Monday, June 21, 2010
I would say very little, until I realized how many of my life experiences end up in characters; ie my knowledge of horses for the girls’ books, my daughter’s death and how I/we responded to that, used in both One Perfect Day and earlier than that, The Healing Quilt. While determined is another word for stubborn, I’ve been accused of both and many of my characters deal with and through that trait. I spent several years as a child on our farm in Minnesota with no electricity. Who would have dreamed God was preparing me to write my historical farming novels? I don’t think one can write fiction and not put herself into the characters. I mean, who do you know any better? Or at least if you are going to write fiction, you better plan on getting to know you better than you ever did before.
Maybe the reason readers compared my writing to yours is because I've written six books set in Minnesota, five of them historical. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirky? Moi? Now to figure out how to define quirky. Become a writer? One needs a slight dose of insanity to be willing to subject yourself and your life to the scrutiny of your characters and also your faithful readers. One man said to me, “I’ve read many of your books and I’ve heard you speak and I’ve listened to your teaching tapes. I know an awful lot about you.” Hmm, is that good or bad? He’s become a good friend, thank you, God. What if----ah, my most famous and used two words---what if he’d been a stalker? A writer for The Enquirer? What secrets have I given away?
Now that I’ve answered all the questions and come back to this, I think one quirky thing is the discussions on my Face Book page re How to eat a chocolate bunny and the other regarding blowing up peeps. We had such fun with those.
I've got to go check thos ot. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I used to think I made that decision when I was a senior in high school, but going through my mother’s things, she was a saver of the first degree, I found a little brown notebook, this was pre-spiral binding, with lined pages and written in it was a story with chapters no less. This must have been from the fifth or sixth grade. So I guess it went back that far. I’ve always loved telling stories.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I think this changes as I’ve gone through life. As a kid, I read ALL the horse and dog books, never read Nancy Drew, moved into cozy mysteries, romances, suspense, rarely fantasy or sci-fi, never out and out horror. Hate gruesome stuff. Love children’s books, read more nonfiction now than I ever did, including memoirs, biographies, natural science and of course historical research. I usually have at least one novel going, a devotional, a business book, self-improvement one and research things. I have a tremendous sense of curiosity so I read books about whatever grabs my attention. I find now that I stay away from some of the darker suspense that I used to read, dislike too much violence, sex and filthy language. Life is too short to waste on books that irritate me. I love to read, would rather read than anything else. And I love to do lots of things, but reading tops them all.
I agree with you. There are too many good books being published today to waste time on books that don't grab you. What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’ve written 68 books, I think, including 21 what used to be YA and is now tweeners, or middle grade, three non fiction and the rest fiction, both contemporary and historical. All the books I’ve written have been published. There are a lot of starts in my files that never went anywhere, but I’ve operated under the credo that I don’t write a book until I’ve sold it. I learned that at the first writer’s conference at Warner Pacific Colleg in Portland, OR in 1980. I’ve been in this business for a long time which is another one of those hard to believe things in my life.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Good question, who says I’m sane? I depend on God’s word to help keep me tethered to reality, but then I write fiction so I live in my imaginary worlds. When things get out of hand, I realize I’m not spending enough time with my journal and The Word. I also learned how to relax years ago due to severe headaches. Taking a deep breath, holding it until the count of ten and slowly exhaling, done three times, goes a long way to releasing the tension. Try it. Whenever I can, I get off the merry go round and read. Reading always helps keep me sane.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I had one of those in my newest release. It took three times for me to please him, and he was a relatively minor character. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That Wayne and I have been married for forty-seven years. This is truly one of God’s miracles or maybe it is forty-seven years of small miracles. But if you mean what I did, I’m not sure. Guess I’ll come back to this one later.
Well, this is later and I still am not sure. I guess that I write books firstly to entertain, that is my goal, but the wondrous thing is that God uses those stories to speak to people. I am in awe that I get to be part of this. Changing lives, God’s job but He lets us help. Can’t get much better than this.
James and I will celebrate our forty-sixth anniversary this year. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Most people who know me would think I’d say a horse, because I dearly love horse. But then I can’t picture life without a dog either. And I love elephants and whales. Pigs are really cool people, talk about personality and smart, oh my. So, I’m thinking, what animal really loves making people happy? Unconditional love comes from dogs. And I want to love the way Jesus loves, unconditionally. So I guess I’m a golden retriever, pure love wrapped up in gold fur.
What is your favorite food?
Oh fiddle, bad question. I like food, I like cooking food, growing food, and enjoying a good meal with friends. But favorite depends on what day and mood I am in. And what meal time it is. I love home made cinnamon rolls, salads with lots of bright and tasty vegetables and grilled chicken, a good rib steak, with the bone in, thank you. Potatoes baked, fried, mashed, salad, especially the red potatoes grown in the Red River Valley of ND. So how can I say a favorite? That’s like asking me which of my children is my favorite. Sheesh.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Who says I’ve overcome it? Greatest problem is always BIC. Butt in chair. I’ve overcome a lot of procrastination but some hangs on. Once I start writing, I can go fast but the pressure has to be on. I used to meet my deadlines, hit a bad patch, and am back on track. Now to stay that way.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Get thee to a writer’s conference, learn all you can about the craft, and keep on writing. You need alligator hide and bull dog tenacity to make it in this industry. Also make sure this is where God is calling you to be. There are other livelihoods far easier.
Amen to that. Tell us about the featured book?
No Distance too Far is the second in the Home to Blessing series, in which Astrid Bjorklund is the main character. In A Measure of Mercy, Astrid graduates from Blessing High School and has to decide whether she should continue working with Dr. Elizabeth and/or go to Chicago for a surgical rotation to improve her surgical skills. Or is Joshua Landsverk to be the love of her life and she stay in Blessing to be near him? Both these books are about Astrid trying to understand what God wants her to do with her life. Is He calling her to be a surgeon, or is that a call to the medical mission field she is hearing? Astrid believes she is a healer like her mother and prays that God will use her to help restore the ill and injured. But what about Africa? I’m working on the third and final book in the series, A Heart for Home, due out next March.
I'd love to have you back on the blog with that book. Please give us the first page of this one.
The dream was a lie. She was in Georgia, not Blessing.
Staring out the window did nothing to calm the butterflies rampaging in her middle. Astrid tried swallowing—once, twice—no matter, they continued to spiral and cavort. She laid a hand on her diaphragm and closed her eyes. Please, Lord, fill me with your calm and peace.
A throat being cleared behind her caught her attention. She turned, swallowed again, and smiled. At least she hoped she smiled.
"Dean Highsmith will see you now." The young man needed to loosen his collar. He appeared to be near to strangling.
"Come this way." He motioned her to accompany him, opened a heavy carved door, and escorted her in. "Dr. Bjorklund to see you, sir."
What a hook! How can readers find you on the Internet?
I am on Twitter, laurainesnellin; Face Book, Lauraine Snelling, which I have a ball on; and I have two web sites. Laurainesnelling.com and BlessingND.com. Blessing is the town I created in the Red River Series and this website brings the town news, and the events that are going on now, including Blessing Square in Drayton ND and the play, Bound for Blessing, based on the first three books of the series. There will be four performances of the play in Drayton in July. See my website for further information. Hope to see you there.
Thank you, Lauraine, for the enjoyable time with you.
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