How much of Angel Sister is factual?
My mother was one of four sisters. My grandfather was a blacksmith and served in World War I and my grandmother did love to read. There was an odd lady in their neighborhood who did chop down cedar trees to make cedar palaces. So their stories and experiences were the germ of the idea that eventually grew into my fictional story.
How closely is Angel Sister based on your life experiences?
The book isn’t based on my life experiences, but rather my mother’s. I do have two sisters, so I know how sisters can sometimes get at odds even while they love one another. I can also identify with the rural feel of the story since I grew up in the country and had some of the same sort of experiences that Kate has in the story – picking wild raspberries and canning beans, walking in the woods, that sort of thing.
How long did Angel Sister take you to complete?
It took me about a year to write Angel Sister from initial idea to ready to send off to my editor. That’s usually how long it takes me to write a book, but I have written two books in a year a few times.
Do you have a favorite character in Angel Sister? Why?
Definitely Kate. She’s fourteen and the middle sister, the one who has to make sure the family survives. She is so full of love and so strong and yet at the same time so vulnerable when life starts throwing her curves. If that’s not enough reason, she’s the character based on what I thought my mother might have been like when she was that age. But I also got very close to Kate’s father, Victor, while I was writing as he struggled with his demons. And you have to love five-year-old Lorena as she tries to hold on to her identity by standing up and shouting, “My name is Lorena Birdsong.”
How much research did Angel Sister take?
Some of the research for the background setting had been going on for years as I listened to my mother and aunts talk about growing up in the 1930’s. But when I decided to include the World War I romance of the parents in the book, I had to do a lot of research to get the right historical background for that part of the story. I also did research on blacksmithing and the poetry and stories Nadine was so entranced with in the early 1900’s.
What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Angel Sister?
I learned so much about the first World War. Perhaps the most interesting thing was that the men who volunteered to cross the ocean and fight in that war thought it would be the war that would end all wars. How sad that did not turn out to be true.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
My biggest challenge is enough time to do everything. I want to write. I have to write. Still, it’s easy to do everything but write at times. I’ve got grandbabies to enjoy, a mother in poor health who needs my help, church activities and volunteer duties, book events, friends and family to keep up with on Facebook, great books to read, and a house that has to be swept out occasionally. You know what I mean. We all want to dip out too much on our plates. So I have to make sure I set goals and put my fingers on that keyboard on a regular basis.