Interview with Sherrie Hansen, Author of SWEET WILLIAM, a Wildflowers of Scotland Romance

Hi, Sherrie. I’m thrilled you have a new book published. What is your book, Sweet William, about?

On the outside, Sweet William is about castles, kilts, and cows. It’s about sweet vs. savory – in the kitchen, and in the bedroom. It’s about family, friends and bull semen. On the inside, Sweet William is about doing the right thing, even when your heart is screaming at you to do the complete opposite. It’s about the good ones dying and the ones who irritate you no end still hanging on and refusing to go away. It’s about the unthinkable, the impossible, having a life you love and being asked to give it all up and move to an alternate universe on the other side of the globe because there is no other option.

It all begins when Minnesota farm boy, William McKnight, and sassy Scot, Lyndsie Morris, are forced to work together in the kitchen of Rabbit Hill Lodge. William is a real sweetheart (sickeningly sweet according to Lyndsie). Lyndsie is a wee bit tart (although William is too nice to ever point out such a thing.) The atmosphere is as charged as an episode of Chopped. It remains to be seen whether someone will get cut, or if they’ll find a recipe that works. Things just start to get spicy when an angry bull butts his way into the picture, and Lyndsie has to decide if she loves William more than everyone and everything she holds dear.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

When William McKnight showed up at Michael and Isabelle’s wedding in Shy Violet, it was love at first sight (for me, not Lyndsie, who was totally irritated when he stole the limelight away from her dainty finger foods and crudités with his roasted grunter, buttery soft potato rolls and overly sweet Farm Boy Barbeque Sauce.) The two of them were so great together that I decided they had to be.

Sounds fun. Tell us a little more about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

William is getting rave reviews from my readers. He’s being called my best hero ever. I’m still so enamored of Pastor Ian in Wild Rose, that I can’t quite see it, but that’s another story. I adored writing Lyndsie. She’s spunky and sassy and self-confident. She knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone who challenges her. She loves her family and would do anything for them, even when she’s totally disgusted by their actions. She’s a very loyal friend – until she has to choose between her two best friends and a family member that all desperately need her – and they live on opposite sides of the globe. Lyndsie has such snark – and William’s sweet disposition is the perfect foil for her sass.

Did you do any research for Sweet William? If so, how did you do it?

Although I grew up on a farm, my dad never raised cattle, so I had to do a lot of research on various breeds of beef cattle and their traits and behaviors. I researched cattlemen’s association in Scotland and the U.S., the origins of the Aberdeen Angus breed, agricultural import and export regulations, and… bull semen. I accomplished my task by visiting Scotland, Devon and Cornwall, interviewing veterinarians, talking to my niece, Victoria, who raises beef cattle and shows them at the fair, and tracking things down on the internet.

What about your book besides the Scottish setting might pique the reader’s interest?

I’ve been told by several readers that when I started writing my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, they missed the local color, familiar places, and quirky Midwestern characters from my first five books, which are all set in Minnesota or Iowa. While I maintain that people are the same everywhere (check out the church ladies in Wild Rose if you doubt me), my local readers will be pleased to know that Sweet William is partially set on a farm in Southern Minnesota. Backdrops like the Minnesota State Fair and a family gathering at William’s family’s farm in Blue River, Minnesota, should make them feel right at home.

What was the most difficult part about writing Sweet William?

I’ve “killed off” bad guys, in both Wild Rose and Blue Belle, and sent nefarious pirates to the slammer in Shy Violet, but in Sweet William, I had to do away with a good guy. Writing those scenes, and grieving alongside my characters, cut me to the core and filled me with complete and utter trepidation about the time in my life when I will have to face this kind of loss.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

One of the hardest things for me to do, as an author, has been to single out a particular type of reader to whom to market my books. They call it branding, and I’m terrible at it. My Wildflowers of Scotland novels are a good example. The focus of Wild Rose is faith and forgiveness, which appeals to a certain type of reader. Although there are no steamy scenes in Wild Rose, it does not fit the parameters of inspirational fiction – Rose is much too quirky, and well, too wild, for that. Blue Belle and Shy Violet are quite steamy, and the behavior of the bad guys in Blue Belle is sometimes gory, gross, and too explicit for the faint of heart. Sweet William is sweet, and except for one teeny, tiny, mildly steamy scene, suitable for all readers. It’s less suspenseful than the others, and focuses more on family “situations” for conflict. The thing is, my books are character driven. No two characters are the same. I think my books are better because I don’t try to put my characters in a box, but if you’re going to come along for the ride, you need to be willing to take whatever each particular character throws at you – me. If you’re open to it, I think it’s far more fun that way.

