Thursday, March 27, 2008

Author Maureen Lang - ON SPARROW HILL

I'm happy to welcome Maureen Lang back to the blog with an interview about her latest book, On Sparrow Hill.

Welcome, Maureen. Why do you write the kind of books you do?

The first thought that usually comes to mind about this is that I write books I want to be reading. That’s the fast and simple answer, but it’s really more than that. I love books; I specifically love books that honor God. I’m convinced God uses books of all kinds to touch, teach, and grow us.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?

This will probably sound cliché, but it was the day I married my husband. I’m crazy about the guy. He’s taught me so many things, and we’ve shared so much it’s impossible not to be most thankful for him.

How has being published changed your life?

Surprisingly, being published hasn’t changed my life as much as I thought it would! It’s one of those things many people believe: having a dream come true will change everything. But the fact is I’d still be writing, whether or not I became published, I’d still attend writer’s group meetings, I’d still attend conferences. Being published has undoubtedly affirmed my writing and brings me great happiness when others tell me they enjoy my books, but the actual process — putting characters to paper — is the same. And since I still do the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and serve my family, the only thing that’s changed is that I get more feedback from readers than I ever did before I was published.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading two manuscripts, one for a critique partner and one for endorsement to be released next year. I’m also reading two novels (depending on my mood). One is secular, called Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (not for the gentle reader) and The Elevator by Angela Hunt (wonderful writer!). I’m often reading more than one book at a time, and I don’t have any trouble keeping all the characters straight. If I can’t remember one set of characters when I pick up the book again, I usually don’t go back to it.

What is your current work in progress?

I’m working on a contemporary women’s fiction novel that will release through Tyndale in the Fall of ’08. This is one story I have trouble talking about in short sound bites! Hannah Williams wants to make up for not being there when her younger sister was desperate enough to attempt a murder-suicide. When she fails, it lands her sister in prison instead. So Hannah has put her own life on hold for over six years, planning and saving for the day she would return to make up for failing to be there when she was needed most. But despite her goal, her sister is convinced she doesn’t need help, especially when she learns Hannah has been refusing the attention of the man she loves all these years. The working title is “My Sister Dilly” but I’m not sure if that is set in stone yet!

Sounds wonderful. We'll want you back for an interview when it comes out. What would be your dream vacation?

Europe: Brussels, Prague, Rome . . . Someplace where history comes alive, I can learn and be fascinated by everything around me.

How do you choose your settings for each book?

I like to choose settings I’m fairly familiar with, or at least have done some research about to feel like it’s familiar. There are some places that might feel over-exploited in fiction, but really I think just about anywhere can be brought to life with fresh eyes and new perspective.

Sometimes the setting is an important part of the plot, which makes authenticity more important. For example, in the project I’m working on now, the setting is the Midwestern town the heroine left behind. She doesn’t want to live there, but feels obligated to return in order to take care of her sister. Although I’ve never lived in a small, Midwestern town, I’m familiar with such surroundings because that’s the kind of setting in which my husband grew up. In this case research was easy, but for a story where the setting impacts the character and their decisions, it has to be part of the story, almost like another character.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

Anne Lamott. I think she has a lot to teach writers!

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I’ve become so boring. I used to love painting ceramics, but between family demands and the fact that I try not to have too many breakable items around the house (I have a handicapped son who loves to pick things up, look at them, then set them down in the most precarious spots!) I haven’t done much of that lately. If I had time, I might like stamping and making pretty stationery. My sister has made some really lovely cards and it looks like fun.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

All of the other demands in my life. Each of us has been given the same 24 hours in a day, but it seems like my hours disappear faster than ever! I can only write while my boys are in school, which limits my time. I haven’t figured out how to overcome this problem, although things like consistent housework, fancy cooking, and entertaining have gone by the wayside. It would be nice to be able to do it all, but I just can’t.

I know what you mean. What advice would you give to a beginning author?

Don’t give up! I know this business can be discouraging, even intimidating, but if you keep writing, keep growing by sharing your work with others, staying involved in writer’s groups and loops, there’s a very good chance you’ll see your work in print. I’ve seen writers wait a long time, but the ones who succeed are the ones who’ve stuck with it and continued to learn through workshops and critique.

Tell us about the featured book.

On Sparrow Hill is the romantic sequel to The Oak Leaves, both published by Tyndale House. Like the first of this two-book series, On Sparrow Hill offers dual stories. Part of the book is set in contemporary times, the other in the Victorian era. On Sparrow Hill takes a European setting, with the English heroine an estate manager for the historic home now owned by a descendent of the Victorian characters in The Oak Leaves. She struggles with her attraction to the estate owner until he reveals his own feelings for her — but she knows his aristocratic mother would never approve. Through letters she finds in the family vault, the historic segment goes across the Irish Sea to a school for the “feebleminded” that was first envisioned in The Oak Leaves. In that thread, Berrie Hamilton (from The Oak Leaves) has one goal: to run the school Cosima Escott first envisioned. But when the brother of one of her students gets in the way, she isn’t sure what troubles her most: his temper or her unruly attraction to him. This story is more romantic than the first, which made it so much fun to write. Dana, also from The Oak Leaves, joins the contemporary story, and is dealing with a genetic disorder that was introduced in The Oak Leaves, the same genetic disorder I carry (Fragile X Syndrome). So this book is very special to me! I hope everyone who liked The Oak Leaves will enjoy On Sparrow Hill just as much.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Maureen, thank you for spending time with us. I can hardly wait to read both of the books.

Readers check out Maureen's web site.

And leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of On Sparrow Hill.


Dawn Michelle Michals said...


On Sparrow Hill sounds fascinating, and I love the setting. Both books sound like great reads. Thanks for the encouragement for new writers!

God bless~

Dawn :o)

Carole said...

I love these interviews because we get to know more about the authors personally, and I particularly enjoyed this one. So thank you, Maureen and Lena.

I've wanted to read this book since first reading its description. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Maureen Lang said...

I was so happy to do another interview with you, Lena! Thanks for the opportunity, the fun questions, and the chance to interact with your blog readers. Dawn and Carole - wow! You're quick on your visit to Lena's wonderful blog. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview - I wish everyone could win a copy of the book!

Famiglia Grande said...

Thank you Maureen for your wonderful novels. I loved The Oak Leaves and look forward to reading more.

Anonymous said...

I love the sound of your book. Your interview in an encouragment to me as a writer.

Linda Ford

Anonymous said...

I have read The Oak Leaves and loved it. In fact I bought 10 books and gave them to my friends. I have nt read "On Sparrow Hill" but believe it is as wonderful as the first book.
Thanks for good reading.

Anonymous said...

I loved Maureen's The Oak Leaves and am waiting anxiously for On Sparrow Hill. It would be so exciting to WIN a copy!

Mary Beth (another FX mom)

Brittanie said...

Looks great. Please enter me in the contest. :)
treewaterduchess (at) yahoo (dot) com

Chaosinmotion said...

I haven't read The Oak Leaves yet, but I only recently heard about it. It is on my "list" for my next book store visit as is the new one. I'm really looking forward to reading them.

Thank you for doing the interview on this blog.

Anonymous said...

I love that Maureen still has an awesome relationship with her husband. The stats say that 80% of marriages with a disabled child will fail and she is bucking the odds!! WTG :)

ChristyJan said...

I enjoyed this interview!

Please enter me for a chance to win a copy of ON SPARROW HILL.

Maureen Lang said...

It's great to see other Fragile X moms here! I'll be eager to hear what you think of On Sparrow Hill - it's more romantic than Oak Leaves but the Fragile X message is still in there. Even a challenging subject like FX can work in a romance! :-)

Morgan Mandel said...

More power to you, Maureen. I find it hard to read more than one book at a time. It's hard enough for me to remember the characters when I have to put it down.
Morgan Mandel

Jill Eileen Smith said...

I love Maureen's writing! Please enter me in the drawing, since I don't yet have my copy. :)


Anonymous said...


Thank you Lena and Maureen for a most interesting interview.

I love stories set in 2 different periods of time, so look forward to reading 'On Sparrow Hill'.

Please enter me in the competition

Thank you

God bless

Ruth Dell

buddyt said...

I like the sound of On Sparrow Hill so please enter me in the giveaway.
Thank you.


Carolynn said...

Great interview! Can't wait to get my hands on these books! Please include me in the drawing, thanks:)

ruth said...

An interesting and lovely interview. I anjoyed it greatly and your novel sounds so appealing and wonderful. Thanks for this giveaway.

Anonymous said...

Great interview.
On Sparrow Hill sounds fascinating.
Please enter me for a chance to win a copy of ON SPARROW HILL. Thank you.

windycindy said...

What a delightful interview. I really enjoyed reading your questions and her answers. I usually read more than one book at a time, also! One of my hobbies is making cards. The cover of her book is gorgeous. Please enter me in your drawing. I appreciate it! Thanks,Cindi

apple blossom said...

Oh this sounds like a book I'd like to read.

Deborah said...

great interview! i borrowed this book from the library but would love the chance to win it

Karin said...

Please enter me in the drawing....thank you.

Norma said...

This book sounds intriguing - please enter me.

luv2read said...

It's nice to hear the perspective of a now published author when I'm thinking of starting out. I enjoyed hearing how God work in the authors life through her writing journey. A book in itself.

Daniela6968 said...

Interesting interview. Please count me in.

Megan said...

I absolutely love the cover for On Sparrow Hill.

My favorite part of the interview was the part about settings. I love writing but setting is often where I struggle. I found that part of the interview very insightful. I loved how Maureen talked about the setting being another character. I have heard this concept before but have never really paid attention to it.

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview today!

Maureen Lang said...

It's so nice to see all the encouraging comments from the interview! And amazing to me how each person takes away something different. I was out of town at a speaking engagement over the weekend, and the same thing happened there. Reminds me of how we're all sharing this human experience, and how books can draw us together. I'm grateful to Lena for offering the opportunity for authors like me to connect with readers!

Kim said...

Sounds like a good book. Please enter me in the drawing! Thanks!


Sandra said...

I am anxious to get both Oak Leaves and On Sparrow Hill as I also have sons with FXS. Both sound like great reading. I have always wanted to write about my life as a Mom with 2 sons who have FX but just never did it. Perhaps one day I will be inspired to do so. I am the parent contact for National FXF here in the northeastern area of MA. My group is called FraXem.
Thanks for your bringing awareness to FXS in the 2 books.

--julie said...

Great interview, Maureen!
I always love to hear what you have to say about writing. i have learned so much form you!

Tarasview said...

please enter me! thanks.

taradawnrobertson at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

I'd love to have a copy.. summer break is coming up and I'd love to have some new books to keep me occupied!