Interview with author Tristi Pinkston

Today I decided to interview Tristi Pinkston, a wonderful historical fiction author within the LDS market. Her books inform, entertain and are quick to stir up controversy – all of which make the writing worthwhile.

From her website we learn that: “I’m a stay at home mom and a homeschooler (visit I spend lots of time ignoring my dirty house and hiding laundry in weird places. I specialize in moving things from one place to another, and then back again. I love Flylady’s housework routines (visit and I sometimes even do them. In my spare time, you know, those hours most people waste with sleep, I’m a writer. I love to do research and make my novels as realistic as possible, helping my readers to understand nuances of history that escape the textbooks.”

Enjoy the interview, I know I did:

1. What prompted you to become a writer?

Some mischievous sprite, I’ve no doubt. Just kidding. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, from the time I was very young. In fact, that’s one of the things people tease me about the most — the title of my first book, which was “Sue the Dog.” The dog’s name is Sue, but a friend misread it as to take legal action against the dog. I get reminded about that on a fairly regular basis. I’ve always loved stories, telling them and reading them. It was a natural choice.

2. What is your genre and why did you choose it?

My genre is historical fiction, for the most part, although I have written one contemporary novel. I love historical fiction because you can really dig into it and tell the stories that made our nation great. I specialize in telling the other side of the story — the angles that aren’t covered by the textbooks.

3. Tell me a little about the books you’ve written.

My first novel is called “Nothing to Regret.” It takes place right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My character is a young Japanese American man who is attending college at Berkeley at the time of the attack, is thrown out of school because of his race, and is subsequently interned at Topaz, one of many Japanese internment camps sprinkled across the nation for the purpose of housing those of Japanese ancestry. He has a difficult time accepting what has been done to him and feels that the United States government has betrayed him. But then he’s given the opportunity to go to Japan on an espionage mission for the Army, and that mission changes his life. None of my characters are based on real persons, with the exception of a few minor characters, but all the events surrounding the internment and later the bombing of Hiroshima are historically accurate.

My second novel is “Strength to Endure,” about a young German girl who is torn between her father and his disdain for Hitler, and her brothers and their complete adoration. She doesn’t know who to trust or what to believe in a time where propaganda was as common as houseflies. This book tells her story and the things that she goes through trying to survive in a difficult time. Again, my characters are make believe but the things they have to face are all based on documented historical events.

These are the two novels that are currently published. I have four more in the works, and would love to come back another time and tell you about them as they become available for purchase. (hint, hint.)

4. What do you have on your website and why did you choose those particular topics?

Well, I talk about me a lot, of course! I love talking about me! I have links to my LDS author friends and to some of my favorite national authors. My husband is an iridologist and he has a page on there as well. I have a list of my speaking engagements and appearances, and I have a special page called “Tristi’s Picks” which is a selection of the books I’ve read recently that I feel are worth recommending. You can also find first chapters to not only my published books but some that are in the works. Additionally, you will find a link to “Scentiments,” my new line of natural beauty products. I make lip gloss, facial scrub, hand lotion and bath salts from natural ingredients that are nicer than most found on the market. Using my own products is literally changing my skin for the better.

5. What advice do you give to those struggling to become published?

The first thing I would recommend is to pick up the book “Publishing Secrets” by LDStorymakers, Inc. I helped write this book and I strongly feel that the information we included is vital to the publishing process. I also encourage them to read, read, read, and to be willing to take what they learn as they read and incorporate it into their writing. Pride has no place in self-improvement. You have to be humble and teachable if you are ever to excel in your field.

6. Who are your favorite authors and why?

You know, this is the question I am always asked and it’s the hardest to answer. I read voraciously, sometimes up to 300 books a year and very often over 200. There are so many it’s impossible to choose, but I’ll mention a few of them here. Let’s see — well, you, of course, Candace Salima! Nationally, I love Dee Henderson, Ann Rinaldi, L.M. Montgomery, Gladys Malvern, Louisa May Alcott, Robin McKinley. Each of these authors speak in a way that my heart can identify with. I sort of laugh at this list because they’re all women — that’s not intentional. Men are great authors too! For my favorite LDS authors, go to my site and read my links page. I’ve got them all listed there (men, too!)

7. Is it difficult to maintain your standards as a writer in today’s market? Why or why not?

Because I write for the LDS market, it’s not hard at all. The difficulty comes in the fact that my standards are not always someone else’s standards. I’ll be honest; because I write about war, conflict, and trials that tear the hearts of men, sometimes my subject matter is edgy and that doesn’t appeal to every reader. I am never graphic but I tell things how they are or were. I will never use violence gratuitously or unnecessarily, but if it needs to be shown in order to bring home to the reader how things were at that time, I will mention it. And that has gotten me a small bit of criticism, but the fact is, it’s real.

8. How does your faith play into your writing?

I wouldn’t be writing without my faith. It’s what gives my writing its strength. It is my guide and my compass. Sometimes I veer really far to the south when I should be going straight north, but it’s a compass that is always true and I have no excuse but to blame myself when I veer.

9. What is your funniest memory in recent years?

I’ll tell you a kid story. But you’ll need a little background on my kids to really get it. Caryn is my only daughter. She’s 9, and she has a very strong moral identity. She always knows what’s right and what’s wrong, and sometimes has a pretty strong opinion of it. Ammon is 7, and he’s the monkey. He’s always looking for angles. He worries me a bit. I think he’d make a great Mafia don. Joseph is 4, and he is the little snuggle bug. He’s innocent and gullible. Benjamin doesn’t play into this story, but he’s cute and fun to talk about. He’s 16 months and he’s a little sandwich.

The other day, Joseph came up to me and demanded some candy. He doesn’t usually demand things, so I was a little surprised. I told him no, he went in the other room, and I heard whispering. He came in and demanded it again. I was curious about the whispering so I asked what was going on.

“I work for Ammon!” he proudly exclaimed.

On further investigation, it was discovered that Ammon had hired Joseph to do his dirty work for him. I put an end to the hiring and thought we were good. Early the next morning, Joseph announces, again proudly, “I work for Caryn now!”

Exasperated, I said, “We aren’t hiring Joseph any more.”

“It’s okay, Mom,” Caryn said. “I’ve got him following in my footsteps now.”

10. Where do you see yourself in five years, as far as your writing career goes?

I have four books written that are not yet published, and I would like to see them all in print in the next five years. I also have the third book in my “Nothing to Regret” trilogy on the drawing board, and would like to have it published as well. I wouldn’t mind winning some awards here and there and finding myself on some bestseller lists, either. A yacht would be nice.

Learn more about Tristi at her website