Since author Pat G’Orge-Walker burst on the scene with her Christian comedy, the publishing world hasn’t been the same. She recently discussed her journey.
Why did you decide to write Christian fiction?
Since the 1970’s I’d written and performed skits involving this little old church lady named “Sister Betty.” It was primarily for ministering without beating folks over the head with a Bible yet delivering God’s lessons of “love thy neighbor,” etc. However, I was forced into self-publishing these short stories when an album I’d worked on with Kulcha Don and the Fugees (Columbia/Ruffhouse Records) was shelved to make room for a new group called Destiny’s Child.
Feeling a bit lost after years of being in the recording industry, I was encouraged by a friend from Arista Records to feed my other passion, writing. I knew nothing at all about the Christian Fiction genre or the publishing industry. I decided to approach it as though I were releasing an album. I selected a church story, much like a single, and with my marketing skills, in the 1990’s, I published one of my short stories titled Sister Betty! God’s Calling You! It was a 22-page short story about this holier-than-thou elderly woman who received a telephone call from Jesus and acted worse than a sinner. It blew up and shortly led to a major publishing deal with a new Kensington imprint, Dafina Books. Publisher’s Weekly wrote that it was the beginning of a new genre of fiction, i.e., Christian comedy.
How has the genre changed over the years?
From my perspective, the genre changed with the availability of various spiritually based stories, especially within the AA community. It was no longer, “Thus saith the Lord,” but gave real-life stories of faith and overcoming adversities easily embraced and enjoyed by the reader. It also grew to include many themes such as women’s issues, church hurt, romance, comedy, self-reflection, etc.
What advice do you have for aspiring Christian fiction authors?
One piece of advice I would offer is to pray. For me, writing Christian fiction is not only about entertainment. I believe an author can let their words be for the advancement of the Kingdom. In whatever they do, let God be lifted. Not all stories will have the desired type of happy ending because that is life. However, I advocate showing the reader if we step aside and let God be God and go through the process, the characters will get much more than they’d imagine.
What has been the hardest part of your writing career?
The hardest part of my writing career was trying to pick up my pen after my husband died in my arms. I’d just written, Sister Betty Says I Do, and that story almost mirrored what I was to go through. I had no idea of its significance or impact when I’d written it a year before. It was as though I was given a glimpse into my future without a warning. It took several years before I could find the humor or the will to write again.
What has been the best part of your writing career?
The best part of my writing career, of course, was when I received word that Dafina Books’ then editor Karen Ravenel Thomas wanted to purchase my entire Sister Betty series of seven stories. I felt I’d finally arrived. Also having later won three AALAS for Best Humor, Best Christian Fiction humor (all Sister Betty books) as well as listed three times on the Essence best sellers list (Sister Betty books). There have been numerous other awards, and I’m so grateful to God and those who enjoyed my efforts.
What’s something readers would be surprised to know about you?
I’ve heard from many who were surprised that I was a music industry veteran as well as an entertainer. Another surprise to many was the revelation that I was married to one of the team members (FBI/JTTF/NYPD) who aided in the capture of the first World Trade Center bombers as well as solving other high-profile cases. My husband was dubbed the “Quiet Giant” for a reason. Another surprise came about when I published Choices this year. One shocker was the revelation that my former church had me marry a man I’d only known for three days before he was shortly shipped off to Viet Nam. That experience is detailed in that book among many other “shockers.” Of course, that took place before I married my second husband, Rob… my Jubilee husband and love of my life.
Who are your favorite Christian fiction authors?
Some of my favorite Christian fiction authors—and in no particular order—are Jacquelin Thomas, Andrea Bowman, Rhonda McKnight, Kim Cash Tate, Vanessa Miller, and Victoria Christopher Murray. Phenomenal writers. Recently, I’ve come to enjoy Marie McKenzie. She is fantastic and wrote, Things That Keep Me Up At Night.
What books have you read lately and loved?
All She Needs by Rhonda McKnight, All of the books in the Merry Hearts series. Because I’m on deadline for two books for 2023, my reading isn’t usually my high standard. However, my TBR list is very long.
What books are you excited to read?
I’ve preordered and anxiously awaiting the next Lisa Dodson book, Six Days to Live. The Good Vibe series to be published by Macro Publishers (Naleighna Kai’s Tribe Called Success). Anything that is written by Unique M. Hiram’s literary pen.
What’s next for you?
I am currently working on a new mystery/comedy series titled (2023) Certifiable. A competitive, retired NYPD couple hilariously tackle crime. They get on each other’s nerves but still have one another’s back—sometimes with a knife in their hands.
(2023) Good Vibes/Nostalgia: An Anthology
Do you have anything you would like to add?
I am overwhelmed with the love and support I’ve received over the years. I pray to keep on delivering stories that will bring humor, spiritual lessons, and comfort to the readers’ mind, and experience while getting to know the Kingdom. Please keep me in your prayers as I am not as young as I was more than 25 years ago when I started this publishing journey. I would love to wear out rather than rust out. (I know that’s cliché’ but it’s how I feel.)
To learn more about Pat G’Orge-Walker, visit her website or connect with her on social media.