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Written by Jill Sheets
Recently, I had the honor of interviewing an amazing pastor, author, and overall wonderful woman, Tabitha Caplinger. She is the author of the TCO3 trilogy, which I cannot wait to read. Read on and hear her advice if you have walked away from God, her books, and what #LiveChosen means.
R: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
T: I don’t want to just ramble out my standard bio, so…I’m a wife, mom, youth pastor, and author. I’m also a confessed TV addict. I spend most days in Tabitha Caplingermy pajamas, writing and drinking coffee. Also, I like to think I’m pretty awesome (I tend to think everyone is pretty awesome in their own way).
R: How did you decide to get into student ministry? What is the best thing about it?
T: My dad was a pastor. I’d like to say that I had this super inspiring calling experience, but in reality, I didn’t want to have anything to do with vocational ministry, so I pushed the idea of it out of my mind and ran away to a secular college for two semesters. God, being patient and gracious, kept speaking to my heart and showing me His purposes for my life. Eventually, I realized nothing outside of His will was going to make me happy and fulfilled, so I relented. The cool thing now is looking back and seeing how God redeemed those two semesters and is currently using them in my ministry (I was a creative writing major, though I had never once thought of being a writer prior to college. Now I’m a pastor and an author!).
R: You are also an ordained minister. How did that come about?
T: The moment I really yielded my will to God’s and began to walk out the call to student ministry, I knew I wanted to be credentialed as a minister–not for the title, but the training. I am ordained with the Assemblies of God. The classes involved in getting ordained are challenging, but they teach you so much about ministry and about God’s Word. I am also so thankful to be part of a fellowship that values women as equal so that I could become ordained. It was a super cool experience. My husband and I were ordained at the same time and my father surprised us by getting to be the minister who prayed over us at the service.
R: It is not easy being a teen. What advice would you give a teenager who has turned away from God and Jesus?
T: I would say to give Him another chance. I’ve been doing student ministry for a lot of years and those that started out with Jesus and turned away either went through something difficult and grew angry at God, or they never really had a personal relationship with Him to begin with (I’m not trying to cast everyone in general categories because our struggles and situations are all unique, but I think a lot boils down to these two arenas.). But while we may walk away from God, He never walks away from us. He is right there, waiting for us to just see Him, to reach out a hand for him. So give Him another chance, a real effort, ask Him to reveal Himself, to speak to you. I believe with all my heart that He will. And don’t confuse people with Jesus. Often we limit God by only seeing him in the light of other Christians. Look for Him, the real Him.
R: Tell us about your book The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline.
T: Basically, it’s some pretty cool and sassy girls who fight demons and are trying to save the world. There is also a stoic angel and pie.
R: How did you come up with the ideas for your books? What is your writing process?
T: This book was a dream. That might sound clichéd, but it’s true. I woke up with this idea. Actually, it started with a vision of The Chronicle and the story just went from there. As for the writing process, I am an outliner first. My initial outlines are pretty broad and basic, and then as I go they get more specific. I do like to be flexible, though. More than once, my characters have gone off-script, and that has led to some of my favorite scenes.
R: Where can people get your books?
T: Amazon is a good place to start. Bloodline is available to order in both paperback and digital in other places online. You can even walk into your local bookstore and they can probably order it for you. I am waiting for the day it makes the Barnes & Noble shelves.
R: What advice do you have for someone who wanted to become a writer?
T: Write. Sit down and do the work. Even if you don’t have the whole book laid out, it’s okay–just start somewhere. Also, do your homework on the publishing and marketing process. There is a lot I have learned along the way that I wish I had known earlier. Writing the book is just the beginning.
R: Tell us about the book The Chronicle of the Three: Armor Bearer. When will this book be released?
T: Armor Bearer is the continuation of the TCO3 trilogy. It picks up a little while after Bloodline ends and we get to dive a little deeper into Claire’s history and Zoe’s present. Some new characters appear, too, which is always fun. And you don’t have to wait for it because Armor Bearer was released February 7, 2017!
R: Do you plan on writing more books?
T: Yes! I am finishing the third book in the TCO3 trilogy right now but I have two other book ideas that are swirling around in my brain. I can only focus on one story at a time, so as soon as Book Three is sent off to the publisher to get the process started, I will being outlining the next book, which I am really looking forward to.
R: Tell our readers about your blog.
T: My blog is like my brain, a little all over the place. I write about what’s on my mind that month. Some posts are funny and some are serious. Some are about writing or my books. Some are about my kids. Some are about Jesus. It’s a good way to get to know me because it’s just me, my thoughts on the page.
R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?
T: This might be it! I get asked what my favorite type of pie is a lot…or how I like my tacos. Doing an interview in character as Claire from Bloodline, I (or she) was asked what shoes she was wearing.
R: What is #LiveChosen?
