Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams, second chances, and relentless hope.
Author of the Mended Hearts series, Jaded, Justified, and Jilted.
Did you always know you wanted to write?
Not at all. In fact, as a child, I dreaded writing assignments. Most of the writing I did in school consisted of research papers and essays, and I only recall one creative writing assignment which was way back in seventh grade. It wasn’t until I grew-up and started reading novels like a maniac that I began to appreciate the nuances that writers used in their writing, and I wondered if I might enjoy writing as much as I enjoyed reading.
Did your series come out of personal pain?
The Mended Hearts series revolves around church hurt, but I never experienced a church hurt situation—at least nothing as monumental as what I’ve dished-out to my characters. However I’ve felt little jabs over the years, and I’ve watched negative things happen to friends and family. Because of that, I can empathize with my characters, and their pain seems quite real to me as I write their story.
What do you hope readers takeaway from your books?
Since the books deal with forgiveness and redemption, I hope readers can take away the understanding that God is big enough to forgive us, no matter what we’ve done. And in the same way, we should be ready to forgive others when they sin against us.
Are you an outliner or a pantser?
I’m a fastidious outliner. Like … so bad my writer friends make fun of me. But I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t change my style, because even though I do all that outlining, I end up re-writing almost the entire book. It’s crazy. Not to mention, time consuming.
Describe your writing space.
Since my older children have left the nest, I’ve taken control of one of the upstairs bedrooms which I converted into an office. It’s fairly plain: a desk and a couch. But all I really need is my laptop and a set of earplugs, so it works out beautifully.
What is your favorite book from your childhood? What is the last book you’ve read?
Ah, my favorite book from childhood is From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher played the audio book (on cassette tapes) during our quiet time after lunch, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the kids in the museum. Years later, I read it with my children and fell in love all over again.
The last book I read was Behind Bars, Surviving Prison, by Jeffrey Ian Ross. Not quite as exciting as the kids in the museum, but it definitely helped with my research for book three. Now I understand a little more about the character of Clyde Felton who spent twenty years in prison.
Justified is book two in Varina's Mended Heart Series. Varina creates characters you'd like to smack, others you want to give a great big hug to. My heart went out to Fawn, who became the center of public ridicule because she was pregnant, Tyler the father of her baby was one that I wanted to knock into the middle of next week.
As with book one, Jaded, we see that gossip is as painful as any situation a person is going through.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
This series is very encouraging and shows that our God is bigger than any situation we are going through. His forgiveness is wider and deeper than any sin.