"At a time when girls think they're so weird, when they feel
like they're the only ones who feels that way, books like this
one are a great way to find out that in fact, pretty much everyone
feels that way."
fell in love with Rachel.
I was completely hooked by her honesty with herself and God."
project was completely different than any other I've done. The
writing was virtually effortless. I'd sit in my bed, light a candle,
and simply pray, 'Okay, God, what does Rachel
want to say today.' Almost before I knew it, the words would start
left such an interior roadmap to her soul, that writing in the
first-person didn't feel like a challenge; it was a joy."
interview with author
Debra Klingsporn on her new book:
"The Journals of Rachel Scott"
been released spawned by events and people surrounding the Columbine
tragedy. Among them have been great testaments of spiritual faith like
She Said Yes, by Misty Bernall, mother of slain Columbine student,
Cassie Bernall, Bruce Porter's The Martyr's Torch, and bestseller,
Rachel's Tears, by Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo, parents of Rachel
Joy Scott who also lost her life at Columbine.
To join the ranks of these wonderful writings on spirituality at Columbine
is a new book due in bookstores shortly by author Debra Klingsporn and
Beth Nimmo titled, The Journals of Rachel Scott. Based on months
of painstaking research of Rachel's writings and in-depth interviews
with her family and friends, the book comes alive in first-person narrative
as if Rachel had written it herself and is styled as a sort of spiritual
workbook for teens, especially young girls. The book also features two
never-before published chapters of a book that Rachel had been working
on before her life was taken away.
A short while ago, I had the opportunity to read a copy of her new book
and couldn't put it down. I found it honest to the very core and saturated
with powerful testament of this young girl's extraordinary faith in
God throughout her everyday life conveyed in a warm, personal style
as if Rachel herself had written it. Debra Klingsporn has beautifully
captured and brought to life the heart, mind and spirit of this very
special young woman who has captivated so many hearts across the world
and changed so many lives.
Recently, I had the privilege to do an online interview with Debra about
her unique role in the book's creation and to learn more about the "voice"
behind Rachel Scott for this spirited writing, which many believe will
sit along side Rachel's Tears on the bestseller's list. I asked
Debra the kind of questions that I felt would be most asked regarding
the process she undertook in the creation of the book. I thank her for
time to address each of them under the pressures of a very busy schedule.
MT: To begin, how exactly were
you chosen to co-author "The Journals of Rachel Scott"?
DK: It was a "God thing." I have
a friend who says "coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous"
....well, my involvement with this project was such a combination of
"coincidences," it couldn't have been just "coincidence" that brought
Beth and I together across nearly a thousand miles. I'm a freelance
writer, mother of two daughters a little younger than Rachel was, and
had done quite a bit of "ghost" writing - that's when a writer takes
on a project and writes in someone else's "voice." An editor at Tommy
Nelson had known me since before I'd "semi-retired" into motherhood
and freelance work (Tommy Nelson is the publishing company Beth's agent
had contacted about doing something with Rachel's journals). The editor
called me, asked if I had time to look at a project, and "introduced"
me to Rachel's journals. Both the publisher and Rachel's parents knew
there was a "book" in Rachel's journaling, but weren't quite how to
pull it together in a way that would work. They asked me to take a look
at some of the material, propose a few possibilities, and write some
sample work - all in a few week's time. I did, Rachel's mom read through
it, liked what she saw, and the publisher arranged for us to meet. We
spent three days together and, bottom line, both knew this was a "God
MT: What motivated you step
up to the formidable task of doing a book on a person who has grown
into nearly a modern icon of the Christian world and among so many teens?
DK: That's easy to answer. I fell
in love with Rachel. I was completely hooked by her honesty with herself
MT: How was it decided that
the majority of the work would be written in first-person as if Rachel
had written it herself? Was it an especially difficult challenge or
was it a more natural approach for you?
DK: The publisher had the idea of
a first-person narrative, writing as if Rachel herself was talking,
and asked me if I thought I could do that. I think the editors and Rachel's
mom knew that her journaling, like anyone's journals, only told Rachel's
story from the "inside out." Her journals didn't give the complete picture
of who she was - because she was so hard on herself. Thoreau said, "It
is as hard to see oneself as to look backwards without turning around."