T: For over 15 years of youth ministry I have discipled young women. After writing Bloodline, I put together a devotional resource that is its companion, Daughters Arise. But I didn’t feel like it was enough. I want the stories I write to open conversations about our relationship with God. I was reading Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere one day and praying about how I could take the ministry part of all this one step further and #LiveChosen flashed in my mind. My TCO3 characters get branded with the word “chosen” after slaying their first demon. While we won’t slay any physical demons, we do have purpose–we are chosen. #LiveChosen is my initiative to help young women learn to live for their purpose on purpose. I have some resources on my website for girls and leaders and I have several #LiveChosen videos on my YouTube channel. (If you don’t mind watching me talk about Jesus in my kitchen or bedroom.)
R: Are you on any social networking sites? Which ones and what are their address? Do you have an official website?
T: I am on all of them. Probably not really but a lot of them.
My website is tabithacaplinger.com and it links to all my social media.
R: Anything else you would like to add or say to your readers?
T: Just that you are chosen, powerful, loved, and never alone.
L: My name is Laila Lee Jackson and I’m a total dork. I couldn’t survive without my family and, in my opinion, animals are better than people. I am sixteen years old and I started writing back when I was ten. I am very passionate about reading, which I have enjoyed since about third grade when I discovered the Harry Potter series. After finding Harry Potter I started reading more and more. I eventually stumbled across Percy Jackson and the Olympians and fell in love. With books and the stories that came to life with just a few words, I decided that I wanted to share my own stories with the world, so I started writing. It didn’t start off well. I was a decent writer, but I couldn’t give my stories any real substance. Finally, after basically moving across the state, I found not only my incredible friends, but an idea that came to life and after four years, I finally had the story I’d always dreamed of.
R: What is your book about?
L: I’ve never been good at summarizing a story, but I’ll give it my best shot. My story is about a girl who discovers she isn’t quite normal. Her soul is not her own, but rather shared with that of an ancient Greek goddess. One day, alongside Dakota Greene, Whitney Clarkson (the girl) stumbles across a magical clearing and awakens the goddess, as well as the souls of eleven other ancient deities from several different cultures. Whitney and eleven others are whisked away from the mortal world and sent on an outrageous quest that they can’t expect to survive. Between running from monsters of myth and magical beings that deceive the eye, as well as trying to keep her friends alive, (even at the expense of her own life) she discovers that everyone wears a mask and the difficulty of seeing through it. While that is the basic plot, there is much, much more to the story. Hopefully everyone can discover the world of Whitney Clarkson as she attempts to beat the gods.
R: Who are your biggest inspirations?
L: When it comes to my writing, my greatest inspirations are Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling. Rowling managed to give me an unquenchable thirst for reading. Riordan turned that thirst into a fiery passion and a craving to make my own own mark on the literary world. His works made me push myself and developed my dreams of sharing my own stories with the world some day. In life, some of my greatest inspirations and influences are my parents. My mom, whose mantra in life is probably “walk it off,” is one of the strongest people I know. My dad, tough on the outside, but softer than your favorite blanket on the inside, pushes me to always be the best I can be. I love them and honestly, I probably wouldn’t survive without them. My influences would also include my teachers and coaches. They are literally there everyday. They know when to praise and when to give constructive criticism. They help me to grow as a student and an athlete, but also as a person.
R: I heard that you are also into sports. What sports do you play?
L: I run cross country and play basketball, but my heart belongs to softball. Cross country constantly challenges my mental strength. I used to despise running. It was the absolute worst. However, my freshman year I succumbed to peer pressure and joined the cross country team, where my coach taught me how to love running. Basketball challenges my physical strength and sometimes leaves me worse for wear. I mean, a girl my age who is as athletic and healthy as I am shouldn’t already have aches and pains that make her hobble around like an old lady. I played basketball for a few years when I was younger, but then stopped until my freshman year when I joined the high school team. I worked incredibly hard and pushed myself and I finally made split team, where I had the privilege to play with varsity. I have played softball for as long as I can remember. It was a game I fell head-over-heels in love with. Eventually, my family moved to a small town in northern Nevada at the end of my fifth grade year. I continued to play and then at the end of my eighth grade year, one of the other softball player’s dad put together a travel team, the Wells Rage. Now, before that summer I was an average player. I wasn’t incredibly good, but I wasn’t the absolute worst. I understood the game better than most others, but my ability was lacking. After that summer I grew and I turned from average to above average. I had talent, but with good coaching and hard work I developed skill. Now I’m hoping to continue my softball through high school and at the next level.
R: Do you have an official website or any social media?
L: I do not have an official website or Facebook page, though we are looking into getting one. The Kingdom of Fire is available on Lulu, which is a self-publishing site. It is also available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
R: What advice would you give to other young writers?
