|Do you prefer to write Historical or Contemporary fiction?
I want to follow Troublesome Creek with two other books based on Copper Brown’s life. I also want to try some lighter medical romances written for the Christian audience. And, I have the first line of a darker contemporary novel.
What are the challenges you face as an author?
I thought you should know how to write a book before you actually wrote one. It was as if I had a box of commas on my desk, and I didn’t know where to put them all. That held me back for a spell. Also, the publishing business is frightening to first timers. That’s why organizations like the Christian Writer’s Guild are so important. The folks there will teach you what you don’t know about the business.
I found out the story is the important thing, the only thing that matters really. Plus, once you sell your manuscript, there are these wonderful people called editors who help you with the commas. Actually, I knew much more than I thought I did. It’s all been great fun. I feel so blessed to be doing this thing I love.
How long did it take you to write Troublesome Creek?
It took me about six years, but, unknowingly, I also wrote most of the sequel, Willow Springs, during that time. The two books were one long manuscript. I had an opportunity to meet with an editor before I entered the contest and he advised me that my manuscript was too long. I was disappointed, but I divided the book and sent the first half to the contest. Once I won, I was told the book was too short! I revisited the folks on Troublesome Creek and added 30,000 words. Finally, as in the story of Goldilocks, the porridge was “just right.”
How much research went into Troublesome Creek?
I have a small collection of medical books from the 1800’s that I read for pleasure so I already had knowledge of the practice of medicine in the 1800’s. Much of the daily living activities I learned while growing up on a farm. We canned and made apple butter, killed our own chickens, hung clothes on the line, ate what my father hunted and so forth. Plus, I spent lots of time in the chicken house as you can tell from the book. I did research on caves, hunting dogs, snake handling, mules . . . anything I didn’t know first hand. I like to do research in the library not the internet. I like to hold books in my hands.
Who was your favorite character?
My favorite character is probably Remy, the little cave girl, because I didn’t expect her or know she was coming. I hurt for her. Remy’s coming back for the third book, Torrent Falls. I also liked the complexity of Mam. She was not an easy character to write because she didn’t want to reveal her secrets.
Who is the person who most influenced you with your writing?
Mildred Chandler, a teacher I had in grade school. She read to us every morning which brought the whole world to life for me. She inspired my love for books and literature.
What were your favorite books as a child?
I read any book I could find: Little Women, Nancy Drew, Wuthering Heights. I lived for book mobile days.
What message would you like your readers to take from Troublesome Creek?
That God is in control of our lives. He has a plan and a purpose and all we have to do is seek His direction.
What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?
I want my books to incorporate scripture in such a way that people don’t realize that they’re getting a message. I want it to be not preachy but so much a part of the people’s lives they’re reading about that they want that too.