Thursday, October 27, 2011

At the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in St. Louis in September I had the honor of being asked to do a video interview with Andy Butcher and Dave Condiff to be posted on their website Author Corner. I was given the questions in advance so that I could be ready with my answers.

1.      These are the questions I was asked:
2.      What inspires you to write?
3.      What three books should everyone read?
4.      Who is the most influential person in your writing career?
5.      Describe a typical workday.
6.       Do you have a special message for Christian retailers?

As I read over these questions, the only one that gave me pause was number 3. The Bible was excluded from this list, so I began to think of books that I’ve read through the years. As I did, I came to a conclusion that it would be impossible for me to say what three books everyone should read. Some people read romance, while others can’t stomach it. I like suspense, but many don’t.

So, I decided to answer the question by naming three books that had an impact on me. The books I named (which are some of my all-time favorites) were The Stand by Stephen King, Exodus by Leon Uris, and And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer.

Of these three books, though, the one that really made an impression on me was And Ladies of the Club. This book is set in a small Ohio town right after the Civil War. The story revolves around the lives of the women in the town who belong to a ladies’ club. By the time the book ends, the reader feels like she knows every person in the town. Perhaps the author was able to pull the reader into the characters’ lives because she wrote the book over a period of 50 years. Young girls who you meet in the first pages are grandmothers in the end, and beloved characters have passed away.

When I began to read this book, I had to make myself keep reading. The beginning moves very slowly. Friends who’d read it kept telling me to stick with it, and I did. I was well past 100 pages before I was so hooked I couldn’t put it down.

Of special interest to me is the fact that Helen Santmyer published this book when she was 88 years old and living in a nursing home. It became a best seller and still is today. However, she didn’t live to see her book reach such an honored status. She died soon after publication.

This may not be the type of book you’d enjoy. But I must tell you, it helped me understand the different periods in a woman’s life. I experienced right along with the characters what they went through as they aged and passed through different seasons of their lives. If you enjoy really getting into the characters’ lives, you will agree with me that this book is a gem.

Do you enjoy books like this? Or do you prefer fast-paced books? I would love to know what you prefer.


  1. I read this book for the first time last year and absolutely loved it! I loved the characters. I loved that it spanned almost their whole lives. I loved that I learned history while I read. And I definitely love the history of the author and her writing journey.

  2. This one just got requested from PBS! I'd never heard of it.
    It'll have to wait until after Alabama Brides, though. ;)

  3. While I haven't read this book (I'm awed the author was published in her later years--goes to show never give up!), what makes me continue flipping the pages of a novel are strong characters that I can relate to.

    Great article--I'm about to spread news on Tweeter.

  4. I love hearing about a person's favorites....I am going to find Helen's book somewhere!! It sounds so good.(I have 3 to read by Sandra first!) Thanks for this post.


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