The Fence My Father BuiltThe Fence My Father Built
Linda S. Clare
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When legally separated Muri Pond, a librarian, hauls her kids, teenager Nova and eleven year-old Truman, out to the tiny town of Murkee, Oregon, where her father, Joe Pond lived and died, she's confronted by a neighbor's harassment over water rights and Joe's legacy: a fence made from old oven doors.

The fence and accompanying house trailer horrify rebellious Nova, who runs away to the drug-infested streets of Seattle. Muri searches for her daughter and for something to believe in, all the while trying to save her inheritance from the conniving neighbor who calls her dad Chief Joseph. Along with Joe's sister, Aunt Lutie, and the Red Rock Tabernacle Ladies, Muri must rediscover the faith her alcoholic dad never abandoned in order to reclaim her own spiritual path.

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Linda ClareLinda S. Clare is an award-winning co-author of three books, including Lost Boys and the Moms Who
Love Them
(with Melody Carlson and Heather Kopp), Revealed: Spiritual Reality in a Makeover World, and
Making Peace with a Dangerous God (with Kristen Johnson Ingram). Linda graduated summa cum laude
from Arizona State University. For the last seven years she has taught college-level creative writing
classes and edits and mentors other writers.  She and her husband of thirty-one years have four grown
children. They live in Eugene, Oregon. Visit Linda on the web at

Favorite 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)


 Our Interview with Linda Clare


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.


How much research did The Fence My Father Built take?

I read Oregon history books, clipped news articles for background material on supporting characters and looked up a lot of boring stuff about water rights laws. The research on Indian artifacts and the Nez Perce tribe of Indians was eye-opening and fascinating.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing The Fence My Father Built?

The research also led me to investigate laws concerning Indian artifacts and sacred places—NAGPRA stands for Native American Protection and Restoration Act.  I was amazed to learn some individuals still try to profit from items that are not only sacred to Native Americans, they can never be replaced if damaged or lost.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Nobody’s life is perfect, but mine might be messier than some. I have a condition called Post-polio Syndrome, a result of childhood polio that paralyzed my left arm and hand. I type one-handed. Also, the ugly specter of addiction runs rampant throughout my family, which has caused chaos and interrupted my writing life too often. As with Muri’s father, Joseph, alcoholism has taken a toll, but I attend a support group and try my best to stay focused.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Because of the challenges I mentioned, I think of fiction as my main escape. I channel a lot of my frustration into the characters’ I create, letting them work out them problems.  I believe that God heals my heart when I interact with my characters and their stories.  And creating situations that I might be less familiar with helps me understand others.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

I’m a tweener. I usually start with a question, such as, “What would happen if . . .” Then I write a few chapters to let the characters tell me what they need or want.  After I understand their problems, I might outline to make sure I build the tension and keep the stakes high.

Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

They do. I’ve ended up in a completely different spot than I intended—and I think most novelists would say the same.  Once characters take over, it’s the deeper parts of consciousness—for me, it’s the place where the Spirit speaks—that guide the story.  A right-brained (creative, artistic) rather than left-brained (logical, analytical) approach.  In my opinion, I write better stories when I tap into that deep, mysterious place where God communicates with me.


What other new projects do you have on the horizon? 

Right now, I’m working on a novel called, Hiding From Floyd, about a woman whose son accidentally died while playing hide and seek with his odd younger brother, who has never spoken about the death.  As the tenth anniversary of her son’s death approaches, she teaches classes on how to grieve at her church while privately trying to learn the truth and keep her own life from flying apart.

What message would you like your readers to take from The Fence My Father Built?

I’d like readers to know that no matter where you go or how far from God you get, He’s always waiting to take you back.

What is your greatest achievement?

I raised four beautiful, talented children. Doesn’t get any better than that.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

Years ago I was riding to a Christian writers conference with two of my friends. We asked each other that same question. I remember that I said, “I want to connect with as many people as possible.” It’s still true.

What do you do to get away from it all?

I confess I’m a bit of a workaholic. I teach writing classes, write books, edit others and my dear husband claims I eat, drink, and breathe writing. Once in a while though, I love the ocean, gardening and—surprise!—reading.


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