Friday, 15 January 2016

Member Spotlight - Catherine Campbell

Today on the blog we welcome one of our Members Catherine Campbell. Thank you for joining me Catherine, it's a pleasure to have you along today. I know you are busy so I am grateful you could take some time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions.

I am sure the readers would love to hear about you. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Yes Wendy. I was born in Belfast, and trained as a nurse in the famous Royal Victoria Hospital during Ulster’s ‘troubles’. I now live on N. Ireland’s beautiful north coast where my husband Philip is a pastor. We’ve been married for thirty-eight years - I was young! Joking aside I’m a very fortunate woman to have such a supportive husband.

We had three children. Our son Paul is now married and has two little ones of his own. Both of our daughters, Cheryl and Joy, were born with profound multiple disabilities, and died aged ten and thirteen respectively. Caring for them covered a period of over nineteen years of my life, and while there were undoubtedly many difficult times, the girls blessed our lives.

Up until ten years ago I nursed in a part-time capacity, and loved my work, but finally gave it up to devote more time to the writing and speaking opportunities that were presenting themselves both here in the UK and abroad. I have a particular passion for sharing what the Bible has to say on the subject of suffering, with a desire to encourage those who have gone through tough times.

Could you tell us a bit about your journey as a writer?

Writing was not a journey I had ever envisaged taking. Neither was it a burning ambition. It simply happened alongside the circumstances of my life, starting with a magazine article for a professional nursing journal following the death of our first child. I then wrote infrequently for a number of Christian magazines, usually on the subject of suffering or parenting. It really wasn’t as glum as it sounds!

My first book ‘Under the Rainbow’ was autobiographical, relating my journey with God during the years we had the girls. I only wrote it because I was tired of other people’s attempts at squashing my story into a chapter in their book. It was first published by a small local company, but I am now delighted to be published by Monarch.

My big break came at the first ACW writers’ day I ever attended in London. I was a complete novice with no idea how the publishing world worked but decided to take a ten-minute interview slot with one of the publishers present. It happened to be Tony Collins, and he said he would be happy to consider my next book proposal. I didn’t know what a book proposal was, so you can imagine how steep the learning curve was that I had to take.
Since that day Monarch have published five of my books, with number six due for release in June.

What does a writing day look like for you?
I don’t have a set pattern to my writing days. In fact I judge myself a bit of a con. You see I’m a speaker-who-writes, not a writer-who-speaks, if you catch my drift. I write non-fiction, and only ever write with a ministry or inspirational purpose. Once I have something burning in my heart that I want to communicate, I start to plan what that might look like in book form. The research and planning take a huge amount of time.

Then I set to writing.

I write best in the morning, but as with everything a contract and a deadline help to spur you on. I do try to avoid late-night writing as my brain is hopeless after nine o’clock. Once I start a project I aim to have it finished in six months and try to work on it 2-3 days a week, anything from 4-8 hours a day.

Where do you get the inspiration for your books?

The inspiration for both ‘God Knows Your Name’ and ‘When We Can’t, God Can’ came from the lives of people, both in the Bible and in face to face encounters. I see so little difference in the problems people experienced in Bible times and those we face today. There is so much we can learn from them and from God’s dealings in their lives.

I love God’s word and wouldn’t have survived those years with the girls without His speaking voice in my life, particularly through His promises. So it’s easy to see how the Bible has inspired me especially in the writing of my two devotionals: “Rainbows for Rainy days’, and ‘Chasing the Dawn’ (due for release in June).

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

“When We Can’t, God Can’: Encounters with the God of the Impossible, has as its theme the words of Ephesians 3:20 that “God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask, or even imagine.”

In it the reader meets ten individuals, from both the Bible narrative and today, who face seeming impossible situations in their lives, only to discover how God works in their weakness.

If you are able to say, what are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I have two ideas vying for my attention, both under wraps at the moment, or at least until I make up my mind which to work on!

If you could choose just one piece of music to listen to what would it be?
‘Les Miserable’… all of it!

When you are not writing what types of books do you read? What would you say was the best book you have ever read?

Probably not as great a variety as I should. I don’t have a ‘best’ book but the non-fiction book that has had the most profound effect on my life was ‘Your God is Too Safe’ by Mark Buchanan. For fiction I love Cathy Golkhe’s books especially ‘Band of Sisters’ and ‘William Henry is a Fine Name’.

What part does your Christian faith play in your writing?

It’s centre stage. My writing is a major part of my Christian ministry and therefore my faith is an essential component of my writing.

If you could travel to three countries which ones would you choose and why?

Back to Israel… for research and inspiration.
Turkey… for an ‘in the footsteps of Paul’ tour.
China… because Hudson Taylor’s lifestory gave me a heart for mission as a teenager.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

Thank you Catherine. You have led such a varied life. I will certainly be taking a closer look at your books. 

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