What a privilege to get to chat with Neta Jackson, creator of The Yada Yada Prayer Group series! She has written an amazing series of novels with wonderful characters that you just can't help fall in love with. So, without further ado, here's Neta!
1) How does it feel to wrap up the Yada Yada Prayer Group series?
Sad. A little lost. I've been living with these characters day and night for the past five years. Sometimes I wonder what they're doing . . . But happy, too. What a privilege it's been to go on the journey with these sisters, learn what they're learning, be challenged when God challenges them. And I continue to get letters from readers that blow me away. God has been at work in amazing ways that make me realize that when I give the gifts He's given to me back to Him, then He uses them to do miracles and change lives. Wow. Double wow.
2) What sparked the original idea?
I'd been co-leading a women's Bible study for about five years, a group every bit as diverse and feisty as the Yada Yada sisters, when my husband Dave said, "You ought to write a novel about a group like this." Who me? I've been writing children's books and historical fiction for middle readers for years. Plus non-fiction with my husband Dave, a team effort. But write a novel by myself??? Hahahahaha. But Dave gave me a huge push, God confirmed it in my heart . . . and the first Yada Yada Prayer Group novel was born. I couldn't believe it when I actually finished a whole novel. And to tell the truth, I thought that was it. I was so naive, thinking I could put twelve feisty women with amazing stories in a single novel and expect them to stay there . . .
3) I read that there was some controversy about the series early on, due to some language and some scenes (probably with Bandana Woman!). Was there, and what was your take on it if there was?
Controversy? Honestly, I didn't know that! That's interesting . . . I've gotten a letter here and there that took issue with something, and I answered each one carefully and prayerfully. But I didn't know there was a "controversy" about the novels. Hmmm. Now I'm curious!
4) What can we look forward to next from you?
Well, wheeeeee, here we go! Seriously, I'm developing a new series which is tentatively called, "Yada Yada House of Hope," which is a "spin-off" from Book #7 (not a sequel) with a new cast, a new setting (still in Chicago), but with some of the Yada Yada characters showing up in new ways. I'm a third of the way into the first book, which is titled: Where Do I Go? drawn from the gospel song by Dottie Rambo, "I Go to the Rock." Publication date is Spring 2009 (and readers are telling me that's a loooong time to wait!).
5) I've also read that the Yada Yada series will be re-issued next year? Care to let my readers know about this special project?
For some time I've wanted to do a Yada Yada Celebration Book, with multi-cultural celebration ideas and recipes. Instead, Thomas Nelson (my publisher) has decided to re-issue the whole series with relevant celebration ideas and recipes in the back of each one! Actually, this "Party Edition" started with Book #7 (which has celebration and recipe ideas for the holidays), but will go back and pick up with the other six books and be reissued as a special "Party Edition" of the whole series.
6) Do you have a favorite Yada Yada sister, and why is she your favorite?
Oh my. I want to be like Avis . . . I love Florida because she's so real and in your face . . . I love Yo-Yo, bless her, because she won't put up with "churchianity" and all the Christianese we use so glibly . . . and Ruth keeps me laughing . . . sorry. I can't pick just one!
7) This series has sparked a lot of Yada Yada prayer groups. Any idea how many and how far out this reaches?
I wish I knew! Dozens and dozens (hundreds?) all over the country. I've heard from a lot of them, but don't really have a count. But this has been a blessing I never expected, and I can't think of a more wonderful legacy to come from these novels. Hallelujah! Makes me want to start dancing!
I would like to personally thank you for giving life to Jodi, Avis, Flo and company:-) I love each and every woman, and I will miss them greatly. But I plan on investing in the party editions, and donating my original set to our local library, with the condition they go into circulation here in our area.
Thanks, Deena. I've loved talking with you and thanks for being such a faithful reader! Hopefully we can meet sometime. And if your readers want to know more about the books my husband and I have written, they can go to our web site (www.daveneta.com) and look around. They can also sign up for our occasional newsletter when we have a new book out. Dave's most recent novel, Forty to Life, just came out in July, a wonderful story of murder, forgiveness, redemption, and the challenge of forgiving as we've been forgiven. Bless you!
Don't miss out on our CFBA post this week...and my contest to win the final book in this amazing series!!