With us today is Laura Hilton. Laura is a pastor's wife, married to her wonderful husband of over twenty-two years. They have five children. She homeschools, writes book reviews and authors her own books. She has two books published, Hot Chocolate and Shadows of the Past, and one devotional in a compilation published by Zondervan. To learn more about Laura, visit her at http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/.
Welcome, Laura! Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?
I always dreamed of being a writer. When I was in third grade my teacher assigned us to write a short story…my story wasn’t so short. And I was hooked.
How long did you write before you sold your first book?
Well, a long time. I sold some poems, and some articles, but the first book was elusive though I did come close a couple times.
Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?
This is one that a friend shared with me. She says she keeps a button beside her computer. And that it stands for “put your butt on the chair and write.”
Now for the readers…many times, it’s easy for them to connect with the characters in a book, but not so much the authors themselves. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.
I have five children, I currently homeschool three of them, and my two oldest ones are in college—along with my husband. I live in the country where it’s not unusual to see wild turkey, deer, red fox, or an occasional bear in our backyard.
Now that you are published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becoming published?
Yes, but most rejections now are letters that tell “why.” Not just form letters. Though right before I sold I started getting the “why” letters too. They are good because you can improve your story.
Tell us a little about your latest release:
Scattered Dreams...Becky Troyer has committed the ultimate sin, and finds herself on the edge of her Amish community. Jacob Miller believes he was sent to the Old Order Community in Missouri to help out a distant cousin. Instead, he discovers he was part of an arranged swap--sending men from his Pennsylvania district to the Missouri district to bring new blood into the Amish community. Becky dreams of marriage, but doesn't dare hope that anyone would choose her--not with her history. Can God use the lies that have affected Becky and Jacob to bring them together? Or will Jacob rebel and head home to his first love?
If you could only share one line from PATCHWORK DREAMS, which one would you choose and why?
Oh, that’s a hard question. Maybe: "There is only One with the authority to deny the right to love. And He refuses to do so."
When this appeared on my manuscript page, I just sat back and read it over and over. Wow! What a profound statement.
Writers often put things in their books that are very personal—like a funny story that happened to them, a spiritual truth they learned through difficulty, or even just a character trait that is uniquely theirs. Is there something in PATCHWORK DREAMS that only people close to you know is about you or someone you know?
Not really, though I have done that in the past. The only thing I really have in common with these characters is that like Becky I am quite shy, preferring to stay in the background. And I love to read. But spiritually, I think we all to some extent struggle with “I love God, but can He really forgive me for (insert sin).” Sometimes that is a lifelong struggle to move past that, even though we still worship Him, because we still believe that He keeps us on the outskirts of His circle due to that past sin.
Readers often talk a lot about the hero and heroine of a story, but today I’d like to know something about your villain. Does he or she have a redeeming quality? Why or why not?
Well, yeah, all of them need to have a redeeming quality. Even if its something small like they care for animals. So, I tried to make mine more realistic by giving them something, be it big or small.
What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?
Well, I went up to Seymour, Missouri, on a research trip. I went inside an Amish farmhouse (she was having an in-house bake sale) and interacted with the Amish in town. I also took tons of pictures (but not of the people, that is not allowed). I visited a lot of websites, but they didn’t have a lot there about the Missouri Amish, more about the Ohio or Pennsylvania Amish. I watched all the documentaries I could find on the Amish, read research books, and it gave me a great excuse to read all the Amish books on the market.
Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
I’m currently writing the second book in this series, which will be published in September 2011. It is about Jacob’s friend, Matthew.
The most common thing I hear when people learned I’ve published a book is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Faced with this statement, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?
Oh, I hate that question. Initially, I would try to encourage them to write, but I quickly learned that “I always wanted to do that” and actually WANTING to do that are two different things. If they wanted to do it, really, then wild horses wouldn’t stop them. They’d HAVE to write, even if its scribbled on napkins or scrap paper. So now I tend to smile and change the subject. Because really, what can I say? On the other hand, if they are truly just starting out, I would encourage them to write, and if they ask me to read what they wrote, I would try to give a gentle critique with lots of praise, so I didn’t discourage them. The harder critiques could come after they develop the mandatory alligator skin.
What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?
The question above this one! Especially as my husband’s aunt and a man at church both said the same thing to me recently. And I wasn’t sure how to respond.
Laura is giving away a copy of her book, Patchwork Dreams. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!