Sunday, September 11, 2011

WALKING ON GLASS - Pamela Binnings Ewen

Welcome back, Pamela. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
For many years I was an agnostic, unable to believe but desperately wanting to. During that time I was practicing law with BakerBotts, L.L.P., a large law firm based in Houston, with offices all over the world, including Dallas. One day I decided to use my researching abilities to seek answers to my questions that might help lead me to faith. I researched the Gospel testimonies by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, looking at all the evidence currently available in archeology, science, medicine (amazing medical evidence!), historical writings by the early church fathers, etc. to see if their stories were credible.

I was amazed and thrilled to find that the actual evidence provided powerful proof that the Gospels were true, and that the four Evangelists were in that place, at that time, and wrote what they saw. This changed my life completely. I became a committed Christian, and wrote my first book, Faith On Trial, while still practicing law. This was my faith journey. The book did very well, got a lot of national press and I realized that my mission had become getting the truth to people who, like I’d been, had open minds, wanted to believe, but just didn’t have the gift of faith. I retired my partnership with the firm and turned to writing fiction. I think writing a good story incorporating our Christian world view and solid ideas is a good way to spread the word, while at the same time entertain readers—and the writing is so much fun! It’s very fulfilling. Because if my writing helps one reader by answering a question about faith, or explaining a problem or offering any kind of solution to a problem in their lives, I’m happy.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The day my son, Scott was born. No question. There’s nothing like a mother’s love, it changes your whole world. I found myself bearing the full responsibility for raising him not long after he was born. So I worked my way through college, then law school, and became a lawyer so that I knew he’d always be safe and his future secure…and now I’d add, God willing.

How has being published changed your life?
Initially, as I described above, my first book Faith on Trial brought me to Christianity. Faith put new joy in my life. I enjoyed every day of practicing law, but I have to say writing is much more fun, and emotionally rewarding. Lawyers work long hours, and at first I thought how great it was that that would change. Ah hah! No so—there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done between writing and marketing a book, and all that goes along with that.

What are you reading right now?
Boy, I read ALL the time. Just finished Not a Sparrow Falls, by Linda Nichols, and loved it. Our friend Nora St. Laurent recommended it to me on my recent book tour. Also Words, by Ginny L. Yttrup. This is a truly searing story, treated with great care, and wonderfully written. Also, The Last Ember, by Daniel Levin – interesting story about Italian and Jewish antiquities, particularly from the histories written by Josephus in the first century. And at this moment in time, I’m reading an intriguing book by Paulo Coelho called The Winner Stands Alone, fiction—but about our culture’s fascination with celebrity and fame and fortune. Very well written in an unusual style. Can’t seem to put it down!

What is your current work in progress?
Chasing the Wind, a sequel to Dancing on Glass that will be released August 1, 2012. It’s in the editing stage right now, and that’s fun. Also it’s in that stage where we’re choosing the cover and that’s almost my favorite part of this part of the process. Dancing on Glass is the first book in a series of three, and I’m getting ready to start on the third book right now. An in the research and ‘pondering’ stage. Don’t have a title yet, but the subject matter is in my heart and struggling to come out.

What would be your dream vacation?
That’s hard because Jimmy, my husband, and I love to travel. So it would either be one of those river cruises to St. Petersburg, Russia and then on down to Moscow, and then on down to someplace wonderful in Europe, or maybe a cruise through the Greek Islands, and ending in Greece. That’s because I’m really interested in the Minoan Civilization that disappeared thousands of years ago in a volcano in Crete. Scientists believe it was a very advanced civilization, and they’ve found carved crystals that they say are as sophisticated as some of NASA’s!

How do you choose your settings for each book?
Settings are very important to me because with my writing they often become part of the story. Often a setting will suggest the story. For example, in the Moon in the Mango Tree, the settings came from my Grandmother’s own life story in the 1920’s—Siam (now Thailand), Paris, Rome. I not only had the stories straight from her, but also found a new layer and depth to her and the family stories in letters and journals we found when she died.

In Secret of the Shroud (formerly, Walk Back the Cat), the story pretty much dictated the setting. Obviously for the portion set in the first century, that was true. But for an exhibition for the Shroud as in the story, the New York Museum of Art was also an obvious place. Having spent a lot of time in that city while practicing law, I knew it fairly well, especially the areas I wrote about. Dancing on Glass is set in New Orleans because that is my home, the place I love the most, and so it fit right in with the story. In Dancing, I think the city is almost a ‘character’ in the story. Do you think I’m right?

