Colette (Ford) Harrell the author of the debut novel The Devil Made Me Do It is passionate about the written word. Holding a master’s degree, she is a director of human services. Her creation and implementation of a health and energy medical program stands as a best practices model. Her philosophy of service is compassionate care through a spirit of excellence. A motivational speaker, she specializes in customer and human service workshops on state and national levels. She is cofounder of COJACK Productions, a Christian entertainment company. As an active member of her church, KingdomChristianCenter, she serves in several ministries.
Colette is a wife, mother, author, poet, songwriter, and playwright. Her novel is a delectable read, where romance, suspense, humor, and the supernatural all come together to entertain, educate, and inspire.
A Detroit native, she currently resides in Ohio, writing with humor and compassion to engage and minister to the human heart. Her motto is: whatever you do, do it “for love alone.”
Her latest book is the inspirational fiction, The Devil Made Me Do It.
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Q: Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing background?
You’re welcome. I’m really happy to be here. I’m in that midlife second-career change we are sometimes known to pursue. You become a certain age, and in certain areas of your life you become fearless. Your internal clock starts ticking, and you decide that if you are ever going to birth your passion, it better be now. I have always written poetry, short stories, and in the last nine years, I have cowritten several local stage plays. This is my debut novel.
Q: What fact about yourself would really surprise people?
I think most of us have things about us nobody else knows. Who’s really an open book? Let’s see, how transparent should I get? Well . . . I’m claustrophobic—give me an MRI—and you do it at your own peril. It’s no-holds-barred.
Q: What scares you the most?
Today? Right now? This interview! I’d love to end up with a Sally Field moment: “You like me, you really like me!”
Q: What makes you happiest?
When I can stay in the moment. It gets hard sometimes, you know? But, if I can just sit and enjoy the journey, take solace in a perfect slice of time, I get elated. And then I catch myself and I stop and say, “I’m not worried about tomorrow. Bills are paid, no one’s in trouble or sick, and people’s opinions are far away.” . . . that makes for a golden, happy, satisfied sigh.
Q: What are you most proud of in your personal life?
Man . . . Who’s going to be mad at me after I give this answer? I would say my family—warts and all. When it all adds up—it’s magnificent. Next time, can we give the top five things?
Q: What is hardest—getting published, writing, or marketing?
This answer is reminiscent of the joke concerning the man who fell out of the fiftieth-floor window of a building. On his way down, at each floor, he could be heard yelling, “So far, so good!” When I was writing the book, there were days it flowed like a symphonic orchestra; other days, I wanted to slam my computer against the wall. Then before I was published—pure angst. Now, I’m in the marketing stage . . . Can you see me sweat? What I learned along the way . . . Whatever is behind you is no longer impossible. It’s a done deal.
Q: Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is; what does success in writing look like to you?
I thought about this, my definition of success. I asked myself if it would be a career that would financially sustain me. Or, one that brought me critical acclaim. Or, maybe it would be one that brought me fame. I’m not sure of any of these answers. Maybe having money would ruin me (nah!!!). But, your earlier question comes to mind. I’d like to define a successful writing career as one where I’m happy and contented, enjoying the creative flow and going with it.
Q: Tell us about your new book. What’s it about, and why did you write it?
The Devil Made Me Do It is a novel that tells the journey of Esther Wiley. We all have dreams as children, and Esther’s was to be a princess. But, a childhood event places a seed of doubt in her self-worth. As she gets older, her life, loves, and choices create the adult she becomes. Her heart yearns for Briggs Stokes, a man of faith who has his own baggage to carry. The book is full of twists and turns. As a person of faith, Esther works hard to be a good person, but even when she wants to do right, she can end up doing wrong.
I don’t think I chose to write this . . . It wrote itself. I wanted to do an inspirational romantic love story, about real people, with real problems, and concrete solutions. I love happily ever afters, but that looks different to different people. The supernatural spiritual edge to the story surprised even me.
Q: When you are not writing, how do you relax?
I read—I read profusely. I read in bed, when I’m a passenger in the car, on lunch hour . . . I’m like Dr. Suess’s Sam I Am. I do it everywhere!
Q: Please tell us why we should read your book.
My mother told me a long time ago that it was a poor frog who doesn’t croak over their own lily pond. So . . . because “It’s the best book ever!!!” No . . . really, buy the book. You’ll like it.
Q: What kind of advice would you give other authors just getting their feet wet?
Stay positive. It can be really hard to keep going when the doors don’t open fast enough. And when they open, stay true to your story. Keep writing until it feels right to you. Social media is a necessity, but don’t let it define you. Don’t rush into anything or let others rush you. (A bit of transparency here: I’m learning these lessons a little late.). If you can find a mentor in the business who will give you the straight of things—jump on it! And last but not least, forget complaining about it all; get down from that cross—I promise you someone needs the wood.