When taken individually-- having a series last twenty years with all the titles still in print; seeing 2.5 million copies of those titles sold; and having 4 million copies of your children's, teen and adult books in print--could be considered quite an accomplishment. Yet bestselling author Robin Jones Gunn has achieved all three milestones. Just last week she turned in her 70th book.
Gunn, the wife of a former youth pastor, never intended to become a writer. "We were on a camping trip with the kids in our church youth group, and a bunch of girls were hiding out in their tent reading evocative novels." she states. "When I said I didn't want them reading those books, they challenged me and said, 'Why don't you write a book for us, then? How hard could it be?' I soon found out that it was very hard but those girls helped me every sentence of the way."
It took two years to finish Summer Promise, the first title in The Christy Miller Series, and 10 rejections from publishers that claimed they just didn't see a market for them before the title was contracted. "I wanted to say, 'You can't see them because they're hiding in the tent with a stack of books from the library.'"
But the book division of Focus on the Family was aware of the need for clean teen books and had been looking for a writer to create a series. When then- editor Janet Kobobel Grant read the manuscript for Summer Promise, she realized Gunn understood how to connect with teens.
Every one of the thirty novels in the Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen, College Years, and Katie Weldon series is still in print. "Robin's books have connected with teen girls for twenty years, with the first Christy Miller novel releasing in 1988," says Janet Grant, now Gunn's agent and founder of Books & Such Literary Agency. "How fitting that during this anniversary year, her teen books should reach this level of sales."
Given Robin Jones Gunn's track record, many productive years lie ahead of her, and she still has stories to tell that teens long for. Her next teen book release, in May 2009, will be an addition to the Katie Weldon series, Coming Attractions.
Robin Jones Gunn is available for interview. Email Kathleen Y'Barbo at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule.