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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spotlight on Mary Connealy

It's Wednesday again, and y'all know what that means. I trust everyone had a blessed Easter, whether you were celebrating in church or having fun with the kiddies running around finding Easter eggs.

Today's spotlight author has recently had some fun with a few of her books as well. Learn about her below.

Mary Connealy's writing journey is similar to a lot of others. Boil it down to persistence, oh, go ahead and call it stubborness. I just kept typing away. I think the reason I did it is because I'm more or less a 'dunce' around people--prone to sit silently whenI really ought to speak up (or worse, speak up when I ought to sit silently).

So, I have all of these things I want to say in my head--the perfect zinger to the rude cashier, that you think of an hour after you leave the store; the perfect bit of wisdom when someone needs help, which doesn't occur to you until they solve their problem themselves; the perfect guilt trip for the kids, which you don't say because you're not an idiot. I keep all of this wit to myself, much to the relief of all who know me, and then I write all my great ideas into books. It's therapeutic, if nothing else, and more affordable than a psychiatrist.

Then a very nice, oh so nice publishing company like Barbour Heartsong comes along and says, "Hey, we'll pay you money for this 45,000 word therapy session." That's as sweet as it gets!


1. You've chosen the setting of the Klondike Gold Rush. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Golden Days is part of a three book series set in historical Alaska for Heartsong Presents. I was asked by a very kind, generous Cathy Marie Hake to be involved in this series. Cathy had picked the state she wanted to pitch to Heartsong and we brainstormed the books together so our characters are consistent. My book, Golden Days, is book two and Kathleen Y'Barbo is the author of book three. You can see that I fell in with such talented writers. What a blessing!

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Amy and Braden? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

I find myself writing heroine characters all that time that my opinion...nothing like me. Instead I think of Amy as being how I'd LIKE to be. So strong, brave, competent at everything they do. Vocal about how they feel and what they want. I spend my time spreading oil on troubled waters, I think. I'm very much the mom, "Now you kids quit fighting." Discovering characters is one of my favorite parts of writing. It always takes me a while to really get a handle on them in a three-dimensional way, but I enjoy the process of getting to know them. So even though the basic traits of Amy and Braden were there when I started, making her so angry about her father disappearing and making Braden fight his need to care for everyone, and at the same time he’s denying that need, he's going around caring for Amy 'Just This Once' was fun.

3. What themes exist in Golden Days that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

The basic theme of Golden Days is that waiting on the Lord, and doing things in God's time is the path to happiness. One of the basic scriptures in Golden Days is from Isaiah 40:31. "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." I love the promise of that verse, that to WAIT on the LORD will renew your strength. To WAIT on the Lord shall lift you up on wings as eagles. We are so focused on doing in this world that waiting seems lazy and wrong. But God’s promise is that, if you wait on his timing, great things will happen.

In Golden Days Amy is the one who pushes, refuses to wait. She heads for home before she's healthy. She has feelings for Braden before his grieving has run its course. She just can't wait. That feels wrong to her. She's been raised to care for herself and she has faith in God, but she also believes God expects her to take action, or rather she wants to take action and she isn't about to be patient, even if she feels God guiding her to wait.

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

For me the most difficult parts are also my favorite. I love creating complex scenes, lots of characters, lots of movement and dialogue. If possible I like everybody to be talking over each other, misunderstanding each other. I like their words to break in, in such a way that the sentence reads in a comedic way, like she starts a sentence, he ends it, they're both talking about different things and the combination of the words is a joke. And, if possible, others get that joke and they don’t. This is tricky. And it needs to be done with a lot of what I think of as wordsmithing. Going over it again and again, leaving it and coming back. Making it sharper. Making the dialogue and everyone's reactions sing. Trying to make sure it's written in a way that reader can follow but the characters maybe can't, and the reader needs to get all of it.

My favorite scene in the book is when a bear attacks. The lead up to this is chaotic and, I hope, really funny, then the bear makes it all worse. This was fun to write and I got it almost like I wanted it. But it can always be better.

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

Golden Days is my second book in 2007. My first, Petticoat Ranch is in bookstores now. I just signed a contract for a sequel to Petticoat Ranch called Calico Canyon. If you've read Petticoat Ranch, you'll know about the prissy schoolmarm, Grace Calhoune and the boisterous Daniel Reeves and his five unruly sons. This is the flip side of Petticoat Ranch. I dropped Clay into an all-girl family, now I'm dropping Miss Calhoune into an all boy family. Grace gets Daniel's boys expelled from school. He gets her fired. Through a perfectly innocent compromising situation they are married within twenty-four hours. No two people have ever been more unhappily married. It's got the same elements as Petticoat Ranch, historical western, suspense, romantic comedy, but it's more of a flat out comedy than Petticoat Ranch is. Calico Canyon is scheduled for release next summer.

Then I've got a fourth book coming Christmas of 2008. Of Mice...and Murder, from the new Cozy Mystery line Heartsong Presents Mysteries. Carrie hates mice and loves the big city. So why is she living in a huge mouse infested house in her dinky hometown? The dead guy in her pantry closet is the most interesting thing that's happened since she came home. Of course the carpenter who’s helping her trap her mice and solve the crime is pretty interesting too.

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Thank you, Mary, for joining us today. Looking forward to the sequel to Petticoat Ranch! Readers, don't forget to leave a comment for your chance at a FREE copy of Golden Days. And look in last week's spotlight for the winner of that book.


Mary Connealy said...

Hi, thanks for doing this interview. And congratulations on your engagement. I'm so happy for you.

Mary Connealy said...

It was a lot of fun to write. No matter how my books start out, they all turn into romantic comedies. That's just my voice, I suppose. It's what's fun for me to write.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the interview--thanks, Tiff and Mary!

God bless~Kim S.

Shauna said...

Ooh, I like romantic comedies. There's nothing like a dose of laughter and love to make the day better! :-)

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

Mary, thanks for dropping by. Wish I had been here to respond earlier, but what can you do, right? :)

This week's winner is....


Congratulations. I'll have Mary mail out your free book this week. Thanks to everyone who comments and visits. Your support is appreciated.

Cherie J said...

Oh wow! Thanks so much! It sounds so good. can't wait to read it.