I’m amazed at God’s graciousness in allowing me to write the stories of my heart. I just turned in my fourth book which will release in 2013, but after that, it’s wait and see. I have a couple of stories I’d like to write, but for now I’m in marketing mode for Stardust and waiting for edits on my next book. One thing for sure, there’s never a dull moment!
Tell us a little about your family.
My husband, Max, and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on May 26. It doesn’t seem possible. Our four sons have married amazing girls and blessed us with five grandsons and one granddaughter. I’m also honored to celebrate good times with my dad who will be 86 this summer and am close to my two sisters.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
Yes. I read with a more critical eye, which takes some of my former enjoyment of reading away. I’ve been surprised at the number of endorsement requests I’ve received, and I’ve loved that—reading books before they’re released. Some of them have been wonderful! I wish I had more time for guilty reading pleasure so when those times come, I choose carefully, trying to find books that give me an escape or which have come highly recommended. Two great sources for that have been the She Reads Book Club and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club. I’ve also started reading more e-books on my iPad, but it’s not my preference.
What are you working on right now?
I turned in Sweet Dreams the first of April so I’ll be writing discussion questions and doing edits on it soon. It’s a story of two close-knit cousins who attend an exclusive
finishing school in 1962, a time of turbulent social change.
What outside interests do you have?
We’re active in our Adult Life group at church, and occasionally I volunteer at the
food and clothing to the underprivileged and homeless of our community. We like
to attend the ballgames and special events of our grandkids, but none of them
live here, so we make a lot of weekend trips. Caring
How do you choose your settings for each book?
Setting and era are huge for me – creating a story world so that this particular story could not have taken place anywhere else or at any other time. The bayou setting in Stardust was something new for me, but I made several trips to
East Texas and
took the riverboat ride down the bayou and asked the tour guide a lot of
questions so I could portray an authentic setting. Settings and having a
“backdrop” helps me create a fresh story. In Chasing Lilacs, I used the way depressions and mental illness was
treated in the fifties and chose the setting where I grew up. In Broken Wings, the jazz culture of Tulsa intrigued me, and since I live in Tulsa, I wanted to pay homage to the town I
love. I like to have intimate knowledge of the setting by visiting the area, to
experience the way people talk and note sensory cues like smell, the foliage, a
bit of the history.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Jimmy Stewart, the actor. He’s always been a favorite, and I’d love to hear his voice in person and hear him recite his off-beat poems and stories.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
That I would have to become a technology wizard (and I’m not). I still get frustrated on a daily basis.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
To give it my all and leave the results in His hands. There is nothing I can do about sales or reviews or people whose taste doesn’t include what I write, so I’m learning not to fret about that. Have I arrived? Absolutely not, but God is in control, and for that I’m thankful.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
One: Follow your heart and write from the deep places within yourself. In other words, don’t follow trends. Good, well-crafted stories written with passion will sell – maybe not tomorrow or even next year, but they will sell.
Two: Write another story while you’re waiting. Stretch yourself in ways you didn’t think possible.
Three: Learn the value of social networking and building a platform, and by this I don’t mean a “sell, sell, sell” mentality, but making genuine friendships and sharing your life with readers, other writers, even strangers.
Stardust is the story of a young mom whose unfaithful husband drowns in the bayou of
Texas in 1952. Shortly after she buries him, Georgia Payton
inherits the derelict Stardust
Tourist Court from a distant relative. Faced with
opposition from the aunt who raised her and others in the town, Georgia
breathes new life into the cottages.
The guests who arrive, though, aren’t what
her gin-loving mother-in-law; her dead husband's mistress; an attractive
drifter who's tired of the endless road; and an aging Vaudeville entertainer
with a disturbing link to Georgia's
past. Dreams of a new life are crippled amid the havoc.
Woven throughout is the presence of polio, both as a fearsome possibility and a stark reality for some. When polio strikes close to home,
only hope is that she can find the courage to forgive those who've betrayed
her, the grace to shelter those who need her, and the moxie to face the future.
One thing is certain: under the flickering neon of the STARDUST, none of their
lives will ever be the same.
Please give us the first page of the book.
My marriage to O’Dell Peyton was already over when he washed up on the shores of
Of course, no one knew it was O’Dell when the little boy came running from the
bayou, bellowing to Cecil at the tire shop that he’d discovered a drowned body.
Fact is, no one even knew O’Dell was missing. If someone had asked where he’d
been keeping himself, I would’ve said, “Oh, you know O’Dell. He’s got The Book of Knowledge encyclopedia route
for all of East Texas. Wouldn’t surprise me if
he’s sold to half the people in Tyler
by now. Goes over to Kilgore some too.”
The truth was O’Dell left me and our two girls the second week in February. I found the note tucked in the sugar bowl, telling me he’d met a woman who appreciated him. I’d spent two months chewing on that, hot as a pistol one minute, crumpled in grief the next, trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong.
Aunt Cora said, “
Georgia, there are plenty of men
out there. You’re lucky you found out now, while you’re still young and have
your looks.” Aunt Cora, bless her, had yet to find a man in Mayhaw suitable—or
willing—to marry her. And looks had nothing to do with it. She could still be a
movie star pinup.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website: www.carlastewart.com
Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/#!/ChasingLilacs
Amazon link to Stardust:
Thank you, Carla, for the interesting interview.
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