Niles Reddick Interviews River Jordan, Author of “Confessions of a Christian Mystic”

NR:  River, congratulations on another wonderful release. My review was positive and it looks like from your growing list of endorsements, including Rick Bragg, Joshilyn Jackson, Southern Living, and more, that this will be successful like your previous books. To what do you attribute your success (other than your excellent writing ability)? 

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RJ:  The writing ability was a gift from birth. But there were years upon years of learning the craft, studying theater, writing plays—and throwing thousands of words away. I think that is one of the greatest things. Being willing to throw the wrong words away. That’s a tough lesson when you are a new writer or an old one. It feels hopeless to write an entire novel and realize only two sentences or a main character should be continuing on in the rewrite. I think writing takes guts. You have to be tougher than people might think you are at first glance.

NR:  We are all influenced by other writers. In fact, your writing influenced me to write a couple of pieces, but who are your major influences?

RJ:  My family. Growing up southern in a rural, summertime, backwoods kind of way. It’s what put storytelling in my bones. All those pieces of dialogue. I still listen to my mother tell me stories today and the way she paints them. Ferociously funny. Downright feral in the telling. I love that wild wonder.

NR:  Do you have a favorite book or piece that you’ve written and why?

RJ:  There is an excerpt of a chapter in Confessions of a Christian Mystic that begins, “I was raised by women who believed in Jesus and could tell the future.” It goes on to describe the southern upbringing and just perfectly captures these women I call “mother’s of mine” who were Christian and also given to the interpretation of dreams, of signs and wonders. And the piece also captures the landscape, the heat lightning, the muddy creeks. I’ve always liked it because I thought I got it right and wouldn’t change a word.

River Jordan

NR:  You have been extremely helpful and gracious to other writers. For example, you produce the Clearstory radio program out of Nashville, and you’ve hosted several writers, including me, and like others, you’ve offered writing to others such as University of Mississippi Press, which did the anthology Southern Writers on Writing with Susan Cushman as the editor. Do you find that these sorts of things are helpful to you with networking? Do you see them as a responsibility of writers? Do you just do this for fun, or is it a combination?  

RJ:  It’s relationship. There are days I think—why am I spending time doing this show promoting books and other writers when I should be finishing my novel. But I love it. I love the power of story, all of them. Not just my stories. And I really love the medium of radio. There is a degree of networking that comes out of that but to be perfectly honest what I feel like is that I’ve lived this magical,

wonderful life and made more friends because of it than seems humanly possible. I can’t say it is the responsibility of other writers to promote others, but I do find us a friendly tribe. Always recommending books or sharing news of festivals to attend or bookstores to visit. I like that about us very much.

NR:  Knowing you, you are already working on, if not well into, your next book.  What can we expect next from River Jordan?

RJ:  Thanks for asking! Two things. Now, I’m laughing because they seem like two very different things. It actually hasn’t even been made public knowledge yet, but I just signed a contract with Fortress Press to write a book on Celtic Christianity (still untitled), and I’m finishing a novel I’ve been working on for years that is all bourbon and bullets and dead bodies set in Nashville. I could go on forever telling you about that one, but it’s better I finish it. It focuses on two insomniac sisters with a special gift but very different personalities. It’s very moody, southern, and it’s wonderful. Thanks so much for reading Confession and for taking time to feature me and my words. Wishing you much power and peace with your words as you move forward with your stories!

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