Which is more important to your story, character or plot?

As expressed above, I’m into characters. A reader recently wrote to me and said, “Boy, you know people. I have been practicing psychology and social work for 45 years and you must have been sitting in the office next to me. You know your stuff!” Although my characterizations are subtle, it thrilled me that she could appreciate the inner workings of the men and women I write about. I feel that if my characters are honest, well-motivated, and real enough, my plot will basically write itself based on their actions, fears, and needs.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

How could it not, given how unpredictable people are? I always say that I write the first one third to half of the books, and my characters write the rest.

Have you written any other books?

Sweet William is a Wildflowers of Scotland novel, and follows Thistle Down (a prequel novella), Wild Rose, Blue Belle, and Shy Violet. I’ve written two stand-alones, Night and Day, and Love Notes. I also have a trilogy, the Maple Valley novels, about three quirky sisters who can’t stop with the quilts – Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Here are some links to places where you can learn more about my books:

https://www.facebook.com/BlueBelleInn
http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/
http://www.BlueBelleInn.com or http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com
https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen
https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/
http://www.amazon.com/Sherrie-ansen/e/B007YXQJ4W/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
http://www.indigoseapress.com/Star-Crossed-Books–Contemporary-Romance.php#Hansen

Don’t forget to check out Sherrie’s new release: Sweet William. https://amzn.com/B01H2TUD3U

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Interview With Sherrie Hansen, Author of SHY VIOLET

Shy VioletThis is my fourth interview with Pat Bertram, on the occasion of the release of my new Wildflowers of Scotland novel, Shy Violet, coming May 1st from Second Wind Publishing. Thanks so much for all you do to promote our work, Pat!

You’re welcome, Sherrie. I’m always glad to do what I can to help. But we’re here to talk about you and your new book. What is Shy Violet about?

When a poor choice and some wild fluctuations in the space time continuum leave school teacher Violet Johansen stranded in the car park of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, Violet wonders if she’ll ever find her way back to her comfort zone. She has two choices – to trust a piper who looks exactly like someone she dated a decade ago, or a band of nefarious pirates. Pirates. Pipers. People and mistakes from the past that threaten to haunt you forever… A castle that’s been ravaged and rebuilt… Only time will tell if Violet and Nathan’s fragile new friendship survive the storm and see love reborn.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

We’ve all had ups and downs in our lives – a relationship you were utterly convinced was a dream come true, only to realize at some point that it was exactly wrong, even toxic. We’ve all lived through the disappointment, the heartache, and hopefully found, at some point in our journey, that good things come from bad, that all things work together for good, and that rainbows often follow the most terrible storms.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Shy Violet is set in one of the most beloved, picturesque castles in the world, Eilean Donan, near the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The main characters are quite ordinary, American school teachers who find themselves caught up in a drama that revolves around the nefarious activities of some modern-day pirates / whiskey smugglers.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I always hope that my readers will get lost in my stories, that they will be magically transported to another time and place where they can forget their own troubles and stresses for a time and live vicariously through my characters. For me, reading a good book, just like going on a nice, long vacation, broadens my perspectives and reminds me that there’s a whole big world out there that doesn’t revolve around me or my issues. There’s also a bit of humor in many of my books, and often, a quirky character or two who may bring a smile to your face. I love it when people say they find my books to be entertaining or funny.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

I want my readers to believe that life is filled with second – and third and fourth – chances, that a wee bit of good can come from even the worst situations, and that there is hope – always.

Have you written any other books?

Shy Violet is my third Wildflowers of Scotland novel, and follows Wild Rose and Blue Belle. There is also a prequel novella called Thistle Down. I’ve also written Night and Day, the Maple Valley series – Stormy Weather, Water Lily and Merry Go Round, and Love Notes.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

I wrote my first several books from the perspective of a single woman who could only dream about experiencing love firsthand. Fast forward a dozen years, enter one real-life husband, and I know how wild the rollercoaster really is. I feel that I can write relationships, dialogs and certain characters much more realistically – and even a bit humorously – now that I have insider knowledge.

Where can people learn more about your books?

You can find out more about me and my books at:

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!sherrie-hansen/c1scv
http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenAuthor
http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/
http://www.BlueBelleInn.com or http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com
https://twitter.com/SherrieHansen
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2870454.Sherrie_Hansen
https://www.pinterest.com/sherriebluebell/

Sherrie Hansen’s previous interviews on Pat Bertram Introduces  . . .