L: All I can tell them is to just keep writing. Find a topic you’re really passionate about and just write. I never brainstormed anything. I did research, but once I pulled up my book I just typed. I lost myself in the story and let myself become a part of it because I cared about it so much. The most important part is to not give up. I have given up on a lot of stories because I couldn’t figure out how to start them or end them or transition to the next chapter. But I finally found a topic that I was so passionate about I couldn’t ever imagine giving up on it. I would also advise that you don’t look at any past work with regret that you didn’t finish. Don’t look at it and only see the mistakes. The more you write the better you get. Without my own failures in the past, I never would have grown into a writer. I never would have dreamed that one day I would have a published book. But because of perseverance and dedication, I do.
R: Tell us about yourself and how you got started writing poetry.
N: I started writing poetry once I realized that lashing out and being disruptive was not only alienating, but an inadequate way to express my anger. Bottling up my emotions wasn’t healthy or helpful, so I started to use the journal my mom had given me. However, simply writing down my feelings felt tedious and dull. I put a spin on the writings and that resulted in metaphors and rhythmic sentence structures–poetry. Through words, I’m able to pinpoint why I’m feeling what I’m feeling in a moment, and see on paper what’s really going on in my mind. Putting pen to paper turns the chaos in my mind to order. I can relinquish the chaos through a controlled medium so that I don’t have to hurt anyone or myself.
R: Tell us about your book Girl Poems.
N: Girl Poems is about the essence of femininity through my eyes. Girl Poems is about accepting a role that leans towards conforming, but giving in because it’s accessible and because there are things to enjoy and take pleasure in, regardless of the simplicity. I chose a few poets to make contributions in Girl Poems as well, whom I felt clearly understood the message.
R: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
N: I titled the book before I filled its pages because I knew what I was going for. My poetry, as a whole, hasn’t much to do with girls, just aspects of the human condition in general. So, adhering to the “girl” theme in Girl Poems meant digging through an old notebook I had utilized in while living with five other girls in a dorm at school. At that time more than any other, I had been questioning gender roles and exploring what it meant to be a girl. I, like most people, am blended with both masculine and feminine aspects. In Girl Poems, I simply zeroed in on the feeling of what femininity meant to me.
R: Do you have a favorite poem?
N: It’s hard to pinpoint just one favorite poem, but one that stood out to me recently is Red by Fatimah Asghar. “You’ll feel tin in my bones and think you are making love to a copper woman.” That line really sticks with me.
R: For people who have not read the book yet, how would you describe your writing?
N: It’s difficult to describe my writing because it’s up to the readers to interpret the style. If I can be as objective as possible, though, I’d say it has dark undertones made indulgent by the use of flowery language.
R: Do you have any future goals on writing more books?
N: Absolutely. I plan on publishing a novel in the future. I write short stories often, and plan on either turning one of those into a novel, or starting up a completely new idea.
R: Where can people get your book?
R: I read that you are also a director. Is that true? If so, what have you directed?
N: I wouldn’t quite call myself a director. I created a few shorts before I caught the acting bug when I moved to a big city last year. Who wouldn’t want to be a Hollywood director, though? That’d be awesome.
R: What has been your biggest influence?
N: My biggest influence on my writing stems from the music I listen to more than anything. Bands like Katatonia and Massive Attack are very poetic in their lyrics, and you can often find me listening to them while writing.
R: What are some of your future goals?
N: My dream is to get married and have a few kids. No, I’m joking. Seriously, I’d like to have the resources to create whatever unconventional idea I have in mind and see it play out on the screen.
R: What are five things people may not know about you?
N: I’m a metalhead, I prefer large dogs to small ones, I believe in ghosts, I find bruises and scars cooler than tattoos, and I enjoy spending time in the woods during autumn.
R: What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a poet?
N: Just start writing. Allow that filter of self-protectiveness to slide off in the moment and become one with yourself and whatever you’re feeling. Don’t worry about how it will come across, just be raw and indiscriminate towards your words. Only once you’ve finished and care to edit should you judge your structure or words.
R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?
N: I was at a rock show with my mom and sisters and while I was outside, this guy on the street came up to me and asked me if this children’s book he was holding belonged to me. I said yes but he kept it anyway, explaining that it was actually for his daughter.
R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?
N: I don’t have an official website, but I am on Instagram and Twitter as @NakadaWilson.
R: Is there anything else you would like to add?
N: Sure. Even though the book is titled Girl Poems, I think that regardless of gender, anyone feeling boxed in within a certain title will relate. While editing the poems, I infused even the darkest of poems with something to look forward to or feel good about. Life can be depressing, but it’s short and something of a gift. It’s important to find something enjoyable or pleasurable out of it. Finding beauty in the depth of darkness is magnetic and inspiring enough to bring anyone fully to light.
R: Nakada, thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.
Written by Jill Sheets