Character Interview: Dallas Keegan from Grave Obsessions

Gentle readers, we continue our series of character interviews. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Dallas Keegan, the determined detective in Grave Obsessions, a novel released through Helping Hands Press on 3/22/15 by Patti J. Smith.

PBC: Dallas, what do you love most about your job?
Dallas: Seeing a case through to the end with the perp being prosecuted and sentenced.

PBC: So, any drawbacks or challenges?
Dallas: Even though I revel in the successful resolution of a case, it doesn’t bring the victim(s) back to life or stop the suffering of those left behind.

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?
Dallas: I would really love to have a special someone in my life and maybe even get married (did I really say that?)

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?
Dallas: My greatest fear professionally is “getting used to” the evil and morbidity thus dehumanizing the victims. Personally, because I immerse myself so deeply into each case, I’m afraid if that someone special shows up, I’ll not notice. My professional weakness is being a little disorganized and a bit of a slob. My lieutenant is on my back all the time. Personally, I drink too much wine and eat too much junk food.

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
Dallas: Hobbies? Who has time for hobbies? If I were to have the time, I would love to learn to cook. As far as special interests, I’m considering applying for classes at the FBI Behavior Analysis Unit (but don’t tell anyone).

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?
Dallas: I have several pet peeves but will reveal the top three: 1) My lieutenant’s mood swings, 2) Being called out right before my first sip of wine, and 3) My partner’s southern drawl that gets high-pitched when she’s stressed out.

PBC: What do you value most?
Dallas: When all is said and done I value my growing faith. I lost it for many years and finally realized it is the glue that holds me together.

PBC: Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?
Dallas: My parents and sister are gone, but I have a wonderful Aunt in Connecticut who is a nun. She does her best to inspire me in my faith journey and holds nothing back concerning what she thinks I need to do to improve my life. I don’t have many friends due to my being a workaholic, but my partner and I are close. She’s fun to work with, but sometimes she puts her mouth in gear before her mind.

PBC: Dallas in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of your series, Patti J. Smith?
Dallas: Patti J. Smith has identity issues. She writes Christian devotionals, light romance then goes into the dark recesses of her mind and writes about me tracking down murderers, kidnappers and the like. She and I have different ideas on what direction I should go next, but I use my power of persuasion quite successfully … through sleep deprivation!

PBC: So, Dallas, what do you think of Patti? What do you like or admire about her? Anything you dislike?
Dallas: I think she has an incredible imagination and takes great pride in her work. She writes from the heart and integrates her faith in all genres. Dislike? She is too hard on herself at times and as for my character, she is procrastinating on my love-life (but I’m wearing her down!).

PBC: Dallas, if you had one question you could ask Patti, what would it be?
Dallas: You probably think it will be about my love-life, but my biggest question is … Will I burn out and leave the force?

PBC: Dallas, if you could spend a whole day with Patti, where would you go and what would you do together?
Dallas: We’re both observers so I think we would probably grab some fast food at the pier and head to the beach and people watch.

PBC: Dallas, what do you think of the cover of Grave Obsessions? grave obsessions
Dallas: It’s creepy but definitely grabs the reader.


Patti SmithPatti J. Smith is a multi-genre author, transitioning between suspense, light romance, and Christian devotionals. She recently retired as a background investigator which allows her to focus on her writing career, but most importantly, dedicate more time to her faith community and ministries. She serves as a member of the Association of Christian Therapists, Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and leads Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats. Patti publicly shares her story of redemption in a variety of venues and appears in the newly-released documentary, “The Sidewalk Chronicles”. She is an avid blogger, reader and proudly admit to being a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan and Fantasy Football fanatic.

She and her husband, Michael, make their home in Vista, California.

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Dallas! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Dallas about crime solving or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

Share

Interview with Harriet Beamer

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am conducting. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Harriet Beamer, the heroine of the Christian fiction novel Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus (April 24, 2012/Zondervan) by author Joyce Magnin.

POV Boot Camp (PBC): Harriet, what do you love most about the journey you are taking?

O, goodness gracious I am just so excited about the whole kit ‘n kaboodle, the adventure, meeting new people, seeing places I’ve only dreamed of and of course collecting new salt and pepper shakers along the way. It’s a big country!

 

PBC: So, any drawbacks or challenges?

Beamer: Well, I am older and so sometimes my knees ached and my back hurt. And I did get tired easily. But I didn’t let that stop me. Not with a whole country to see.

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?

Beamer: Oh that’s easy, Dear, I want to be a grandmother. Unfortunately, my son Henry and his wife Prudence are taking their time in that area.
PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

Beamer: I am scared to death of spiders, especially Daddy Long Legs. Yuck. And I will always and forever have a weakness for chocolate.
PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Beamer: Yes. Salt and pepper shakers. I collect them. I have been for many years and have over 3000 sets and some singles. I just love them.
PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

Beamer: Those kids who wear their pants so low. I just can’t stand that and wish they have some self-respect. And misplaced apostrophes.
PBC: What do you value most?

Beamer: Family, Jesus. My dog, Humphrey, my memories of Max, my collection, friends, love, butter cookies, Christmas.

PBC: Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?

Beamer: Oh dear, now you make me all misty-eyed. My dear Max, my late husband died quite a while ago. I miss him terribly. He was a builder. Built the house we lived in for . . . so many years. And there is Henry, the spitting image of his Dad, and his wife Prudence. Who I adore. And then there’s my Humphrey—my Bassett Hound. My best friend and companion. Such a good doggie. He likes donuts.
PBC: Harriet, in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of your novel, Joyce Magnin

Beamer: Oh, I adore Joycie, that’s what I call her. She is just so smart and talented and funny. She makes me laugh and cry sometimes because she has a way with the bittersweet things in life. Did you know she plays video games? I think that’s awesome. But I’ll let you in on a secret, Joycie is not the most organized person in the world, a great writer but never look in her closets.

PBC: So, Harriet, what do you think of Joyce Magnin? What do you like or admire about her? Anything you dislike?

Beamer: Besides what I just told you, I think she’s terrific. I adore her sense of humor and well, you know Joycie is truly one of the nice people of the world.

PBC: Harriet, if you had one question you could ask Joyce, what would it be?

Beamer:  Why in the heck did you make me cross the Royal Gorge in a gondola? I was scared half out of my mind. Well, not as scared as that other woman—the one who was screaming. But still . . .
PBC: If you could change one thing in Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus, what would it be?

Beamer: That’s easy. I would have loved for the journey to last even longer, to visit more cities and towns and meet more people. But who knows, maybe Joyce will send me out on another adventure.
PBC: Harriet, if you could spend a whole day with Joyce, where would you go and what would you do together?

Beamer: Well, after I talked her into going hunting for new salt and pepper shakers, I would like to go to the Philadelphia Art Museum and then out for a nice lunch. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

PBC: Harriet, what do you think of the cover of Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus?

Beamer: HA! I love it. It’s just so . . . .so me

PBC: Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Harriet!

Beamer: Thank you! I had a blast.

Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Harriet about her adventure or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

 

 

Share

Dras Weldon Character Interview

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am
conducting. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Dras Weldon, the
hero of the supernatural suspense novel The Strange Man (February 2011, Realms Fiction) by author Greg Mitchell.

POV Boot Camp(PBC): Dras, what do you love most about The Strange Man?

Dras Weldon: What, the dude or the book? ‘Cause I’m not a big fan of the dude. The book’s pretty boss, though. I’d really like it if I weren’t in it.

PBC: So, any drawbacks or challenges?

Weldon: Aside from being the whipping boy for the Bogeyman? No, no drawbacks at all. Why do you ask?

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?

Weldon: That used to be a pretty easy question. I’d say “XBOX, some cold pizza, a worn VHS copy of She-Vampires From Mars” and I’d be set. Now though, I don’t know. I’m all conflicted and starting to think about The Big Picture: Who’s God? Who am I? What do I believe? Plus there’s Rosalyn and all the weirdness there. We grew up together, but now…it’s just different. Like in a strange romantic sort of way that I’m not entirely comfortable discussing with a complete stranger, you know? I guess if I were being totally honest, all I want right now is for her to be safe.

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

Weldon: Man, now you’re asking all the hard questions. I dunno. I guess the usual: Fear of failing, fear of letting people down, fear of clowns… Weaknesses? I don’t think we’ve got the room for that. Off the top of the list I’d say “lazy”. At least, that’s what everyone tells me.

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Weldon: Do I! Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Where to begin: Comic books, monster movies, monster magazines, video games, action figures—yes, they are called “action figures” not “dolls”—hanging with Roz, riding my bike. Pretty much everything I loved to do when I was eight is still my favorite thing to do. Who says you gotta grow up?

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

Weldon: My brother. Hands down. That and when people don’t change out the toilet paper roll.

PBC: What do you value most?

Weldon: …Rosalyn. She’s the only reason I’m going through with this fight with the Strange Man. I don’t know why he’s after her, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve got to figure out a way to help her and stop him.

PBC: Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about
them? Dislike?

Weldon: Wow, I’ve got to say what I like about them? Hmm… Well, I mean, my mom’s okay, I guess. I mean, she’s nice and cooks me supper a couple nights a week and gives me a little spending money when rent’s due—sometimes she gives me the rent too. I don’t really know my dad. He’s been sick for awhile, and super-busy before that. He was the pastor a long time ago, you know? He didn’t really have a lot of time for me. Not that I blame him! I get it. He’s important or whatever, but you know…yeah. Then there’s my brother. We never really got along, but he’s a little less of a skeeve since he married Isabella. She’s pretty cool (and really hot, but don’t tell my brother I said that).

PBC: Dras, in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of
your novel, Greg Mitchell?

Weldon: He’s alright, as moody writers go. We like a lot of the same movies and he bummed a few comics off of me (that he still hasn’t returned, I might add). I sorta wish he’d lay off of me, though. I’ve got enough going on in my life, yet for some reason he feels the need to bring demons into the mix. Okay, I change my mind. Greg Mitchell is a jerk.

PBC: So, Dras, what do you think of Greg? What do you like or admire
about him? Anything you dislike?

Weldon: Like I said, he’s a jerk who gets some sick pleasure out of watching gremlins chase me on my bike. I’m sure he’d just say he was trying to “teach me something”, but whatever.

PBC: Dras, if you had one question you could ask Greg, what would it be?

Weldon: Why pick me to face off against the Strange Man? My brother, Jeff, would have been much better at that. Why didn’t you go to him?

PBC: If you could change one thing in The Strange Man, what would it be?

Weldon: The ending. And maybe I’d add more bikini clad supermodels.

PBC: Dras, if you could spend a whole day with Greg, where would you go
and what would you do together?

Weldon: Are you kidding? I’m not so sure I’d want to spend any time with him after everything that’s happened. But, I guess if we got past all of that, we’d probably just go to a matinee and watch a campy monster B-movie. That’d be pretty great. …As long as he’s paying.

PBC: Dras, what do you think of the cover of The Strange Man?

Weldon: Awfully colorful for such a scary book, right? And I’m not on it. That stings a bit. Couldn’t they find a model in their folder of canned clipart that could perfectly capture my boyish grin? Or at least get close? Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Dras! Readers, it’s your
turn! Got any questions for Dras Weldon about The Strange Man or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

 

Share

Character Interview: Carolyn Masters (Dark Side of the Moon/Terri Main)

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am conducting. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Carolyn Masters, the heroine of the Futuristic cozy mystery novel Dark Side of the Moon(2011/Muse It Up Publishing) by author Terri Main.

POV Boot Camp(PBC): Carolyn, what do you love most about Living on the Moon?
Carolyn Masters: One-Sixth G. I step on the scales in the morning and I weigh less than last  year’s Thanksgiving Turkey.  Seriously, It’s classic small town life. I feel like I’m living in Mayberry. We have a Park with a bandshell, Ivy covered Walls at the University, a town square with small shops all around. Of course, there are the holographic sign twirlers during sales events and the Sunlight and weather is manufactured. But it does remind me of towns I lived in as a child.

PBC:So, any drawbacks or challenges?
Masters: One-sixth G. Last year I was having Thanksgiving dinner and forgot about the gravity difference and braced myself to heft out the 13 kilo turkey and ended up throwing it all the way to the ceiling, but it floated back down so I could catch it, but not before putting on quite a show for my friends.  And then there are the murders. I thought I’d left that part of my life behind me. I’m not a profiler with the bureau anymore, but Mike, he’s our criminology professor at the college. He’s – well, lets just say he’s an acquired taste, and under that hard as nails cop exterior he is really quite–. What was the question again? Oh yes,. I’m a college professor of history, why do they keep sending for me to play Nancy Drew?

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?
Masters: There was an old 20th Century Sit com (that’s my field of expertise 20th Century Popular Culture) called Keeping Up Appearances. In one episode the harried husband is asked “So, what do you want?” (meaning for breakfast) and he responds not listening, “Oh, just to be happy in a modest sort of way.” That’s my greatest hope. I’ve done all those “big” things. You know being an undercover FBI agent and foiling terrorist plots are a lot more glamorous on the vids than in real life.

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?
Masters: Uh- well. It’s about Mike. I don’t know if I should say this publicly, but, well, after our last case, well actually during it, right before we went, well, he kissed me and I kissed back. I mean we are both in our 50’s. We aren’t kids. Sure we have another half century ahead of us, but … Well, I’m a life long single. And there are well things… Does that answer your question?

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
Masters: Ah, much better. My hobbies and my work overlap a bit. I collect vid chips of old 20th Century television programs. You might see me on a weekend doing a “marathon” as they used to call it of Mork and Mindy or Babylon 5.

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?
Masters: People not listening to me when I talk. Mike, for instance, I tell him over and over again. He’s the cop. I’m not. I’m retired, but does he listen. No! He just tells me to meet him somewhere for some crime scene. Then he hangs up without even saying “goodbye.” Is that right? I ask you.

PBC: What do you value most?
Masters: Oh, I know this sounds super religious and all, especially for an academic living at the dawn of the 22nd Century, but that would have to be my ability to spend time with God. I know, who believes in God anymore? I mean believe enough to talk to him on a regular basis. I don’t know. Maybe it is self-delusion. My own scholastacism teaches me to doubt everything. But if it is, it’s a delusion I intend to keep. I stand with Pascal on this one.

PBC:Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?
Masters: Both my parents are gone. My mother passed away a couple of years ago. That’s when I decided to move to the moon. I don’t have any siblings. I didn’t use to have many friends until I came to the moon. I guess my best friend is Linda. She’s with the physics department at the university. But we really don’t talk much about the school, except for your basic gossip. Who’s seeing whom? What professor will be taking maternity leave? That sort of thing. Mostly, I doubt either of us could remember half our conversations. They are not so much about topics as they are about being there. I couldn’t tell her much about our adventure, but somehow she knew not to ask about details and just ask about feelings. I’d say she is my first best friend.

PBC: Carolyn, in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of your novel, Terri Main?
Masters: Well, we had a lot of things in common we are both college instructors. She teaches communication and is doing something with her students using the Uninet. Oh, that’s right you guys still call it the Internet. These neutron beam calls are great for historical research, but I keep forgetting the nomenclature. She has a tendency to make me sound a bit smarter and braver than I really am. She calls it artistic license.

PBC: So, Carolyn, what do you think of Terri? What do you like or admire about her? Anything you dislike?
Masters: I admire the fact that she works with community college students. Here at the university we screen out all except the most capable to excelling academically. Her college takes everyone from students we would love to have to adults who dropped out of high school and are looking for a second chance. And in two years, she and others like her, make them ready for universities like ours. What I dislike, is how she keeps trying to imply in her stories that there is something going on between Mike and I. We are colleagues. Sure we go out to dinner a lot. But just as friends. And there was that kiss… But that was in the midst of an interplanetary crisis.

PBC: Given name, if you had one question you could ask Terri, what would it be?
Masters: Why me? I’m not that interesting.

PBC: If you could change one thing in Dark Side of the Moon, what would it be?
Masters: Maybe make me a bit less brave. Oh, and to stop implying that all the communities on the moon are upscale. We have miners, farmers, and then there is Aldrin, a poor, “company” town which is singularly depressing.

PBC: Carolyn, if you could spend a whole day with Terri where would you go and what would you do together?
Masters: Well, she and I come from the same hometown. So, I would love to have her give me the tour of the place as it is in your times. I’d love to see a sawmill circa 2011 before the use of particle beam cutting. My Dad worked in a sawmill. I’d love to see how they were back then. I’d also like to take a walk by the ocean. By our time they had planted oil rigs off Trinidad head. I’d like to see the coast for once without them. Of course, I’d probably have to do all this in a wheel chair. I’m afraid my body has adapted to low-G and my legs would break as soon as I tried to put my whole weight on them.

PBC: Carolyn, what do you think of the cover of Dark Side of the Moon?
Masters: Well, Mike has a bit less hair and I have this one lock of hair that never lays flat, but other than that they got us pretty close. I have a few more wrinkles, but I refuse to have any procedures done. You can’t tell anyone’s age any more.

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Carolyn! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Carolyn about the moon or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

Share

Interview: Hubby

  • – How long have you been writing?

Since I was eight, almost nine years old. Before the San Francisco Earthquake, I was writing Batman-Superman Fanfiction.

 

  • Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

 

Everywhere: Sermons at church, out of the blue. Sometimes, I’ll get ideas from TV shows, particularly one where I don’t enjoy the episode and I imagine how it really should be told.

 

  • What are your thoughts on critique groups?

 

It’s a mixed bag. On one hand, if you get a knowledgeable, supportive critique partner, it can be a blessing. On the other hand, there are bad critique groups, arrogant critiquers, etc. So proceed with caution.

 

  • Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

 

Yes. I’ve generally tried not to sit there and stare at blank screens. At some point, to quote the great Kenny Rogers, you have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. And sometimes, the best thing to do is to do something else, rest your mind, and come back.

 

 

  • Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

 

Here and there, probably the clown and sarcastic tendencies are the ones most likely to appear.

 

  • Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

 

I’m working on a Short Story that’s trying to become a novelette and the final confrontation scene was very tough. The story deals with child abuse and I kept wanting to handle the whole thing more clinically. What we finally ended up writing after much coaxing from my wife, was something that packs more of a punch, and did make me cry writing it.

 

  • Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

 

Mostly on its own. I know where I’m starting and I have a general idea where I’m going. I let the story happen as it goes.

 

 

  • What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

 

Depends on the book. I hope they just take something away from it and whatever God has for them.

 

  • Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

 

Upcoming. I’ve three big ideas that I have to struggle to get to:

 

1) The Return of the Dim Knight. This is going to be a challenging book to write. My challenge is going to be to grow my characters personally, emotionally, and spiritually from the last book without going too far. We’re still going to have some comedy, but it will be a slightly different tone. It’s the Superhero sequel that I hope readers will be waiting for.

 

2) Case Files of the Selfish Detective: Not really a speculative story, but will feature a character from Tales of the Dim Knight, Neil Worthington. Worthington is a genius detective who tries to model his life off of the combined efforts of Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, and Hercule Poirot. He lives alone mostly, irritating household staff, and driving them away. Then one day, Worthington is on the sidewalk and a car almost runs him over but a young woman saves him, but is hit herself and gets amnesia. Worthington pays her medical bills and brings her onboard. Her mission is to remember who she is and to get Worthington to use his powers for good.

 

3) The Graham works: Podcast-Yes, I want to start recording podcast of my works, both published and unpublished, so that people can enjoy them and I can grow my audience. But not something I’ve been able to find time to do yet.

 

 

  • Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?

 

I love old time radio and radio drama in general. Spend a lot of time listening to that and producing podcasts on old time radio.

 

  • With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?

 

I’ve invented something called a caffeine IV. Sadly, don’t find enough.

 

  • When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

 

I really try to get to know the character organically, through telling the story and listening to them. I tried once writing down all the details and I never got through all the details and never wrote the story.

 

  • Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?

 

In modern writing, there are two types of rules: 1) rules that are absolute and hard and fast and 2) things that are a matter of opinion and style but get stated as rules. A good writer has to be able to tell the difference.

 

  • Where can readers find your books and contact information?

 

http://www.dimknight.com

 

  • Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?

 

-Not as much as I should.

 

  • What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

 

If I get into one of those “inspired modes,” I can have a spell and turn out a few thousand word short story in a day. What I ideally  need is good classical or instrumental music playing in the background with Facebook and email closed.

Share

Interview: Yvonne Anderson

 

  • How long have you been writing?

I started writing since I was old enough to hold a crayon. But as far as writing seriously, with hopes of publication? That began in 2002. I was offered my first publishing contract in 2011.

 

  • When did you feel called to write?

See above. It was in February. Two of my four kids were grown and on their own, the younger two were in school, and my hours at work had recently been cut to twelve hours a week. And, we’d just gotten a new computer. While cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, it occurred to me that everything had fallen into place for me; it was time to write that book that had been in the back of my mind for the past couple of decades. I tried to brush away the idea, but eventually I realized it wasn’t just an idea, it was the Holy Spirit nudging me. I prayed about it, and the urge persisted. I’ve prayed about it every day since. I don’t want to waste my time doing this if the Lord wants me to do something else instead, but every day, He gives me the green light to go ahead. And so I plod on.

 

  • Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

I have no idea. They spring up like weeds, and I don’t usually know what sort of critter dropped the seeds there.

 

  • What are your thoughts on critique groups?

A good critique group is invaluable. Better than a MFA. I can’t sing their praises enough.

 

  • Was it hard to develop a writing style?

No.

 

  • Who is your favorite author?

I have no favorite author. Nor favorite color, food, movie, book, etc. I don’t think I’m wishy-washy, I just enjoy too many things to narrow it down.

 

  • Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

I can’t say as I’ve ever struggled with writer’s block. If I feel stuck on one thing, I drop it and go on to something else. Most of my struggles, especially at first, were trying to find the time to write, not trying to decide what to write.

 

  • Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

Yes, I think this is inevitable, though I try to counteract it by making my characters do things I never would.

 

  • Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

The scenes I feel most strongly about are the most difficult to write. Yes, scenes have made me cry sometimes, but they’ve never made me angry. Anger results from loss of control, but I have complete control over everything that happens in my story world.

 

  • Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

I’m a seat-of-the-pants plotter. However, before I start writing, I know the beginning, the end, and two pivotal events that will take place along the way, as well as the major characters. But other than that, I’m as surprised about what happens as the reader is. It’s fun.

 

  • What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

I want people to enjoy my books and find things in them to think about after they’re through. Mostly, though, I hope they’ll see God’s truth reflected in my stories.

 

  • Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

In January 2011 I signed a three-book contract with Risen Books for a space fantasy series, Gateway to Gannah. The first book, The Story in the Stars, was released in June; Book #2 will probably come out in December, and I expect the third to be released in the middle of 2012. I’m currently revising #3 in preparation for submitting it to the publisher, and I also have a good idea in my mind of what’s going to happen in Book #4. I have no contract for anything beyond the third book, but I expect I’ll keep writing more in the series for the next few years, because I have several story ideas still to work out.

 

  • How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story do not fit in what they consider to be Christian?

If someone told me that, I’d agree with him. I don’t incorporate those elements in my stories.

 

– With a full schedule, how do you find time to write?

I used to squeeze it in whenever I could, and it was very frustrating. Thankfully, I’m now in a position to write full time. It’s not like having a full-time job, because I don’t get a paycheck. But at least my time is my own.

 

  • When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

Yes, I give my characters a history, but I tend to work backward. That is, I decide first what I want the character to do, and then I figure out what her background and motivation is, and build her history that way. That’s all done mentally before I start writing. Then once I get started, she’ll sometimes react in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but it’s always consistent with the backstory I gave her early on.

 

  • Can you share one or two nuggets of wisdom to those wanting to travel down the writing road?

I have five nuggets to share, but I’m not sure what they’re nuggets of:

1. If you’re a Christ-follower, pray about this. You’re looking at a huge investment of time and energy, not to mention money if you go to conferences and such. So you should be sure you’re doing what the Lord wants you to do. (If you’re not a Christ-follower, I have no advice for you other than that you consider changing that situation.)

2. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and be aware that you’re just starting out. You have much to learn.

