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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Spotlight on Maureen Lang and My Sister Dilly

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MAUREEN LANG has always had a passion for writing. She wrote her first novel longhand around the age of ten, put the pages into a notebook she covered with soft deerskin (nothing but the best!), then passed it around the neighborhood to rave reviews. It was so much fun she's been writing ever since.

Eventually Maureen became the recipient of a Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America, followed by the publication of three secular romance novels. Life took some turns after that, and she gave up writing for fifteen years, until the Lord claimed her to write for Him. Soon she won a Noble Theme Award from American Christian Fiction Writers and has since published several novels, including Pieces of Silver (a 2007 Christy Award finalist), Remember Me, The Oak Leaves, and On Sparrow Hill. Her most recent release is My Sister Dilly, a contemporary women's fiction (with a touch of romance!.

Maureen lives in the Midwest with her husband, her two sons, and their much loved Lab, Susie. Visit her Web site at www.maureenlang.com.

MY SISTER DILLY
by Maureen Lang
Published by Tyndale House

ABOUT THE BOOK

Hannah Williams couldn't get out of her small hometown fast enough, preferring the faster pace, trendy lifestyle and beauty of California's Pacific Ocean coast.

But when her sister makes a desperate choice that lands her in prison, Hannah knows she never should have left her younger sister behind.

She learns she can never really go back, only to accept the forgiveness God has already extended —to both her and her sister. She only hopes she hasn't learned it too late to keep the love of the man she risked leaving behind.

Buy Your Copy of My Sister Dilly Today!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

My sister-in-law told me about a friend of hers who had recently been sentenced to a number of years in prison for trying to take her disabled daughter's life—and then trying taking her own life as well. She failed on both attempts.

I was horrified, as anyone would be, especially since this woman was someone my sister-in-law knew personally. A nice person, she said, so helpful to others, and above all such a good mother. So how could something like this happen? Since my sister-in-law and I both have children with disabilities, we experience on a deeper level some of the elements involved with such families—how hard it is on the primary caregiver, usually the mother. Still, how could a mom let herself get so desperate as to try such a thing?

As my sister-in-law told me some of the details, I recall thinking almost immediately that this could be developed into a compelling novel. Not one that I wanted to write, though. The idea absolutely scared me. But the longer I thought about it, the more I felt God nudging me. Maybe, since I'm also a mom to a handicapped child, I was supposed to write it.

But I didn't want to tell such a serious, depressing story. I realized almost immediately that I needed a buffer—another main character without such a dark past. That's how the sister element entered. And of course a romance would have to play a part. Romance can lighten just about anything, and my core belief in that notion didn't let me down.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that are theirs and theirs alone?

As I mentioned, I'm the parent of a child with a disability (Fragile X Syndrome) so I came to this story with my own experiences in that arena. The child in My Sister Dilly suffers from a seizure disorder and cerebral palsy, more medically challenging than my own son. Still, I know how easy it is to isolate, to stay home, not to burden our friends or family with our child's unpredictable behavior.

I also have two sisters, so I know little about how sisters can be. The best intentions of helping can sometimes feel like a battle for control, even when there's a solid foundation of love and affection.

But I'm the youngest of the sisters in my family, so Hannah as the oldest and the main protagonist really is her own character. As far as Dilly's experiences, I've never known the kind of desperation she must have felt (praise God for that!). So while everything my characters think, say and do is filtered through my experiences, their stories are definitely their own.

3. If one of your characters were an ice cream flavor, what he/she be and why?

Oooh, what a fun question. And I just found a new flavor by Edy's that I think would fit Dilly. She sweet, a little naive, and wishes she could please others. So her flavor would be Take The Cake, with vanilla because she's a down-home sort of girl, but with the added sweetness and youth of cake, frosting and multi-colored sprinkles.

Now Hannah, the older sister, is a little trickier. She's not so sweet, because she carries a chip on her shoulder. So I guess she would be chocolate chip ice cream.

4. What themes exist in My Sister Dilly that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

There are two main themes I hope to convey—the most important being that Christ's work on the cross covers every sin, no matter how heinous. God loves us no matter what we've done, what we've been tempted to do, or mistakes we've made. And two: isolation is never a good thing, and we shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. Or afraid to give it. We were made to live in community with others.

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

There were actually a number of things I found difficult to write in this book. Right off, I wondered if I could sympathetically portray a character who'd tried to kill her precious child. I didn't even want to visit that part of her life, let alone take my readers there. And even though I knew it would be backstory, it's still part of who this character is. Bringing out a sense of guilt would help, but there had to be more. That's when it seemed obvious to me that the thing she wanted most—to be reunited with her daughter—couldn't happen, at least not very easily.

