What inspired you to write Insight?
Insight began as a spark of an idea when I heard the first few lines in Elvira’s voice. Writers say this all the time but it’s actually true. I knew right away that she was in a rural setting, a baby was about to be born, and that the bulk of the story would be post WWII.
To show how ideas combine, my mother’s brother, Clifford Rasmussen, was killed in WWII, Royal Canadian Navy, Seaman First Class. His ship was torpedoed and all crew lost at sea. There is a family story I heard growing up that always gave me shivers. One night my grandmother sat up in bed in the middle of the night, awakened by a flash of light and a loud noise. She felt as though she were swaying, woozy. She glanced at her bedside clock and the green illuminated hands showed 2:00 a.m.
This, according to the family story, was the exact day and time her son’s boat was torpedoed. Weeks after my grandmother’s sleepless night, the uncle I never met was declared missing in action. I still have the telegram.
My grandmother’s faith got her through that loss but I always wondered how it felt to lose someone so young and vital, someone missing in action forever. So those first few lines in Elvira’s voice led to the seed of the idea, mixed with that family detail, although much altered, and Insight was born. From there, the characters led the story and I let them do what they needed to do.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
First and foremost, reading fiction is entertainment and a good story should stay in your heart because you enjoyed it and if there was something just for you on those pages, then that’s a bonus.
I have always said that Insight is a love story that shows the depth, insecurities, misunderstandings, and joy of all kinds of love, including the love of God.
Love is not perfection. Love just is.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I think there’s a little bit of me in all of them. I’ve been lonely like Elvira, had moments of clarity like Jessie (although not in a “seeing” way), and struggled to understand aspects of life as Connie does. I’ve had impatient feelings as Grandma portrays in the story and I’ve felt the hand of God urging me on as the preacher does. That said, the story is complete fiction. I believe that writers use bits and pieces of human nature picked up from every acquaintance; habits, quirks, beliefs, philosophies, and personality characteristics encountered.
In Insight, there is alcoholism and since I did not grow up in a family dealing with the disease I had to interview adult children of alcoholics in order to ensure that the details of a character growing up in an uncertain environment were consistent and truthful, yet also conveyed compassion
What character intrigued you the most as the author? And why?
I think I was most intrigued by Jessie as she developed and as her seeing capabilities came to light. I needed her to be sweet and likeable and believable yet also become an object of internal conflict for Elvira, through no fault of her own. Jessie is such a strong character I had to be careful that she didn’t take over the story so she was probably the most difficult to write.
Do you have any novels in the works? Goals for future projects?
I’m currently working on two projects; another historical fiction called Three-Penny Poet where the main character in the untamed Chicago of 1933 is forced to confront mental illness in his family, and a futuristic YA that explores faith in a skeptical world. In the future I’d like to switch gears and work on contemporary humor for middle grade, which I expect will appeal to my sarcastic side.
If you could co-author a book with any author who would it be?
This is such a difficult question because there are so many authors I admire. To name just a few: Richard Peck, Gary Schmidt, Jennifer Donnelly, Lois Lowry, Jane Yolen, Gary Paulsen, Sharon Creech, Karen Cushman, and Katherine Paterson. And seven thousand others. Each of these authors has done so much for children’s literature.
Right now, though, I think I’d have to say Newbery Honor author, Kirby Larson. Not only is she one of the most pleasant individuals on the planet, she is an amazing writer and her research for historical fiction is impeccable. Plus we both like mocha lattes.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
It’s Never Too Late (to write a book, see the world, make art, fall in love, join a church, learn something new, show a little kindness, sing and dance)
If you could travel back in time and meet yourself as a 10 year old what advice would you give her?
“Even though you have just entered a new school in a new country, take heart and meet challenges head-on, ignore that teasing, and find your place, because some day all of this will be material for a book.”
If you could live in any book which one would it be?
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I love Meggie and I really want to see those fairies.
What is your favorite quote?
“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”
Thank you for stopping by Book Flame.
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