Sherrie Hansen, Author of “Thistle Down” and “Wild Rose”
Sherrie Hansen, Author of “Love Notes”
Sherrie Hansen, Author of Merry Go Round

Sherrie Hansen, Author of “Thistle Down” and “Wild Rose”

wildrose

Hi, Sherrie. Tell us a little about your new release, Wild Rose:  

When Ian MacCraig tries to capture the thief who is stealing artifacts from his kirk in Loch Awe, Scotland, the last thing he expects to find on his video is a woman engaging in a passionate romp under the flying buttresses.

Rose Wilson is mortified to learn that Digby, the online friend she met for what she thought was a harmless rendezvous, is a common criminal.

Now that Ian, the board of Wilson Enterprises, the constable, and half the town have had a glimpse of Rose in all her naked glory, it seems even her family looks at her differently. What remains to be seen is how far Ian will go to defend Rose’s honor and if the church ladies will forgive Rose now that they know who she really is… and if Rose can believe she’s worthy of someone as good and kind as Ian MacCraig.

Wild Rose and Pastor Ian MacCraig… a match made in heaven or one hell of a predicament?

Wild Rose is the first of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, to be followed by Blue Belle later this year and Shy Violet sometime next year. “Thistle Down,” an eShort prequel, is currently free or 99 cents online.

What inspired this story?

Several personal events merged and made into make-believe situations provided the inspiration for Wild Rose. Wild Rose is about being humbled, experiencing forgiveness and redemption even when you feel totally unworthy, and about forgiving yourself, which is sometimes the most difficult thing of all.

What are your writing goals for this year?

I hope to finish editing my second Wildflowers of Scotland novel, “Blue Belle”, sometime before November so I can start working on the third, “Shy Violet”, for NaNoWriMo.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I enjoy letting my imagination run wild, and living vicariously through my characters. I enjoy working through issues in my own life through the characters in my books. I enjoy orchestrating happy endings and finding resolutions to crisis, and having control over what happens in my imaginary worlds.

Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?

I love Jensen and Anders in my first book, “Night and Day” – they’re the perfect couple even though it’s midnight in Minnesota and daybreak in Denmark. Miles apart, and an ocean between them, but so close in every way that matters…

What is your favorite scene from this story and why?

I love the scene where Rose is trying to find favor with the church ladies. Rose wants to spearhead a fundraiser to auction off beautiful, tastefully made quilts in fashionable colors, only to find that the church ladies have their own plan – their signature All-Inclusive Holiday Quilts, which include gaudy, mismatched remnants from every holiday from Christmas to Easter.  There is also a touching scene where Rose and Ian are dancing and Rose is wishing he was a little more wild and uninhibited instead of a conservative pastor that is one of my favorites.

How do you balance writing and everyday life?

This is my biggest challenge as a writer. I own a B&B and Tea House called the Blue Belle Inn in a small town in northern Iowa, and I’m a pastor’s wife and actively involved in his church, which is 1 ½ hours southeast of the Blue Belle. We maintain homes in both towns. It makes for a very busy lifestyle. I also love music and quilting and spending time with my nieces and family. It is a constant challenge to squeeze everything in in appropriate amounts.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

My husband and I both felt a deep connection to Scotland when we visited there in 2007. We have both said many times that we could be very happy living near Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull, one day. The colors, the food, the combination of sea, mountains, castles, beaches, cottages and gardens (and golf!), just called out to us. We felt instantly at home.

What is your favorite food to cook or eat while writing?

Well… I am supposed to be on a diet. Truthfully, if I opened this question up to include all foods I like to munch on, I would have to write a book… My favorite Scottish foods are Smoked Haddock Pie with a mashed potato roof, Cumberland Sausages with Mash, Caramel Shortbread, and (drum roll) Mr. Kipling’s Exceedingly Good Mini-Battenberg Cakes, all of which are mentioned in Wild Rose.

What don’t most people know about you but you would like to share?

I play the piano with a worship team that plays at different churches and love rocking out with the drummer and keyboard player.

What are a few of your favorite things?

1.  Days when I  can write, read, or sew all day long in my nightgown.

2.  Wednesday afternoon adventures with my nieces.

3.  Taking photographs and finding beauty in my own back yard through the lens of my camera.

Tell us about yourself:

Sherrie HansenTwenty-one years ago, I bought a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa so I could move home and be nearer my family. I rescued an amazing but very run-down old house from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Since then, welcoming guests, running the business and cooking wonderful food has consumed the largest chunk of my life.

