Saturday, March 17, 2007

Introducing Wanda Dyson

I first became acquainted with Wanda Dyson as a reader. I just love her suspense three-book series: Abduction, Obsession, and Intimidation. Actually, I connected with her on the Internet before the third book came out. They are wonderful. Then in 2006, I was privileged to meet her in person and spend some time with her at the national American Christian Fiction Writers conference. Now she has a bestselling nonfiction book.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

It’s different for each character, but they all carry a little something of me. I suppose they have to since they are my creation. But usually when I create a character (or they create themselves) their story reminds me of someone I know and so there is probably more of their fears, their hopes, their dreams, and their victories in that character than mine.

I can see how that would happen. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

That is now an easy question to answer. At the ACFW conference booksigning, I sat down at my table and realized that everyone around me had these beautiful displays with bookmarks and candy and buttons and pens and I had left all those goodies with my books in the bookstore and they were all gone. Not to be left out, I turned into (drum roll please) EveryWriter!... I ran around from table to table, scooping up a little bit of something from everyone’s display and brought it back and made a display that included everyone there… I even told people that picked up a book mark from say… Susan May Warren… that I would be glad to sign that for her. I had everyone in stitches as I pretended to be “Every Writer.”

Oh yes, she was even Lena Nelson Dooley. What fun! When did you first discover that you were a writer?

When I was in junior high school, I was maybe 13 or 14 years old and our English teacher gave us assignment to write the first chapter of a book. I wrote mine and turned it in, not thinking anything of it. Not only did it get the highest score in the class, but everyone wanted a copy and then I was begged to keep writing more chapters by other students. So I did. And each time I would come in with another chapter, it would get passed around the school.

A built-in reader base. Good job! Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I have an extensive library of reading material since I hate to get rid of books. There are probably close to a thousand titles on those shelves. I have fantasy, romantic suspense, thrillers, women’s fiction, theology, Christian living, writing craft, biographies, Hebrew prayer books, and of course… SUSPENSE, suspense, and more suspense.

I'm finding that I've been choosing more and more suspense books to read. Maybe I should try my hand at writing one. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Abduction, Obsession, and Intimidation are the three suspense titles published. Why I Jumped is the true story that came out last October. And sitting in my filing cabinet are: Legacy of Love and Legacy of Grace (circa 1995-6) The Restoration (circa 1999), Shadow of Death (Circa 1997), On a Wing and A Prayer (Circa 1998).

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

When it all starts to get to be too much, I grab my IPOD loaded with worship music and walk down to the pasture and wander out there with the horses, worshipping as I watch the horses graze, the hawks circling the treetops, the deer skittering along the edge of the woods, the fox peering out from the brush, and the groundhogs disappearing in their underground lairs. If it’s a cool enough day, I’ll saddle up Grace or Pawnee and take a ride around the property, just relaxing to the music, the creak of the leather, and the occasional whinny of someone in the herd that’s missing his buddy.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

For the most part, they tell me their names. Sometimes, they only give me a first name and then I’ll page through one of the many phone books I keep around until I land on a last name I think fits their personality.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

In spite of only having a ninth grade education (I had to quit school and help raise my siblings) I’ve gone on without any diplomas or formal education to become the marketing director of an international company, then an ordained minister, and finally a published author. Actually, I shouldn’t say “finally” because there’s no telling what Father will have me accomplish next.

Quite a list of accomplishments, Wanda! If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Probably a horse. Duh, right? But not because I love them as much as I do. I’d be one because I’ve always loved to run free, wander at will, and maintain my independence…until the Lord put a bit in my mouth and taught me to bend at the poll and yield to His gentle hand in guiding me in where I needed to go.

What is your favorite food?

