1. What inspired you to write Mama, I Want to See God?
My grandson, Anthony inspired me to write Mama, I Want to See God. About three years ago, when he was six-years old, he actually said to his mother those exact words. Since birth, Anthony has had a bad case of eczema which is a skin disease. Extra dry skin on his hands, arms, back, and legs, including bleeding ankles and feet due to uncontrollable scratching made walking difficult for him. My daughter-in-law worried somewhat and thought Anthony wanted to die so that he would be relieved of the intense pain and discomfort. I assured her this wasn’t the case, in that children are naturally curious about God. The next morning I sat at my computer and wrote this story.
2. Why do you believe it’s important for children to read this book?
I believe children should read this book because it will give them a vision of who God is through the blessings and love He bestows upon us. Children around the world wonder about God. It’s difficult for them to understand that God actually exist when they can’t see Him. This book will help children to discover who they are as a person as they learn and connect more with God. Children will draw closer to God as they gain knowledge about Him, which will hopefully allow them to “see” God in themselves. I feel that children reading this book will come to understand that they are unique and special in the eyes of God.
3. What made you want to become a Christian writer?
God! I had plans to write the great American romance novel. I never intended to write children’s books or Christian books. But, as we know God had other plans for me. One summer day in 2010, while along at the gym, I attempted to change the TV channel to one of my favorite shows. As I climbed back on the elliptical bike, I realized I had mistakenly turned the channel to the 700 Club Christian Broadcasting station instead of the local news channel. At this point I was too lazy to get back up, so I listened to a conversation about how “God knows us and knows us by name.” This quickly gained my attention. God spoke to me that day and I responded with a resolved “Yes.” I went home to write the first of many inspirational stories for children. Psalm 78:4 states, “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders” (NIV). That’s my mission from God and I’m doing it!
4. Your favorite books to recommend to others?
Being a teacher-librarian, I read a lot of children’s books. I love any of the books written by Christopher Paul Curtis, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Jerry Spinelli, Walter Dean Myers, Faith Ringgold, Evelyn Coleman, Juanita Havill, and Dr. Seuss, to name a few. Children’s Christian authors I’d recommend are Jill Roman Lord, Jan and Mike Berenstain, Max Lucado, and Kadir Nelson.
Adult books I’d recommend for are Write His Answer: A Bible for Christian Writers by Marlene Bagnull, Writing So Heaven Will Be Different by Joyce K. Ellis and Tammie Edington Shaw, Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep by Jeff Vines, and for a little Christian romance, The Midnight Clear: Stories of Love, Hope, and Inspiration by Patricia Haley, Tia McCollors, Stacy Hawkins Adams, Kendra Norman-Bellamy, and others.
5. Hobbies outside of writing?
The hobbies I enjoy most, singing and baking. I sing in the Helen Starr Smith Sanctuary Choir at Antioch AME Church in Stone Mountain, GA and the Wendell P. Whalum Community Chorus. I also love to bake. My third hobby is Sudoku puzzles, when I have the time.
6. Any plans for future books?
I’ve just submitted to my editor a parent/teacher study guide to accompany Mama, I Want to See God. Once it’s finished, it will be available as a download on my website. I’m also in the last stages of completing a children’s non fiction book about the Wetlands. Additionally, I have several unfinished books for children and adults that I’m so, so eager to complete. I do have plans for another “Mama, I Want to …” series book. I’m just waiting in anticipation, but patiently for God to bless me with the words.
About the Author
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Vanessa Fortenberry wrote plays, poetry, and short stories as a young girl. After graduating college with a degree in music education with a concentration in voice, Vanessa taught general music, chorus, and voice. But, Vanessa’s passion for books, reading, and research soon led her to return to school for her master’s and specialist degrees in Media. Presently, as a teacher-librarian, Vanessa enjoys story time with her students.
Inspired by her grandson’s curiosity about wanting to see God, Vanessa wrote the verse story, Mama, I Want to See God. Vanessa savors the moments she spends with her family and friends, as well as baking delicious desserts for her loved ones. To learn more about Vanessa, visit her website: www.vanessafortenberry.com.