Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rita Stella Galieh - FIRE IN THE ROCK - Free Book

I'm happy to welcome one of our writing friends from Australia. So, Rita, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Whatever emotional and spiritual turmoils, including disappointments and heartaches, plus small triumphs and highs always seem to end up in my characters whether they be the main protagonist or a secondary. That way I can evoke the genuine emotions I experience.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I once disguised myself as an odd old lady wearing some ratty clothes that my dear old grandma wore for house cleaning. I got myself an old hat with big pearl hatpin and a moth-eaten fur cape. I pulled my hair back into a tight bun and talcumed it; powdered my face and carefully drew in some lines and assumed a scratchy, high pitched voice. I walked around in college, asking for directions from everyone I knew. They were all so polite, but I was screaming with laughter inside because not even close friends recognized me.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I wrote poems as young teen to get pocket money from the kids' section of a Sunday paper, but didn't consider myself a writer. I wrote lyrics for songs I recorded, but still never thought of myself as a writer. I script and co-present for a weekly Christian radio program--but that didn't make me any sort of a writer. But then a longing grew to write a full length novel. Urgh!! I didn't know how! So I just started anyway. I joined RWA but couldn't figure out how on earth to structure a book. I didn't even have a clue how to bring it to a climax. I thought I'd just work it out when I got there. Then I joined ACFW. I listened and learned like a sponge soaking up all the answers to my myriad questions. My husband referred to me as a budding author and I thought maybe I was a writer of sorts, but still had a long way to go. Sigh! Now I realize I was a little embryo writer way back when.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read everything. I always grab second-hand Readers Digest books to expose myself to all writing styles.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I wrote 2 chick lits and hated them--not my style! I love the research involved in full length historicals so I have written a trilogy which is in the pipeline here in Oz. And two others which have yet to find a home. I have also had a few contributions published in the Cup of Comfort series.

How do you keep your sanity in this rush, rush, rush world.
Ahh, only the Lord can give that kind of peace in today's crazy economy. Even though we lost all the money from the sale of my dear mum's house in one of those awful investment company crashes. I can truly say that after the hurt I realized all my riches are in Christ and no one can take that away!

I so agree with you. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Choosing names is the fun part. I've used a few church members' names to their delight. For my main protagonists I'm a bit tentative until I feel I know them. But sometimes I've changed them midstream and if they agree, I stick with them.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Every year my evangelist hubby and I spend a month ministering in Thailand. We work through a Thai interpreter and find ourselves in Buddhist high school assemblies, hospitals, prisons and correctional centres, besides churches. We meet some wonderful Christians and are humbled at their bright testimonies.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I thought of a kangaroo because they can't go backwards; only forward in leaps and bounds. But I really think I'd rather be a baby elephant with its cute little curly trunk and gingery bristles, eating bananas, mangos and sugar cane all day long. Yair!

What is your favorite food?
Hot Indian curries followed closely by Thai food. Then for comfort, good old Vegemite on toast. Mmm!

A friend had good friends from Australia who visited here several times. Even in my home. They brought me vegemite, but it's not my cup of tea. But Tex-Mex, now that's really good. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
It happens all the time when I deliberately put my heroine in a trying situation, then have to work out how to bring her through it. As Agatha Christie's Detective Poirot says, "one must keep ze leetle grey cells working, non?" Doing it that way often keep me awake nights, but always seems to work.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Write,write, write. Learn from those whose opinion you trust. Buy the books. Go to the conferences if you can. Persevere. Bounce back after the disappointments which invariably come. Be prepared to change things that published authors suggest. And most of all, cover all your writing attempts in prayer. You're an ambassador of the Lord whether you're writing for the Christian public or not.

Tell us about the featured book?
At the turn of the twentieth century, some class distinctions lingered, boundaries between men and women were still clearly defined and social conventions strict. In this setting a well-meant deception finds a young woman in a desperate search to unearth crucial information as to her identity. But the truth--preserved by its wary keepers--lies buried in the opal fields on the fringe of the vast and thirsty Outback.

One of the main protagonists is an American, along with US evangelists, RA Torrey and Chas Alexander who held missions here. So, although this rather nostalgic story is fiction, it is based on true incidents and laced with some of the fascinating characters forming part of the Australian Christian heritage.

Please give us the first page of the book.
First page is the Prologue.

Have you ever seen a rag doll with the stuffing knocked out of it?

Our whole ward of mentally wounded young soldiers resembled once-loved, but now forgotten toys. Yet the following account is not about this. I am simply explaining how I came to delve into an unfamiliar world.

