Today, I'm introducing you to an author many of you might be familiar with. She's written Christian fiction for many years. I've enjoyed reading her books. Then we became online friends and met at conferences. I'm sure you'll love her and her writing as much as I do.
Irene, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I believe that my Christian faith comes through in the characters I create. I’m conservative in my interpretation of the Bible, and I believe that shows in my books, for I use Bible quotations often. I try not to be “preachy,” but I like for readers to know whose side I’m on. To some extent, I believe all of our work is a composite of what has happened to us in life, but I don’t write about real experiences or real people, except in historical books.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirk has several definitions, and to answer the question, I’ll use the following interpretation: “a strange and unexpected turn of events.” When I was 18 years old, I took a notion to research and compile the history of my father’s family – the Beards. My ancestors came from Scotland, settled in Virginia and then moved westward. Our branch of the family stayed in West Virginia. Others moved on to Iowa and Nebraska. My dad kept in touch with one branch of the family that moved to Nebraska, and he gave me names I could contact. Strange as it might seem, my husband of 51 years was one of the twigs/leaves on that particular limb of the family tree. We became pen pals when he was in Korea. When he came home, he took a vacation to Washington, D. C. stopped in West Virginia to see me, and the rest is history . . . .
I'm sure it's a wonderful history indeed. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was about eleven years old, I read a book that inspired me, and I suddenly realized that I wanted to do for others what that writer had done for me. The next day, I started my first book. I don’t even remember the subject, how many pages I wrote, or what happened to that first scribbling. But from that day on, the desire to write stayed with me. I wrote poems for special occasions, plays which we presented at our church, and I wrote news items for newspapers.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I particularly like westerns, historical novels, mysteries, suspense. I tend to prefer books that are intermediate in length.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Colonial Christmas Brides, in which I shared authorship with Lauralee Bliss is my 43rd book, and I’ll refer blog participants to my website for the names of my published works. www.irenebrand.com Some of the books I’ve written, which haven’t been published, include a book on women’s prisons, a biblical novel, a historical novel in medieval Europe, some books on Colonial America, at least one book on the Civil War, and a few non-fiction books.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
By constantly reminding myself that Christ is my Guide, Comforter, and Savior. One verse that I find meaningfully in this context is Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things (meaning food, drink, clothing) shall be added unto you.”
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I go to a website listing names that were popular in the era of which I’m writing. I skim through the telephone book for family names. I often choose names I see in the newspaper, or people I’ve met casually. For instance, a young woman waited on me in a department store. I noticed her name was Summer, and that gave me an idea. I created three sisters whose names were Spring, Summer, Autumn.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’ve been a member of the same Baptist church since I was eleven years old. During that time God has given me the privilege of serving Him in many capacities through the local congregation. I’ve worked with youth since I was a youth myself, and I have an exceptional rapport with our present young adults (20-30 years). I’ve been the treasurer for years, and I’ve played either the piano or the organ since I was sixteen. I’m not overly talented, but the Lord had graciously given me this field in which to serve. I hesitate to speak of my accomplishments, but when those accomplishments bring glory to God (as the above) and not to me, it’s okay.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A giraffe. I’m only 5’3” tall, and it would be nice occasionally to be able to look over the heads of other people and have a good view of the world.
I completely understand., since I'm not much over five feet tall. What is your favorite food?
I’m not a picky eater, and I like MANY foods. My stomach expects to be fed three times a day (6:00 a.m.; Noon; 5:00 p.m.) I’m a meat, potato, vegetable, salad cook, rather than a gourmet, so I suppose that is what I prefer. Pie is probably my favorite dessert, but I can’t choose a favorite out of the many I like to eat.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I passionately dislike writing the first draft. And there’s only one way to deal with it---just sit at the computer and write.
And I love the first draft. Isn't it wonderful how the Lord made us all so different, yet similar. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Do a lot of reading in the genre you want to write. And I have some adages (mottos) posted in my office that give some good advice. One is “Footprints in the sands of time are not made Sitting Down.” And I like the Chinese proverb. “To accomplish anything, keep seat on seat.” Perseverance is very important. I need to remind myself of these things constantly.
I co-authored Colonial Christmas Brides with Lauralee Bliss. The anthology consists of 4 novellas. Each of us wrote a novella on Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg, and each novella took place during the Christmas season.
I love to read books by Lauralee, too, so I'm sore this novella collection will be a wonderful read. Barbour published several Christmas books this year. I will read all of them in December. They help set the holiday mood in my house.
Thank you, Irene, for taking time to visit with us today.
Readers, leave a comment on this interview for a chance to win a copy of Colonial Christmas Brides.
And keep watching this blog. We've already featured a couple of Christmas books, but there are more to come.
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