Love Letters Cover

Interview of Author Glenys Nellist and Giveaway of LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD

Love Letters Cover

From beginning acknowledgements to the ending invitation  to “join Jesus’ team,” Glenys Nellist’s love of Christ permeates every aspect of her picture book, LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD.  Intended for children 4-8, Glenys pairs eighteen age-appropriate retellings of Bible stories with a corresponding, lift-the-flap “Love Letter from God.”  For example, the love letter next to the story The Stone that Struck the Giantbegins, “I have something very special to tell you: No giant is bigger than me! No giant is stronger than me! So do not be afraid…” Each love letter follows “Dear” with  a blank space, in order to personalize it with the child’s name.

Not only is the gospel fabulously woven throughout Glenys’ book,  the quality paper, layout, and illustrations by Sophie Allsopp package its message beautifully.  LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD was a finalist for the 2015 Christian Book Award in the children’s literature category. It would fit as a special book in a child’s library or as a resource for Christian educators.

I posed the following questions to Glenys and hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.  Be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY at the bottom for a chance to win a signed copy of LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD.

 GlenysLOVE LETTERS FROM GOD is your first book. You must be so pleased with the result! Tell us about your writing journey and what you have learned during the publishing process.

My writing journey began as a little girl when I attended a red brick Primary school in northern England. One day a week, I was one of the lucky few to be taken into the teachers’ lounge, where I would sink into a big comfy armchair in front of a roaring log fire. There, with pencil and paper at the ready on my lap, I would write. It was then that the love of writing became rooted in my soul, but it would be over forty years later, when I came to live in the United States, that my first book, Love Letters from God, would be published. During the publishing process I have learned that if God gives you a dream, you must pursue it; you must finish the good work God began in you; you must work hard, and above all, be patient.

Where did the clever concept for LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD originate?

When my four sons were little, a wonderful book was published in England, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, called The Jolly Postman. It was written in rhythm and rhyme and told the story of a postman who rode his bike to deliver letters to Nursery Rhyme characters. The ingenious and innovative part of the book was that the pages were actual envelopes that contained the letters. My sons loved to cuddle on my lap as we shared this book together. I can still see my youngest son reaching his chubby little fingers into the envelopes to take the letters out. And I still have my battered 1986 copy. That little book, which is still in bookstores today, became the inspiration for Love Letters from God. When I first had the idea to write a children’s Bible, I knew that I had to come up with something unique. I felt that God brought that little book back to the forefront of my mind, and whispered: use the idea of letters, from ME!  And so that is what I did!

So many stories in the Bible: How did you choose which accounts to include?

Before I actually chose the stories themselves, I spent a long time scouring the Bible for verses that I wanted to include with each story. These special verses had to be first-person promises, or ‘wonderful words’ that God might speak directly to the reader, such as: Do not be afraid, I am with you (Isaiah 43:5); or: You will be my special treasure (Exodus 19:5). I then chose stories that would serve to highlight the verses, and tried to include well-known ones that all children love.

Some of your references go beyond verbatim scripture, such as calling the forbidden fruit a “special, shiny apple,” or naming the boy who shared his lunch “Nathan.” What was your motivation for including these elements?

I once heard an editor say ‘your writing has to sing.’ Those words stayed with me, and as one who wants her writing to sing, it has always been important to me to use words that would capture a child’s imagination, or allow them to see themselves in the story. A special shiny apple is so much more visual for a child than forbidden fruit (would they even know what that meant?) and naming the little boy Nathan makes him a real person, with whom every child could identify.

I LOVE the opportunity you give for reader response. Explain the format of and your hopes for the final two pages of your book.

From the outset of the book, it was very important to me to find a way for the child to respond to Jesus and to offer a salvation call in a way that little ones would understand. I think that sometimes we make salvation complex, when in actual fact, it’s a simple invitation, like the one offered to James and John on the beach, to say yes to Jesus. And so the last two pages of the book contain an invitation for the child to join Jesus’ team, and include a fold out card so that they can write their own letter back to God. My hope for that final page is that every book will be filled with child-like responses to our great God, which will become treasured keepsakes for their parents. (If you peek inside my three year old grandson’s book, his letter simply says: DearGod, I Love You. What more could God possibly want to hear?)

What Glenys Nellist projects can we look forward to in the future?

I’m so glad you asked! In December this year, the board book version will be released, entitled Little Love Letters from God. I took just eight of the original stories, and wrote them in simple rhyme for little ones, with one sentence lift-the-flap letters. Then in the fall of next year, look out for Christmas Love Letters from God, followed by Girls’ Love Letters from God in 2017. I also have two Snuggle Time board bookscoming out next year: Snuggle Time Prayers, and Snuggle Time Psalms. God is good, and my greatest desire is that he would use my words to bring little ones closer to Him.

Where can readers find  more information about you and LOVE LETTERS FROM GOD?

Readers can connect with me via:

Author Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

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