The researching and the actual relating of events has been a godsend. For apart from minor shrapnel wounds, the fact that I was found shell-shocked and wandering near enemy lines, of which I have no recollection, meant I ended up in a sanatorium to convalesce. Flickering battlefield images slashed with muddied, bloodied trenches, the perpetual whoomps of shelling, and the lasting impression of the acrid stink of cordite, replayed in my wearied mind.

Rehabilitation, they said. Me! A disillusioned thirty-nine year old war correspondent. Yet it wasn't until my mother arrived and spent precious time talking to me day after day, explaining all the things this veteran had been too young, too busy, or far too full of himself to understand before, that my healing process began.
Wiser than many doctors with their endless, mind-numbing medications, she suspected that if she began relating certain incidents and clarifying the actions of several fascinating characters, it might reawaken the interest of her hurt, deeply confused son. And this time I really listened, thus comprehension gradually returned. I suppose it was then my recuperation began in earnest. For as I looked back into a gentler, kinder past, I managed to see beyond myself and my immediate problems.
So it seemed God had placed this prodigal apart to rest a little while, where he could be straightened out mentally and spiritually. I discovered a lot about the generation before the first World War, known as the Great One; the way people were; the way they cared about each other; the way they acknowledged God and sought His guidance.
Now I had an immediate purpose. I wanted to capture all this for the family of my own I planned to have one day. So, as I threw myself into the study of letters and diaries, and gleaned extra details from those involved, I found hope again.

But as I said before, this isn't about me. It's about three extraordinary men, among several other intriguing characters, whose lives influenced, challenged, and helped shape the life of a guileless young woman who hailed from distant opal fields. So, this is really her story, and her far-reaching quest..."
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I'd love for them to look me up at

Thanks again, Lena. Your copy of Fire in the Rock is on its way to Texas.

God bless
Yes, I've received the book. Thank you, Rita, for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Don't forget to check back on Saturday in two weeks to see if you are the winner.


Debs Desk said...

Please include me in your giveaway.

Edna said...

It's me again I write a comment in every author's interview. Please enter me again into the drawing for a free book.

May God Bless

windycindy said...

The characters sound interesting in her book. The Outback setting is one I like, also! Please enter my name in your book contest.
Many thanks, Cindi

Anonymous said...

I love to read historicals. The setting in the Outback will be even more interesting.

Please enter me.
desertrose7153 at gmail dot com

bevsclark said...

I love that she disguised herself and her friends didn't even know it was her. That is brillant!

Unknown said...

This looks like a really good book. I went to your site and was wondering if you have a newsletter? I would like to keep up to date on your work.

Please enter me in the contest.

apple blossom said...

This sounds like an interesting book. I'd love to win.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Rachel Rossano said...

I like how the stories are bracketed in another story. I am very curious how she works that out. Please enter me in the contest. Thank you.


Simply Stacie said...

Thanks for the chance.

David Murdoch said...

I'm just starting out as a part-time christian fiction writer (see and I appreciate the advice that Rita offers, particular where she mentions: 'And most of all, cover all your writing attempts in prayer. You're an ambassador of the Lord whether you're writing for the Christian public or not.'

In the gospels Jesus often went into prayer before He did the things that He did; sometimes even for long periods of time. That's the same example we ought to be following for the things we do.

A J Hawke said...

I would love to win a copy of FIRE IN THE ROCK. The setting sounds great, and the chance to learn of the early history of the church in The Outback.

A J Hawke

Sheila Deeth said...

It's always nice to read books about interesting people in new settings. And I enjoyed the interview. Thanks.

Rita Galieh said...

I am so glad to hear comments from my new US friends. I'm sure they'll enjoy reading Fire in the Rock as much as I loved capturing it in book form. I always wrap my stories around real historical characters to give it depth, and my prayer is that you'll gain something in the reading.
God bless,

Megan said...

I love your story about the quirkiest thing that you have ever done. that is so fun! great interview!


Marla said...

Sounds like a good book. I like the fact the some true incidents are mingled within the fiction. Seems to make the story even come more to life. Thank you for the entry.

Bonnie Leon said...

What an interesting interview. Thanks so much for sharing, Rita.

Historicals are my favorite kind of book. And Australia is hugely interesting to me. So much so I've written several stories that take place there.

I'd love to read your book.

Congratulations on your new release.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like such a great book!
I'd love to read it!

Stormi said...

Sounds like a interesting book.