If you haven't heard, a new anthology is coming to town: Heard in Silence! Organized by Kaytlin Phillips (of Sisters Three), this anthology includes stories and a poem or two centering around deaf characters and life lived in silence.
To celebrate the release of this delightful collection, I'm super excited to have Saraina Whitney, one of the contributing authors, on for an interview today!
~ interview ~
Hey, Saraina!! Welcome to Of Blades and Thorns! I am sooo excited to have you join us today! Before we get started, do you mind telling everyone a little bit about yourself?
Thank you so much for having me, Grace!!! Yes, indeed; I’m a Christian homeschool graduate with a passion for creating stories of hope and truth to draw hearts closer to God, and I live in the Illinois countryside with my family of fourteen, of whom I am probably the most introverted. I also love playing piano, analyzing people’s personalities, fangirling over favorite fantasy novels and historical romances, and blogging about bookish things.
Your story “Invisible” is featured in Heard in Silence anthology! What inspired this story or prompted you to submit it for the anthology contest?
If I’m honest, desperation inspired it. 😆 I wanted to submit something for the contest, but I was running low on creativity until I finally got an idea days away from the deadline. I think it was the image of a girl hiding behind curtains that first came to my mind. Specifically, a deaf girl who was impatiently waiting for a concert to start. The questions that premise raised caught my attention and the rest of the story ended up flowing rather easily!
What was the most difficult part about writing from the perspective of a deaf character?
Ooo, that’s a good question. I think it was the challenges it raised with the dialogue aspect of the story…because my characters couldn’t have a completely normal conversation. My heroine Elizabeth understands Roland because she can lip-read, but I went back and forth on that detail because lip-reading is not as easy as it sounds, and I wanted to portray it as realistically as possible. So I had to make sure she wasn’t magically, effortlessly registering all his speech, and I had to be mindful of environmental details that would make it easy or hard for her to understand him.
Things I’d likely never have thought about unless I was a writer. 😉
When did you first begin writing? What inspired you?
I’m one of those born writers who started creating stories the moment I learned how to write. 😂 (I really wish I had a dramatic inciting incident, but alas, such is not my story.) Books were what first inspired me, along with the desire to share lessons/morals in my stories. (Probably because stories with morals woven through them greatly influenced me.)
What writing projects are you currently working on?
Wouldn’t you like to know? 😏
Joking aside, my main project is a Christian historical romance set in 1947 London about a dressmaker and a WWII veteran. You can expect a lot of piano, heartwarming sibling relationships, romantic drama, painful backstories, and themes of vulnerability and identity in Christ.
My second current project is a fantasy novella with a startling amount of danger, suspense, and romance. Not necessarily in that order. :P
And then I have a good-sized stack of WIPs on the back burner, impatiently waiting for their turn to be shown some love. Haha.
What are your goals or mission as a writer?
My mission as a writer is to remind readers that they’re never alone in their pain and that hope can be found in Jesus, no matter their past.
I don’t always write explicitly Christian stories—as in, direct mentions of God or the Bible. Case in point, “Invisible.” Usually, I feel called to write explicitly Christian fiction, but when I reread “Invisible,” I realized there were no direct mentions of God.
I tried to go back and intentionally include explicitly spiritual content…but then I realized that if I had to force it, it didn’t need it. (That’s become my rule of thumb.) The theme is still Biblical and readers still find hints of the hope ultimately found in Christ.
*realizes I’m going on a rabbit trail* *apologizes and makes a note to do a separate post about this* 😂
What’s your #1 word of advice for other young writers?
My #1 word of advice would be to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. It’s going to be uncomfortable at times, and you’ll wish you could go your own way. But don’t. Don’t listen to the lies that you can’t, that you’re not good enough, that you’re not talented enough. Write boldly, in faith, because God has abundantly supplied you with everything you need as a writer—and more.
Can I also sneak in a word of practical advice? ‘Cause that would be to STOP TRYING TO BE THE PERFECT WRITER. (Yes, that needed to be in all-caps. 😂) Give yourself permission to break rules, make mistakes, and take the pressure off. Once you do, you’ll probably find yourself writing even more, because you’re having more fun and your creativity is unhindered by that inner self-critic. Perfection stunts growth. Art is a messy process, as you well know, so allow yourself to be okay with mistakes.
Where can people read other stories by you?
You can subscribe to my newsletter to stay updated on all my stories! (And perhaps find yourself in possession of some freebies… 😉)
Besides “Invisible” in Heard in Silence, I have a short story published in an anthology curated by the incredibly talented Grace A. Johnson herself, called Tell Me You Love Me, and you can read that here!
In the months and years ahead, I have more exciting projects set to make their entrance onto bookshelves, so stay tuned! (Or maybe not if you don’t like what you see. 😜)
Thank you for joining us, Saraina! I so enjoyed having you on!!
Thank you so much for hosting me on Of Blades and Thorns, Grace! It’s been such an honor!
~ the author ~
Saraina Whitney is a passionate Christian writer who has a weakness for poignant stories with hints of true hope. She lives in the windy Illinois countryside with her family of fourteen. Known as the quietest of them all (except when she’s singing), she loves observing people and sharing inside jokes about movies with her siblings. She often spends her free time editing what she just wrote, rereading her favorite scenes from books, learning about Myers-Briggs personality types, or playing piano pieces from epic soundtracks. Her short story To Be Loved in the Tell Me You Love Me anthology is her first publication. Connect with her at http://www.sarainawhitney.wordpress.com.
~ the anthology ~
Some voices can only be heard in silence.
Thirteen young authors invite you to journey deep into a silent world so often overlooked. Within these pages, you’ll find bittersweet contemporary YA, spellbinding fantasy, tender romance, and so much more, each centering on a deaf character.
Curated by author Kaytlin Phillips, this short story collection offers you a peek inside a life without sound, a fresh perspective on a world you may never have experienced. For a moment in time, hush the noise around you and absorb the quiet heartbeat of these diverse stories. Let yourself be swept away in these characters' struggles, heartaches, and victories.
Heard in Silence features work from Saraina Whitney, Alison Stadt, K.R. Mattson, Marisa Phillips, Kylie Beevers, Riley G. Stanch, Jaiden Phillips, Lorelei Angelino, Lillian Keith, Grace A. Johnson, Kaytlin Phillips, Autumn Nicole, and Wilder W.! This unique, richly imagined short story collection will stretch your mind and hold your heart captive.
All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to the American Society for Deaf Children!
~ the tour ~
Monday, Sept. 4th
Sisters Three - Blog Tour Launch Announcement
Tasha Van Kesteren - Author Interview
Tuesday, Sept. 5th
Writers’ Vision - Author Interviews
Wednesday, Sept. 6th
Kristina Hall - Review
Katherine Barnard - Review & Spotlight
Thursday, Sept. 7th
Lorelei Angelino - Review and Spotlight
Old Fashioned Book Love - Review and Spotlight
Friday, Sept. 8th
Autumn Nicole - IG Spotlight
Saraina Whitney - Spotlight
The Introspective Introvert - Spotlight and BTS Collab Post
M. C. Kennedy - Review
Riley G. - Spotlight
Lucy Peterson - Spotlight
Sisters Three - End Tour
Vanessa Hall - Spotlight
Are you as excited for Heard in Silence as I am? Have you ever read a story about a deaf character? Which story in HiS are you most excited for? What did you think of Saraina's answers (and her two WIPs)?
I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below!