Thursday, April 29, 2010
What do you see on the horizon? I see at least three more books with Bethany House Publishers. I recently signed a contract for three more historicals which will release in the spring of 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively. The first is set in 1918 Boston, the second in 1777 Philadelphia, and the third…I’m hoping early-1800s on the coast of New England. But I’m flexible and always open for the next great inspiration!
Those sound really interesing. Tell us a little about your family.
My husband is in the Air Force, so my family has been very transient. We’ve lived in France and Japan; Florida and Colorado; California and Virginia; Alabama and Washington. I’ve always enjoyed moving, but I think I’m finally coming to the point where I’d like to just sit and stay somewhere for a while.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I’m reading much more non-fiction than I used to! For pleasure, I’ll always turn to novels, but I’ve had to trade away my pleasure reading for research reading.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my spring 2011 release. I’ve already barreled through the first draft and am currently struggling with the second draft. I have characters who need more development, plot holes that need plugging, and pacing that needs a bit of kick in the get-along!
What outside interests do you have?
Not too many. My time is limited, so I try to limit my activities. I visit the gym regularly and when it’s seasonable, I try to play golf. I also enjoy taking advantage of all the museums and historic sites that the DC-metro area has to offer.
I love gong to museums, too. How do you choose your settings for each book?
I don’t think I do. Most of the ideas I’ve been passionate about have chosen me. I seem to write best at the places where women conflict with cultural expectations.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
I’d like to be able to sit down with my great-grandmother Hilja Matilla. She emigrated from Finland by herself as a young woman, carrying not much more than a fiddle. Apparently, she married my great-grandfather, a professional gambler, in part because he had a car. I’d love to know why she came to America and hear about her experience as a first-generation American. I’d also like some more details about that car!
My grandparents on my father's side emigrated from Scandanavian countries, so we have some interesting stories, too. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
How difficult it is. How I’d have to stare Fear in the eyes every day before being able to write. Probably better that I didn’t know.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
That the stories are His to tell. I mess them up every single time I try to take over.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
1. Tell the story. Just like in golf, there’s a point in time where you have to forget about all the finer points of what you’re doing. Just tell the story. Forget about the hook and MRUs; outlines and character motivations. You can let the thoughts of what you’re supposed to be doing paralyze you, or you can just keep your eye on the ball and swing that club.
2. Finish the Story. The vast majority of people who begin writing a novel never finish it. Finishing it puts you way ahead in the publishing game. Even if it turns out not be saleable, you will have learned valuable lessons as a take-away.
3. Start another Story. What? You thought you were done? You can probably write an entire second novel in the time it takes to hear back from all the agents and editors you’re going to query. And writing keeps the fear and trembling at bay. Writers write. So go ahead. Get on with it!
She Walks in Beauty is set in 1890s New York City in the upper levels of society during the late-Victorian era. For a young society woman seeking a favorable marriage, so much depends on her social season debut. Clara Carter has been given one goal: secure the affections of the city's most eligible bachelor. Debuting means plenty of work--there are corsets to be fitted, dances to master, manners to perfect. Her training soon pays off, however, as celebrity's spotlight turns Clara into a society-page darling.
Yet Clara soon wonders if this is the life she really wants. Especially when she learns her best friend has also set her sights on Franklin De Vries. When a man appears who seems to love her simply for who she is and gossip backlash turns ugly, Clara realizes it's not just her marriage at stake--the future of her family depends on how she plays the game.
The more research I did into corsets and late-Victorian culture, the more their problems seemed to mirror ours. Women still go to dangerous lengths to "fix" the way they look. Media still creates a celebrity-focused culture. Advertising still perpetuates unreasonable standards of beauty for women that lead to anorexia-inducing behaviors, and we still grapple with our attitudes toward and treatment of the poor. Most books about debutantes focus on the glamour of the lifestyle or the cattiness of the girls themselves. This books looks at the huge spiritual, physical, and emotional costs these girls were made to pay.
But really, in true Victorian fashion, this book has a happy, heartwarming ending and I think there are scenes that will make readers laugh and others that will touch their hearts and make them cry (happy tears only, please!).
It just moved to the top of my to-be-read pile. Please give us the first page of the book.
“Get dressed, Clara. In your visiting costume. We are going out.” My aunt’s words were at once commanding and precise. As precise as her posture: a series of ninety-degree angles, seated upon one of my bedroom chairs. She was perpendicular in the extreme. I bit the inside of my lip to hide the smile that threatened to escape.
There were far more important matters to consider than geometry. We were going out! And we never went out. We never went anywhere. Not since Aunt had moved in with us the month before. Several times I had been given permission to visit my friend Lizzie Barnes, but only in the company of Miss Miller.
Aunt rose to her feet from the chair that made a pair with my own. Their plump, pansy-embroidered seats and lilac fringe corresponded with the rest of the décor in my bedroom. Her fat, fluffy Pomeranians, displaced by her sudden movement, began barking and dancing about her feet. “Was I unclear in my diction, Clara? I meant now.”
“What? I should not have to strain my ears to hear you.”
Indeed she shouldn’t. Her ears had a habit of standing away from her head like soup ladles, as if they were longing to be freed from her relentlessly old-fashioned coiffure, parted in the middle and drawn back into a bun. “No. You were not unclear.”
“Very well then.” She clucked at her dogs and left the room accompanied by a frenzied yipping. There were three dogs which scampered after her and they were the most hateful creatures I had ever known.
At Aunt’s departure, Miss Miller moved from the shadows of a corner to part my velvet curtains and draw down the shades on my windows.
“I don’t see why she thinks she can order me around like one of her horrid dogs! I’m not some child—I’m seventeen years old.”
Miss Miller smiled and walked toward the now-vacant chair. “She’s simply used to people doing as she bids.”
“Then she ought to have stayed where she was.”
“She’s taken an interest in your upbringing and I think it’s very kind. Especially since…well…”
“Since I have no mother.”
“I didn’t mean to make you feel...I didn’t mean to remind you. I’m sorry.” Miss Miller sat as I stood to let the maid help me undress.
I could never be upset with Miss Miller. And in any case, Mama had died so very long ago. “We’ve been doing just fine on our own, you and I.”
“But there’s your debut to consider now.”
“That’s months away.” More than a year. I was looking forward to it about as much as a mouse looks forward to being pounced upon by a cat.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’d be delighted if they’d visit me at http://sirimitchell.com/
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using this link when you order, you'll be helping support this blog.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book.
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 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.