a great time reading it, then I hope it will appeal to anyone! Realistically, I expect all adult women will be its target audience. 😊
What was your motivation for writing My Fault?
I had just spent half of a year writing a much more serious, long YA novel, and needed a break. Coming up with something short, sweet, and comedic over Christmas break was just what I needed to refresh my soul. I also wanted to explore different ways young people get themselves into ruts when they think about God and their relationship with Him. Cleo, the main girl, represents the young person who is flippant and apathetic about God, not even sure He’s watching or cares. Grayson, the injured guy character, represents those who think God’s out to get them are always trying so hard to be perfect that they feel like giving up. <3
Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?
The story is an idea I’ve always wanted to write. I love the idea of love stories springing from strange places and circumstances. I’ve always wanted to write a book about someone falling in love with the person they hit in their car. But these specific characters sprang from specific trials I’ve had with people in my life.
Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?
CLEO. She says the things I sometimes only say in private to my husband. She lets it all out, and it was a blast “being her” and in her voice and head. 😀
You said your main character is on the spectrum. Where did that idea come from?
Yes! I never planned for Cleo to be an Aspy (have Asperger’s) but my mom, who worked with handicapped children and young adults as a school teacher, identified in that right away. I embraced it and ran with it. I’m not marketing her as official Asperger’s because that can be a sensitive topic to do correctly, and I wanted her to have the freedom to be herself, but between you and me and the blog readers, she’s definitely on the spectrum. 😊
What are you working on at the moment? What other books do you plan to write?
Right now I’m preparing to pitch that serious YA novel from last year at the Realm Makers writing convention in July. I’m also loosely beginning to plot a speculative YA Christian book. 😊
About your writing
What motivated you to start writing? When did you seriously start writing? How long did it take before you published your first book?
I’ve been telling stories since I could speak, and wrote my first story in my diary on my 7th birthday. I didn’t self-publish for the first time, however, until I was twenty-years-old.
What made you choose to write for the Christian market?
I don’t have to support a family or write to market in any way, which frees me up to make my writing a ministry – and that’s what it is. I dislike the business side of things, although I’m always learning and improving that aspect of my work, and really embrace my writing being a God-led ministry to young adults. <3
What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?
Christians clamp down on anything original, and put writers and artists in a box. Publishers for Christian fiction tend to be close-minded and unapproachable. It’s sad, frustrating, and unfortunate, so to get my unique and REAL brand of writing out to young adults who desperately need something other than fluffy unoriginal love triangles, and whatever else the Christian market mass produces, I have to self-publish. Thank the Lord that Amazon has really made it easy to do so, and that my books are now hitting readers successfully!
Do your novels have an overt faith element?
Yes! I wrote two novellas, both my only books published under Clean Reads, and two speculative short stories, all of which are still moral in nature, before deciding once and for all that I want to exclusively write Christian fiction as a ministry.
Is writing for the Christian market harder or easier than writing for the general market? Why?
Yes. Christians publishers tend to be picky, cliquish, and not open-minded, unfortunately. ☹
What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?
Get coaching, take classes, read books on craft, and be prepared to spend the money to put out a book of value. Don’t do anything half-hearted, and humbly join groups that will correct where you’re doing less than you could. Listen to advice and learn from it. Be open to change!
Thank you so much for having me!
About My Fault
“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”
Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.
The devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?
Find My Fault online at:
About RJ Conte
RJ Conte has kissed only one boy in her entire life. And she married him, inspiring her to write about sweet or powerful love stories ever since.
She writes a blog on parenting, publishing, painting, and perorating at http://blonderj.wordpress.com/
She also has recently begun a book review and rating website for parents to make informed decisions on what to allow their children to read: rjconte.com/books
RJ Conte writes realistic, issue-driven fiction that explores human nature and the depths of the soul, while pointing readers to their Creator.
Find RJ Conte online at: