Bio: Emily Wierenga is a former editor, ghostwriter, freelance writer and staff journalist, a monthly columnist for The Christian Courier, and the author of Save My Children (Castle Quay Books, 2008), Chasing Silhouettes (Ampelon Publishing, 2012) and Mom in the Mirror (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013). Emily resides in
Alberta, Canada. This is her first novel.
Welcome, Emily. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
A Promise in Pieces is my debut novel, but my main character, Clara Wilson, is a lot like me. We are both pastor’s daughters who felt stifled by organized religion growing up. We struggled to get along with our fathers and ended up rebelling; Clara, by heading off to war to serve as a nurse, and me, by traveling as far from my family as I could get—to school out west in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Clara is impulsive and passionate, dedicated, strong and independent, and in the end her love for her mother brings her home—and her relationship with her father is amended even as they worked together to serve her mom. The same thing happened with me; my mum was sick and I returned home to care for her. In doing so, my relationship with my Dad—and subsequently, with God—was restored.
I sympathize with the other characters yet while they have attributes I can relate to, or perhaps exhibit, Clara is the only one who carries my heart.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
This past fall I found a homeless woman asleep in a bathroom stall, and so I told her she could sleep in the back of my van while I figured out what to do to help her. She knew no one in the city. I called my husband asking if I could bring her home but he said we didn’t have the resources in our small Dutch hamlet to help her. Then he found the address and phone number of a local shelter/ministry who could take her in, but before I drove her there, I needed to pick up a chair we’d bought off of Kijiji. I didn’t want the man to know I had a woman lying in the back of my van—he might not have believed I was trying to help her—so I asked him to put the chair in the front seat. J It was very awkward, and I’m sure he saw the woman’s legs sticking out but he was kind (or terrified) and didn’t say anything. I am very quirky when it comes to helping others. I believe in extravagant love, even if it looks ridiculous.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
When I was young I was taught to be seen and not heard, so many of my thoughts and much of my sadness poured out through my pen when I was seven, and onwards. I had my first poem published when I was 13. I was encouraged greatly in my English classes and by my teachers—receiving over 100 percent in one English class—yet I didn’t even consider becoming a writer until after my first week of teacher’s college. I had received my Bachelor’s of English and enrolled to get my Bachelor’s of Education because I didn’t know what else you could do with an English degree. But that first week of teacher’s college, I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher, and it would be one of the only things I’d quit. I went back to working at a coffee shop and started to write my first novel, and soon after that I received my first job as editor of a non-profit faith-based newspaper.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I enjoy literary novels—anything by Jeanette Walls, Margaret Attwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, or Khaled Hosseini. I also enjoy non-fiction, about poverty, parenting, or redemption—things like When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett, which I’m reading right now, Radical by David Platt, Raising Boys by Dr. James Dobson, and anything by Brennan Manning.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I cry. I pray on my knees when my family goes to sleep. I eat dark chocolate and go for runs. I hug my children and watch comedy with my husband.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I think of names that I like, for their first names … but I match the names, too. I thought Clara seemed a fitting name for a red-headed spit-ball. And Mattie, her best friend, seemed to fit a gentle, warm, and loyal personality. Oliver, her husband, seemed both classy and sincere.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Giving birth to two beautiful boys when I was told I probably would not be able to, due to the way I wrecked my body when I was younger from anorexia.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’ve never understood this question, but I think I would be a swan. It seems to be very peaceful to be a swan.
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is called Bip-Im-Bap, and it’s Korean. I lived in
for nine months with my husband teaching English. The word means “mixed rice.” Bibimbap
is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and
pepper paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common
additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating.
It is best served hot. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibimbap)
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I didn’t know what my voice sounded like. I tried to imitate other people’s voices for years—which isn’t all bad. But the goal, eventually, should be to find your own way of expression—so don’t settle for someone else’s. Your voice is out there. Keep searching. Once you find it, you will know—it’s like slipping on an old pair of comfortable socks.
Tell us about the featured book.
It’s been more than 50 years since Clara cared for injured WWII soldiers in the Women’s Army Corp. Fifty years since she promised to deliver a dying soldier’s last wish. And 50 years since that soldier’s young widow gave her the baby quilt—a grief-ridden gift that would provide hope to countless newborns in the years to come. On her way to the National World War II Museum in
Clara decides it’s time to share her story. But when the trip doesn’t go as
planned, Clara wonders if anyone will learn the great significance of the
quilt—and the promise stitched inside it.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Noah looked like his father, and she hadn’t seen it before. But here in the backseat of a mini-van strewn with skateboarding magazines and CDs, there was time enough to see it in the young man whose long legs stretched from the seat. To see the freckles dusting her grandson’s cheeks, the way his hair poked like a hayfield and his eyes grabbed at everything.
Up front, Oliver asked Shane to adjust the radio, the static reminding Clara of the white noise she used to make with a vacuum or a fan to calm her newborns. The first one being Shane, her eldest, the one in the passenger seat turning now to laugh at his father, who wrinkled his long nose as Shane tried to find a classical station.
Then, Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” and Clara could see Oliver smiling, pleased, and she remembered the way he’d looked over at her in church so long ago with the same expression: as though he’d finally found what he’d been looking for.
Noah was playing a game on one of those Nintendo machines. He noticed her watching him, said, “Do you want to give it a try, Grandma?” He looked so eager.
Gone were the days of Hardy Boys and marbles. “Sure!” Clara said, mustering enthusiasm as she took the tiny gadget. Then she saw what he was playing. Some kind of shooting game with uniformed men and guns and she nearly dropped it.
“I’m sorry, it’s too complicated for an old woman like me,” she said, handing it back and turning to stare out the window, at
Maryland passing by,
wondering what a kid in high-school could know about war.
To download a free chapter, go here: http://www.emilywierenga.com/books/promise-pieces-emily-t-wierenga/.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Emily, for sharing your debut novel with us.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.A Promise in Pieces - Christianbook.com
A Promise in Pieces: Quilts of Love Series (Quilts of Love (Unnumbered)) - Amazon
A Promise in Pieces: Quilts of Love Series - Kindle
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.