3. Pray about it.

4. Be patient; be diligent; be humble; learn as much as you can, make as many contacts as you can, and know that the Lord is God.

5. Pray about it. Maybe now that you’re getting the hang of it, He wants you to write a different sort of story or to change genres, as He did with me. I never even read science fiction when He put me to work writing it. You never know what He’s going to lead you to do.

 

– Where can readers find your books and contact information?

Readers can connect with me through my blog at www.YsWords.com. The Story in the Stars (and later, subsequent titles in the series) can be purchased in paperback or e-book formats at Amazon or through the publisher’s website (www.RisenFiction.com/store).

 

  • Do you spend time in prayer before you write or begin a project?

Yes.

 

  • What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

It takes me a little while to get into the story each time I go back to it, and I need to be isolated from distracting things like TV, music, conversation, etc. I don’t need complete silence, though. I do a lot of writing sitting on the front porch with the world going past the house. But those sounds, I can block out.


 

Share

Interview of Caprice Hokstad

Kicking off a blog tour I’m participating in, interviewing several authors affiliated with the Lost Genre Guild, with the fabulous Caprice Hokstad.

 

– When did you feel called to write?

I don’t feel like I have been “called” to write as some sort of mandate from God. If God tells you to write, of course you should obey, but God hasn’t really told me I have to write. Does a Christian have to be “called” to knit? Or can it just be a hobby? I don’t believe crosses or fish symbols must be woven deep into every design of every scarf in order for knitting to be a legitimate use of a Christian’s time. I enjoy writing and my beliefs will affect everything I write, but I don’t think I am “called” to write.

 

– Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

I really don’t know. I have a very weird brain and thoughts pop into it without any return address.

 

– What are your thoughts on critique groups?

I think they are important for beginners. I also think it’s incredibly hard to find one that is helpful. You need people to understand the genre and you need at least one or two people in the group to know more than you do about the craft. I prefer one-on-one critique “partners” over groups.

 

– Was it hard to develop a writing style?

Huh? I’m not even sure I know how to develop a style. I just write. If I have a style, I didn’t do anything to impose it. It’s just me.

 

– Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

My biggest block came from limiting myself to working on only “worthy” (i.e. publishable) projects. I am having trouble finding an audience for my published books. So, instead of writing the third book in that trilogy, I spent a lot of “blocked” time looking for a new project that would help me find or build an audience. I came up with a great setting and a good plot for an undersea science fiction, but it’s dead in the water for lack of good characters to pull it off. So then I started writing fanfiction for fun. Once I allowed myself to write for fun and for readers instead of for publishing, I had a lot less trouble with writer’s block. I regularly pump out about 5000 (final draft) words a week now.

– Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?

Yes. More with villains than heroes. But isn’t that what makes it fun? It’s socially acceptable to plot the perfect crime for a character to pull off. Characters can say and do what I can’t.

 

– Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?

I find scenes difficult to perfect, but not really to bang out. I want a precise progression of thoughts and emotions and I’m never happy until the words produce the exact effect I want. I play with word choices and sentence structure a lot. Do I cry? Yes. But that really isn’t saying much since I cry over movies and TV shows and reading blogs and all kinds of other things too.

 

– Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?

I didn’t use an outline for The Duke’s Handmaid at all. I made a very rough one for Nor Iron Bars a Cage, but even when I use outlines, they are very loose and I do a lot of seat-of-pants fill in.

 

– What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?

I want them love the story. I want them to feel elated for the climax, but sad because it’s over. I want to leave them hungry for more. I want them to pass it on to a friend or two or five. I want them to feel strongly enough that they go post a review on Amazon or sit and write me an email just because they feel like they need to talk about it.

 

– Can you share any upcoming projects with us?

My short story/mini-novella “Fettered Soul”, which is a prequel to my novels appears in the bestselling anthology “Aquasynthesis” from Splashdown Books. My seaQuest fanfiction is presently available for free atUnderseaAdventure.net. I am finally writing the third book of my Ascendancy Trilogy, as yet unnamed, but should be released in 2012.

 

– How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?

I tell them that any Christian label has been applied by others, not by me. I usually ask that person if they consider Narnia “Christian” and if they say yes, then I point out all the magic, witches, lack of mention of Jesus, bloody battles (or whatever they object to) in that. If they say no, then I say, “Fine, I’m with C.S. Lewis in the mainstream then.”

 

– Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?

I like swimming and I am obsessed with the ocean. I love the beach, but I don’t go there very much because of driving and the crowds. I hate crowds. I love going to Sea World or the Birch Aquarium when they’re in off-season. I really want to learn to scuba dive someday, but it’s too expensive to consider right now. I also would love to live in an undersea colony.

 

– When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?

It depends on how important the character is to the story. Minor characters, no, I don’t bother. However, minor characters have been known to grow into main characters and I’ve had to go back and fill in their history in order to use them more extensively.

 

– Where can readers find your books and contact information?

WWW.LATOPH.COM

 

– What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?

I prefer peace and quiet, but that isn’t always available to me. I never purposely add noise like music or TV, but I live in a mobile home with four other people and our house is situated in a mobile home park where I’m too close to neighbors, so I can’t always escape other people’s noise. I can usually edit with more noise than I can handle during a first draft. Sometimes, if the distraction level is too great, I just have to change modes and do something else that doesn’t require as much concentration (like read email, do facebook). I have been known to sacrifice sleep in order to get good writing time.

 

Share

Interview with Abby Fraser (Shadowed in Silk by Christine Lindsay)

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am conducting. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Abby Fraser, the heroine of the historical novel Shadowed in Silk (E-book releases May 2011, printed version releases Sept. 1, WhiteFire Publishing) by author Christine Lindsay.

 

POV Boot Camp(PBC): Abby, what do you love most about being an army wife living in India?

Abby Fraser:  I was born in India, and have loved this country all my life. That love grew deeper after I was wrenched away from here when my mother died when I was six years old. I grew up in Albany New York with my aunt, but hated every minute of it. With my father being a famous general of the British Raj, it always seemed fitting that I should return as an army wife, and I couldn’t wait to get back. But it is India with all its spices and smells, and the wonderful people. The Indian people are so warm, so colorful, so beautiful.

 

PBC:So, any drawbacks or challenges?