It would be hard to write about New Orleans without the city becoming a character. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be, and why?
I think I would choose the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. I love the character and strength of the people of Israel and worry about them being surrounded by people who hate them, who want to destroy them; they are so principled and strong. Do you remember in the Gulf War when Sadam Hussein was lobbing scud missiles at them day and night and the U.S. asked them not to respond, because the scuds were provocations and a response would escalate the war? They did as we asked and we watched on TV as every night they huddled in their homes while incoming scuds streaked toward them…never once breaking their promise. So I would like to talk to the Prime Minister about all of this, and how he sees the future of Israel in the Middle East.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I don’t know if these count as hobbies, but I’m on the board of the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans, and that takes up some time. But well worth it – I think it’s one of the best (secular) literary festivals in the country. (For non-secular, no question – ACFW). Also, I founded the Northshore Literary Society in St. Tammany Parish, La. I actually live in Mandeville, which is a twenty-minute ride across the causeway over Lake Pontchartrain to the north shore of the New Orleans metro area. Here I’m also in the Christian Writers Guild. In all, we’ve got a great group of people on the northshore who love books and many who write, and now branches have sprung from the tree—a poetry group and a serious writing critique group.
Aside from that, I’d have to say traveling. As I said above, Jimmy and I really love to travel.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Okay. Everyone’s going to think this is weird, but here goes. It’s being truthful, bearing my soul. My writing always involves issues that come from something deep inside, things that are precious and private. Faith on Trial was the first time I’d ever bared my soul in public. In writing that book I learned that truth is an absolute requirement when dealing with issues and ideas, particularly if your story is going to be based on life-rending and life matters. Sometimes being truthful is embarrassing, or makes you feel vulnerable, especially to criticism. But it’s always necessary. So each time I write, I put the whole thing in God’s hands. I ask him to keep me on the right path. And I search the scriptures to try to stay on it. Christianity is such a treasure trove of wisdom!

What advice would you give to a beginning author?

It would be this: write a story that you HAVE to write, that you want to write whether or not any other person will ever read it. Write the entire first draft stream of consciousness, just for you, and resolve to tear it up later so no else ever does see it. But make it truthful.

Then, look at what you’ve got and start to shape it. You’ll see the story line emerging, the arcs of the plot and character developments emerging through the random words. That first draft will give you the crux of the book. You’ll see that ‘this’ segment should go before ‘that one,’ and where chapters should begin and end, and what parts are really irrelevant and can be scrapped.

NOW, you have the first draft. Throw the other one away, and go for it. Just finish the book no matter what, because most people don’t. If you finish it—you’re a writer. Now you start the rewrite. For me, that’s the most fun of all. I rewrite so many times that my editors joke they have to tear the manuscript away from me to get it out!

Tell us about the featured book:
Dancing on Glass is the story of a young woman lawyer in New Orleans in 1974 who falls in love with a man who’s not what he seems. It a story of love and illusion, and of good and evil. We ask ourselves all the time why bad things happen. But as God’s people, we’ve been given free will, the burden of making hard choices with consequences that sometimes lead us astray. Dancing on Glass explores what happens when a young Christian girl finds herself on the wrong path, making commitments too soon. It explores the nature of love and passions and manipulation of those emotions, and how God’s grace is always there for us. How faith sustains.

This is a fast-paced story of romantic suspense.  Amalise Catoir is a smart, accomplished woman caught in a manipulative, predatory relationship. One reviewer described this as a story that could have been ‘ripped from the headlines’ today, reports of strong women locked into emotionally and sometimes physically abusive relationships, usually secretly, for reasons that they don’t really understand. There are so many celebrity cases in the news these days of women ‘standing by their man’ long after society or (in my opinion) God expects—Elizabeth Edwards, for example. I think Dancing on Glass provides a new way of viewing these relationships. At least I hope it offers some new insight on the issue. It comes from my heart, and to some extent I’m sorry to say, from past experience.

Please give us the first page of the book:
Here’s the first page of the first chapter (excluding the prologue):

Chapter One
Not a stir of air on the streets of New Orleans on that September day in 1974 when a small black cloud shuttled in on winds aloft and exploded over the Vieux Carre like a child’s tantrum. Amalise ducked into Porter Gallery on Royal to avoid the deluge instead of continuing on to work. And her life changed forever.

                At first she stood near the door in front of the plate glass windows watching water pool in gutters and people scramble for shelter. When the rain had emptied the sidewalks and streets and there was no sign of it letting up, she secured the book bag onto her shoulder, turned, and with an exasperated mutter, ambled toward a display of artwork to her left.

