A Miraculous Journey
Tell something about yourself.
I’m a Christian, a wife, and a mom of four school-age kids, and I write and edit professionally. On the writing side, I’ve had various articles and pieces of short fiction published in places like Christ & Pop Culture, Daily Science Fiction, and Havok Magazine. On the editing side, I’ve been serving as the general editor at Kalos Press, where I’ve had the honor of working with wonderful authors like Nancy Nordenson and Anne Kennedy. I also take on the occasional freelance editing project.
I keep up a blog at jessicasnell.com, where I enjoy writing about faith, family, and fiction.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love knitting and crocheting. There’s something so restful about the rhythmic, repetitive movement of the stitches, and something so satisfying in seeing a beautiful object grow into existence between your fingertips.
I also love getting outdoors when I’m able to. For me, the best weeks of the year are the times when our family manages get away from the city and spend time camping in the Sierra Nevada.
What ministries are you passionate about and involved in?
This might be a bit of an odd one to some of your readers. I’m the director of my church’s Altar Guild—which is a ministry that not many evangelical churches have. But our family is part of an Anglican parish, so we celebrate communion every week. The Altar Guild is responsible for setting up before that shared meal and cleaning up afterwards.
I like to call it “holy housekeeping.” It’s similar to the work I do in my home during the week, as I take care of my family’s physical needs. But there is something meditative and special about doing that kind of menial labor in the house of the Lord. I love being allowed to do that work and facilitating the work of the other volunteers who lend their time to that ministry.
What interesting jobs have you had?
The most unique job I’ve ever had was as a secretary and receptionist at a private investigation agency. It used my editing skills—I had to proofread the investigators’ reports before we sent them on to our clients—but I never could have made up some of the crazy things I read in those reports!
What’s your favorite book that you’ve edited?
I’ve had the joy of editing some insightful and beautiful books (you really should check out Anne Kennedy’s Sarcastic Devotions for Angry or Worn-Out People when it releases), but I have a certain fondness for Let Us Keep the Feast: Living the Church Year at Home, because it is the book I wish I’d had when I started learning about the Christian year. It was such a pleasure to work with the contributing authors to build a book that would be rich in content, easy to use, and full of ideas and tips on how to bring the gospel-centered rhythms of the church year into the reader’s home. I’ve had so much lovely feedback from readers who’ve found that book delightful and useful, and it’s been rewarding to see the flourishing of the work that all the contributors put into that volume.
If you could be any fictional character, or star in any movie, which would it be and why?
Ooh, that’s a hard one! I admit, it’d be hard to resist the urge to be Harriet Vane for the day (from Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey books). I’d love to have a day to walk around Oxford, studying in the libraries, punting on the river, and attending services in the gorgeous churches there.
On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to fly, so if anyone wanted to let me be Superman for a few hours, I wouldn’t say no!
What’s your favorite holiday tradition, and why?
Can I name two? Because there are two kinds of traditions, aren’t there? There are the private traditions that grow up in families and in circles of friends, and then there are the public traditions that are celebrated in cultures as a whole and by the church.
Of the first kind, my favorite tradition is my family’s tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve. We always have clam chowder and then read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke, and then we open all the gifts. It’s such a warm, lovely, and joyful evening every year!
Of the second kind, I love the service of the Great Vigil of Easter. Traditionally, Easter Sunday services can be held anytime after sunset on Holy Saturday (because Jesus rose sometime before sunrise Easter morning), so the Great Vigil service is held in the dark, sometime after sunset Saturday and before sunrise on Sunday. It’s a long service, with many scripture readings, going from the covenants of the Old Testament to the fulfillment of all of God’s promises in the person of Jesus. Partway through the service, the minister lights the Paschal (Easter) candle, and the flame is passed from person to person throughout the congregation (we all are given smaller candles to hold), and the sanctuary is flooded with light. Then we sing “Alleluia!” and all of the bells start ringing. It’s such a joyful moment every year. I love it!
How has God used fiction to touch your heart or change your life?
In many ways, but one in particular stands out. When I was pregnant with our twin daughters, they were diagnosed as being monoamniotic. It was terrifying not knowing if they were going to live or die. It was also heartbreaking to have to check into the hospital for a month and a half so they could be monitored, because that meant I was going to be away from my two older children, who were still very young (one year old and three years old).
Before I went in, my husband and I talked about C. S. Lewis’s “The Horse and His Boy,” because there’s a place in that story where the protagonists take a long, desperate march across a desert. They don’t know if they’re going to make it, but they know they have to try. They can see the mountains of the land they’re trying to reach in the distance, but however far they walk, the mountains never seem to get closer.
We reminded ourselves of that story through the long hospital stay. Remembering that story gave us the strength to keep marching across our own desert, because the two dear little ones we were trying to save needed us to do it. It helped us keep going, even when the end was uncertain, and even when the “mountains” never seemed to be getting closer.
Now those two little babies are sturdy, happy eight-year-olds. I guess that means we made it to Narnia in the end.
Thank you, Kathy, for hosting me here on your site. It was such a pleasure to meet you at last year’s writers’ conference, and I’m really looking forward to the first SoCal Writer’s Conference next June!
Thank you, Jessica, for doing this interview. I look forward to seeing you next June too!
Jessica Snell is the general editor of Kalos Press and she loves blogging about books, faith, and family. She is the contributing editor of Let Us Keep the Feast, a book about celebrating the Christian church year at home, and Not Alone, a book on infertility and miscarriage. Her work has appeared in Touchstone Magazine, Christ & Pop Culture, Daily Science Fiction, and more. She and her husband live in sunny Southern California with their four children.