Author Interview: RJ Thesman

Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?

My earliest remembrance of books was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read the entire series of the Little Women and Little Men books. Jo March was my favorite character, b/c she wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write from an early age, and if Jo could do it – so could I.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym?

I did consider a pseudonym for a novel I worked on, but the idea faded and that novel never materialized. However, I do use RJ as a sort of pseudonym although those are just my initials. I wanted a bit of anonymity when I first started writing about women in ministry, b/c I knew the topic would bring criticism from some of the more ‘religious’ people in my community.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

No Visible Scars came from the lives and stories of multiple women, some of them personal friends and some clients in my life coaching business. It was actually a quote from a pastor who was approached by a woman in his congregation who was being abused by her husband. He did not help the woman and said, “You have no visible scars, so how do I know if you have really been abused?”

How do you celebrate when you finish a book?

I take a few days away from the computer and usually browse through a bookstore, maybe buy a new book or two.

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

The key word for writers is ‘perseverance.’ You just keep writing. Even if you think the words are terrible and nothing makes sense. Finish the first draft. Just get the words on the page. You can always go back and revise. Just finish.

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

For me, the characters come first b/c they determine what the plots will be. When I listen to my characters and get to know their quirks and their motivations, then I know the story line. My characters’ challenges become the plot twists and often their dialects or their particular culture determine the setting of the book.

What is the difference between a writer and an author?

A writer is someone who writes any type of genre: poetry, nonfiction, short stories, blogs, etc. An author has published a book.

What is the best way to improve writing skills?

Read, read, read. And keep writing.

What inspired the idea for your book?

As I indicated before, the women I knew who had suffered through some type of domestic abuse. Many of these women were married to men who were outstanding citizens, even leaders in their church. Yet the women were told to just pray and submit and keep silent. So the abuse continued and often deepened until the very soul of the woman was affected. No Visible Scars was also a re-telling of an Old Testament story, placed in a contemporary setting.

What is the best money you have spent with regard to your writing?

My first writers conference cost $150. I saved a long time to earn that money and some friends also gifted me with the cost of mileage. That conference taught me about the business side of writing: how to do a query, proposals, what editors look for, etc. From that time, I started to sell magazine articles and short stories, because I knew what to do from a professional standpoint.