Grace A. Johnson
interview with issabelle perry
I have a pure treat for y'all today! The absolutely amazing Issabelle Perry is joining us for an interview in honor of her FIRST EVER OFFICIAL PUBLISHED BOOK!!! (By “first ever official," I mean this isn't an anthology. 😂)
Issabelle Perry is not only one of my bestest friends ever, she is also an insanely talented young author, and I've been so blessed to be a part of her author journey! This girl has got a BEAUTIFUL story to share, and she teases some of her literal story and her personal testimony in today's interview!
(If you wanna hear more about Issabelle and her story, become a patron to get access to our exclusive interview about writing Christian fiction, finding your path, and her best advice for aspiring authors!)
Now, enough gabbing. It's time for our interview!
Hello, Issabelle, and welcome to Of Blades and Thorns! I am SO excited to have you back on my blog! (Yes, Issabelle is back! I interviewed her once several years ago when this was still Gabbing with Grace!) We’re long overdue for a new interview, so I can’t wait to get started! Before we do, could you introduce yourself to the readers?
Hi, Grace! Thank you SO much for having me here! It’s so great to be back! (Ah, I remember the days of Gabbing with Grace… the good ole days!) Anyway, there’s not too much to say about me. Just your average Jesus-following college student. I write historical fiction novels, talk southern, study Russian history, consume chocolate, and teach young authors writing tips and tricks at Teen Writers’ Nook.
It's my pleasure to have you, girl! How old were you when you first started writing? What was your inspiration?
Well, this is a bit of a tricky answer. I wrote a couple of pages in a very crazy story idea when I was eight and completed my first novel by 12, but I wasn’t really in to writing, if you know what I mean. I did it once in a while when I was bored, but I didn’t like to read at this time, much less write. However, stories have always been circling through my mind all my life and when I started reading more once I hit my teen years, the thought to write kept coming back. It wasn’t until I was 15 when I read Ally Carter’s book on writing that afterwards that I got to thinking that I could do this. Not only could I write a book, but I could write a good book and maybe in time I could even write a great book.
You've got me curious about this “very crazy story"! 😂 How has your writing—your stories, style, etc.—changed over the years? Looking back, what have you learned since you began writing?
Pretty much everything about my writing has changed so much that I doubt everyone would believe the first stories I wrote actually came from me. I’ve swapped genres three times, jumped from young adult to adult, went back and forth over writing in Christian fiction or not until I finally decided to stick with it, and changed from writing more light and happy books to more serious and bittersweet ones. The only thing that’s stayed the same is that you can always expect a good bit of humor (with a touch of sass) from at least one character. I’ve learned so many things about writing, but I think the most freeing thing was when I finally let myself just write. I had gotten so caught up in being a perfect writer that I forgot the only way to get where I wanted to be is to first let myself write messy, to take the time to study the craft, to not shy away from getting feedback and constructive criticism, and to always challenge myself. It’s okay if you don’t get it perfect the first time; no one does. What matters is that you don’t quit.
Absolutely! Perseverance is key! Now, you just released a novelette, May We Make Them Proud! Could you tell us a little bit about this sweet Christian romance?
So May We Make Them Proud is a Christian contemporary romance novelette about love, healing, and learning to dream again. It follows the story of Wren, a 21-year-old girl still struggling with the grief of her father’s passing two years earlier while trying to uphold her father’s dream bookstore that currently has as many customers as she has free time—which is to say, not a lot. Add to that, her childhood best friend turned boyfriend turned enemy is now back in town after a disastrous fight that ended with a broken heart and broken relationship. Let’s just say there’s drama, there’s tears, & there’s humor all with a sprinkle of bookish references and a cozy, sweet and clean “second chance” romance!
Ah, sounds perfect!! (And I know for a fact it is!) What’s the story behind the story, if you don’t mind sharing?
I have a video about this coming up soon (and may already be released by the time this interview is posted) that will go into depth more since there’s a very personal story behind May We Make Them Proud, but I will give y’all the brief version. This story is inspired mostly by my relationship with my father and the pain and grief I dealt with (and am still going through) since his passing a year and a half ago. I wanted to tell something deeper than a romance, something that was raw and real but also hopeful and encouraging.
Knowing how heartfelt the struggles and messages in your story were made it so much more touching! What do you want readers to take away from May We Make Them Proud?
I want readers to know that no matter what battle you're fighting through, the Creator of heaven and earth has not forgotten you nor has He left you. He sees you, He knows you, and He wants to comfort you, heal you, and draw you close to Him. I can’t change your circumstances, but I can say that you don’t have to fight them alone. You have an anchor in the storm. And even though there is pain now, it is temporary and one day, you are meant to fly again. So keep holding on to Jesus, keep fighting, and don’t give up on what matters most.
Amen!! So, what’s next for you after May We Make Them Proud? What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am struggling my way through the drafting process for a project that I’m currently calling Project: Believer (official title to be announced). This is a Christian historical fiction novel set during the 1930s in the Soviet Union and focuses a lot on the repressions under the Stalin era of that time.
Hehehe, I am SO excited for this story!! Where do you see yourself in ten years, Issabelle? Do you hope to continue writing?
I honestly don’t know myself. It’s something I have been thinking about a lot. I have so many things I would like to do, but in the end, I can’t see myself ever truly walking away from telling stories in one way or another. I definitely hope to still be writing, but I’m also learning a lot about just trusting God in the journey, trusting Him to unfold the most beautiful story ever. Something greater than anything I could ever come up with. So I guess all I can say is we’ll see!!!
I can't wait to see where He leads you!! Thank you SO much for joining me for this interview, sister!
~ the author ~
Issabelle Perry is a proud Jesus follower, an extroverted writer of historical fiction, and a homeschool graduate. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, jamming to Skillet, bullet journaling, hunting for Narnia in wardrobes, or envisioning herself wielding a magnificent sword (but due to her clumsiness, let’s hope that never happens). This self-proclaimed exclamation mark enthusiast can be found hanging out at Teen Writers’ Nook, a community of teen authors Issabelle co-founded in 2020. Her short story “Fairly Impish” was featured in Owl Hollow Press’s Change the World anthology, and Issabelle is the co-editor for Teen Writers’ Nook’s Imagine anthology and Tell Me You Love Me, Grace A. Johnson's Christian romance anthology. What she’s probably doing right now is fangirling about her favorite books to random people or scanning the pantries for chocolate.
Subscribe to her newsletter to stay up-to-date on book releases and writing projects, and be sure to check out her website and Teen Writers' Nook for writing advice, book reviews, and more! You can find the Imagine, Tell Me You Love Me, and Change the World anthologies on Amazon!
~ the book ~
The only way to fly is to first fall...
Wren is sure that all she needs in life are books, music, and her husky. Forget all her old plans to be a travel vlogger and see the world, now Wren's only concern is to make sure the bookshop she owns—her late father's greatest life work—doesn't fall under. But when her childhood friend suddenly arrives back in town two years after a disastrous fight that Wren prefers to leave forgotten, his presence resurfaces emotions she had thought were buried too deep to remember. Yet with the bookshop's many needs, she doesn't have time to dwell on childhood crushes and memories of life before her father's passing—when she knew what it was like to live.
May We Make Them Proud is a moving, inspiring novelette about love, healing, and learning to dream again.
Have you read May We Make Them Proud? We'd love to hear your thoughts down in the comments! What do you think of our interview? I hope you'll join us on Patreon for our exclusive additional interview!! 🥰
yours in spirit & script,
(Pst! All my Amazon links are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase through my affiliate link(s), I'll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!)
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