Another thing that was difficult might not seem like it should have been. This story is set in a small town. I've never lived in a small town. However, my husband grew up in such a setting, and even though it made research easy because I get to visit such places when we see his family, it was intimidating to think about getting the details right. I didn't want to let my suburban upbringing show by getting the small town tone wrong. Plus Hannah had intentionally left behind the small town life. So how could I portray her character's disdain for rural Illinois without offending everyone who lives in a small town (including so many people I love)? It was a balancing act, that's for sure.

As far as my favorite parts...well, true to my romance-writing heart, any scene with Mac was just downright fun.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

My next book will release next year around September (also from Tyndale) and is the beginning of a series taking me back to the First World War. This time the setting is a small town in Northern France. I'm having so much fun with it, mainly because there is plenty of angst and conflict. I'm actually just starting the revision stage, which is a favorite part of the writing process for me.

To give you an idea of the storyline, the hero is a wealthy young adventurer of the early 1900's who decides it's time to grow up and become responsible—and quite possibly a hero—now that war embroils his chosen home in Europe. But when Belgium and Northern France are overrun by the German Imperial Army, he discovers he's too late to volunteer his services. The reality is he must either hide or be captured—or even killed as an enemy combatant.

When he takes refuge in a small town church, he knows he must find a way to escape occupied territory and stop endangering the people who've been hiding him—especially the woman he's grown to love. Yep, there's definitely a romance in there!

Thanks for having me, Tiff!

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Thank *you*, Maureen, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of My Sister Dilly or any other book of Maureen's. If you prefer one other than the one featured, please state that with your comment.

If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post. Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname dot.com/net). Wouldn't want you to miss out on winning a book. :)

And if you want to make certain you don't miss anything, check the box that says 'email follow-up comments to:' when you leave a comment and they'll be sent to the email address associated with your blogging account. That way you'll be notified of any comments and will know when I announce the winner.

This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.

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15 comments:

Jessica said...

Wow, I didn't realize what the book is about, even though I've heard of it. It sounds great.
Please enter me.
jessica_nelson7590 AT yahoo DOT com

btw, I love your website and how the woman sits at the top. I'm going to keep you on my favs in case I decide to get a website soon.

ChristyJan said...

This sounds like a very emotional story ~ I'd love to win a copy.

hawkes (at) citlink.net

Bonnie said...

I've read My Sister Dilly -- and it's amazing in it's ability to allow the reader view the life of a parent of a disabled child. I'm a parent of a disabled child as well and I struggle daily with the knowledge that I'm in my own little world.
I don't need a free book -- just wanted to voice my support for Maureen's writing!
Bonnie

Filomena said...

I´ve read two books of Maureen, and with the comment of Bonnie I´m ansious to read this one too. I don´t find them in Portuguese but I order them in English. I´m her biggest fan in Portugal.

Filomena

Jennifer said...

I would like to win a copy of your book. I have not read any of them yet but am looking forward to as I have heard how wonderful they are.
Jennifer

Carole said...

I have read The Oak Leaves and was very moved by the way Maureen handled the genetic disability theme. She is on my favorite authors list and I would love to read My Sister Dilly. Thank you for the giveaway!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Debra St. John said...

Maureen, I still can't get over how beautiful this book cover is! May you have much continued success. God bless!

windycindy said...

I enjoy Maureen's books very much! Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks.....Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Carolynn W. said...

I would love to read this book! Thanks for the chance to win:)
carolynnwlad[at]hotmail[dot]com

squiresj said...

This book sounds very interesting. I have never read any of your books but going to have to. God Bless and annoint you as you write for him. May every book be used to inspire and uplift others.
jrs362 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Maureen Lang said...

Just wanted to stop in and thank those who've stopped in so far. I'm so grateful for the enthusiasm! I also wanted to thank Amber again for having me. Keep those comments coming!

kalea_kane said...

I really appreciate the message of the story about God's forgiveness. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to write some aspects of the story. This looks like a wonderful read. I am not enterring though (I put it on my Christmas wish list for the hubby). Thank you so much for a great interview!

Grateful Gramma said...

New author to me too but I'd like to read this one. Please enter my name in the drawing. Thanks!

Martha A. said...

I would love to win this! I love Maureen's other books and I am sure this one will be good too!
martha(at)lclink(dot)com

Tiff (Amber Miller) Stockton said...

We have a winner from this drawing and that is:

Jessica!

Congratulations! I've emailed you for your mailing information so we can send out your book.

Others, check out the interviews on Sally John, Donn Taylor, Virginia Smith, Andrea Boeshaar, Sandra Bricker and Golden Keyes Parson to see if you've won.

As always, thanks to everyone for your continued support.