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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Spotlight on Marlo Schalesky and Beyond the Night


Marlo Schalesky is the award-winning author of six books, including her latest novel BEYOND THE NIGHT, which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist to create a new type of story. She has also had over 600 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson's Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on more "Love Stories with a Twist!" for Multnomah-Waterbrook Publishers, a division of Random House. She owns her own construction consulting firm and lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four young daughters.

by Marlo Schalesky
Published by Random House/Waterbrook/Multnomah


They say love is blind.

This time, they're right.

A poignant love story...

A shocking twist...

Come, experience a love that will not die.

A Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) type love story meets a M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) twist in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can't tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed.

Buy Your Copy Today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for your story in this anthology?

It was all God's fault. And it started with a dream. Not one of those "I have a dream" kind of dreams, but a real, honest-to-goodness, it's-3am-and-I'm-asleep kind of dreams. I dreamt Paul and Maddie's love story. And when I woke up, I couldn't get the two of them out of my head. I thought about them in the shower, on the way to seminary classes, in the grocery store. Everywhere! For weeks, I found myself replaying tidbits of their story in my mind, until I finally figured out that maybe God wanted me to write their story.

Two more days went by, and Paul and Maddie's story still kept teasing my mind. And then I saw it – the big twist. The incredible truth that I had no idea about before. It took my breath away. So, after I finished picking my jaw up off the floor, I sat down and starting working on the proposal for Beyond the Night.

As I fleshed out the story, I realized that this is exactly the type of book I'd like to keep writing – something with the poignancy of a Nicolas Sparks love story matched with the knock-your-socks-off twist of a M. Night Shymalan movie (without the horror). That kind of story excited me, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. And I figured that there had to be more people like me out there – people who want to be both moved emotionally and surprised and delighted intellectually. People who want to be changed, challenged, and caught with wonder by a story. And that's what I'm hoping Beyond the Night provides.

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

When my grandfather was going blind, he took a shotgun to the backyard and ended his life. So, Maddie's journey through blindness and fear grows out of my family's experiences. Maddie's condition is also a metaphor for the dark times we all face. For the difficulties that come and rattle our faith, for those times when we can't see what's ahead, when life is masked by shadow and doubt.

For Maddie, losing her physical sight prompted her journey through doubt and fear. For me, it was infertility and miscarriage. If there's one thing I know about it's living the life God has given you when it's not the life you dreamed. Infertility taught me how to do that. It taught me that life takes unexpected turns and dark, difficult times come. And it taught me that it's not the darkness that will destroy you, but the fear of it.

So, in many ways this book explores my own questions, my own doubts, my own faith journey in facing the darkness, facing fear, with hope and dignity. That's why it's is about overcoming the fear of the unknown, rather than letting it overcome you. It's about finding the light, the hope, the promise that lies beyond the darkness. And I think we could all use that, whether we're going physically blind or not.

As for what traits belong to only my characters, well, their quirky fun personalities, their humorous interactions with one another – those things are only theirs, they came complete with the characters I dreamed about – funny half-smile and all.

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

Funny thing is that when I first proposed this book, I thought it would be about the enduring qualities of real love. And that is part of it. But as I started to write, I soon discovered the story was really about overcoming fear – fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of getting hurt, fear of letting go – the kinds of fear that regular, not-particularly-fearful people still have to face in their everyday lives.

But the interesting thing was that as the story progressed, I began to see that overcoming fear isn't really about "getting up the courage'or trying to be brave. Not at all! What truly defeats fear is a glimpse of the breathtaking wonder of a vivid God. It's about the awe of knowing that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has risen to understand what God has prepared for those who love Him." (my translation from the Greek of 1 Corinthians 2:9).

Just as light drives out darkness, so fear is driven out by hope, and hope is found in God's amazing love.

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

The first few chapters are always the most difficult for me to write. This book was no exception. In those first chapters, I haven't gotten into the groove yet, and I usually feel like I'm still finding my way. In contrast, the last few chapters are always the easiest.

But for this book, my favorite parts were those in which Paul and Maddie "bantered" back and forth. Those two were just so much fun! They joked, they teased, they saw into each other's hearts. And really, all I had to do was sit back and listen...then transcribe what I heard. They did all the work! So, I had a good time with those scenes, and I hope readers will enjoy them as much as I did.

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

If Tomorrow Never Comes releases in March 2009 (whoo hoo!) and here's a bit about it:

They say you should reach for your dreams.

This time, they're wrong...

Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams—marriage, children, a house by the sea...everything they needed for happily ever after. What they didn't plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes.

Now, all that's left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until...

Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, and the threads of the past, present, and future weave together to reveal the wonder of one final hope. One final chance to follow not their dreams, but God's.

Can they embrace the redemptive power of love before it's too late? Or will their love be washed away like the castles they once built upon the sand? The past whispers to the present. And the future shivers. What if tomorrow never comes?

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Thank you, Marlo, for being in the spotlight with us.

Readers, leave a comment for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Beyond the Night.

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 or that it's available for viewing in your blogger profile. 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 US/Canada residents only.

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Cherie J said...

Great spotlight! Sounds like a great story,

Carolynn said...

Wow, this book sounds great, I would love to read it!

Carole said...

Thank you for this interview, and I'd really love to read Beyond the Night. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Pamela J said...

You CAN stand firm for Jesus but accept those related to you as they are, BUT it is not easy. I'd love to read this book and see real life, in story form, examples of this important characteristic we are all to develop in our life.
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

windycindy said...

Her interview was full of inspiration for me! The thoughts on fear and darkness in our lives is ever present, but we can overcome it with faith. Please enter me in her book drawing. Her combination of a love story with twists would be enjoyable to read. Please put my name in your drawing hat. Thank you, Cindi

Grateful Gramma said...

hmmmm.... Sounds interesting! Please enter my name in your drawing. Thanks!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

We have a winner for this drawing, and that is:


I have your information and your book will go out tomorrow.

NINE other drawing winners announced. Check out the posts on Rene Gutteridge, Vickie McDonough, Tina Ann Forkner, Donita K. Paul, Nancy Moser, Gayle Roper, Tamera Alexander, Allison Pittman and Sandra Robbins.

Thanks, as always, for your support.