As a young person, I never dreamed that I would write books. That was not my heart’s desire. I was far more interested in telling Bible stories in children’s church, sports, and playing the piano. These activities, along with participation in my church youth group, took most of my time. At Dallas Baptist University, my degree was in religion, not literature or writing. As a young adult, I continued telling flannelgraph Bible stories to children, teaching youth, and playing the piano, but I still had no desire to write.
After my children were born, I wanted to teach them how to think outside the box—to build their creativity. One of the ways I chose to do this was through the art of storytelling. Each day, we would have a story time. I would allow my children to give me the first line of a story, a line they made up on the spot, and I would take that line and develop it into an exciting adventure. Then, I would make up a storyline and have them create an adventure for me. Storytime quickly became their favorite time of the day.
One day, right after finishing a twenty-minute story, my husband came into the room. I discovered that he had been trying to prepare a sermon in the room beside us but couldn’t concentrate because he became too engrossed in my story. That day, he told me that one day I was going to write fiction books. Of course, for someone who had never possessed the desire to write, this was a crazy idea. I had no clue how to write a book, and it seemed like a very daunting task to me. When I informed him that he was crazy, he just laughed and repeated his statement, assuring me that I would one day write fiction books. I laughed and shrugged it off.
When my youngest son reached kindergarten, I decided to substitute at the local Christian school. I had taught children since I was twelve years old, but I had never taught in a classroom/school-type setting. The idea of teaching in such a structured environment made me a bit nervous. It just so happened that the first class I substituted in was my oldest son’s fifth-grade class. I didn’t realize that he had told his friends that his mom was a great storyteller, so I was a bit surprised when I arrived that day and was greeted by several students begging for a story. My first thought was, “Ah! Bribery!” I turned to his friends and said, “I tell you what, if everyone finishes their work today and there are no discipline problems, I’ll take the last few minutes of class to tell you a story.” At the end of that day, every student had turned in their assignments—even the two students who were renowned for not finishing their work—and there had been no discipline issues. As promised, I told them a story. The next time I substituted, I told another story. Soon, the word had spread, and every class I substituted in begged for a story. I used the same bribery tool for these classes and never had any discipline issues. Several teachers asked me where I got my stories, and when I told them they were made up, they all said the same thing: “You have got to write these stories down.”
One day, a couple of months after I began substituting, one of the student’s mothers came running toward me from across the school campus. When she reached me, she asked if I was Mrs. Fordham. After I said yes, she proceeded with, “I thought you were. Can you please tell me where to buy the books where you get those stories? My son told me that you make them up, but I’m sure he’s mistaken. They are really good, and I would love to get my hands on them.” She was amazed when I told her that her son was right, they were my stories. She repeated the same thing that the teachers and my husband said, “You have got to write those stories down.” After so many different people said the same thing, I decided to give it a try. I knew it would be hard, and I wasn’t sure that I would like it. Face it, up until that point my only writings had been assignments by English teachers, and English wasn’t a favorite subject of mine.
When I began writing my first book, I didn’t use an outline like is common for most writers. Instead, I wrote like a storyteller who creates stories at a moment’s notice. My mind rolled over ideas day and night for three months as I wrote. I pictured the story as you would picture a movie, reviewing each scene repeatedly in my mind until it was exactly as I wanted. I learned to keep a paper and pencil by the side of my bed because I often woke up in the middle of the night with a great idea, and if it wasn’t written down immediately, it was forgotten by morning. To my surprise, I discovered that I loved writing. I loved the process, the creativity involved, and the excitement of finishing a new scene. I titled my first book Jake and the Heavenly Host.
By the time Jake and the Heavenly Host was finished, I was hooked. I continued writing three additional books for that series and then tried an adult book. My first adult fiction was Treachery and the Innocent. After I finished three books in the Treachery Series, I decided to try my hand at comedy. People need to laugh, and what better way to foster laughter than to write an action-packed comedy. My With Love From Above series has four books in it. The fourth book is currently awaiting publication. I am currently beginning a series that delves into the issue of domestic violence and the narcissistic relationship titled, The Origin of Haven’s Rest.
One of my greatest and most prized opportunities in the area of writing was to be a part of the 2010-2011 writing team that wrote the new Bible Curriculum for the Association of Christian Schools International. At that time, their Bible curriculum was their best-selling material.
— Rockie Sue