Before that, I lived in Colorado Springs, CO, and before that, Augsburg, Germany. I attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and spent one life-changing summer in Bar Harbor, Maine. I grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota.

After 12 years of writing romance novels late at night when I couldn’t sleep (mostly because I was so keyed up from working 12 hour days at my B&B), I met and married my real-life, romantic hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. I enjoy playing the piano with the worship team at church, needlepointing, photography, renovating and decorating historic houses, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with my nieces and nephews.

I live in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and write on the run, whenever I have a spare minute. “Wild Rose” is my sixth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing.

Links (website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, book buy links, etc.):

http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenDecker,

http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/,

https://twitter.com/#!/SherrieHansen,

http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=24

Sherrie Hansen, Author of “Love Notes”

What is your book about?

Hope Anderson’s heart is finally starting to thaw. Tommy Love is treading on thin ice — he wants the only thing Hope has left.

For Hope, recreating the past — reopening Rainbow Lake Lodge and seeing it bubbling with families, children, and laughter again – means new life. It’s the only way she can honor her late husband’s legacy.

For Tommy Lubinski of Tommy Love and the Love Notes fame, Rainbow Lake means coming home — peace, quiet, seclusion — and a second chance at stardom. Once he’s bulldozed the lodge and built his dream house overlooking the lake, everything will be perfect.

Hope is sinking fast, but she’ll be fine if she can just keep her head above water until spring. Tommy’s troubles run a little deeper, but there’s no need to worry for now… Rainbow Lake is frozen solid. Or is it?

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

Tommy Love is a fading pop singer / songwriter who wants to write one more big hit (hip hop, to attract the new generation), and Hope is a widow of two years who is trying to reopen the family resort where her husband was raised. I loved writing Tommy Love. He’s irreverent and clueless and has a huge ego on the outside, but inside, he’s lonely and insecure and afraid of being a nobody again. Tommy grew up Tom Lubinski in a shack on the edge of Miller’s Swamp. In his mind, building his dream house overlooking Rainbow Lake will make everything okay again, and he’ll be able to write another hit song, and he’ll be unforgettable to a whole new generation.

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Baby-boomers will love Hope and Tommy. Hope is 38 years old. Tommy is in his late 40′s. Who doesn’t get to that stage of their life and on some level, think, it’s all downhill from here, the best is behind me. Except, in many cases, what lies behind hasn’t even been all that great… and you fear it’s too late to do anything about it, that you’ve used up all your chances, and that things can only get worse… Both Tommy and Hope are making one last ditch effort to carve out a legacy for themselves, to secure their future. Anyone who has failed at love or had their dreams dashed for whatever reason will be able to relate to the hope that somewhere out there, you might get a second chance.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I hope each reader will have their faith in miracles renewed. I’m a firm believer in second chances. I know from personal experience that God can take the most adverse scenario and make something beautiful out of it – in His time.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

My biggest challenge is finding the time to write. I own and operate a B&B and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn in Saint Ansgar, Iowa, am a pastor’s wife, a sometimes musician, and maintain 4 houses in 2 towns, an hour and a half apart. Life is crazy busy. But I love to write – have to write – so I find the time. I juggle as best I can and try not to let too many balls drop.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

I had my own second chance at real life romance and remarried after being single for almost 20 years. Whereas my first four books were fantasies about what could happen if I ever found love again, Love Notes is written with a firm belief that happy endings — miracles — can and do happen in real life. Love Notes is the first of my books written by a married woman. It will be interesting to see if my readers notice a difference in my perspective.

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Love Notes is my first Christian inspirational novel and certainly reflects some of my deepest beliefs about my Christian heritage. In other of my books, the main characters have been rebelling against the very faith Hope clings to in Love Notes. So yes, my Christian beliefs definitely color my writing, whether in shades of guilt or hope. In Love Notes, I love it that Hope’s strong faith is intact even though she’s lost everything dear to her, including her husband, who died in a tragic car accident. Tommy has everything a man could want, yet he is cynical and discontented and very short on faith. In the end, Tommy finds hope, joy, peace and love where he least expects it — as have I on several occasions!

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on a book that I started a couple of years ago after a trip to Scotland. It’s called Wild Rose. The main character is the pastor or St. Conan’s Kirk on Loch Awe. I’m loving the interactions between the church ladies and Rose, who is, well, a bit wild. I’ve also started a sequel to my first book, Night and Day, called Daybreak in Denmark. I’ve also got a great idea for a book set in the Florida Everglades and at a famous hotel on St. Pete’s Beach called the Pink Lady. It will involve gangsters, an heiress, and a 75 year old mystery.

