Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
That depends on the story and what is happening in my own life. I don’t write in overt experiences, but I think most novelists leave a footprint in the shape of fears, yearnings, or spiritual lessons they are learning in their lives.
I so agree with you. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I consulted my son on this question. He looked up the definition of quirk and came up with “peculiar habit.” Then he had an immediate answer—I’m a Chicago Cubs fan. Considering that they have been chasing a World Series for over a century now, I guess my son finds that a peculiar habit!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I remember the story I made up when I was four about a little girl looking for Jesus. I had flannel graph pieces to go with it. When she had looked everywhere else, she found in her heart. So I was off and running very young. But life happens, and what it means to be a writer went through several iterations over the years. The goal of being a novelist has come into focus in the last decade.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read widely, both books by authors in the Christian market and the general market. However, I almost always choose fiction. My non-fiction reading tends to be limited to the choices of my book group. We read a non-fiction title every other month. I grumble a little, but I do it—and then am surprised by how often I’m glad I did.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I listen to my body. I know what it feels like when I need more movement in my day, or better food in my system, or more laughter with friends, or more sun on my skin, or more prayer in my heart—or even more chocolate in my mouth! I don’t need an Alaskan cruise. I find encouragement and bolstering in small pleasures that remind me to be grateful for the things that bring me joy.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Primary characters tend to spring up with names and back stories that are often hard to change! For other characters, I’m a fan of crawling through baby name lists and finding names that ring true to the era. Last names come from random sightings in research documents.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That’s a tough questions! I’m one of those people who is quicker to take blame for what goes wrong than credit for what goes right. I’m most proud of learning the difference and realizing that the meaning in my life doesn’t come so much from what I do but who I am.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
The giant antpitta is a curious creature. It’s a bird, but the sound it makes is more like a bark than a tweet. It reminds me that everyone has a unique way of carrying out what God created us to do.
What is your favorite food?
Let’s see. Fresh spinach. Red bell peppers. Avocados. Black olives. Cashews. It’s hard to rank them, so why not throw them all together into a salad and chomp in?
Sounds like a salad I’d love to eat. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I tend to start with characters and setting. I’ve had to work at learning to plot more deeply and make sure enough interesting events are happening outside of my characters’ heads. Whenever I read or listen to a book that keeps me turning pages, I analyze why. What kind of complications made me worry? What was at risk at the turning points of the story? From every book I read, I try to find the takeaway that will make my own writing stronger.
Tell us about the featured book.
Think Downton Abbey in a
Chicago setting. The Pursuit of Lucy Banning is the first book of the Avenue of Dreams
story set in 1890s Chicago
against the backdrop of the world’s fair. Lucy lives on the exclusive Prairie
Avenue among Chicago’s rich and famous, but her compassionate heart is with the
children of St. Andrew’s orphanage, and she is secretly enrolled in a
university course at a time when women were not welcome at most institutions.
When she discovers a maid’s secret, she goes out on a limb to help rather than
scandalize. And when she meets Will, an unconventional architect, Lucy begins
to imagine a life lived on her own terms. But first she has to face the secrets
she has been keeping from the people who care for her.
I know I’ll love reading it. Please give us the first page of the book.
A week from Tuesday. Is that even possible?
It wasn’t that Lucy Banning did not want to view the new art exhibit at the up-and-coming downtown
gallery. She did, keenly. But could she manage it before a week from Tuesday?
If the expedition required her mother’s cooperation, it would come with a
price. Flora Banning would pounce on the exhibit to launch a social occasion.
Floating through the gallery in her draped silk gown and overdone hat, nodding
and smiling, she would scan for people who really “mattered” and expect Lucy to
assist in this endeavor rather than pause to study the paintings.
Lucy had played the dutiful daughter many times. She pointed out Mrs. Field across the crowd and bantered with the mayor. She smiled coyly at the young man who offered to fetch a refreshing drink and listened to Mrs. Pullman describe the hand-painted table service for her dinner party for forty-eight guests. This time, though, Lucy actually needed to scrutinize the paintings. Her art history professor would be expecting an analysis. Lucy must prove herself insightful and articulate, a student worthy to occupy a chair at the newly opened
. University of Chicago
I can hardly wait to get my copy of the book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
@OliviaNewport on Twitterwww.Facebook.com/OliviaNewport
Thank you, Olivia, for the interesting interview.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Pursuit of Lucy Banning, The: A Novel (Avenue of Dreams) -paperback
The Pursuit of Lucy Banning,A Novel (Avenue of Dreams) - Kindle
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