Fraser: It breaks my heart to see lower caste Indians treated like dirt by their own people within the Hindu religion. Take my sweet Ayah, Eshana. She takes care of my little boy, Cam. I love her like a sister, but her life has not been easy. As a little girl, she went through a marriage ceremony when she was seven years old. Later, when she turned thirteen, she was supposed to move from her parent’s home and go to her husband’s. But her husband died before that could happen and Eshana became a child Hindu widow. From then on her life became a nightmare. But Eshana tells me that she has since rejected that life. She says she has found a new joyful life through her relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our mutual friend, Major Geoff Richards, is also a devoted Christian, and he too encourages me to believe in Christ. But I’m not sure . . . I’ve got to sort out my own problems, especially those with my husband . . . don’t I?

 

PBC: No, hon, you don’t. 😉 Could you tell us a bit more about the political tensions between the Indian people and the British army? What do you think of the rebel leader, Gandhi?

Fraser: Nothing makes me madder than to see the English treat the Indians like third class citizens in their own country. And the British are terrified of another uprising from the Indians they are ruling. Most Englishmen sleep with a revolver under their pillows, and many Englishwomen carry pistols in their handbags. Very few of the British Raj are like Geoff Richards. He cares more about his Indian friends than his English peers. But he says it’s the faith in Christ that he shares with some of his Indian friends that makes them family. And I have to admit his faith seems to be helping with his shell shock that he received during the Great War in Europe.

As for Gandhi—I find him fascinating. He could be the political savior of India. He wants to change the way Hindus mistreat each other, and especially the way they abuse Hindu widows. But Eshana says that, while Gandhi is a very good man, he doesn’t even come close to the way Jesus treated women. Eshana says that, when she came to know Christ, she began to see herself as a person of great value. I wish I felt the same, but lately with the way Nick treats me, I feel invisible. Much like the way the Indian multitudes seem invisible to the British.

 

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?

Fraser: To be the best mother I can be to my son, Cam. And I want to live the rest of my days in my beloved India. I also want to do something to aid the Indian people, and I enjoy helping out in the small Christian mission that Eshana came from. But deep down . . . my desire is to be a wife and a mother. I want to be cherished by my husband . . . to be seen for who I really am.

 

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

Fraser I’m afraid I’ll never win back the love of my husband, Nick, or that if he continues to mistreat me, I’ll be forced to flee to safety. But I must be strong, and not allow him to hurt me. I won’t stand for that. Sometimes, when he’s been drinking, I fear he’ll hurt Cam. But I’ll do anything to protect my son. . . anything. Maybe that’s my weakness—I’ve become too self-sufficient growing up unnoticed. But even Geoff Richards fears for my safety and urges me to be careful.

 

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Fraser: I am so bored with endless tea parties with the other officers’ wives, and their constant stream of cocktail parties at the garrison club. But when Eshana takes me to the Christian mission that she’s attached to, the desire to teach has developed in me. It’s the little sweeper boy in our bungalow who plays with Cam that started my interest. And there are so many orphans at the mission. I want to help out there. Geoff encourages me to help out in the mission. He agrees that the social whirl of the British Raj is mostly a waste of time. But Geoff is always talking about God. I wish he wouldn’t. It makes me feel uncomfortable, as if I don’t quite measure up, and I don’t know why.

 

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

Fraser:  I will never accept that the shade to a person’s skin makes any difference in how they should be treated. And I’ll tell anyone that, even the British governor of India’s biggest province.  But the Governor didn’t listen—he just walked away as if he didn’t hear me.

 

PBC: What do you value most?

Fraser:  My son. I’ll do anything to see that Cam is safe and happy. That’s why I’m so grateful that Geoff takes Cam out for rides on his huge cavalry charger, Samson. Nick ignores his son as much as he ignores me, but I suppose it’s better to be ignored by Nick than to be physically mistreated.

 

PBC: Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?

Fraser: It was bad enough growing up invisible to my aunt and later my father. And then to discover Nick married me only to further his career—it almost broke me. I suppose I should be thankful that their neglect made me stronger. My English friend, Laine always makes me laugh. And I love Eshana and Miriam from the mission, and admire the way they refuse to be downtrodden as Hindu widows. They believe they have every right to live in joy as followers of Christ.

 

Geoff has been a great friend to Cam, though not so much to me, lately. For months now, Geoff just gives me the time of day, a mini sermon that I should be taking all my troubles to Christ, and then he’s off to entertain Cam. I wish Geoff would talk to me like he used to, but he’s been keeping himself distant from only me. I don’t understand this, as he’s always so caring with others who are hurting. I feel safe when Geoff’s around. I wish I didn’t. It should be my husband who makes me feel safe. And I wish there was someone who would listen to me and hear me in the middle of the night when I feel alone.

 

And now there’s talk of revolution in India, and another war between Afghanistan and Britain. What’s going to happen to us all?

 

PBC: Abby, in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of your novel, Christine Lindsay?

Fraser: I’m so glad we’ve changed the subject from me. I don’t normally talk so much about myself, but your kindness just opened me up. And I don’t think my friend Christine likes to talk much about herself either. But when she does, it’s to share something from her own life to encourage other people. It’s for that reason she’s rather open about some of her past failures, and how God helped out through those difficulties. She’s a bit like Geoff and Eshana—loves to talk about what God did.

PBC: So, Abby, what do you think of Christine Lindsay? What do you like or admire about her? Anything you dislike?

Fraser:  I suppose what I dislike about Christine are those mini sermons she gives. I don’t see yet, why I need such a deep faith in Christ as she does. But I am thinking about it. She’s also a bit of a wimp—I think that’s the term you would use in the future—but Christine is a coward. In a way she reminds me of Geoff. He too has been hurt a great deal in this life—who hasn’t—and yet he’s afraid to trust that his God has good things in store for him. I think Christine is just starting to learn about the depths of God’s goodness. It’s certainly taken long enough, she’s 53.

 

I admire Christine for relinquishing her first child to adoption. She did that when she was a young woman and not married. She even named her baby girl Sarah in faith that God would bring them together again when Sarah was all grown up.

