Friday, September 16, 2011

Author Ginny L. Yttrup On WORDS, Listening, and Writing

My guest this week is Ginny L. Yttrup, author of WORDS, a beautifully written, inspiring novel. It's a story about a child unable to speak and a woman who needs to talk and what happens when fate brings them together. It originally caught my attention because as a child, although I wasn't mute, I endured years of speech therapy, and was able to relate to Kaylee's struggles in speech. Yet, WORDS, is much more than a story about communication. I contacted Ginny and she graciously accepted the invitation to appear on Everyone's Story. I hope this interview is a source of encouragement for you.
1) Ginny is giving away 1 copy of her novel WORDS to one randomly chosen commenter. Please leave your e-mail address in the comment so you can be contacted.
2) To celebrate the awesome reception of this blog since its launch in April, Everyone's Story is giving away 1 $25 Barnes & Noble gift card to 1 lucky person who Follows this blog.
You may enter both contests.

An Interview With Ginny L. Yttrup:
10-year-old Kaylee is clearly an intelligent child facing the multiple problems of parental abandonment and sexual abuse. Do you believe if a more mature-frame-of-mind for most children is a blessing or hindrance when it comes to coping with such conflict?

Wow, Elaine, that’s a great question and one I’ve never been asked. As I ponder it, I believe suffering matures us, whether as a child or an adult, if we allow it to do so. For a child, abandonment and abuse place the child in situations that demand they act as an adult, whether they’re prepared to do so or not. Therefore, growing up quickly isn’t an option; it’s survival.

Later, as they mature physically and emotionally, they will have the choice of how they handle those painful circumstances, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If they choose to surrender to God and, hopefully, get professional help, then, I believe God will use their suffering for good and for His glory.

That’s not a direct answer to your question. A therapist might be the best one to respond. I answer instead out of my own experience as a survivor of childhood abuse.

Kaylee collects words, yet she is mute for the majority of the story. Is it unusual for children in stressful situations to be as creative as Kaylee?

In the research I did on selective mutism, I found that these children come up with some great coping skills. Not speaking is one of those skills. I can’t say I noted creativity in the cases I read, but rather I had the sense that many of the children shut down emotionally. Again, Kaylee was created out of my own experience and I lost myself in words as a child—mostly through stories I read. I was very quiet and found an escape from the pain I suffered through the books I read. I never stopped speaking altogether, but I can certainly relate to those who do.
In my own walk in life I, like Sierra, struggle with forgiving myself . . .I should have done this . . .could have done it better . . .should have been . . . Why do you think we hold ourselves prisoner against a brick wall of guilt and shame in light of others’ forgiveness?

I wonder if our self-condemnation isn’t habit. We’ve listened to the lies for so long, that it’s become our normal. The enemy hisses his accusations into our minds, and we believe them. You’re not good enough. No one will ever love you. God couldn’t possibly really forgive you. Whatever the lie, it’s become so much a part of our thought process that we have to become intentional about replacing the lie with truth—about taking every such thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

We see the place where Kaylee and Sierra meet, Bonny Doon, from two perspectives: as both a place of terror and a safe haven for Kaylee, and from Sierra’s artistic POV as a beautiful, almost enchanting area. Have you modeled Bonny Doon after a real place you’ve visited?

Yes, Bonny Doon is real. It’s in Santa Cruz County, California, in the coastal mountain range. It’s a small town that started as a logging camp in the 1800’s. It’s a beautiful redwood and fern studded area that seemed, in my mind, to encompass all you implied. It’s a picture of the grandeur of God’s creation, yet it’s dark and shadowed because it’s heavily forested. 

Courtesy of stock.xchng

Symbolically, did you purposely drop Kaylee and Sierra into a land of redwoods to show their resilience or was that one of those “author blessings” when you realize the power of telling a story is in the hands of a genius muse who seems to magically handle the fascinating coincidences of plot, character, and setting?

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use the redwoods as a metaphor, however; that’s unusual for me as a seat of the pants writer. Typically, those things come as you described in your question. I begin writing and the Holy Spirit whispers those ideas into y mind and heart. I’m typically more surprised that anyone about the direction my novels take. 

Through Kaylee, Sierra learns that she must listen more to God. Was writing WORDS a cathartic experience for you in the sense of re-learning to listen to God in a different way?

