INTERVIEW | Linda Leigh Hargrove

Linda, describe yourself for our visitors.

I’m a North Carolina native, born in a small coastal farming town (Creswell, NC). I went to NC State where I earned two engineering degrees (and met my husband, also an engineer).

While I worked as an environmental engineer for NC Division of Water Quality in Raleigh, I started designing Web sites. Around that time my husband and I started leading racial reconciliation discussion groups with churches and ministries in the Raleigh area.

Out of a desire to make some of the more difficult racial topics a little easier to understand I started writing The Making of Isaac Hunt. That was 1996. Many rewrites and writing classes later, I sold the novel to Moody Publishers in 2006.

In a nutshell, I think I’m a determined sort of person. People call me patient when they see me doing one of my hobbies (painting, knitting, crocheting, gardening, designing web sites, or writing) but I think of myself as determined. And I get bored easily. My mind constantly needs something to put together or tease apart. I love puzzles too by the way.

I read a lot (fiction and nonfiction) and I work on the computer a lot (writing or designing sites and graphics). If the TV is on at all it’s because my husband or kids are watching it. In a rare moment that I am watching something, it’s something old on AMC or TV Land.

How do you find time to connect with God?

I rise pretty early every morning (around 5:30) to write. It’s so easy to just jump right into writing and ‘promise’ God that I’ll have ‘Quiet Time’ later in the day (like that ever happens with three boys under 10). So in order to get my time in with the Lord, I don’t allow myself to start writing until I open my email and do my e-devotional. It’s one of those subscription things, delivered to my email box every morning.

So that helps me with a daily focused connection with God. At least once a year, though, I fast for my writing. During the fast I pray and listen specifically for my writing and do a lot of journaling (I don’t usually journal that much). The computer doesn’t see me much during my writing fast.

Tell us about your journey to publication.

Let’s see. Like I mentioned earlier, I started writing on my first novel in 1996. I had a friend who taught English at NC State look at it and she said (in a nice loving way) that it stank. She offered me some pointers on how to improve my writing skills but I was too hurt to listen at first.

So for several months the manuscript just sat around. I finally scraped myself off the floor and followed her advice about subscribing to The Writers Digest, taking classes, and attending writers’ conferences.

I followed her advice diligently for the next two or three years. I submitted the revised manuscript to a few publishers and got rejection letters. Then I heard that maybe I needed an agent. My first agent just sat on my manuscript. Unfortunately it took about a year and a half of getting nothing but excuses for me to figure out that he wasn’t shopping it around for me. We were a bad fit so I fired him.

Something about Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference came across my desk. I prayed and scraped together the money and attended in 2004. It was a great week and hard week all at once. I learned a lot but I cried every night, wallowing in my own sense of inadequacy and fear of rejection. All the same I pursued a couple agents that I’d met during the conference. They both graciously turned me down. More REJECTION.

Crushed, I continued to read and revise and pray. In early 2005 I emailed a man named Les Stobbe, an independent literary agent that I found in the Christian Writer’s Market Guide. He emailed me back and later we spoke on the phone. He wanted to see the manuscript and proposal. I sent them to him not really expecting much. But when he emailed me a few days later saying that there were a few editors interested I got excited, not just because I might actually get published but because I finally had an agent that believed in me. You see, we hadn’t even signed a contract and already he was shopping my book around.

Anyway, in July of the next year (2006), he emailed me to say that Moody Publishers’ Lift Every Voice wanted to buy the book. I was stunned. I didn’t really feel like celebrating. Honestly, I felt like crying. My fears of being rejected and judged had come to the surface. I asked God, ‘how can you use me, I’m so weak and stupid.’ I’d been calling myself ‘weak and stupid’ for years. And I guess God was tired of it because instead of saying something like ‘you are fearfully and wonderfully made, My child,’ He said, ‘I can use weak and stupid.’

The past year has meant lots of hours preparing for the release date (June 1, 2007) and growing toward God. It’s been all good. I can finally say I’m happy to be published.

Tell us about your current book?

The Making of Isaac Hunt touches on a lot of topics. Adoption, racism, and reconciliation are just a few of them. At the center of the story if Isaac Hunt (a bi-racial young man) who upon learning of his adoption sets out on a journey to find his birthmother. He thinks finding her will be easy. NOT. He opens a Pandora’s Box of hatred and lies.

I wrote the book to help guide book clubs and Sunday School classes through a deeper discussion on racial topics. My prayer is that lasting cross-racial relationships are formed. From more than a decade of working with racial reconciliation discussion groups, I’ve seen how talking about race in churches and committing to change can move mountains and point people to Christ.

That might be a lofty goal but that’s what I’m believing God for. My book is not preachy; it’s just honest.

How did you come up with ideas for your current release?

My ideas for The Making of Isaac Hunt came from ten years of talking with people about racism and what the Christian response to racism should be. I knew all along I wanted Isaac to be biracial and adopted.

Since adopting three boys, I’ve run into a lot of black folks that have been uneasy about adopting, and very much against blacks adopting biracially. I wanted these things to be in the book. Not as a plank to beat over anyone’s head but as a point of reflection that maybe adopting is not all that bad.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on an interracial romance. Pushing that old envelope just a little further.

Where can visitors find you online?

You can find me online at http://LLHargrove.com or
http://trippingagain.blogspot.com/ (until August 2007).