Welcome back, Stephanie. What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?
I don’t set out to write about a theme per se, but at some point in the process of writing, I seek to answer this question about my main character(s): What does she/he need to know about God? The answer to that question often leads to a spiritual them. Sometimes the understanding of what the book is “really” about doesn’t happen until I’m two-thirds of the way through a book. I’ll think, “Oh—this book isn’t about that. It’s about this.” It might be that “she” needs to know Jesus in a personal way or that “he” needs to understand forgiveness. When I realize that need, it’s always a very satisfying moment for me as a writer. Many of my books are about trusting God when it doesn’t look like He’s paying any attention at all to what’s happening in a life. I think The Shadow on the Quilt is more about forgiveness in its many forms. But I didn’t set out to write a book about forgiveness. I set out to tell a story.
What other books of yours are coming out soon?
A Patchwork Christmas just released. Judith Miller, Nancy Moser, and I each have a novella in that anthology. A quilt plays a role in the story. Judith’s is set in Amana (a whole cloth quilt), mine is set on the
prairie in a snowbound soddy (a doll quilt), and Nancy’s story happens in Gilded Age New York
(a crazy quilt). My contribution allowed me to finally write a story that had
been lurking in my story-telling brain for a very long time. This is the first
novella I’ve ever published—and the first book to include a contest with its
release. Lots of firsts for me!
The Message on the Quilt, the third Quilt Chronicles book comes out next spring.
If you could spend an evening with one contemporary person (not a family member of yours), who would it be and why?
Oh, my … what a question. Should I be “light-weight” and have fun with this … or be writerly and scholarly. HHHMMMM … “Light-weight” for fun answer: Blues musician Doug MacLeod, because his lyrics make me laugh and cry and feel better about life in general. Writerly/scholarly answer: Historian/author David McCullough, because he is my hero as a historical writer.
What historical person would you like to meet (besides Jesus) and why?
I think I gave you a very long list the last time you asked me. I’ll keep it simple this time:
Aunt Clara Brown, because in spite of the evil that was slavery, she managed to live agape love in a way that amazes and humbles me.
How can you encourage authors who have been receiving only rejections from publishers?
When I was offered a publishing contract, I was self-taught when it came to story-telling. I didn’t know how to write a synopsis and I’d never heard of one-sheets. I had never been to a writing conference. I didn’t have an agent. But God still made it happen. I’m not saying that I was lazy or fatalistic. I’m saying that when the time is right for anyone, my journey to publication is proof that God will do what God will do. In the meantime, we do what we can do, and at the end of the day that boils down to “trust and obey.”
I realize how very difficult that can be. Simple answers don’t always mean “easy.” But we “simply” need to keep writing. Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep obeying. Keep on keeping on. “He who began a good work” in each one of us has promised that He will be “faithful to complete it.” We do our part of the job, and He does His.
There’s a red notebook on the shelf in my office. The spine is labeled “Favorite Quotes.” Often when I get discouraged, I take it down and spend some time re-reading poems, Bible verses, and essays that have encouraged me over the years. If readers of this blog would like to receive a copy of one of the poems I read and re-read when I’m struggling, I’d be happy to send it. Just e-mail email@example.com with “poem” in the subject line. I promise not to add you to a list or send spam. Only the poem.
Tell us about the featured book.
The Shadow on the Quilt tells the story of Juliana Sutton, a woman who appears to “have everything,” but who learns that much of her life is built on a false premise. When her life falls apart, she finds the courage to survive. This is (of course) a romance, and so readers also meet Cass Gregory, who lives with guilt over his own personal failings. Along the way, readers also meet Juliana’s elderly live-in aunts, prickly Theodora and sweet
Cass’s sister Sadie who is “a caution.” The “shadow on the quilt” is a name on
a signature quilt that haunts Juliana because of who and what it represents.
This book came from my researching a small sign at a local cemetery which says H. of F. (that stands for the Home of
the Friendless). Researching that institution’s real history inspired this
Please give us the first page of the book.
The Shadow on the Quilt
Stephanie Grace Whitson
Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
I sink in deep mire, where there is not standing:
I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
April 15, 1883
Juliana Sutton stood before her husband’s mahogany dresser, staring down at the gold locket. What was it doing nestled in the leather box where
Sterling kept his diamond studs? She glanced
back at the bedroom door, feeling almost guilty for having found it. He was
probably planning to surprise her. And it was lovely. Ah, well. She would
pretend to be surprised and tease him about how she’d come to find it.
“It’s not my fault my husband doesn’t pick up after himself,” she would say. “I was sitting at my dressing table brushing my hair before retiring last night, when something glinted in the lamplight. I glanced over and there it was, one of your diamond studs, languishing against the baseboard. It must have gotten lost when I … when we—” And she would blush, as she was blushing now, remembering her part in—things just last night. Her response to
Sterling’s hand at her waist when he pulled
her close. Her removing one glove before reaching up to rake her fingers
through his hair. Her unfettered joy at his kiss.
She turned the locket over in her hand. He’s had it engraved. She shouldn’t read the inscription, but now that she’d discovered it, she couldn’t help herself. And so, leaving the dresser drawer open, she retreated to her dressing table and held it close to the lamp and—gasped. She sat down.
To my P.L.
S. T. S.
Oh, my goodness. I can hardly wait to read this book. Thank you, Stephanie for sharing it with us.
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The Shadow on the Quilt (The Quilt Chronicles) - paperback
The Shadow on the Quilt (The Quilt Chronicles) - Kindle
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