What writing clubs or organizations do you belong to?
I belong to an online group of Christian novelists who encourage each other, share our various expertise, learn from one another, share our woes and prayer requests—and get together once a year for a face-to-face writers retreat. This has been a lifeline for both my husband and me.
What were your favorite books as a child?
The Little House books, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka series (and tons of other “horse stories”), the Book House books, Madeleine L’Engle’s books . . . too many to count. We didn’t have television so I read, read, read.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in between?)
Somewhere in between. I definitely plot a general story arc, knowing who my main characters are, the basic theme, where the story starts, and where I want to end up. But once I’m actually into the story, having conversations with my characters and living/breathing/crying/laughing with them, things drop in that take me completely by surprise. (Where did that come from???) But events grow out of the situation that I couldn’t have seen when the story was still in outline form.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Absolutely. They develop personalities and do things I hadn’t anticipated, but are consistent with their character. One of the most fun aspects of writing novels.
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
Not just one person but many—especially other writers whose novels blow me away, and I think, “How does she/he do that?” I try to learn from good writing.
However, I got started on the path to becoming a writer because my high school English teacher encouraged me—in fact, sent one of my short stories to a national Scholastic Magazine writing contest, and it won First Place in the short story division! Bells and whistles went off in my head. Maybe other people actually want to read the stories I write! I used the prize money to buy a typewriter (yeah, I know, “what’s that?”) and marched off to college determined to be a writer.
What message would you like your readers to take from Stand By Me?
(1) that even the most “together,” mature person faces struggles and challenges and is sometimes hurting, and we need to come alongside, stand with them, allow them to be human, too. And
(2), that the different “parts” of the Body of Christ have something important to contribute, and actually, we need each other to be whole.
What is your greatest achievement?
Being married to the same man for 45 years, and loving it!!!! (But he made it easy.)