Rachel never dreamed someone would gather up all the spiral-bound notebooks,
scribbles, drawings, poems, and musings she left laying around her room
and put them together for publication. Her parents wanted other kids
to benefit from her honesty, her journey, her struggle.
But they also wanted Rachel to be known from the outside in. They wanted
the raw honesty and spiritual journey of their daughter to be published
in a way that gave a more complete picture of Rachel Joy Scott. They
wanted her charm, wit, humor, intelligence, and bravado to be part of
the picture that emerges from the publication of her journals. And no,
that didn't make it more difficult for me - that actually made it easier.
MT: It is said that you spent
several months submerged in Rachel's world with her words and pictures
before you even began the writing process. What was that experience
like and how did you begin to put the first words together?
DK: Wow - that's an interesting
question. Honestly? It was a little unnerving, because I realized early
on how similar Rachel's inner world - her journaling, her relationship
with God, her questions - was to my own. I'm an experienced ghostwriter
and a professional writer. I've written more than half a dozen projects
in someone else's voice. But this project was completely different than
any other I've done. The writing was virtually effortless. I'd sit in
my bed (my favorite place to write), light a candle (Rachel loved candles),
and simply pray, "Okay, God, what does Rachel want to say today." Almost
before I knew it, the words would start to come.
I also realized about halfway through the writing that our lives shared
another uncanny parallel: Rachel faced a life-threatening confrontation
at the hands of someone intent on harm and evil, and didn't live to
tell about it. As a young woman, I too, faced a life-threatening situation
at the hands of someone intent on harm and evil, and although I lived,
I never had the courage or clarity to speak of it. Writing Rachel's
story, in a sense, became writing my own, because I felt I was doing
it for both of us.
MT: Could you tell our readers
more about the two chapters of a book Rachel was working on?
DK: Yes. It's clear from Rachel's
journals that she was writing a book on discipleship - and the two chapters
are so "Rachel"! Straightforward, honest, funny in places, compelling
in others. In that material, I let Rachel "speak" for herself, meaning
I didn't rewrite that material; I only edited her work in the same way
any rough draft would be edited for publication.
MT: Not having known Rachel,
but instead, having to rely in part on what her family members and friends
shared with you in the many interviews you conducted, did this present
an element of subjectivity or bias that made authenticity and believability
of your first-person character a special challenge?
DK: I don't think so, because everything
I heard was so "congruent" with what Rachel herself had written. Rachel,
like all of us, had a "dark" side, that part of her that wrestled, doubted,
questioned, became discouraged, struggled with making choices between
right and wrong. And I think that's the part of her journals that her
parents and family wanted handled with sensitivity and discretion. But
Rachel was just Rachel. No pretense. No off and on. She left such an
interior roadmap to her soul, that writing in the first-person didn't
feel like a challenge; it was a joy. And interestingly, everything I
heard from those with whom I spoke or emailed was soooooo congruent;
it wasn't like I heard one thing from one source and something completely
different from another. Rachel was 100% Rachel.
MT: Such a writing style would
seem to turn a biography more into an autobiography of sorts. Is this
a commonly used methodology with biographical characters?
DK: That's a good question and I
don't know the answer to that. This was the first time I'd been asked
to write a first-person narrative, posthumously.
MT: In the actual day-to-day
routine of writing, how exactly did you interface with Beth, Rachel's
mother? Did she "have a voice" in the creation of "Rachel's words"?
DK: We emailed. Often. I'd write
a draft, email it to her, and give her complete freedom to ask for rewrites,
revisions, changes - anything. I knew if I wrote something that didn't
ring true, Beth would know - she'd sense it immediately. But again,
interestingly, Beth requested very few changes, and usually, our emails
consisted mainly Beth's answers to my questions for more information
or stories, like asking how Rachel would respond to something. I'd ask
Beth things like, "Tell me about the day Rachel got her driver's license,"
or "What kinds of things did she and her brothers fight about." Stuff
like that. Beth was so GREAT at details. You know, in Luke it says,
"and Mary pondered these things in her heart." A mother has a special
way of knowing, of remembering, and Beth was exceptional.
