Ace Collins is the author of The Yellow Packard, The Christmas Star and more than sixty other fiction and nonfiction books.
Ace, welcome to Overcoming Through Time – With God’s Help. We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers.
Would you tell us about the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help?
I actually quit my job in the real world to embark on a freelance writing career when I was in my late twenties. My wife was a school teacher and we had just had our first child. Logic would tell you this was not a smart time to start a new career, especially one that had no income guarantee. But I just felt called to do it. It was a struggle for more than a decade just to pay the bills. I wrote for small publishers for smaller pay, tried to land magazine features. On top of that I substitute taught and officiated basketball games. I can’t tell you how many times we came close to starving out. Even though I felt this was my calling, I think I would have quit if it hadn’t been for two incredible women. The first was my wife Kathy. She made a sign to hang over my desk that said, “Don’t Sink.” It was her way of reminding me that with faith we can walk on water. The other was country music entertainer Louise Mandrell. She not only constantly told me that I had been given a talent by God and I had to use, but whenever it seemed we didn’t have enough money to make it until the end of the month, Louise found a magazine that needed a story for me to write or hired me to write a production show for her. Louise really put her faith in me into action.
I look back on those times now and can honestly say that there is no way we should have been able to make it. There simply wasn’t enough money. And yet we did. The fact that the Lord seemed to always give me a chance to land a gig just when I was ready to quit gave me the faith to try for another month. One month led to the next and soon it was years. Then, after more than a decade, I wrote a magazine piece on Lassie that led to my getting a chance to write the official Lassie story for Viking-Penguin. Lassie A Dog’s Life was the turning point.
There were other things that kept me going during this time that proved that driving old beat up cars and not having vacations or evenings out was worth it. I had letters from folks who had found something I had written and those thank you notes, including two who came from people that shared they were going to commit suicide until they read something I had written, also validated that God wanted me to do what I was doing even in the faces of the bills, the sacrifice while our friend were prospering and the overwhelming odds against success.
The book that actually fully established my career came more than 15 years after I’d walked away from the real world to try my hand at writing. When Zondervan offered me a contract on “The Stories Behind The Best-Loved Songs Of Christmas” and it became a bestseller, it changed everything. I love the fact that this book was the one that really established my career because it mirrored my struggle in the business. I shopped that idea for over a decade and received 27 rejections. So now I can show those in any business or those who just trying to witness to others about faith, you don’t give up after one attempt, in fact, you don’t give up ever.
What is your favorite bible verse and why?
Right now it is Matthew 25:35-40. I look at those verses as being a directive to how each of us should live. We reflect Christ not in what we say as much with what we do for those who have nothing. By reaching out to the “least of these” we live a sermon than never needs words. I think those verses have impacted me to such a great extent that the message is evident in even the novels I write.
|The Yellow Packard by Ace Collins|
Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio? Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print?
Most of my books over the past decade have come out in audio formats and there are a few that have appeared in large print. Now what is available varies on a book by book basis, but in time it seems all of them are now being released in audio.
|Ace Collins' book covers 2012|
What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
Well, in truth, they must be entertained. If you don’t entertain the reader then you have lost your chance to really make an impact in other ways. Past the entertainment part, my characters struggle with finding callings. They are not strong, they have their doubts and fear, and thus I feel that readers will identify with them in a way that they would identify with a friend. When the reader is finished with the book, I hope they have an urge to look around and find someone who needs to be lifted up. I also hope they realize that the “least of these” are not just in developing nations, but are really all around us.
As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
I love the research elements of any project. I just have fun digging into the past. I love to find the story behind things. But in the case of these two books, one that is set in the Great Depression and the other just after World War II, the strength of the human spirit during those really dark days amazed me. These people were struggling in ways I have never had to struggle and they didn’t give up. They pushed forward as much for others as they did for themselves. The people from these eras were about living and sacrificing for others in ways that few of us could imagine. And the other element that is strangely comforting is that we think of those in the past as being towers of faith. Yet when you read about them they had the same fears and doubts as we do. They became towers by working through those. We have that same potential.
In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
Without meaning to, I seem to always interject stories into my books that can serve as teaching tools for those struggling with doubts, depression and insecurity. My characters are usually dealing with the same issues. They are far from perfect and have to step back from their lives to fully grasp that the Lord working in them. Thus as leads like Helen in The Yellow Packard or Jimmy in The Christmas Star are flawed, insecure and struggling, the way they deal with their problems is something that I feel can teach and inspire. In my next release, Darkness Before Dawn, we really go into a character study of a person dealing with rage, depression and a need for revenge. Thus that book hits has greater potential to be used for therapeutic influence than possibly anything I ever written.
Thank you Ace for agreeing to answer these questions!
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My books can be purchased at all online sellers, at bookstores and via my website.