 

Now here’s the thing. Christine understands hurting women like me who feel invisible, and she likes to encourage people to see themselves through God’s eyes. And God did reward Christine’s faith. He did reunite her with Sarah 20 years later, but Christine always struggles with the glass half empty attitude. Her faith needs to grow stronger. It’s true she wishes for a closer relationship with her birthdaughter, but God did something amazing for her. He used her very own Sarah’s picture for the front cover of my story.

 

PBC: Abby, if you had one question you could ask Christine, what would it be?

Fraser: Why do you have even the slightest fear of what the future may bring when God has been so good to you?

 

PBC: If you could change one thing in Shadowed in Silk, what would it be?

Fraser: As a fictional character, I’ve been answering your questions as if I were living in the middle of the book. But I’ll jump to the end and say that I wish Christine had written more about my happy ending. She left if off with a warm, sensuous, exhilarating kiss with the husband the Lord gave me. My insides skitter sideways when I think of that kiss. But I wish she’d told you that we went to Kashmir on our honeymoon and floated for weeks on a placid, lotus-dotted lake that reflected the Himalayas. 

 

PBC: Abby, if you could spend a whole day with Christine, where would you go and what would you do together?

Fraser:  My husband and I would bring Cam over to Christine’s house. She and her husband, David, would cook a roast beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. I’d bring halva for dessert. Christine and David’s grown up kids and grandkids, and her birthdaughter, Sarah, and her husband would be there. Christine is never happier than when she’s with her children and their children.

 

PBC: Abby, what do you think of the cover of Shadowed in Silk

Fraser: Well as I’ve already hinted, the model on the front cover is not really me. That beautiful girl resembles me closely, but she is Christine’s birthdaughter, Sarah.  I was happy to step aside and let Christine have her daughter on there. You should have seen Christine weep with joy over that. Because I’ll tell you a secret.

After the reunion with Sarah several years ago, it broke Christine’s heart. She started to relive the original loss of relinquishing Sarah all over again.

 

But God told Christine to write out her pain, and then to put the healing she received from Him into Christian fiction. It’s only fitting really, that the muse to inspire Christine’s writing ministry in the first place be on the front cover.  As I think of this sweet gift that God gave to Christine, we should all trust such a loving, heavenly Father with our deepest desires.

 

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Abby! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Abby Fraser about India or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

 

Share

Character Interview of Nathan Hertzfield

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am conducting. Recently, I had the delight of chatting with Nathan Hertzfield, the hero of the Historical novel Night of the Cossack (4/6/11 Bound by Faith Publishers) by author Tom Blubaugh. Note Nathan Hertzfield is a fictional character based upon Tom Blubaugh’s actual grandfather, now deceased.

POV Boot Camp: Nathan, I understand you are a Cossack. How did you become a Cossack? What exactly does a Cossack do?

Nathan Hertzfield: When I was sixteen I was kidnapped by a Cossack, I was ransomed to my mother. She was unable to pay so I was forced into being a Cossack. At first I hated it, but the truth is I loved being thrown into a man’s world. A Cossack is like a mercenary soldier only they have a form of government of their own. They work as one unit under a leader who bargains with the heads of countries to fight their battles. When I was a Cossack they were under the Russian tsar.

POV Boot Camp: Could you tell us a bit about the places you’ve served in?

Nathan: I served in Russia and Ukraine. Odessa is where I ran into real problems. I liked Russia best—a Cossack town named Aksay. I went to school there and received my Cossack training.

PBC: So, any drawbacks or challenges?

Nathan: The drawback was I was no longer free and there challenges were many. Jews were hated and being killed, which placed me in a very bad situation as a Jew. My best friend betrayed me and I ended up running for my life.

PBC: What are your greatest hopes and dreams?

Nathan: My greatest hope was to make it safely to Bayonne, France where I could find passage to America.

PBC: What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

Nathan: I was afraid of being caught by the tsar’s agents or killed along the way for my horse and weapons. I didn’t know the countries I had to go through, Romania, Italy, France without currency or knowing the languages. I felt very vulnerable.

PBC: Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Nathan: I like to play horseshoes and Bocce Ball. I want to help others be free of abuse.

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

Nathan: People who talk down to me. Dishonesty.

PBC: What do you value most?

Nathan : My freedom and rights.

PBC: Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?

Nathan: I had to leave my family and friends behind. They were very loving and supportive. We were very close. There is nothing I dislike about my family or most of my friends, although my best friend betrayed me.

PBC: Nathan, I understand a novel has been written about your life. In your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author, Tom Blubaugh?

Nathan: Tom has been a writer of non-fiction, but he decided to write fiction. This is his first attempt.

He and his wife, Barbara, live in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren.

PBC: So, Nathan, what do you think of Tom? What do you like or admire about him? Anything you dislike?

Nathan: I like him a lot. He’s a very creative writer. He’s persistent and works at a scene until he gets it right. I don’t like sitting a long time in a scene until it’s done. He does volunteer work and sometimes it keeps him from writing. I had to work with him for five years before he was satisfied. It was hard work for both of us.

PBC: Nathan, if you had one question you could ask Tom, what would it be?

Nathan: Why did you wait so long to write my story and why didn’t you get more information about me while your grandmother was still living?

PBC: If you could change one thing in Night of the Cossack, what would it be?

Nathan: Gee, that’s a tough one. I would have liked him to take me back to Rachael rather than leave her behind and never see her again.

PBC: Will there be a sequel?

Nathan: Yes. Tom is already writing it.

PBC: Nathan, if you could spend a whole day with Tom, where would you go and what would you do together?

Nathan: I’d ride with him on his motor scooter and go on some of the back roads in the Ozarks hill country. It’s beautiful this time of year.

PBC: Nathan, what do you think of the cover of Night of the Cossack?

Nathan: Wow! I think it’s fantastic! That was a terrible night when I got kidnapped and yanked from my family. It’s hard to look at the reality of it in a picture, but the artist did a very good job of capturing it.

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Nathan! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Nathan about his story or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

 

Share

Laila Harris Interview (Streets on a Map by Dale Harcombe)

Gentle readers, we continue with our series of character interviews I am conducting, illustrating one way of getting to know your characters better in your own works in progress. Today we have in the hot seat the lovely Laila Harris, one of the main characters of the contemporary novel Streets on a Map by Dale Harcombe.  (Ark House Press, December 1, 2010)

POV Boot Camp (PBC): Laila, what do you love most about living in the small town of Astley?

