Wisdom from a Wordsmith — Episode 26

Janyre Tromp is a historical novelist who loves spinning tales that, at their core, hunt for beauty, even when it isn’t pretty. She’s the author of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye and coauthor of It’s a Wonderful Christmas.

She’s also a book editor, published children’s book author, and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her family, two crazy cats, and a slightly eccentric Shetland Sheepdog. And if you ever meet in person, you pronounce that first name Jan-ear.

You can find her on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and her website, www.JanyreTromp.com (where you can grab a free copy of her novella Wide Open).

What elements of your childhood inspired your love for writing?  

I started reading very, very early. Like I was that kid who read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in first grade. It probably has to do with the fact that my older sister wanted to teach me all the things—reading, piano, etc. Anything that interested her, interested me. I guess I just needed to keep up with my older siblings.

But I was also kind of a lonely kid. I never really felt like I fit in. So while I was safe and sound under my covers with a nightlight, I’d escape on adventures with King Arthur or read the crazy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Really, I read anything I could get my hands on or anything that caught my fancy. 

Now that I’m thinking about it, that might explain why I’m such an eclectic reader today.

Oh my goodness! Janyre, you sound so much like me as a child! My books were my best friends and often their characters and storylines became more real than my reality! What is something unique about you that your readers might not already know?  

I started college as a chemistry major . . . and I was good at it. Unfortunately, I got to the point where I hated my inorganic chem lab. Anyone in the sciences knows that’s the death knell. When I had to sign up for second-semester classes, I called my mom in tears. I had no idea what to do. She gave me the best advice—do what you love to do. 

In all my seventeen-year-old wisdom and eye-rolling sarcasm, I said, “No one gets paid to read, Mom.” Of course, the great irony is that I’m a book editor. I literally get paid to read. 

The moral of the story? Always listen to a caring mom. She knows you best.

What do you hope readers will take away from Shadows in the Mind’s Eye?  

In some respects, fiction is about entertaining. So I hope that Shadows in the Mind’s Eye is an entertaining read. But one of the reasons I write is to find truth—first for myself and then for the reader. 

Annie and Sam’s story is really about how the middle of the story isn’t the end.

Sam says, “if you pop in the middle of the story, you might just mistake the hero for a failure or worse, a monster. But it’s the scrabbling out of trouble and finding the truth deep inside him that transforms that character into a hero of light and goodness.”

It’s such a powerful thought. 

Wherever we are in our stories, it might seem like there’s no hope and we’re in too far. But story is all about the rising action, the conflict, and the resolution.

This knowledge—that we’re in the middle of the story—is why I hunt for beauty . . . even when life isn’t pretty. 

In my pursuit of truth and beauty, I dig for good things like the golden morning light kissing the tips of winter-bare branches or the way flower petals curl when they dry, or even the blessing of doctors when the last thing you want to do is take your kid back to the hospital again.

But that drive to find goodness and hope is what I hope readers take away from the book.

What a beautiful view of wherever we are in life! And that brings me right into the last question, what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Writing is ultimately about persistence and being willing to learn. The fact is that I’ve been in the publishing industry for more than twenty years, and I still don’t know everything or do everything right. Read, study, absorb everything you can about craft. Talk to people who are readers and learn from them. Talk to other writers and learn from them. Read books in your genre. Read books not in your genre. 

Furthermore, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye isn’t the first book I wrote, and it took me seven years or so to be published. I’ve been told that the second and third book are even harder than the first. Honestly, I believe it. With higher expectations comes more pressure. It’s writers who find ways to celebrate every step that aren’t destroyed by the process.

One of my friends makes it a goal to be rejected 5 times a month. I absolutely love that goal. It’s about him doing what he’s supposed to do and celebrating what he can control. You can’t control whether or not you get published. But you can control how many words you write or which books you read.

About Shadow’s in the Mind’s Eye

Charlotte Anne Mattas longs to turn back the clock. Before her husband, Sam, went to serve his country in the war, he was the man everyone could rely on–responsible, intelligent, and loving. But the person who’s come back to their family farm is very different from the protector Annie remembers. Sam’s experience in the Pacific theater has left him broken in ways no one can understand–but that everyone is learning to fear.

Tongues start wagging after Sam nearly kills his own brother. Now when he claims to have seen men on the mountain when no one else has seen them, Annie isn’t the only one questioning his sanity and her safety. If there were criminals haunting the hills, there should be evidence beyond his claims. Is he really seeing what he says, or is his war-tortured mind conjuring ghosts?

Annie desperately wants to believe her husband. But between his irrational choices and his nightmares leaking into the daytime, she’s terrified he’s going mad. Can she trust God to heal Sam’s mental wounds–or will sticking by him mean keeping her marriage at the cost of her own life?

Debut novelist Janyre Tromp delivers a deliciously eerie, Hitchcockian story filled with love and suspense. Readers of psychological thrillers and historical fiction by Jaime Jo Wright and Sarah Sundin will add Tromp to their favorite authors list.

My Review

Shadows in the Mind’s Eye is a beautiful story precisely because it shows the light that shines through the darkness during some of the most challenging times in a person’s life.   I love stories that show struggles with mental illness  — and how depression, night terrors, and even some erratic behaviors don’t mean that someone can’t still be loved, can’t still be a hero, and can’t find healing. 

As someone married to a war veteran, this book was very meaningful to me.  Since my husband is the third generation of men who went to war, whose families felt significant hardship due to their sacrifice, I can see parallels to real people in our family’s story!  I can tell you that though Janyre’s work is fiction, she did her research and truly got into the era in which her characters lived, and into the minds of her characters. 

I love how Janyre showed both sides of this struggling marriage.  We need both perspectives, even in real life!  I also love how she displayed both the depth of human depravity and the immensity of love and redemption within her characterization.  

Shadows in the Mind’s Eye is an outstanding debut novel.  Lovers of history and suspense will appreciate it.  And, it is a novel that both men and women will enjoy and relate.  My husband plans to read it, and I am sure my father will too! 

The prize pack includes:
– A copy of Shadows in the Mind’s Eye,
– A custom made silver peach tree necklace inspired by the book,
– A “Light speaks through the broken places” t-shirt also inspired by the book.
 Here is the link:


2 responses to “Wisdom from a Wordsmith — Episode 26”

  1. Oh my goodness. I am so glad you enjoyed Sam & Annie’s story. First, I want to say thank you for you and your family’s sacrifice. Second, your review is especially meaningful to me since you have a military family. I worked really hard to get the details right.

    If you haven’t already, it would mean a lot for me if you’d copy your review into Amazon & GoodReads . . . especially given your background.

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