DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, May 27, 2011

One Stitch at a Time: Author Marie Bostwick

Marie Bostwick is an award-winning New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, and so very much more.

Marie worked in the bean fields of Oregon, sang and danced in musical productions, acted in TV commercials, taught religion to deaf children, ran an event-planning business, directed a medical mission for the poor in Mexico, worked as the scheduler for a U.S. Senator, and directed women’s ministries, amongst other activities. She's also been married for nearly three decades and raised a family.

Throughout, Marie has enjoyed one pastime in particular – quilting. She still participates in quilting bees, though now she takes her favorite chair with her.

Her debut historical romance novel, "Fields of Gold," was quickly followed by "River's Edge." But it was her third novel, which, I believe, opened a door that Marie probably won't ever willingly walk back through. Continuing in the WWII era, Marie wrote "On Wings of the Morning." In this story, Marie enlisted her heroine in the Women Air Force Service Pilots. The heroine wasn't just empowered, but surrounded by other women possessing great internal strength and character. Marie's heroine had backbone, and a whole army of women standing beside her.

Marie carried this theme to her acclaimed Cobbled Court quilters series. The initial novel, "A Single Thread," introduced the ladies of New Bern, and how tragedy and conflict sewed the group of quilters into a sisterhood of solidarity.

Now, in the fourth title of this series, "Threading the Needle" due out May 31st, the sisterhood is confronted with the difficulties of economic downturn and the ensuing destruction hard times can bring to families. More than ever before the ladies will need each other in order to quilt a future from ragged remnants, one stitch at a time.
Marie's Web Site

Q) "Fields of Gold" took four years to write. Then you discovered publication comes with deadlines. How did you cope with learning you only had months to write a second novel?

A) After I stopped hyper-ventilating, I asked my agent to get me more time. Originally, my editor asked for a second book in four months. I knew I there was no way I could write a worthy successor to FIELDS OF GOLD in that amount of time - I still couldn't. Having to deliver a second novel that quickly would have been a deal breaker for me. After a bit of negotiation, we agreed on a one year deadline. It was challenging but doable. That's still about how long it takes me to write a full length novel.

Then and now, I cope with deadlines the same way - by saying no a lot.

I love writing; it is my calling in life. But writing is a jealous mistress. For me, responding to the call to write often means forgoing other opportunities and activities that I might enjoy, guarding my calendar carefully, prioritizing my career, family, and community responsibilities and relationships, and only saying yes to opportunities or requests which fit those priorities.

Q) Your faith in God is unshakeable as is your ministry, and while you instill divine faith in many of your characters, you choose not to "preach" to your readers when you very easily could. Has that decision ever drawn conflict within you?

A) Not really because I'm clear about my purpose in life. I'm not a preacher - I'm a storyteller. My books often integrate questions of faith and spiritual focus because faith is so tightly woven into my everyday life. I suppose it comes under the heading of "writing what you know".

But, the biggest reason I write about issues of faith is because I think that is one of the major questions each person has to wrestle with in life, at least at some point. I work very hard to write books that are relevant to what actual people are actually dealing with. If you're writing about a character as a whole person, someone with feelings, choices, and experiences that ring true, the picture would be incomplete without some examination of the characters spiritual beliefs and struggles. Not all my characters reach the same conclusions in this regard - some embrace faith, some reject it, and some remain undecided.

Q) You once said you become "a new person" when you begin a new story. What did you mean by that?
A) When I began writing in a serious way, I was a corporate wife and a mother with three children living at home. Then two. Then one. Now it's just me, an indifferent cat, a very spoiled Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and a husband who travels a lot. It seems that every year, the makeup of my family and my corresponding responsibilities change. That requires me to adjust my schedule and writing rituals accordingly.

This year, I became a grandmother and so, once again, I'm a new person. I don't have to squeeze my writing into those few hours between school bus pick ups and drop offs anymore, but being a grandmother will definitely mean an adjustment in my writing habits and schedules. Making time to cherish and help nurture my grandson is a priority for me. I love writing, but it isn't my first love. That distinction is reserved for my family.

Q) While filled with many stories, you initially chose WWII as the setting for your first novel. Why?

A) It's just such a fascinating time period. What other period of time so clearly exposed the most noble and most despicable, even depraved, aspects of human character? If you're writing a novel, that kind of conflict between good and evil is rich soil for growing stories.

At the moment, I'm enjoying writing my contemporary stories but I imagine that one day I'll write another historical novel. When I do, I'll likely set it in the period between the wars.

Q) In "A Thread of Truth" you took on the issue of domestic violence. Why did you choose so early in the series to tackle a subject many readers don't care for? It was a gutsy decision.

A) This might sound crazy, or perhaps naive, but I don't think it every occurred to me that readers might back away from the subject of domestic violence. In Ivy Peterman, the heroine of A THREAD OF TRUTH, I knew I had a character who was compelling, complex, believable, and had a story that was relevant and thought-provoking. Those are the essential elements of a good book and I trusted my readers would embrace that. Fortunately, my faith in them was not misplaced.

That being said, it was a difficult book to write and one that stretched me personally and professionally. I had to do a lot of research and talk to a lot of people to be able to understand how smart, kind, caring women find themselves in these situations and why it can be so hard for women to leave violent relationships. I learned a lot while writing A THREAD OF TRUTH and I think those who read it learned something too. The most important thing I learned about domestic violence is that if we just keep pretending that it isn't there or that it isn't happening in our neighborhood, it will continue to flourish.


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