Fattening. No. Really. Mashed potatoes, hot bread with butter, French crullers, pound cake. But #1 is prime rib. Yep. Fattening again.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Why I Jumped is the true story that was captured as it unfolded in Green Bay Wisconsin. A young mother, in the throes of depression, led the police on a high speed chase to the top of the Tower Drive Bridge, calmly got out of her car, walked over to the edge and jumped. A State Police officer (off duty) heard the call and had been on her bumper for about ten miles. He scrambled out of his car, ran to the edge, and just as she started her downward plunge, reached out and snagged her by the wrist, nearly being pulled over himself. If that were the whole story, that would be exciting enough. But what no one knew was that behind the scenes, for weeks, twelve young women had felt a burden to pray for this woman and every Wednesday night, faithfully, they came together to pray. There are several incidents like that in this book that show that God’s hand was the one that reached out and held on to that woman…and how He’s worked in her life since that day to bring about healing and restoration.

What Wanda didn't say is that the book was featured on Oprah and Good Morning America. I think you'll find it interesting.

Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy, but if you don't win the free book, you'll want to get a copy and read this marvelous true story.

Wanda, thank you for spending this time with us.


Judith said...

This is a terrific interview! Wanda has also encouraged me as a writer because I "only" have a high school diploma, but like her, have also been a voracious reader my entire life.

Lindsey Freitas said...

Wow, your new book sounds thrilling! If I don't win it I'll definitely buy it. Thanks for the interview, it was great!

Ang said...

I've seen this book advertised before but did not think much of it. However, now it will defnitely be on my To Read list. I would love to be entered in the drawing for this one!

:-)Ronie said...

Oh, Wanda - I'm right there with you on those fattening foods. SIGH.

I watched teh short video clip of the actual jump about 18 mos ago--and it is just heart-wrenching to say the least. Sign me up for the book drawing.

Carolynn W. said...

Great interview! Wow that book sounds great and inspiring, please enter me to, thanks!

Cherie said...

Great Interview! This book sounds great!

Cherie Japp

Alexis Jacobs said...

I have heard awesome things about this book. Great interview! I can't wait to read it.

clg5 said...

I really enjoyed this interview. This is must read book. I too have suffered with depression.

Norma said...

This bookd sounds great! Please sign me up for the free book draw if I am not too late - Thanks!

Carole said...

I enjoy all the interviews, but found Wanda's especially interesting . . . from the humorous creativity at the book signing, to her worship experience outdoors, and great accomplishments with only a 9th-grade education.

I would love to win a copy of Why I Jumped, but will read it whether I win or not.

Thanks for the great interview.

Anonymous said...

My husband also jumped from a building and he is beginning to write his story. John and Patricia Gallagher

Christian family welcomes interviews and speaking engagements to help church ministries.
Phone: 267-939-0365

We always tried to be the "looking good family" but inside our home, everything was in chaos. I hope that by telling our “family secret” we can save lives. My husband (a successful businessman) has a poignant story of hope to share after suffering life - threatening injuries.
My 48 year old husband, John was in the hospital waiting room because he had attempted suicide. (Carbon monoxide) They kept him overnight and sent him home. I brought him back by ambulance the next day... because I found him unconscious in bed. (I thought he had taken an overdose of Paxil.) He was definitely a danger to himself but the doctor in the emergency room and the insurance company thought he was fine and could go home. (They called it “suicide ideation.”)
While waiting for his discharge....he jumped 45 feet from the window at a local hospital. He was seriously injured. Due to shame, embarrassment and the stigma of suicide, we told everybody he was in a car accident, including his father. Our lives turned upside down emotionally and financially.
We separated for five years and came back together because of the illness of one of our children. The D word - depression - was something that we could never talk about as a family. John wanted to pretend it didn't happen. A wicked web of lies was spun!
Now as a couple, we would like to tell our story so we can let others know all of the signs of depression we missed (John lost 65 pounds). Each of my four children has been affected by the trauma, in different ways.
John was being downsized from Bristol Myers Squibb (had previously worked for IBM and Smith Kline) and wasn't able to find a job. He was a great dad and husband, MBA and Financial Analyst. He was the sole provider, with a high mortgage in Bucks County and lots of responsibilities. The pressure was too much.
With so many corporations, a very uncertain economy, and many families affected by a loved one’s depression, I hope that our talk will be of help to churches and community organizations. We hope that by sharing our story, other families can avoid such tragedy.

Thank you very much.

Patricia Gallagher