Stephanie Barganier is a writer and artist from Garland, TX. She’s married to Ed and has 3 awesome (also creative) daughters, Meagan, Glory and Jetta. A mama to all, her heart for fellow creatives is huge.
I got to sit down with her over a cup of coffee and couldn’t help but feel the ease and rest that she so naturally walks in. Get to know Stephanie a little more in our below interview and fall in love with this “goofy lady” – you just won’t be able to help it.
AS: Tell us who you are, Steph.
SB: I could probably get all esoterical here, but I’m really just someone who wants to know God more, wants to hear His voice and do what He put me on the earth for.
On top of that, I’m just a goofy lady…a wife and mama, and I love to create.
AS: What are some of your interests?
SB: I love anything creative: art, photography, writing…God’s been opening that up to me for the last year. I wrote for so long, and I’ve recently just started playing with watercolor, and it’s gone crazy.
Ed, my husband, has been talking about making me a studio in the backyard. It’s not something I wanted, needed or asked for…he’s just a good one.
I love pushing myself and learning new stuff. So many people get bogged down and are only interested in one thing, but I get bored with that. I love to learn, so I’m always introducing new things to myself.
Original art by Stephanie Barganier
AS: Do you think playing with other forms of creativity has opened the door to writing creatively?
SB: Yes. Because when I write, my process is literally just to close my eyes and write. I’ll see pictures and images. And that’s the same thing with art. I experiment with God, ask Him what He wants to create, and we create. It’s prophetic in a sense for me because I’m saying/creating what I feel He’s saying.
AS: What’s your favorite book? Favorite author?
SB: My all-time favorite author is Jane Austen. And maybe by today’s standards, they would tell her to write books differently. But she’s so great at character development and character interaction…I just love her.
And my favorite book is one most people don’t know of, Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard – It’s an allegory story, and I love allegory (I’ll probably always write with a hint of allegory). The main character’s name is Much-Afraid, and she ends up working for the Shepherd watching his sheep. He takes her out of her fear and on to journeys in high places. Her name is changed after being transformed by the Shepherd in Hurnard’s sequel, Mountains of Spices. I was a new Christian when I first read it, and it spoke to me, almost like reading parables.
AS: What’s your creative process?
SB: Even when I started writing my first book, Perspective, in 2006, I was working full time with 3 kids, and I was depressed. I asked God, “Why,” and He said, “You haven’t been writing. Let’s sit down and write a book.” So we just sat and wrote together.
He was so delicate and kind to me and knew how easily discouraged and insecure I could be. He gently led me away and kept me from getting overwhelmed. It was such a sweet time. I asked Him what He wanted to say, and I would write.
In the second book, Stronghold, He gave me a brief outline before I started, and the last book of the trilogy, Liberty, He gave me a little more. He knew I could get overwhelmed with details at first, so it’s been a slow, beautiful process.
AS: Did you feel that writing was therapy and healing for you during that time?
SB: Yes, very much so. He takes me places with the characters, and I get to deal with things that the characters are dealing with. Sometimes it’s not even intentional, but it goes there.
It’s been very therapeutic and healing. You can see the process in the titles of the books. From Perspective, having identity and perspective renewed, to Stronghold, breaking strongholds and finding God as a stronghold, to Liberty, ultimate freedom. The process of my wholeness is in the story.
AS: What is your purpose as a writer? What message do you want to convey?
SB: I hope that something I write or create would bring healing or change for people who are stuck and would spur them on more. I hope that people would be inspired to have a relationship with God and to know that He’s kind, gentle, loving and FOR YOU. He’s not a religious icon, but He’s real.
I want to convey His realness.
I hope that people can find healing and freedom from lies that say otherwise.
Original art by Stephanie Barganier
AS: What has been the most difficult thing about your journey as a writer?
SB: Liberty (book 3). Haha
It’ been such a good journey, but at the beginning of this year, I felt God ask me to press into the places of pain that I hadn’t dealt with yet. I thought I had dealt with so much, but He showed me where I was running from discomfort.
Sometimes we want instant relief, and God wants us to step into those places of pain and find out what the root is. I was in this season at the same time I was writing a really difficult part of my third book. It was agonizing and discouraging.
But God used it to help me press into the places of pain. And I’m not perfect, but He’s helped me to realize where my triggers and habits are for instant relief. I’m pressing into Him and the tension more and finding freedom from years of certain patterns.
AS: Do you refrain from injecting your personal experiences into your writing? Or are you “all-in” your work?
SB: I think there’s a little bit of me in every one of my characters – good ones and bad. I don’t intentionally inject me, but everything God teaches me fits into the story.
AS: How has writing changed you?
SB: I think it’s been cathartic to write out stories, to put words and imagery to the things that God has done in me.
I have wept while I’ve written because it speaks so much to my spirit. Even if no one reads my books, just the work of freedom that He’s done in me is beautiful, and I wouldn’t trade it.
AS: Tell us about Perspective. And what are your plans for Stronghold and Liberty?
SB: I just recently got Perspective up on Kindle. You can find it HERE.
It’s prophetic and allegoric like all of my Unhindered Love series. It’s a tale of war both physical and spiritual.
Stronghold is in the editing process, and I’m almost done writing Liberty.
AS: I’d love to hear where you’re at currently in your journey as a writer. Can you share?
My journey with writing has been so upside down from what people are supposed to do! I had to experience things in order to write. It’s been on mine and God’s timing and the spiritual process He’s accomplishing in me.
It’s been more about my process.
All of the publishing and editing and marketing and sales and notoriety gives me hives, but I trust that He’ll take it where it needs to go and open doors in the right timing.
The process has been humbling…God weaving in past my insecurity, weaknesses and fears, and pushing at my strengths and into the places I didn’t want to go or would’ve shut down before.
I’m stronger today having pushed into the creative. I’m much more vulnerable and loving – all of the things He’s doing with me are so much MORE because of his gentleness.
He does that with creatives – the creative is personal and beautiful and never meant to only be marketed or compared. When we get in a competitive mindset, it cancels out the creativity of what God wants to do. He’s pushed that out so I can create purely from who I am and who He is in me.
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Buy Steph’s book, Perspective, HERE!
Featured photography by Dwayne Martin