Words were Ginny Yttrup’s salvation during her tumultuous childhood. Then she met the Living Word, Jesus Christ. Today, she combines those two loves to encourage others through writing and life coaching. Words is the title of Ginny’s debut novel, recently released by B&H Books.
Ginny is the mother of two college-age sons. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her family, friends, and dogs.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you go about pursuing your writing goals?
I was almost 30 years old before I thought about becoming a writer. It seemed like an impossible dream, but I submitted the dream to God and began attending writers’ conferences. It was through those conferences that I learned everything I know about writing for publication. I attended a dozen years worth of conferences before I sold my first novel.
Who/what inspired you to become a speaker and life coach?
I never wanted to speak…at least not out loud! But in the beginning of my writing career I thought I’d write non-fiction and non-fiction authors need a platform, so I also began speaking. But, oh, it was hard for me. It felt so unnatural and made me so nervous. Then one day I boarded a plane and ended up with Marilyn Meberg from Women of Faith as my seatmate. Her advice to me was to do what I love and then discipline myself for the rest. That day, I stopped speaking, stopped pursuing a career as a non-fiction author, and instead decided to chase my dream of writing fiction.
Now, as a fiction author, I’m speaking. And it doesn’t feel like a discipline. I love it! God’s given me opportunities to speak on topics I’m passionate about and I’ve learned it’s not about me, instead, it’s about what God wants to do through me.
I became a life coach a couple of years ago. I’d worked with a life coach briefly and loved the process. When I noticed Western Seminary had added a coaching program to their curriculum, I decided I’d take one class to try it out. I loved it, went on to finish the program and now work as a life and writing coach. I find the work, partnering with others on their journey, very rewarding. I especially enjoy working with those who want a coach for their spiritual journey.
Do you (or did you) have other career aspirations?
I’ve always wanted to go to culinary school and open my own restaurant, but I think that will remain a dream. I also think I’d love working in the National Park system as a naturalist or park ranger.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
Definitely. Just over two years ago I had major reconstructive back surgery. The surgery wasn’t unexpected, I knew it would have to come at some point, but the recovery period disrupted my life in ways I couldn’t imagine. I was hospitalized for eight days, had to learn to walk again, couldn’t drive for four months, and I’m still healing today. I now have metal rods and screws attached to my spine from my shoulder blades to my pelvis.
The surgery changed so much for me. Prior to the surgery I could barely walk a city block, now I can walk miles. But there were also important emotional changes that came through the healing process, and I’ll look back on that time as transitional in my life. It was truly a gift from God.
The protagonist in my third novel will, not surprisingly, undergo the same procedure.
Let’s talk about your debut novel, Words (B&H Books, February 2011). Please tell us about it.
Words is the story of ten-year old Kaylee Wren who, due to the trauma she suffers at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, hides behind a shroud of silence. Although Kaylee stops speaking, she collects words from a dictionary and finds solace in the words she keeps in her mind.
It’s also the story of 34-year old Sierra Dawn, an artist who has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, the God of Sierra’s childhood woos her back to Himself.
Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra experience the freedom found in the Truth, Jesus Christ.
Besides providing entertainment, what do you hope readers will take away from the book?
Words deals with the topic of childhood sexual abuse. It’s a difficult, but very real issue. My prayer is that the story will offer a picture of the hope and redemption found in the Truth, Jesus Christ, for other survivors of childhood abuse. But also, I pray it will offer a picture of God’s mercy and grace for all believers.
Breaking into publishing can be difficult. What advice would you give young writers trying to establish themselves?
Recently, I was in a Barnes and Noble store and a young girl, maybe ten or eleven years old, overheard that I was an author and she approached me and asked me this very question. What I told her, and what I tell others who ask, is that the best thing they can do is read. Read! Read! Read! And as they’re reading, begin to pay attention to what styles of writing they enjoy, pay attention to the prose, the structure of a book, etc. Reading other well-written books is a great way to learn.
I’m also a huge advocate of writers conferences!
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
All foods, with the exception of peas and lima beans, are my favorites! When I’m writing, I eat chocolate. See’s candy and Dove milk chocolate are my favorites. There must be something in chocolate that inspires me. Unfortunately, I gained ten pounds during the final stages of writing my last novel and I’m working now to lose that weight. The word “moderation” comes to mind, but…
This website features both music and literary guests. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
My musical talent is my ability to listen to music well. I’m a great listener and enjoyer of music. hat’s it. You do not want to hear me sing or attempt to play any sort of musical instrument. Trust me.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
It would be something inspiring with a fun beat.
Are you a major or a minor chord?
Minor. I’ve always believed in the importance of minor chords—in music and in life.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Definitely the little girl trying to walk in high heels! My whole life I’ve felt like God’s wooed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to lean on Him as He leads.
I’m a dog lover, and I know you are too. In fact, you have an important dog “character” in Words. Please tell us about your dogs.
I have three dogs, two that live with me and one that lives with my sons. Don’t tell the other two, but Bear, my Pomeranian mix, is my favorite dog. He is furry, feisty, and fun! I also love Hunter, my Lab, Shepherd mix. She’s twelve-years old and suffering from arthritis in her hips. She’s slowing down but still has a huge heart. Both dogs are faithful companions. My third dog, Fred, is a Basset Hound who is so loveable, but so stinky!
Thanks, Ginny! It’s a pleasure to have you at DivineDetour!
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For additional information about Ginny Yttrup, her writing, and her coaching, visit her website at www.ginnyyttrup.com. Ginny blogs at http://www.fictioncreator.com/.
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Ginny, it sounds as if you’re handling some very tough topics with compassion. I’ll look for the book. It sounds like a good one.
Meg, thanks for stopping by the site. I would love to interview you RE When Sparrows Fall as soon as it’s released!