What is your favorite Bible verse?
Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God? (NRSV)
How did you get started as a Christian fiction writer?
A friend in a Christian aerobics class invited me to join a critique group with some very published and polished writers. They were gracious and patient as I honed my skills.
What inspired the concept for The Fence My Father Built?
My personal life long search to know my biological father, coupled with a quirky feature in the newspaper about a man who built a fence made from old oven doors.
Is any part of The Fence My Father Built factual?
I’m not sure if the guy in the aforementioned article is still living, but he really did have the oven-door fence, plus he fixed bikes for needy kids and kept potbellied pigs as pets, just like Uncle Tiny in the story.
How closely is The Fence My Father Built based on your life experiences?
All novels contain elements of truth. It’s what we do with the truth (mostly have fun with it) that makes good fiction. In my case, Fence arose out of my deep-seated need to locate and get to know my dad. I had a fabulous adoptive father, but when he died I felt OK about searching for my bio dad. In real life my bio dad is still alive and in decent health. He is part Cherokee Indian, which I did not know until I located him around 15 years ago.
How did you choose the location for the setting?
I grew up in the Arizona desert—in Yuma, near the California/Mexican border, and in Phoenix. Originally I set the story around Sedona, AZ where I spent time as a child. Then I visited Central Oregon for the first time and discovered the same red-tinged dirt as in Sedona. I fell in love with the high desert all over again and decided to set my story in Oregon.
How long did The Fence My Father Built take you to complete?
Waaay too long. As I wrote in an essay for CBD, this is my second novel attempt. The first garnered a big deal New York agent who couldn’t sell it. She said, “Go write another novel.” I did, but it still took more than ten years to sell it. I like to think readers had to be ready for me, and I sure hope they are now.
Do you have a favorite character in The Fence My Father Built? Why?
The obvious choice for me is the character of Joseph Pond. He is a very flawed character but he is a very real character. As the heroine, Muri, searches for clues to who her father had been in life, she discovers her own strengths and weaknesses. Like me, she learns it’s not always easy to find your way home.