Likened to C.S. Lewis ~ author Jenny L. Cote Interviewed

Award winning author Jenny L. Cote developed an early passion for God, history and young people, and beautifully blends these passions together in her two fantasy fiction series, The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz® and Epic Order of the Seven™. Likened to C.S. Lewis by book reviewers and bloggers, Jenny provides creative writing workshops at schools and universities around the country and abroad.

 A native of Norfolk, Virginia, she now writes and speaks full time and lives in Roswell, Georgia, with her husband Casey and son Alex. Jenny is active in the Student Ministry at Dunwoody Baptist Church, and enjoys reading, research, museums, music, travel, meeting people, fitness and finding any excuse she can to get to the beach.
I had the opportunity to meet Jenny when she spoke at my local ACFW chapter. I was enthralled as she told her writing journey. 

Jenny, what
were your goals in writing your latest release, The Roman, the Twelve &
the King
?
I wanted to tell the story of Jesus in an unexpected way,
so I wrote two books in one. The life of Christ is written within the story of
George F. Handel writing his masterpiece, Messiah.
 Since my characters were with Isaiah
as he wrote the words of Messiah, I thought it would be great fun to have them
be with Handel as he wrote the music. The book opens up in London, 1735,
and my team of animal heroes are tasked with helping Handel write the most
important piece of music ever written.
Since it’s been 1700 years since they were with Jesus,
they go back in time to revisit the unfolding of the greatest events in
history. After Jesus’ resurrection, they return to London 1741 for the writing
and premiere of Messiah at London’s Covent Garden Theatre.
So that was the structural goal of the story. But the
primary goal of the book is to give readers an opportunity to see Jesus come
alive in a way they never have before. I’ve had kids email me and tell me that
they never understood who he really was and what he did for them through the
Passion until reading this book – that thrills my heart! These books are geared
to kids but the reality is they are books for adults as well. Half my
readership is adults, and I hear from readers all over the world.
When
you write, how much do you draw on your own life experiences and people you
know, versus drawing on research about complete strangers?
God has been incredibly cool in setting up my life
experiences of spiritual upbringing, travel and a passion for research to write
these books. One of the things I stress to kids in my creative writing
workshops that I present at schools is that you can’t write about what you know
about. Research for me is the most important part of writing, especially when
you’re doing Christian Historical Fiction.
So, I was blessed to travel to Israel and Egypt when I was
17 to see the places I’ve just written about in this book. But I added to my
research travels for The Roman by actually travelling to London in Feb 2012 to
research Handel. I gained unprecedented access by Handel House Museum to
actually sit in Handel’s composing room where he wrote Messiah, and
write the scene of him writing it!
The inspiration was off the charts! While I was in London,
I contact the C.S. Lewis Foundation in Oxford, and was privileged to spend two
nights in the homestead of my writing hero, C.S. Lewis, “the Kilns.”
I also had the honor to spend three hours interviewing Walter
Hooper while sitting in the famed Eagle and Child Pub where Lewis and Tolkien
held their Inklings meetings. Walter was secretary to Lewis the summer before
he died, and he will be my technical advisor in my upcoming book on Lewis. So
my travels and research play a big role, but so do people.
I have a warning: careful or you’ll end up in my novel. 🙂
I put people in my books as characters all the time to become fictional
characters than interface with my real characters in history.
Who
is the character in this story that surprised you most?
I think I would have to say Pilate. I’ve long known the
story of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, but I had to study Pilate in greater
depth than I ever have before. He tried and very much wanted to release Jesus,
and I actually felt an empathy for him that I’ve never known. He was backed
into a corner and I now understand how that happened. I was also surprised by
learning about Handel. Guys in big fluffy wigs can be a lot of fun! Handel was
a very colorful character in history, and he had a big heart for kids as well
as for God.
What do you hope readers get out of your work?
I pray they will not only have a fun, engaging read, but
also a deep understanding of why Jesus had to die. We take for granted the rote
“Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave” and
perhaps don’t truly grasp how this was all planned out – every detail of Jesus’
death was planned, down to the time, place and setting. It was prophesied
hundreds of years before crucifixion had even been invented!
I wanted to write the scourging and crucifixion scenes
with great detail and honesty, without sugar coating the events, but also
without scaring younger readers. I thankfully was given the perfect balance of
words to pull it off. I’ve heard from countless readers who were moved to tears
but touched deeply by those scenes, and who have a new found appreciation for
all Jesus endured.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m currently writing the next book in the series, The
Way, the Road, and the Fall.
 It picks up resurrection morning and goes
through the entire book of Acts: Saul to Paul and the spread of the gospel in
the infant church.
But it goes beyond Acts to Peter and Paul in Rome, the
fire of 64 in Rome, Christian persecution, the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.,
building of the Colosseum and the gladiatorial games, John on Patmos and
finally ending with a future scene of Constantine liberating Christianity’s
freedom. It will be released in February 2014.
Two more books will follow: The Voice, the
Revolution, and the Jewel 
(2015) about Patrick Henry and the
Revolutionary War, and The Professor, the War, and the Muse (2016),
about C.S. Lewis and WWII.
In addition, I’m working on exciting developments with the
film adaptation of my first book, The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire
Cloud,
 into an animated feature film, TV show, VBS, DVD school
curriculum, etc. You can learn more about the movie at www.sevenwinged.com.
I’m also actively providing creative writing workshops at schools around the
country, and if anyone would be interested in scheduling me for their school,
homeschool or church, please learn more at www.epicorderoftheseven.com



The Roman, the
Twelve, and the King

The second book in the Epic Order
of the Seven
 series, it picks up where The Amazing Tales of
Max and Liz
 left off. The Maker created this team of animal friends to
be his envoys for pivotal points of history. This will be their most important
mission ever: to be with Jesus throughout his childhood, ministry, passion and
resurrection. The story of Christ is told as a story within a story: as
George F. Handel writes the greatest music to ever be written in London 1741—Messiah.