Today I'm bringing you a little Q&A with the author, Erin Weidemann. Erin has done an amazing job with this new series, and I hope you enjoy learning a little more about her heart behind the Bible Belles.
When did you realize you wanted to do something to benefit girls today?
My desire to go to bat (softball pun!) for girls comes from a lot of different places. Growing up, a lot of the time I felt insecure and out of place. I constantly measured myself against other girls. I didn’t realize how common those feelings were because I didn’t talk to anyone about them. I thought I had to put up a confident front, so I pretended I had it all together. I hid my true feelings by being loud, controlling of others, and acting overly self-assured. Today, these same qualities are celebrated in the media and society as what makes a beautiful and successful young woman. A lot of women in the spotlight are glamorized for having a “me-first” attitude without respecting themselves or others. There are a lot of wonderful role models out there for girls, but they are overshadowed and outshined by the negative ones. My passion for connecting girls with biblical heroes comes from a desire for them to see examples of real women whose inner beauty was used by God for a mighty purpose.
Why did you decide to write this series?
In 2007 I was 26, and I was diagnosed with cancer. The disease was extensive, and the road to recovery was terrifying and unknown. Like the “tough” girl I was, I put my head down and tried to handle the emotional weight of it on my own. I thought that I was being strong by not leaning on anyone, but I suddenly realized that I couldn’t get through it alone. I had walked away from God years earlier, but I had finally hit my breaking point.
Since that time, the cancer has come back again and again and again. Four more times, and I’m still here. I know it is because God has called me to battle back against the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and judgment that affect so many young girls. They need to know that they are wonderfully made, that they are loved, and that their lives are worth much more than at times they will think.
Cancer was a complete shock to me, but it was the best blessing. It was the beginning of the softening of my heart. After that, God kept the surprises coming. I met my husband, we were married, and now we have a daughter. A miracle baby. Being a mother was something I had convinced myself was impossible because of my history, but God’s plans were bigger and better than I ever imagined.
The struggle to be perfect and to have it all together will be as real for my daughter as it was for me. How will she learn what real beauty is and feel secure and confident in her own skin? How can I teach her what she needs to know so she can become who she is meant to be? I don’t want to lose my girl to this world and what it will tell her. I want to doing something that will connect her and other girls with real heroes so they can learn their own value and carry it with them for the rest of their lives.
To read the whole story of how it all began, click here.
Tell us about Bible Belles. The first book being released is based on the story of Hannah. What other women are you highlighting in the series?
Bible Belles is a series based on five superhero women of the Bible: Hannah, Esther, Abigail, Ruth, and Deborah. HEARD. These women were extraordinary because they made a different kind of noise than the noise of today’s world. Today, the girls who are loud, rude, and obsessed with outer beauty are the ones a lot of girls look up to and try to act like. The Bible Belles series is a new way for girls to celebrate the qualities that make up a truly beautiful woman: prayer, patience, bravery, loyalty, and leadership. These five women represent the journey a young girl can take to understand God’s love and to be someone whose beauty isn’t measured by society’s standards. They symbolize the transformation of a girl who learns to see true beauty in herself and in others.
The series is framed by our fictional main character: Rooney Cruz. She’s a modern day girl who struggles with regular problems. In each story, she has an “up close and personal” interaction with each Bible Belle by looking in on her life and then applying what she learns to her own. This allows the reader to understand the personal connection between biblical teaching and meaningful application to her own life.
Why is it important for you to help girls make a connection to heroes in the Bible and to the heroes in their own hearts?
There’s no question that the stories of women are not the ones predominantly taught in church, and this extends into children’s ministry programs and Sunday School as well. There is a missing relationship between young girls and the female heroes of the Bible. Girls are in desperate need of positive female role models, and telling these stories in a new way will allow girls to make real connections to the love God has for each of them and the powers they have been gifted in order to live lives in real love and with real purpose.
I think about my own daughter. Growing up, I struggled to find my own identity, and I made a lot of mistakes searching for it in the wrong places. I want to be able to help and support her as she grows into her own mind and discovers her heart and the person she was created to be.
Is there anything else out there like Bible Belles for girls ages 6-10?
The majority of books available today that focus on biblical women are compilations of most or every woman found in the Bible. These titles provide a solid overview of these women, their lives, and their lessons as a third person narrative. However, these women deserve their own, individual stories to be told, to be lifted up and celebrated for who they were and how God used them. For a young girl, making a real-life connection to a story requires a genuine emotional investment. Bible Belles uses the framework of conventional storytelling as well as the historical biblical narrative to create a way for young readers to experience each story, not simply hear it.
How did you find your illustrator for Bible Belles?
Our illustrator is Rob Corley. We were introduced to Rob by another fellow children’s author, the fabulous Amy Parker. Rob and Amy had worked together on Firebird, the featured book in the movie Unconditional. Rob is a former Disney Feature Animator whose resume includes work on such films as Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and more. When Rob joined us, we were thrilled. He is amazingly talented, and his beautiful artistry has helped us to create a series of the highest artistic quality.
When can we expect the next book in the series to release?
The second book in the Bible Belles series, Esther: The Belle of Patience, is set to release in 2016.