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 Our Interview with Stacy Hawkins Adams


 

What inspired the concept for Dreams That Won’t Let Go?
 
Dreams That Won’t Let Go is the third book in the Jubilant Soul series, throughout which a character named Reuben is referenced and longed for, but never seen. I decided to share his story in this novel to explain his long estrangement from his family, and to tell the well-known Prodigal Son story with a twist. Reuben fled from his family to save his life, and also because he felt unworthy to be loved by them, but only he knows his reasons. When he returns to Jubilant, his parents are overjoyed, his sisters are resentful, and he still struggles with choices he made long ago.

How much of Dreams That Won’t Let Go is factual?
 
Actually, none of this story is factual. It is centered around the fictional Reuben Burns, and was created to give life to his character when he decides to move back to Jubilant, Texas from Seattle. His “past” was somewhat known, because he is the older brother of Indigo and Yasmin – characters from the first two novels in the series – so you know that his parents died when he was twelve, his maternal grandparents raised him and his sisters, and his grandmother became an alcoholic. With those “fictional facts” already documented in the two previous novels, it’s easy to see why Reuben would have some issues. And yet, I hope the reader is intrigued to figure out the ironies they’ll find in this character. He alternates between being self-absorbed and surprisingly tenderhearted.


How did you choose the location for the setting?

Jubilant is a fictional town in Texas that serves as a metaphor for our eternal search for happiness. Most of us think we’ll find the joy and contentment we need somewhere outside of ourselves – in some particular place – rather than looking within and trusting that God dwells there. Reuben Burns, the main character in Dreams That Won’t Let Go, returns home to Jubilant searching for peace of mind and redemption, as have characters in the previous novels in this series.

 

How long did Dreams That Won’t Let Go take you to complete?

I usually take about nine months to write a book, but because my publisher and I wanted to turn this series around quickly for readers, I penned this novel in six months.


What is the symbolism for the title Dreams That Won’t Let Go?

The main character in this novel, Reuben Burns, is struggling with demons from his past that are causing him to have nightmares and panic attacks. He believes that if he returns to Jubilant and faces his fears, the nightmares and panic attacks will go away. Instead, the secrets in his dreams begin to torment him when he’s awake. Reuben has to determine whether he can forgive himself and let go of those memories of the past, or whether he’ll allow them to destroy him.

Do you have a favorite character in Dreams That Won’t Let Go? Why?

My favorite character in this novel is Reuben’s wife, Peyton. She is independent yet loyal and loving without being pushy – often like God is with us. She has a love for God and a love of life that hasn’t allowed the personal challenges she faces keep her from living as fully as she can. It’s ironic that she has chosen to marry her exact opposite. In many ways, she serves as an example for Reuben of what his life could be like if he would let go and let God take the reigns.

How much research did Dreams That Won’t Let Go take?

Dreams That Won’t Let Go took quite a bit of research, as most of my novels, do, because I want them to feel authentic to readers. For example, I haven’t been to Seattle in nearly a decade, but I interviewed residents of the area to make sure I nailed the neighborhoods and other references I make to the city. Also, several characters have careers or health issues that required me to research the diagnoses and the effects on a person’s life.

 

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Dreams That Won’t Let Go?

This is a great question. If I answer it fully, though, I’ll give away part of the plot. I’ll just say that I learned more about a particular disability that people often assume limits one’s life. I discovered through my research that the only limits are the ones a disabled person allows himself or herself to have.

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

My biggest challenge would be carving out enough time to write my novels as fast as I would like. Along with penning books, I serve as a freelance writer and nonprofit marketing consultant. My husband and I have two children, ages 11 and 8, and I’m the chief chauffeur, homework helper, counselor, et cetera. I love all of my roles; but in order to write, I find that I have to be disciplined about honoring the times I’ve scheduled with my characters.

The other challenge is a self-imposed one: to continue growing as a writer. I hope with each book I pen that I’m providing a compelling story that entertains and touches readers deeply; but I also want my writing to improve and leave them longing for more.

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

The actual process of writing, the craft itself, is hard work. Yet I love dreaming up ideas and sitting in front of a computer to let those possibilities flow from my mind onto a page. This process is often tedious, but once I’m well into a story and the characters have begun to “speak” to me, a book takes on a life of its own and I’m excited to see how the story will unfold.

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

It’s somewhere in between. I’ll start with a very basic, loose outline, knowing that as I write, twists and turns and opportunities will present themselves that deserve to be included in the story.

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

Definitely. The more I get to know my characters and their personalities and quirks, the easier it is to imagine how they would handle particular circumstances they’re confronted with or how they would address a conflict with a friend or relative.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
  
I am working on my first nonfiction book, “Who Speaks To Your Heart?” which will be released in March 2010, and I’m working on proposals now for several new fiction projects.

 

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

There are several authors whose work I admire, including Maya Angelou, Francine Rivers, J. California Cooper, Anna Quindlen, Jodi Picoult and John Grisham. These authors all write in a manner similar to my own – often focused on social issues and/or sharing a spiritual message without being preachy, even John Grisham.

However, I’d have to say the person who influenced me most was my mother, who never laughed at my dream or told me that despite the fact that we lived in a small Arkansas town, far from the world of publishing, that what I desired was impossible. Instead, she bought my first typewriter, gave me notebooks and novels endlessly, and never balked at the time I spent writing as a child instead of playing outside as much as I should have.

What message would you like your readers to take from Dreams That Won’t Let Go?

I want readers to put down the book with a renewed confidence that if they give their problems and their past to God, he will redeem their mistakes and restore their lives. While we can’t change the past, God does give second, third and more chances, as long as we rely on him. I hope readers will realize this through the journey that Reuben, and his sister Indigo, find themselves on.

What is your greatest achievement?

I think I have a long way to go before I can authentically answer this! In the short term, I would have to say having an opportunity to achieve my lifelong dream of becoming a published author. The icing on the cake has been hearing from readers from all walks of life who take time to write or email and let me know how a particular book has touched their lives. It’s all very humbling.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My goal is to entertain readers while inspiring them to trust God and to understand that the wholeness or peace they long for comes with a relationship with him. I hope my characters speak (in a non-preachy way) to readers’ needs and show them that whatever they’re grappling with, God is right there with them.

What do you do to get away from it all?

As busy as my life can get, getting away from it all can be as simple and rewarding as a regular nap several times a week! Seriously, though, I take mini-vacations with my family, which keeps me grounded and balanced. I also will take time away by myself one or two weekends a year. I’m usually going away to write, but while I have that quiet time, I use it to quiet my spirit and try to hear from God. I always come home refreshed and renewed.

 

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