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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spotlight on Bonnie Grove and Talking to the Dead


BONNIE GROVE started writing when her parents bought a typewriter, and she hasn’t stopped since. Trained in Christian Counseling (Emmanuel Bible College, Kitchener, ON), and secular psychology (University of Alberta), she developed and wrote social programs for families at risk while landing articles and stories in anthologies. She is the author of Working Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You; and Talking to the Dead: a Novel. Grove and her pastor husband, Steve, have two children; they live in Saskatchewan.

by Bonnie Grove
Published by David C. Cook


Twenty-something Kate Davis can't seem to get this grieving widow thing right. She's supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead she's camped out on her living room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep—because her husband Kevin keeps talking to her.

Is she losing her mind?

Kate's attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an "eclectically spiritual" counselor, then a shrink with a bad toupee, an exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate's fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past…and Kevin begins to shout.

Will the voice ever stop? Kate must confront her grief to find the grace to go on, in this tender, quirky first novel about embracing life.

Buy Your Copy of Talking to the Dead today!


1. This is your debut novel. Congratulations! What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Thanks so much! It’s an exciting time – I’m having fun with it.

My inspiration is difficult to nail down. In part, the story came out of my experiences as a counselor, sitting with people who were attempting to articulate their pain and distress who were concerned that what they were experiencing wasn’t “normal”. I’ve also been close to a few people who suffered debilitating mental illness, and been inspired and amazed by them as they struggle to maintain their life and dignity in the midst of chaos. What struck me about all of these situations was how, in the midst of mess, illness, pain, and loss, God was always present. He mingles with our humanity. And that is the story I wanted to tell; God in the midst of our lives.

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

Kate Davis is the protagonist, and she is very much her own person, but, like all writers, I hold great sway over how my characters see the world. I’m “in” my characters in bits and pieces, but it’s far more interesting to me to write characters that differ from me in most respects. For Kate, three things stood out as I began writing her. First was her strong sense of irony – this developed into a character who is socially and psychologically aware, but could still manage to find traces of humor and lightness even in the midst of dark circumstances. Secondly was her feistiness. Kate works hard to get her life back and just won’t give up until she gets the answers she needs – that tenacity pays off for her. Lastly, what stood out about Kate was her confusion. She keeps having these conversations where she gets lost in what was said and what wasn’t. She means to say one thing but ends up saying something else. I enjoyed writing those scenes because I think we can all relate to feeling confused sometimes.

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

Rocky Road, for sure. She walks a very rocky path in the book, but it is a road – a place that leads her somewhere. And there are a few nuts. It’s the perfect flavor for Kate.

4. Are there any themes in Talking to the Dead that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the stories progressed?

My tag line is: Life is Messy. God is Love. I’m endless fascinated by God’s grace – the ways He finds us and shows us our deep need for Him. Everything I write is an examination of some facet of God’s interaction with humanity.

The concept of prevenient grace runs through the book – the idea that God is active and involved in everyone’s life regardless of what they believe. This is evident in Kate’s journey, but it also shows up in the lives of all the other characters as well.

There are many other themes running through the book. Somatic experience of emotion, our tendency toward avoiding pain rather than understanding it as having a role in healthy grieving, the power of our minds over circumstances, and more. Lots of goodies to sort through for those who would like to.

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

I don’t know about calling them “difficult”, but I tend to write emotional scenes more slowly than scenes dealing with, say, action. Scenes involving expressions of love, sorrow, hope, healing, that sort of thing, tend to come in drips of words and sentences rather than a flow. The emotional expression of characters is important – so I linger on these scenes, sometimes for a few days.

My favorite is when glimmers of humor soak through the story. It’s been my experience that no matter how difficult one’s circumstances get, if you can see a way to have a laugh, even for just a moment, it makes the journey bearable. Laughing is my favorite past time, and writing stuff that makes me laugh is a hoot. There were many times writing Talking to the Dead when the humor soaked through.

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

My next book is scheduled to release June 1, 2010. I don’t have a title for it, but from the beginning I’ve fondly referred to it as Gabby Well’s The Musical! It’s all the fun and drama of a musical without the singing. Or dancing. Or music.

It’s the story of a woman who finds hope in the ‘red words’ of the bible but her life is then thrown into chaos when she is framed for murder. She goes on the run, trying to find the real killer, all the while looking to the red words for help and hope.

* * * * *

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

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

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

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.


Anonymous said...

Great interview! I'd love to be entered for the chance to win this book!


Aik said...

The title sounds interesting! I'd be so happy if I'm this week's lucky winner!

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

The book cover really attracts my attention...and the story seems interesting. I'm in!


Anonymous said...

I'd love to read this book. So, please count me in. Thanks!


Linda W. said...

Yes, I'd love to win this book. Please enter me in the drawing.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Nice interview. The book sounds good.

13rubberducks [at] gmail [dot] com

Carole said...

This book has great reviews and I'd love to read it. Thank you so much for the giveaway.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Anonymous said...

Your book sounds like a good read. I enjoy when humor is in the midst of a serious situation...that is real life. I would love to be entered in the drawing. Rose

harnessrose [at] yahoo [dot] com

Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! And good luck!

Edna said...

Hi everyone, please enter me to win a book, I need a new one to read, may God bless


Carolynn said...

Sounds like a facinating book, I would love to read it. Thanks for the chance to win!