This week’s author interview is with Esther Smith. She is the author of Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith in the 31-Day Devotionals for Life series. It releases May 6th.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania and now live near Baltimore, MD. The first question people often ask me when I reveal this fact is if I’m a Steeler’s fan or a Raven’s fan. No and no. Fortunately for me, I don’t watch football.

I’m married to my husband, Ian, and we live with our two Italian mastiffs, Bug and Bella. I’m an unapologetic dog person. My dogs are my constant shadows and faithful stress relievers. I suggest only asking me about my dogs if you want to see pictures and hear anecdotes.

For work, I divide my days between counseling and writing. I work as a biblical counselor at Life Counseling Center Ministries, and also do some freelance writing for a company that focuses on wellness and preventative care for mental health. It truly feels like a privilege to spend my days in this way.

When I’m not spending time with my dogs, I enjoy all things food, coffee, and nature. Physical health problems have derailed my ability to be active outside in the ways I would like, so I live vicariously through shows like River Monsters and Man vs. Wild. If life had turned out differently, I might have been a culinary chef, an entomologist, or an adventure-based counselor, but some twists and turns have led me to where I am today, and I know this is where I am meant to be.

  • What inspired you to write this book, about this topic?

This book was definitely inspired by my personal experience with chronic illness. I first started writing about six years ago because I needed a way to process everything I was thinking and feeling as I adjusted to life with chronic health problems. I turned to Christian books on suffering and found I was not fully satisfied by their conclusions. Many books seemed to assume that suffering is always seasonal. This wasn’t my experience. What about suffering that remains for a lifetime?

This question and others led me to start a blog about some of the unique challenges of living with chronic illness. Thoughts I first processed on that blog eventually led to thoughts you will find in this book. I write because I want people who live with chronic illnesses to feel less alone and because I want to challenge the mentality that worth is gained through ability and productivity. I hope that comes across in this book.

  • What book are you reading now?

Right now I am reading Worthy: Celebrating the Value of Women by Elyse Fitzaptrick and Eric Schumacher. I’m three chapters in and very impressed!

  • At what time of day do you write most?

I do most of my writing in the morning, ideally before starting other types of work. Coffee first. Some time for reading and reflecting. Then, I try to start writing before checking my email, looking at social media, or reading the news. I’m not always successful at this, but I’m most productive when I start writing before my mind drifts to other things.

  • What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would give the same advice many other people have already given. Write a lot and read a lot. Becoming a better writer happens through lots of practice and through exposing yourself to other peoples’ great writing over and over again.

  • What is your favorite food?

I love ramen, and I’m not talking about instant ramen. Fresh ramen noodles dowsed with a salty, spicy, garlicy sauce. Topped with stir-fried vegetables and a fried egg. Garnished with green onions, chili peppers, and lots of Sriracha. Bon appetite!

  • How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Pre-order Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith