I'm impressed with the new Summerside Press. Here's the third author we're featuring from them. Welcome, Gwen, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
While none of the characters in this novel “are” me, they all contain pieces of me and other people I know. One of the beauties of fiction is that you can take a piece of yourself—or a quality you’ve observed in another—and construct a whole puzzle around that piece to make an interesting character. An example of that in this book is Abuela. While my maternal grandmother was not Mexican, rich, nor as vocal about her faith as Abuela; she was a strong, beautiful woman who nurtured the good in me and whose love is still is a very powerful force in my life.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
The quirkiest thing…hmm. It’s tough to pick just one. Singing “To God be the Glory” from the top of Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland; jumping into a fountain with my clothes on to illustrate God’s grace to a Bible study group; not kissing my husband till our wedding day; dancing in the rain with my two-year old; skinny dipping in the Mediterranean Sea; hitchhiking; getting a tattoo; and numerous other fun but quirky things I wouldn’t necessarily advise.
You sound like a really fun person. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In my fourth grade year, my teacher “published” several “books” I wrote by putting them on the shelf in our class—and the other students actually read them!
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My taste in books is pretty eclectic. I love classics, and specifically the Victorians. I also enjoy—and often identify with--Southern writers. In contemporary literature, I like Roy Lessin, Elisabeth Elliot, T. Davis Bunn, Jan Karon, Khaled Hosseini, Ian McEwan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jhumpa Lahiri, and the poet Franz Wright.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Published—a gift book entitled God’s Heart Through You.
Not published (yet)—a devotional called The Shepherd’s Voice, co-authored with Roy Lessin, and a novel, Small Town Girl.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
My husband and I are very strategic with our time. Family comes first; which means saying “no” to lots of other good things. Keeping my family spiritually healthy goes a long way toward promoting sanity for me. Other rituals I enjoy are long walks, hot baths, playing music, and cooking.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I love names. I had names picked out for my children by the time I was in fifth grade. Sometimes I choose a character’s name because of its meaning, and sometimes to convey cultural background or advance the story. In this book, Claire’s son is named Graeme because of his father’s Scottish heritage. Desirae, the nurse, is named that because I wanted Claire to be bothered by the spelling.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Being married for fourteen years to the same great guy, and being a mother of three adorable children.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d be a bald eagle. Of all of the animals in the world, they have to be the most awe-inspiring. We have some that come where I live (on a high bluff on the Arkansas River) in winter. They fly right by my deck at eye-level, and it takes my breath away every time I see one. I love the Biblical implications of Isaiah 40:31, and I also love it that eagles are the symbol of America. To me, they represent timeless beauty, fierce intelligence, and absolute freedom.
What is your favorite food?
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I think my greatest roadblock has been a fear of failure. This may sound silly, but for years I had a dream of writing the great American novel, winning the Pulitzer Prize, doing something grandiose like that. Because my life as a mother of three small children doesn’t lend itself to writing several hours a day to create “one true sentence,” as Hemingway put it, I didn’t even try writing anything other than cards or newspaper articles. I was afraid it wouldn’t be worth anything.
Then, DaySpring sent me to a writer’s conference where I met T. Davis Bunn. He told me not to wait till my children were grown to start writing, but to write what I could now, with them “crawling around my feet.” He said, “All that time you can be learning more, honing your craft, and contributing something valuable to the world.”
He didn’t make fun of my dreams, even though he must have thought they were naïve. Instead he told me, “If that world-changing novel happens for you one day, great. But you have to start somewhere. Be faithful now, working within the life God has given you, and leave the future to Him.” That was great advice, and I have followed it.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Probably the same advice Davis gave me.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Long version: In Love Finds You in Romeo, Colorado, Claire Caspian is a young widow who has moved back to her hometown of Romeo, Colorado, to live with her grandmother and raise her five-year-old son, Graeme.
When the novel opens, Claire is in her office at Adams State University, where she has just accepted a job as an assistant professor in the English department. She sits at her desk grading papers when the phone rings and she finds out her son has been rushed to the hospital with an asthma attack.
Enter Stephen Reyes, the doctor who takes care of Graeme in the ER. He is good-looking, gentle, and divorced. A few sparks of interest fly between them in that first encounter, but is a rocky road they take to finally finding true love—and letting love find them.
The rest of the book chronicles Claire and Stephen’s journey along that road. He must come to terms with his failed first marriage—and his fault in it—and she must put past heartache behind her and allow herself to love again. It’s a journey of forgiveness, trust and healing, by renewing the faith they both thought they’d lost. A host of colorful characters help them along the way: Claire’s feisty Abuela, the richest woman in the county; Stephen’s sister Maria, his friend Joe, the football coach who takes him to a Bible study; a crusty old professor named Oscar, a burly nurse named Victor, other friends and neighbors, and even a child--Claire’s five-year-old son. Set in the beautiful and mysterious San Luis Valley, the novel blends local flavor with timeless truths to give readers an experience that will both engage the mind and touch the heart.
Short version: Buy it!
How can readers find you on the Internet?
They can find me at http://www.lovefindsyou.wordpress.com/, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you very much for your interest and time. It was fun answering your thought-provoking questions.
And thank you, Gwen, for this fun interview.
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