What writer influenced you the most?

Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy Tacy books, set in fictional Deep Valley, Minnesota, my home state, greatly impacted my life as a young person. (Think Little House on the Prairie but set during the Victorian era.) Maud’s main character, Betsy Ray, longed to be a writer, and set the stage – really formed the expectation in my mind – that I would write a novel one day. The Betsy Tacy books are wonderful (and back in print thanks to Harper Collins). One of the guest rooms at my B&B is named “Heaven to Betsy” in honor of the tomes.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

When I was just starting to write, I went to a writer’s retreat at Glen Eerie, the Navigator’s castle in Colorado Springs, sponsored by Victoria magazine. Madeleine L’Engle (author of Newbery Award winning A Wrinkle in Time) was the guest speaker. There were only about 20 of us there, so our conversations were deep, meaningful, and intensely personal. Madeleine said that she got 27 rejection for A Wrinkle in Time before it was accepted for publication. Each time she mailed the manuscript out, she addressed a second envelope to a different publisher. Each time it came back, rejected, she would immediately put it in the second envelope and mail it off again.

Have you written any other books?

I wrote four other books that are published under the name Sherrie Hansen. My first book, Night and Day is set in southern Minnesota and Denmark and features a modern day internet romance, and old fashioned love story, and a hundred year old mystery. The Maple Valley Trilogy, Stormy Weather, Water Lily and Merry Go Round, is set in fictional Maple Valley, Iowa, and Red Oak, Minnesota. Each book features a special quilt, and one of three sisters, each of who has her own set of troubles.

Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?

I start the story, my characters finish it. Themes come to me as the book goes on, and often, when it’s totally finished. Sometimes I have to rewrite the beginning of the book, because by the time I’m done, I know the characters so well that I think they would never say or do the things they did at the beginning of the book.

Who designed your cover?

Lonnie Arnevik, a good friend of mine from Thompson, Iowa, designed my book cover. She’s an amazing artist, and a wiz with graphic design.

Where can people learn more about your books?

Love Notes was released on June 4 and is available at amazon.com, smashwords.com and http://www.secondwindpublishing.com. Or, you can call my B&B, the Blue Belle Inn, at 641-713-3113 and I’ll send you an autographed copy. You can learn more about my books at: http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenDecker, http://sherriehansen.wordpress.com/, http://www.BlueBelleInn.com / http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com, https://twitter.com/#!/SherrieHansen, and http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2870454.Sherrie_Hansen

Sherrie Hansen, Author of Merry Go Round

1. What is your book about?

Merry Go Round is about Tracy Jones Tomlinson, the youngest of three sisters in my Maple Valley trilogy. Tracy married her childhood sweetheart, is a minister’s wife, and has three lovely children. In the first two books, Rachael and Michelle’s mother brags about how perfect Tracy and her husband are. “Why can’t you be more like Tracy? Tracy never gives me this kind of trouble…” When Merry Go Round opens, it quickly becomes apparent that Tracy’s supposedly perfect life is anything but. When her husband leaves her for another man and she’s faced with moving out of the parsonage, she has nowhere to turn for help but to her older sisters. Rachael, her oldest sister, from Stormy Weather, is none too eager to help, and frankly, feels that it’s about time that Tracy gets hers. Tender-hearted Michelle, from Water Lily, wants to help however she can and offers Tracy a job painting and wallpapering the home of Barclay Alexander III, the owner of the house she’s decorating. Between Barclay’s critical parents, Tracy’s three kids, and a town full of people who are depending on Barclay to keep Elk Creek Woolen Mill open despite his father’s insistence that the factory be closed, there are all kinds of ups and downs in this story. The extreme changes occurring in Tracy’s life make her feel like things are spinning out of control and that all she can do is hang on for dear life.

2. How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

I think I wrote the book very shortly after the idea first came to me.

3. What inspired you to write this particular story?

I guess on some level, I’m like Rachael, Tracy’s oldest sister – I thought it was time for Tracy to “get hers”, to have to deal with her pride issues and becomes a real person instead of a perfect, plastic, Barbie doll character. People who have been humbled a little are so much more loveable.

