Thursday, June 23, 2011

Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by. She believes in Jesus, the power of the written word, and a good cup of coffee. She and her husband have four adult sons and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren.

Welcome, Carla! Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?

I had dreams of writing a book when I was a child. I even acted on my dream and wrote a steamy (to me eleven-year-old mind anyway) romance which I sent to a Hollywood studio. I envisioned that it would be a movie starring Richard Chamberlain and Sandra Dee. When I didn’t hear back, I turned to more practical dreams – being a stage actress or the wife of a wealthy rancher. Actually by the time I was 14, I had decided to become a nurse, which is what I ended up being.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

7 ½ years. But it took another year and a half before I held my first published book in my hands.

Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?

Don’t be afraid of being unique and writing the book of your heart.

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’m a coffee fanatic (although it’s half decaf nowdays) and every day I sit in my recliner with my miniature daschund, Zelda, beside me and write. I’m a fan of Michael Buble and still get pretty excited about the old tunes from the fifties and sixties. Doo-Wop anyone?

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?

So far both my contracts have been with the same publisher, so story rejections haven’t come recently. That’s not to say I don’t have even more insecurities than before I was published. There’s always the fear that no one will buy my books or that I will get bad reviews. Most of that is not something I can control, so I have to trust that God is in control of the big picture and pray that He will use my writing to touch lives. And I’m constantly reminded that it’s not about me. And yes, friends and family still look at me like I’m more than a little strange.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Broken Wings is the story of an unlikely friendship between two women who become dependent on one another as they each go through difficult situations. It’s a “framed” story so a good part of it is nostalgic and told as flashback which dovetails with the contemporary story. Here’s the back cover copy:

Onstage, the singing duo of Gabe and Mitzi Steiner captured America's heart for more than two decades. Offstage, their own hearts have throbbed as one for sixty years. Only now, Gabe has retreated into the tangles of Alzheimer's, leaving Mitzi to ponder her future alone.

On the other side of Tulsa, everyone believes Brooke Woodson has found the perfect man--a handsome lawyer with sights on becoming Tulsa's next District Attorney. If only Brooke felt more sure. If only her fiancé could control his anger. If only love didn't come with so many scars.

When an accident lands Brooke in the hospital where Mitzi volunteers, the two women quickly develop an unlikely friendship birthed by providence and bathed in grace. And with Mitzi's help, kindness, and insight, Brooke learns how to pick up the broken pieces of her life.

If you could only share one line from BROKEN WINGS, which one would you choose and why?

Mama never told me where she’d been that night, but it was a peculiar fact she left that red dress behind.

This is the last line of the prologue, and the red dress foreshadows what happens later. Part of what I wanted to show in the story is how our past is part of who we are and how we react to life.

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 your book that only people close to you know is about you or someone you know?

In my debut novel, CHASING LILACS, one of the meals the Tucker family has is salmon patties and macaroni and cheese. This was a frequent combination when I was growing up, and later I served it to my own family. One of my sons picked up on it in the book. I didn’t write it intentionally, but it’s a part of me that just came out on the page. Others have said they hear my voice on the pages. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

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?

The villain in Broken Wings is an abusive attorney. He’s successful and respected in his industry, plays Scrabble every Sunday with an elderly widow, and of course, he’s stunning to look at. What he does is inexcusable, though, so I showed his wound that caused him to be abusive.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?

I visited the Jazz Depot in Tulsa which is home to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. I read articles and books about the intriguing jazz culture in Tulsa. I already had a folder of material on Alzheimer’s so I reviewed it, researched current articles, and relied on my past experience as a nurse to bring the character to life. The hardest part of the book for me to write was the abuse thread – I studied the personality types of victims and abusers and used the DSM-III (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). In the back of Broken Wings, I give links to websites for both Alzheimer’s and domestic abuse.

Alzheimer’s link:



http://www.thehotline.org/ or call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I recently signed a new two-book contract with FaithWords. I’ve just turned in Stardust, a story set in 1952 in East Texas during the height of the polio epidemic. I’m waiting (with breath held) on my content edit. I’m brainstorming and working on the early chapters of a “girlfriend” novel which will release in 2013. Honestly, though, I work as much, if not more on marketing! Parts of it I love . . . other parts, not so much.

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?

Join a writing group and read books on craft. Don’t wait until you think you’re “set” to start writing. What you’re writing will become infused with the craft as you practice. Also, I think it’s a good idea to follow your gut and write that which is burning inside you. Agents and editors want fresh voices and yours might be the one they’ve been waiting on. That said, you have to follow some guidelines and know your genre and what is acceptable and what is not. It’s an ever-changing process and a noble calling. You asked specifically about books, but writing for magazines and anthologies like the Chicken Soup books are also a good way to dip your toes in the water. And those publishing credits are like gold on your writing resume.

What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?

I can think of several that I wouldn’t answer, so thank you for being discreet. :-)

The question about balancing my writing life and personal life always stumps me, so I’m glad you didn’t ask it. My answer? What personal life???? Really, I have to put reminders on my calendar for everything! Then I forget to look at my calendar.

Thanks, Lisa, for having me on your beautiful blog!


Great to have you, Carla!

To learn more about this author, find her at
http://www.carlastewart.com/
On Twitter:
www.twitter.com/#!/ChasingLilacs
FaceBook:
http://www.facebook.com/carlastewartauthor

And be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win a copy of Broken Wings by Carla Stewart!

3 comments :

  1. Thanks, ladies, for having me on your great blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're so sweet, and your book is wonderful! Interviewing you was our pleasure, Carla.

    ReplyDelete

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