One of my favorite stories is the one about Rachel trying on a wedding
dress in a Goodwill store and doing it with such dramatic flair that
she turned the moment into an event! Every customer and clerk in the
store gathered around because Rachel made it so fun.
MT: Being the voice for such
a spirited individual, It would seem that authoring a book of this kind
would require that you literally take on Rachel's persona.
DK: Like a sacred trust, quite
MT: How did it feel to "be" Rachel's
heart, mind and voice?
DK: I found it very humbling.
MT: After having immersed a
year of your life into Rachel's, and having spent an in-depth involvement
with her family and friends, do you feel a closeness - a connection
DK: Oh, absolutely. She is part
of my soul, and always will be. I began praying for Rachel's family
as soon as I got the call about the project - and haven't stopped. Having
journaled myself since I was a teenager, I knew making the decision
to publish her journals would be a difficult one, especially when trying
to heal from such a devastating loss. I wanted the work I did as part
of their healing, part of bringing something redemptive out of something
so utterly dark.
MT: Several books have recently
come out on the market for young teenage girls. Do you feel this a growing
DK: I hope it's a growing trend,
because it's a tough time for girls. Growing through those early teen
years is growing through a lot of change and conflicting cultural messages:
changing bodies, changing friends, hormones that do wacky things to
your emotions. It's just a tough time.
Books like this one, where girls can hear from other girls, are kind
of like the best side of slumber parties - they let you find out you're
normal. At a time when girls think they're so weird, when they feel
like they're the only ones who feels that way, books like this one are
a great way to find out that in fact, pretty much everyone feels that
way. It's just an age when kids find it really difficult to talk about
some of their more vulnerable feelings.
MT: What is the primary message
you want readers of your book to come away with?
DK: That life is a gift, both the
good and the bad. That the ONLY way to have a real relationship with
God is to be honest with God about everything - hopes, doubts, fears,
longings, dreams, questions. God wants all of us - not just what we
think is the "good" part of ourselves.
MT: Do you feel that this book
will experience similar success as bestseller Rachel's Tears?
DK: I certainly hope so. I feel
that Rachel's Tears was about the Columbine tragedy, it was about
Rachel's death and how to make some sense of something so horrible.
But this book is about Rachel's life, it's about being a teen, being
a Christian, and making sense of the ups and downs. I've had adults
and teens read excerpts from this book and tell me, this is a book for
everyone, because it's so real. One woman told me she read it cover
to cover in two hours and found herself laughing one minute, crying
the next, and couldn't wait to read it again.
MT: What sort of things are
you jointly planning for its promotion?
DK: Like any of the parents of the
kids killed or injured at Columbine, the loss is still a big part of
Beth's day-to-day life. They live with this constantly. I wanted to
work with Beth to publicize The Journals of Rachel Scott, basically,
to try to be her hands and feet - to do some of the things she might
not have time or energy to do. I'm working to generate some media exposure,
line up some interviews, create some awareness of this book.
Because of the nature of the Columbine tragedy, doing any "promotional"
work has to be done with sensitivity. Beth would be deeply grieved if
any effort came across as commercial or something done for personal
gain. So, I'm working to schedule interviews and line up contacts, but
I consider the "promotion" to be in God's hands. We're hoping to have
Beth come to Minnesota for a speaking engagement at one of the large
churches in the Minneapolis area sometime in the fall. Beth has done
some speaking engagements, but I hope to do what I can to facilitate
more of that.
MT: Do you plan on doing any
more books like this one?
DK: Well, I didn't "plan" on doing
this one. God sorta brought me into the loop. So, I guess the best answer
for that question is, God hasn't told me if I am yet!
MT: Any closing thoughts you
would like to share with our readers?
DK: Hmmm. Just that I think Rachel
would have loved this book. And thanks for asking the questions, and
for the readers, thanks for being interested. Blessings.
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