I am delighted to have debut author, Jake Smith, with us today! From the first time I saw the cover of Wish, as Jake can tell you, I was drawn to this novel. Some describe it as "fiction with a mission" - and it is definitely that - but it is also an incredibly moving story of family, of caring and sacrifice, and of people coming together to help in time of great need. (See my review here).
Jake is graciously giving a copy of Wish to one of you, the details of which are at the end of this post. Now enjoy learning about Jake and this wonderful book . . .
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and how your first novel came to be published, Jake.
I’m the associate publications director at a multi-faceted company in northern Michigan, where I’m also the editor for Just Labs magazine, and managing editor for The Pointing Dog Journal and The Retriever Journal. Writing fiction, however, has long been a passion of mine, and it’s been a lifelong goal to be a published novelist.
Unfortunately, Wish began by following the same course as several other novels I had written previously — lots of research, outlining, writing, agent-querying, and, ultimately, rejection. I believe Wish received 55 agent rejections. I actually had it shelved on my computer for almost a year before “dusting” it off to enter into a contest.
In the process of getting it ready for that, a friend said she might know someone who could offer some advice. He liked the synopsis and first three chapters and passed them on to a few people he knew. That evening, an agent — Jeff Kleinman with Folio Literary Management — called me to request the rest of the novel. So, from a few years of writing and stacking up the rejections to a whirlwind 24 hours… and I had an agent. After two big revisions over the next two and a half months, Jeff blasted it out to the publishing world, and we landed with Tyndale House Publishers.
Q: On your website, I loved what you wrote about the meaning of pens, especially the pen your father gave you upon college graduation. Please share a little about that here, what pens mean to you, etc.
When I graduated college, my dad, a very well-known outdoor writer, gave me a really nice fountain pen, saying, “From one writer to another.” But I must confess, even through a few nonfiction books that have been published and hundreds of magazine articles, I never truly felt like a writer, not until I could sell some of my fiction. That pen sort of became my talisman — just before I start writing any kind of fiction, I hold it tightly, say a small prayer for an open mind and active imagination, and then place it on my computer. That was the same pen I used to sign the publishing contract for Wish.
Q: Tell us about Wish, your debut novel that we are featuring today.
Wish is the story of a down-and-out assistant high school baseball coach who has to try to play in one major league baseball game in order to make his dying nine-year-old son’s wish come true. It’s not just a father and son story, though, but rather one about a family working together, being one another’s strength, and, believing in the impossible, especially when you realize that sometimes, you are being called to use your gifts to make someone’s wish come true or be their answered prayer.
Here are some that people have put in their reviews: inspiring, heart-breaking, heartwarming, memorable, tear-jerker.
Q: Where did your inspiration for this story come from? Do any of your novel's themes - childhood cancer, the world of baseball, etc. - come from personal experience or is it all the result of inspiration and research?
I do not have any personal experience with cancer; that is the product of a worrisome parent’s overactive imagination. However, I have had parents who have dealt with it say that I captured it very accurately — one father said it gave him many painful flashbacks. He and others served as touching sources of inspiration, and it’s been my greatest honor to have them tell me that I did justice to their struggle. I do not have any professional baseball experience, but I have extensive experience on the field as a player and coach and teaching my own children. And we are crazy Detroit Tigers fans.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I hope people realize that they carry inside themselves the power to make a difference. That could be as a bone marrow match, or it could be through supporting the care of patients and families by supporting the hospitals in their area. Not everyone will be called to donate (I’ve been on the registry for a dozen years and never been called) and not everyone will be able to even join the registry in the first place. Hospitals can use a multitude of items to help their patients and families, even gift cards of gas and restaurants in case families have to travel.
But, really, as a “take-away message” for Wish, it’s that we are all called, every day, to use the gifts we have been given in order to help others. I truly believe that God answers His prayers and performs His miracles through those around us, and sometimes, He is calling us to be a miracle or an answered prayer — or a wish come true — for someone else.
Q: What compels you to write and how does that connect with the message you want to convey through Wish?
I’ve always loved exploring my imagination and creating things. What compels me to write, though… that comes from that feeling I get when I’ve just read a truly wonderful book or watched a powerful movie. For days, I can’t stop thinking about the story or the characters, like I was some small part of their lives, that their moments were my moments. I’ve always wanted to create that same feeling in others with one of my stories. And now, to see that one of my stories is motivating people to make a difference in the lives of others… that’s an amazing feeling.
End of Part 1 . . .
Leave a comment on Part 2 of this interview for a second entry.
To enter the drawing for Wish, simply answer the following question and leave your e-mail in a safe format. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook.
Entry question + e-mail address:
If you could make a wish for a loved one, what would it be?
Please "like" my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, if you haven't already. And new followers of this blog are always welcome!
- E-mail required, one entry per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
- Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, July 13. No purchase necessary.
- Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail by Tuesday, July 15. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
- Eligibility: US and Canadian addresses, 18 and older