Interview with Trillia Newbell

Gail: Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and where you live.

Trillia: I grew up in East Tennessee in a little town called Knoxville.  I met my husband Thern there and we have been married eighteen years.  We now live in the Nashville area and we have a fifteen year old son and an eleven year old daughter. 

Gail: How did you come to know the Lord?

Trillia: I was pretty much against Christianity and Christian things but when I was nineteen I was at a private camp and my room-mate shared the gospel with me but I was resistant for a couple of years until I was humbled and went to church where we sang ‘Rock of Ages’ and the line ‘wash me Saviour or I die’ stuck with me.  I realised I needed a saviour and right there the Lord saved me and the trajectory of my life changed.  My heart changed and my worldview changed. The Lord has been really gracious to save me and to change me.

Gail: A few years ago a trip to Rwanda had a big impact on you, why was that?

Trillia: I went to Rwanda with an organisation called ‘Hope International’ and we went to a co-operative where a group of women work together to provide jewellery.  They spend five hours a day cultivating the land to feed their families and they sow jewellery together.  They are so aware of how their labour pleases the Lord. This had a big impact on me.  We know we are to do all to the glory of the Lord but so often we don’t think that the quiet, obscure things we do are also for the glory of the Lord like peeling potatoes or going for a walk with my family.

When I came home from Rwanda my family talked together about how we could serve and support the co-operative of the women that we were engaged with.  We decided that we could sell their jewellery and so we started SJ Boutique, my daughter’s name is Sydney Jean so it is her little boutique. It was doing really well and then COVID hit and put a massive pause on it but hopefully we will pick that up again.

Gail: at the moment you’re working for Moody Publishing as an acquisitions editor – what does your work involve?

Trillia: I look at proposals and talk to authors about the ideas they have.  So my job entails meeting with people and developing concepts.  It also involves encouraging and counselling and helping people through because it can be hard to write.  It is an absolute joy to think about how we can encourage the church through resources and I’m glad to work at Moody.

Gail: Why and when did you start writing?

Trillia: I’ve had an interest in writing and research for as long as I can remember. In college I wrote for our college paper and then I wrote feature stories for our city paper. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed.  Then when my son was about two I decided I wanted to start writing from my Christian perspective so I started writing a blog and then an agent saw me and I started writing books. It’s something I love to do and I love to serve the church in this way.

Gail: How do you decide what to write about?

Trillia: On my blog/website I have a tagline that says “Where faith and life collide” so a lot of my decisions are based on putting faith into action or things I have experienced or wrestled with.  I will never exhaust writing about the Lord and so if my work is Bible based then I will have lots of topics – that’s really where I start. What is it that the Scriptures say? What is it that I understand or know or have experienced that I would have some credibility writing on and I go from there.

Gail: Have you ever had writer’s block?

Trillia: The only time I’ve ever had writer’s block is if someone asks me to write on something.  I almost always say no to requests to write on certain topics because I find it hard to write on something that is assigned because if it is not something that I have been mulling over and that I love or want to talk about I find it too difficult to write. 

Gail: You write children’s books, books for women and Bible studies.  Is there any particular reader you like to write for or particular genre you like to write in?

Trillia: I write pretty broadly and right now I love writing about the Bible.  Writing Bible studies has been a real joy because it is just wonderful to dig into God’s Word.  Also there is just nothing else like writing for kids.  Seeing their faces light up when they understand something or getting a message from a parent saying that their child has understood a big Biblical concept is amazing. So getting to help parent’s disciple their children is a joy. Probably, right now, children’s books and Bible studies are my favourite just because I can see the impact so quickly. I am so grateful that the Lord has given me the opportunity to write in different genres.

Gail: Do you prefer writing or conference speaking?

Trillia: I would say I’m a writer who speaks. I love speaking because you can really serve people and minister to their heart immediately.  However, with writing it lasts longer.  My books will go where I will never. Writing to me is such a ministry so I probably prefer writing although that is a hard question.

Gail: You have recorded a talk for us on Romans 8, why is this passage so meaningful to you.

Trillia: It is so rich and sums up so much of Scripture and helps us understand the character of God and helps us understand our relationship to Him as our Father.  I just think it is life-giving and it helps us endure.  In times of uncertainty we need that reminder that God is with us and that He is for us and nothing can separate us.