Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
It would be impossible not to write myself into my heroines in some way, but I try to create unique individuals whose tastes, personalities, and preferences are separate from mine. In most of my novels, my moral values are the predominant values of the heroine, but in one story, Butterfly Come Home, the heroine was a “bad girl.” The way I developed her was this: at each point where the heroine had to make a choice, I asked myself what I would do, and then I had the heroine do the opposite.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
When I was a new bride I discovered that my husband, after taking his morning shower, had a bad habit of bringing a wet towel into the bedroom and hanging it on the tall wooden post of our bed frame. After he’d gone to work, I’d discover the wet towel and, fearing that the wood finish could be damaged, I’d take it back to the bathroom and hang it up. One day I didn’t go into the bedroom until afternoon, and was quite dismayed that the wet towel had hung there all day. The next day, when I again discovered the wet towel on the post, I gave some thought to how I could break my husband of the habit without nagging and came up with a plan. That night, I went to bed earlier than he did as was my custom, but I didn’t fall asleep. When he came to bed and pulled back the covers on his side, there was his wet bath towel. He was mildly annoyed and started to laugh. So did I. He never left the towel on the post again.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was in elementary school I loved writing letters, but people I wrote to seldom answered, or took a very long time in sending a reply. That’s when I realized that I like writing a whole lot more than the average individual.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love reading very old books from the 19th century and early 20th century, both nonfiction and fiction. I also absolutely love reading old newspapers on microfilm, especially from the 1890s. As for contemporary publications, I enjoy the research sources such as those I read about the
Erie Canal. I have more than a
couple dozen books plus a doctoral dissertation and a few dozen newspaper and
internet articles that formed the nucleus of my research material for Bluebird
of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal. Newspaper of the early 1830s offered very
little information since they printed mainly advertisements and political news
with almost no news of the cultural or social events.
For pleasure reading, I enjoy Christian genres: historical romance, historical fiction, women’s fiction, and once in a while, suspense or a cozy mystery.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
We’ve moved to a remote location where there’s no “run, run, run” and we’re quite happy here. Our definition of traffic is when one car passes another going in opposite directions. You’re as likely to hit a deer, as a car in our region.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I create two lists of the alphabet, one for first names and one for last names. From the internet, I print out lists of common names for the decade or year of the characters’ births, and pick from the lists with an effort not to duplicate the first letter of the names I choose.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
There are two. First, I’m most proud of creating a body of work that reflects well on the history of my adopted state,
Michigan. God truly blessed me in leading me
on that path and giving me all the support necessary to complete those fifteen
titles. In addition, I am pleased that after all these years of writing, I
could create a story about the history of my hometown, Brockport,
New York, on the Erie
Canal, and present it to readers in an accurate and engaging way.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I see myself as a cat. I love cats but have never owned one. My parents didn’t allow cats and my husband is allergic and dislikes them. I don’t relate to the sneaky, stealthy nature of cats because I’m much too forthright and honest for that, but I do relate to their independence and often aloof nature since I love “alone” time and have a low need for socializing.
What is your favorite food?
Rice. In almost all forms except for wild rice, which is a grass and not a grain. My digestion is so touchy I don’t know what I’d do without rice.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Yikes. I started out so naïve I didn’t have any problems. The more I wrote, the more I realized I didn’t know how to write well. That remains my biggest problem today, overcoming the lack of confidence that what I write is done well technically and is going to engage the reader. Only good editing and good reviews can help, but then I go on to the next WIP and wonder all over again, “Is it good enough? Will anyone like it? Am I using good techniques, or could I learn to do better?”
Tell us about the featured book.
Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, grew out of my desire to write compelling historical fiction that portrays the early era of the canal that runs through my hometown in western
. Here’s the back
cover blurb: New York
Dreams of floating on the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once her family has purchased their boat and begins their journey, they meet with one challenge after another. An encounter with a towpath rattlesnake threatens her brother’s life. A thief attempts to break in and steal precious cargo. Heavy rain causes a breach and drains the canal of water. Lucina comforts herself with thoughts of Ezra Lockwood, her handsome childhood friend, and discovers a longing to be with him that she just can’t ignore. Can she have a future with Ezra and still hold onto her canalling dream?
Ezra Lockwood’s one goal in life is to build and captain his own canal boat, but two years into the construction of his freight hauler, funds run short. With his goal temporarily stalled, and Lucina Willcox back in his life, his priorities begin to change. Can he have both his dreams — his own boat, and Lucina as his bride?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Friday, April 30, 1830
Lucina Willcox could hardly keep from shouting for joy. Today, she and her mama and papa and younger sister and brother would move their belongings onto their canal boat. Tomorrow, they’d start hauling freight on the
Erie Canal. For
the past seven years, since the age of eleven, she’d dreamed of leaving their
wheat farm a few miles north of the village to go canalling. Now, her dream was
about to come true!
Her heart pattered faster as their farm wagon, filled with furniture, kegs, crates, and firkins, bumped and rattled up the hill, past blooming dogwood that sweetened the balmy air, and onto the
Suddenly, she caught sight of the boat that she’d carried in her mind since
their trip to town a month ago to buy it used from Mr. Brockway. It had been in
dry dock then for repairs. Now, it floated in a boat basin near the bridge,
glistening in the bright sun with a new coat of bluebird-tweetin’-blue paint. Main Street Bridge
From her seat on a keg in the bed of the wagon she tried to read the name painted on the boat’s stern. But her reading and writing started and stopped with her own name, and she knew it wasn’t Lucina Maria Willcox that she saw.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Visit my blog where you will find all my contact info (Facebook, twitter) and book sales info (website link). http://greatlakesromances.blogspot.com
And thank you, Donna, for the interesting interview.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal - paperback
Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal - Kindle
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