                Glancing up, she stopped and caught her breath. Before her, hanging on the wall, was a series of pictures painted in shining black and bold colors that diminished all other work in the gallery. Slashing strokes of the thick black paint in each one sketched women in various poses, striking, even pretty, in an offbeat way, but looking lost, bored, defeated. These were women drained of light—flattened for a moment in time by the contrasting movement and bright reds, blues, yellows, and spectrum of colors in between that the artist had used in the surroundings. Books were tossed on tables, fluted curtains pooling on floors, dresses, skirts, stockings, shoes thrown carelessly around the room, beds and tumbled pillows, sheets and blankets, and always in the background, glass windowpanes closed against the living, vibrant world outside.

Sounds intriguing. Can't wait to get my copy. How can readers find you on the internet?
My website is and I answer all emails myself. Love to talk to readers and book clubs!

Thank you, Pamela, for another interesting interview.

Readers, here's a link where you can order the book: Dancing on Glass: A Novel

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

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 4 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 if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Anonymous said...

i would be blessed to win this book.

angela from KY

Jo said...

Thanks for the great interview. Really enjoyed it and getting to know about you. I would love to win this book.

Jo from Southern Arizona

Patsy said...

This book sounds really good. I would enjoy reading it. I'm so glad you researched and found the Lord -and now you are a writer. Sometimes we don't see it, but I know God has plans for us all along.

from southern Mississippi

Rebecca said...

Thanks for the chance to win this. This looks like a great book. I would love to read this. Thanks again.

I am from Oklahoma

Diana Flowers said...

This book sounds intriguing...please enter me! Thank you!

Diana from SC


Megan said...

Wow! This was a fantastic interview! Pamela's testimony brought tears to my eyes--how God gave her a searching heart that lead her to Truth!
I loved hearing about your settings, hobbies, and obstacles...and especially your advice to aspiring authors. Everything was so authentic. I really feel like I know you now!
Plus I added a bunch of books to my wish list (a few of yours and a couple that you had been reading)! Thanks so much!

Edwina said...

Thanks for another informative and interesting interview. This book suonds great and I'd love to read it.

Edwina from GA

Charlotte Kay said...

Now I want to read FAITH ON TRIAL as well.
I feel blessed to be considered for this giveaway.
Charlotte Kay

Coolestmommy said...

I love the comment about your book that "faith sustains." That is so true and I can't wait to see how that works out in your book.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

CarlybirdK said...

I have heard great things about this book and I enjoyed this interview very much. Thank you.
Carly in NC

Joanna Richmond said...

This book sounds great I would enjoy reading it,
I would love to win this book
Joanna Richmond,
Blanch, NC.

Abigail Mitchell said...

Looks interesting, I haven't read any books by this author, Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!
God Bless!
Abigail Richmond
Blanch, N.C.

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this beautiful story

kmkuka at yahoo dot com
(from PA)

Nathanael Richmond said...

Looks interesting!
Please enter me in the drawing, would love to win.
Nathanael Richmond
Blanch, N.C.

Mona said...

Sounds like a great book I would love to win it. Thanks Mona/Ohio

Anonymous said...

I would love to win the book.
I'm a follower by gfc and I am an email by subscription.

Brenda from Michigan

dancealert at aol dot com

Cyndi said...

Thanks for introducing me to another great author! Definitely makes me want to read her books! :)

Cyndi in AL

Sharon Richmond said...

Sounds very interesting, I love reading and would love to win this book! thanks for giving me a chance to be a winner.
Sharon Richmond
Blanch, NC.

Megan said...

'Walking on Glass' sounds terrific, I would love to win a copy! Thanks for the fantastic giveaway.

lovetoread205 [at] gmail [dot] com

Sarah Rebekah Richmond said...

It looks interesting!
Please enter me in the drawing.
God Bless!
Sarah Richmond
Blanch, N.C.

Mama Cat said...

This is a "hooked from the start" book - would love to win this book! The title is intriguing in itself - all the best to you! I live in Phoenix, Arizona

Aizess said...

I would enjoy winning this book. Please enter me in this giveaway.

I live in New York

Faith Hope and Cherrytea said...

just the title of this grabs me! luv it + the cover... and now to hear the contents ~ great! thanks for this opp to read your excellent work Pamela...
a reader frm CA

Diana Flowers said...

This book is definitely on my wishlist. I have read one other Pamela Ewen book and it was fascinating! She is an excellent author! Thank you!


Diana from SC