Actually, writing WORDS was a way of embracing who I am as a listener. It’s hard to explain, but as a very quiet child and young adult, I didn’t hone my speaking skills—instead, I think God honed my listening skills. I didn’t see the value in those skills until the story of WORDS began to take shape in my mind. Listening and observing has served me well as a writer. Listening for God and watching for His hand in my life is my greatest joy.

You openly share with readers that Kaylee’s story of sexual abuse is also your story, one suffered by many children. Do you have any resources/contacts that you can share with viewers?

I have a list of resources that I found especially helpful through my own healing process. Those resources are posted on my website:

WORDS is a redemptive story. Together Kaylee and Sierra go from Speaking+Truth=Freedom to Jesus=Truth=Freedom. Any last thoughts?

I fully believe, because the Word of God tells us so, that the Truth, Jesus Christ, will set us free. I also believe it because it’s my personal experience. Believing on the truth of who Jesus is, the Son of God, and God Himself, has freed me to accept His mercy, grace, and healing. Also, speaking the truth, in love, has also freed me to live a life free from bondage and free from shame. 

The equation in WORDS that you reference in your question always makes me laugh. I hate math! It makes no sense to this right-brained writer. When it came to mind as I was writing, I had to check it out with a math professor to see if it actually made sense. 
I take that back—to conclude, would you like to preview your upcoming novel?

Yes! I’m excited about the release of my second novel, LOST AND FOUND, February of 2012. The Advanced Reader Copies will be out any day now and reviews will be coming in. It tells the story of two women who’ve compromised for the sake of security—each in their own way—and what happens when they lay down their lives for Christ’s sake. It’s set in San Francisco and the Napa Valley, both beautiful California destinations, and contains all the components of great drama. Including an emotionally abusive relationship, glitz, glamour, life, death, captivity and freedom. It’s also a tender love story between the protagonist and the Lover of her soul.

I’m praying that through LOST AND FOUND readers will get a glimpse of what it means to live wholly for Jesus Christ.
*~*Ginny looks forward to hearing from you.*~*
Author Bio:

Ginny L. Yttrup spent nearly two decades learning the craft of writing. Through annual writers conferences, study of writing books, and the publication of devotionals and magazine articles, Ginny honed her craft and realized her dream of writing fiction.
Ginny is working on her third novel and is speaking across the country and in Canada this year. She loves spending time outdoors in the grandeur of God’s creation or around a dinner table with dear friends. She is the mother of two wonderful young adult sons and the owner of multiple beloved pets.
Facebook author page:


  1. Great interview! Ginny is one of my all time favorite writers. She is a generous, thoroughly honest soul, and I'm glad to call her my friend.

  2. Thank you both for the opportunity to glean from these insights. Elaine, your questions were excellent, and Ginny, I am always blessed by your authenticity. I, too, am both an abuse survivor and a writer, and I was blessed beyond measure by WORDS. You did such an incredible job of capturing the doubt, pain, anger, and coping mechanisms--but most importantly, the picture of Christ's redemption. It's a book I'll be passing on to friends and recommending often.

  3. Ginny, Congratulations on your upcoming novel. June

  4. Ginny, my heart goes out to you. I am so glad you have been able to find healing and can even write about it. Thank you for blessing others so richly with this book.

  5. Christa and Bethany, so glad you enjoyed the interview. Abuse of any kind is a tough thing to live through and I think Ginny is such an encouragement/encourager!

  6. Thanks Elaine for interviewing Ginny! What a wonderfully inspiring lady! WORDS sounds like a beautiful story! I'd love to read it!

    Oh, and congratulations Elaine on your blog! It's looking fantastic at just 5 months old!

  7. Thanks, J.C. Ginny's novel was one of those stories that stays with you, lingering in your heart.

    And thanks for the congratulations. I've been very blessed by everyone who has visited Everyone's Story.

  8. Hi Elaine,

    Great blog!

    I have just started following.

    Please visit my blog at Storybook Love Affair - and become a follower as well.

    Thanks heaps!


  9. We have 2 winners!! Yea.

    The winner of Ginny Yttrup's novel, WORDS, is June Foster.

    The winner of the $25 Barnes & Noble gift card is Louise Jolly.

    Thanks to both of you for visiting with Ginny and me this week. And thanks to everyone else that has visited Everyone's Story. More than 60 viewers have paid a visit and read Ginny's interview. Wow! A true blessing.

    And Ginny, heartfelt thanks & appreciation for being my guest this week, and for making time out of your very busy schedule. I'm looking forward to reading your next novel. I pray for the best for you & your growing career.

    ♥ Elaine


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