4. How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

In a long ago life in a different place and time, I loved a man who turned out to be gay. I remember how it felt, and how hard it was to move on after I found out. I do need to add a disclaimer at this point, however. Like Trevor, Tracy’s husband, who is gay, my husband of seven years is a pastor. He is definitely not gay! The first draft of this book was written before I even met Mark and became a pastor’s wife. I think of all the sisters in my Maple Valley trilogy, I am least like Tracy. Maybe that’s why she was so fun to write!

5. Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

I love this book because it has several scenes that involve all three sisters from the Maple Valley trilogy, together in the same room, duking it out. I loved writing Rachael in this book because she gets to say things to her sisters that I never would. She’s very gutsy, and totally justified. I love it!

6. Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?

Barclay (Clay) Alexander III is very unlike my other heroes in that he is wealthy, and has a very distinctive plot line and character arc of his own. He’s trying to do the right thing by several different people, and try as he might, he can’t please everyone… anyone, or so it seems for a time. Clay is falling in love with the wrong woman, but she is so right for him that it is painful. He has the weight of the whole town of Maple Valley on his shoulders. When he finally gives in to his feelings for Tracy and lets himself indulge in a bit of selfish pleasure, the results are devastating. I have a lot of respect for Barclay and hope my readers feel the same although he is a much more complicated hero than most.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

I wrote the rough draft of Merry Go Round several years ago in about six months time, tabled the project for years, and then spent the last year re-writing and editing the book.

8. How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I always have a specific framework in mind, but the characters and plot details evolve and grow as the book progresses.

9. Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

I interview people when needed and look up details about places on the internet, visiting in person when I can.

10. How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I think my characters have very distinctive personalities, and in Merry Go Round, the differences in the sisters is very apparent when they’re all in the same scene, interacting with one another. I try to get into their heads and consistently think and act like they would.

11. Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

I pick my husband’s brain occasionally and I constantly ask the question, “What if…?”

12. How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

I have no idea! I just seem to know.

13. What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

A song we used to sing in my adult Sunday School class in Colorado Springs comes to mind… “Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up…” I think when we are prideful, and refuse to let people see our imperfections and idiosyncrasies, we make it very hard for people to know and love us. It’s our humanness that makes us loveable. When Tracy finally lets down her defenses, drops her perfect life facade, and lets people glimpse a little of what she’d been going through, she is lifted up and at long last, truly loved for exactly who she is.

14. Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

The subject of homosexuality and the church, nature or nurture, sin or not sin, etc. is a touchy issue for many right now. I tried very hard NOT to let this book become a forum for my beliefs and thoughts on the issue, but to accurately reflect the feelings, emotions and conflicts my characters go through as they struggle through the implications of Trevor admitting he is gay, and dealing with the ramifications to his children, extended family, and church. I have been told by my advance readers, whose opinions on the subject probably vary from mine, that I was successful — that they finished the book not knowing what I, the author, thought about the subject. I took that as high praise and hope other readers agree.

15. What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

The only struggle I seem to face with my writing these days is finding enough hours in the day to sit down and write. I own and operate a bed and breakfast and tea house and am a pastor’s wife. I maintain four houses. It’s a good, but very busy life, and when the day is done, I am often too exhausted to think.

16. Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?

I think each book that I’ve written has changed my life. I remember an episode of Star Trek, Next Generation, when Jean Luc Picard was swept away to live out his life on another planet. He eventually fell in love, married, had children, and learned to play a musical instrument. When his new world came to an end, he learned that he had never left the Enterprise, and that the whole alternate life experience had occurred only in his mind, in a few days time. I feel like that every time I finish a book. It’s like I’ve visited some alternate reality and lived the life of my character from start to finish, feeling what they feel and experiencing what they experience, when in reality, I’ve just been sitting at my desk, typing away. In a very real way, I think each book makes me a richer, more multi-faceted, more understanding person because when I’ve walked a mile (or a hundred) in my character’s shoes.

17. What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

When I first started writing, I was single and had been for almost 20 years. My life changed dramatically when I met my husband and remarried (in a good way, but still… it was a big adjustment!)

18. How has your background influenced your writing? How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. My upbringing and personal beliefs color everything I do and think. I have lived in many parts of the world, known many people and experienced many things. My writing is filtered through each of the things that have made me the person I am. Although my books do not fit into the Inspirational Fiction category because they contain some adult scenes, they definitely have a Christian world view which includes characters honestly struggling through issues of faith. The mistakes I’ve made and life lessons I’ve learned over the years have become fodder for many interesting characters and scenarios in my books.

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Click here to read an excerpt from: Merry Go Round

Click here to read first chapter of: Merry Go Round

Click here to buy: Merry Go Round