Laila Harris: I love the interaction and concern people have for each other. Of course, that creates a whole other set of problems.

PBC: Yes, I’ve always appreciated the lure of the small, tight knit community, but we do often romanticize it. Would you elaborate on the  difficulties you’ve encountered with living in a small town?

Harris: Sure, along with involvement in each other’s lives and concern, there is also a lot of nosiness. People always have an opinion on what is happening and are not backward about sharing it. It is almost impossible to keep a secret in Astley. If someone does manage it is a major event.

PBC: That can definitely be trouble. I remember, in one smaller town I lived in, a major employer closed their doors in part because everyone in town knew what “secret” contracts were being worked on there. So, what are your greatest hopes and dreams?

Harris: Once I would have said they were all in the past, but that was before Abby moved to Astley. And before life changed dramatically with the arrival of the last person I ever expected to see in my life again. I guess we never know what life has in store for us. Perhaps that’s just as well. While it can be a problem at times, it’s exciting, too. It means there are always new challenges and experiences that maybe we never have dreamed of.

PBC: Life does havs a way of surprising us; sometimes I like that more than others. 😉 What are your greatest fears? Weaknesses?

Harris: I feared Abby was about to make the same disastrous mistake I had made all those years ago. I had to try and do something to help her. So I did. I guess some people might say a weakness of mine is trying to help people I care about and make life easier for them, which I suppose could be construed at times as interference. I have been told I have a tendency to be bossy and a mite stubborn. I suspect some people think I’m a soft touch at times because I try to see the good in people. Of course, occasionally that backfires, but not often. Sometimes people surprise you.

PBC: I can so relate to that. Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Harris: Thanks to classes by Bea Sorenson, a local artist who also runs patchwork classes, I discovered I had an aptitude for patchwork. I was delighted with the patchwork cushions she helped me make.

I’m interested in people. It’s hard to live in Astley and not be interested in people because we rub along against each other every day.

 

PBC: How about pet peeves? What annoys you?

Harris: I hate the way people talk about others. Gossip is, as anyone who’s ever lived in a small town will tell you, the lifeblood of small towns. Everybody’s private business is sorted through like communal laundry. Sure, I know that it’s rooted in concern for others, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. It’s one of the things Abby struggled with when she first came to Astley, but even those of us born and raised here find it a problem at times. I’ve been on the receiving end of my share of it over the years, but that’s people in small communities. You can’t change them. Deep down, maybe I wouldn’t want to.

PBC: I’m pretty sure all of me would like to rid the world of gossip, but life definitely is much more peaceful when we accept we can’t change anyone but ourselves. What do you value most?

Harris:  Sure that would have to be my relationship with the Creator of the universe. That is the only thing that got me through some of the tough times of my life. My friendship with Eric Sorenson and being a mother to Louise are also vital to my well being. Family and friendships are important to me.

PBC: I hear you on that. Tell me a bit more about your family and friends. What do you like about them? Dislike?

Harris: My family consists of my daughter, Louise, and her husband and two boys. Real live wires those two are. Always on the go, but Louise is a good mother. I love that Louise and her family live close enough that I see them often. Unfortunately, Louise can be stubborn and unforgiving when someone hurts those she loves. I suspect in that she’s more than a bit like her mother. But I’ve had to learn to forgive.

Eric and Bea Sorenson are great friends of mine. I’ve known them both a long time, more years than I’d care to count. Abby is a close friend. People might think it strange, given the big age difference between us, but we have so much in common. I guess I see a lot of my young self in Abby.

 

PBC: Those are always special relationships and should be treasured. Laila, in your own words, could you tell us a bit about the author of Streets on a Map?

Harris: Dale Harcombe is passionate about books, writing and reading. Sure, it’s not just her study is littered with books. They’re all over the house. Dale reads copious amounts of fiction and poetry. She writes poetry, too. She has something I could never manage–a happy marriage with her husband of over forty years. They live with a ginger dog that exists under the misapprehension she is a small human in fur. Dale’s grown up son and daughter both married with families of their own live a couple of hours away. She likes to visit them or have them visit her. Then she puts aside writing for a time.

PBC: So, Laila, what do you think of Dale? What do you like or admire about her? Anything you dislike?

Harris: I like how she made me see my story and Abby’s were intertwined and that none of us can exist without others. I liked the way she brought out the idea that friendships have nothing to do with age, but more about something intrinsic in common.

I dislike the way she thought that was the end of the story and went onto work on a new novel with new characters instead of going on to tell everyone what happened next with Abby and myself and the people of Astley. Now that would make a good story. Maybe one day she will tell it.

PBC: In your shoes, I’d feel that way, too, Laila. If you had one question you could ask Dale, what would it be?

Harris: Why haven’t you written a sequel to Streets on a Map? I know some people have been asking about that. They weren’t ready to let go of the people of Astley.

PBC: If you could change one thing in Streets on a Map, what would it be?

Harris: Personally, I could have done without that late night incident that happens towards the end of Streets on a Map. But I guess I understand why Dale wrote that into the story.

PBC: Laila, if you could spend a whole day with Dale, where would you go and what would you do together?

Harris: I think we’d go to the theatre–a musical, of course. Then afterwards we’d go out for coffee and sit and talk about the show. On the way home we’d sing some of the songs from the show. Did I tell you Dale likes to sing? It’s purely a hobby. She never wanted to make a career of singing.

PBC: Laila, what do you think of the cover of Streets on a Map?

Harris: I love it. It’s simple, eye catching, and modern. The tree signifies the elms that line the streets of Astley. The road reminds me life is a journey. The butterflies remind me that life often brings changes. Sure, I’ve had my share of those over the years. If you read Streets on a Map, and I hope you will, you’ll soon see what I mean.

 

Thanks for stopping in and chatting with us, Laila! Readers, it’s your turn! Got any questions for Laila Harris about Streets on a Map or anything else on your mind? Comment away. If one of your characters would like to chat with us here, send me an email and we’ll set a date.

Share