Before we meet today's author, I want to announce that the winner of the drawing for A Love of Her Own, by Maggie Brendan, is:
caree21@ . . .
Congratulations! I'll contact you today for your snail mail address, and we'll get your book to you right away. I encourage readers to keep commenting and/or subscribe at right in order to participate in future book give-aways!
Now let's meet novelist Carla Stewart, author of Chasing Lilacs (FaithWords, Hachette Book Group, June 2010).
Carla Stewart's writing reflects her passion for times gone by. She launched her writing career in 2002 when she earned the coveted honor of being invited to attend Guidepost's Writers Workshop in Rye, New York. Since then, her articles have appeared in Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Saddle Baron, and Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine.
More recently, Carla received two American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis awards for unpublished authors. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, great books, and weekend getaways with her husband. Chasing Lilacs is her debut novel.
Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
-- I grew up in Texas, and although I love where I live in Oklahoma, my heart soars every time I cross the Red River into Texas.
-- The middle pair of my four sons are twins. One of my twins also has twins.
-- I would have loved a career as a character actor on Broadway--think Bette Davis type.
-- My husband and I once has a private tour of the Crown Jewels.
-- I worked for many years as a registered nurse.
You've had some interesting events in your life, Carla!
Please tell us a bit more about the plot of Chasing Lilacs.
It's the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother's "nerve" problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.
As her life careens out of control, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears: Her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious boy from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there's the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past.
Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.
What is it about your lead character that will make your readers care about her?
My young protagonist is a bright, but very normal adolescent who has the responsibility of watching out for her fragile mother who suffers from depression. She wants to do the right thing, but is often torn between family loyalties and being with her friends. I hope readers will relate to her struggles which intensify when her mother takes her own life.
Wow. Intriguing storyline.
Why will readers enjoy your novel?
Because of the era of the story (the fifties) there are a lot of fun nostalgic elements, but along with that--a first love, the struggles of adolescence, and ultimately, the power of love and community.
If you were the casting director for the film version of your novel, who would play your lead roles?
Because of the time frame, I'm going with retro characters.
Sammie, the protagonist, would be played by a young Natalie Wood (West Side Story).
Her friend Tuwana would is definitely a Sandra Dee of Gidget fame.
Cly--the mysterious kid from California--was inspired by "The Fonz" Henry Winkler.
I'd go with a little more modern Nicole Kidman, who had red hair in Moulin Rouge, as Sammie's beautiful, but tragic mother.
Most writers struggle with the whole "show, don't tell" rule. For some, it can be difficult to even recognize when "telling" is happening. Please give us a brief example from your novel where you "show," and then write how that passage would have looked, had you "told."
I kissed her chubby, round cheeks. "Shoo, get away from her." Mama pushed me away and picked up my squirming sister. She coughed even more--sharp yips that came from inside her tiny chest. Mama held her on her hip and jiggled the phone buttons under the receiver. "Come on, blast it, start working." Back and forth, she paced from the phone to the window looking for Daddy to come home, until I thought she might wear out the floorboards. Snow globs stuck to the window screen, and a fierce wind howled outside our front room.
"Where is he? Why doesn't he come home?" She tried the phone again.
Huddled in Daddy's chair with my knees drawn up, I peeked at Mama and tried to think of something to do, something to make Mama happy, to help Sylvia. When I got a wash rag from the bathroom and brought it for Sylvia's diaper change, water dripped on the floor.
"Now look what you've done." Mama threw one of Sylvia's tiny blankets on the floor to mop up the drips. "Do something. Just stay out of the way."
The wind made a flapping noise in the chimney and snow completely covered the window screen. Still, Mama paced across the floor, back and forth. Sylvia's cough got weaker and weaker until all I could hear were sucking noises in her tiny chest. Mama sat on the couch and rocked back and forth, kissing Sylvia's face even after it turned blue and her dimpled fists went limp. When I stood beside them, Mama squinted her eyes at me. Flashes of contempt. I wished I had been the one who died. Not Sylvia.
The scene "told" before I expanded it.
Born when I was six years old, Sylvia had only lived five months. Chubby, round cheeks one day. Barking her head off with whooping cough the next. Daddy worked on the rigs then, out in west Texas, and when the blizzard came, Mama couldn't get Sylvia to the doctor. The winds blew the phone lines down, and a ton of snow buried our car. By the time the snow quit, Sylvia had died.
What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you? What do you struggle with?
Easiest: I love making up characters! But that is also the part I struggle with as I tend to let too many characters have their own story arc and subplot. I am trying to be more succinct and keeping my characters in line. Sometimes, they obey and other times . . . not so much.
Choose an inanimate object to represent you. Explain what you have in common with that object.
Whoa! Is coffee inanimate? Let's just say it is, and a cup of coffee warms the spirit, is best shared with friends, and is dark, mysterious, and loved by others. I love being with people, encouraging them, and know I'm loved. And the dark, mysterious part is probably not me at all.
LOL! But I love your choice, Carla.
What is the last book you read that moved you?
Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. I loved the writing and the emotional pull of the story--a sad story with a completely satisfying ending--the two boxes of Kleenex kind.
What are you working on now?
Broken Wings will be my next novel from FaithWords. It has a strong nostalgic thread, but is the story of two woman in present-day Tulsa who become unlikely friends. It will release in the summer of 2011.
Where else can readers find you or your writing online?
My website at www.carlastewart.com
My blog is Carla's Writing Café at www.carlastewart.blogspot.com
Twitter at www.twitter.com/ChasingLilacs
Carla's novel can be purchased online via the following buttons:
Thanks, Carla, for visiting with us and telling us about your novel. Readers, Carla has offered to give a copy of her book to the winner of our drawing on Thursday, July 1. To enter, leave a comment for Carla, below. Leave your email address, in case you win, like so: trish[at]trishperry[dot]com.
Check out my interviews with Linda Windsor and Kim Sawyer, below, and leave a comment under their interviews to be entered in drawings for signed copies of their books.
Annoying legal disclaimer: drawings void where prohibited; open only to U.S. residents; the odds of winning depend upon the number of participants. See full disclaimer HERE.