A visit with Linda S. Clare
Today I’m happy to post a Q & A with Linda Clare. She’s the author of The Fence My Father Built, a beautiful story of faith, family, and Native American heritage. I enjoyed the book very much and I look forward to reading more from Linda.
How did you become a believer? By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. I was a rebellious no good hippie who took awhile to get with the program. God wouldn’t let me alone! I finally surrendered.
Are there some ministries or issues that are of particular interest to you? Helping the poor is one I love, but so far I seem to be too poor to help anyone else. <G> I’m also interested in disability issues but Joni is doing such a great job there, I’m not much help.
When and how did you first realize you might be a writer? I was a sickly kid, always had to stay home with respiratory problems in the winter. My great-aunt was a typing teacher and mailed this enormous black Underwood typewriter to me. I’d sit on the edge of my bed and type poems and stories, which my mom dutifully submitted to Children’s Highlights. I didn’t get published but I was hooked.
What other careers have you pursued? I was a teacher in public and private schools—started as an art teacher, moved into classroom and even directed a preschool. Now I teach writing at the college level. How have they affected your interests as a novelist? When my kids were little I wrote a lot about kids, for kids. You can’t be raising four kids, let your house be a daycare for a bunch more and not have kids on the brain 24/7. At least I couldn’t.
Who are your favorite nonfiction authors? Your favorite novelists? Too many to list, but I love mainstream and women’s fiction. And I’m starting to appreciate a good romance. And are you a poetry reader too? Huge poetry reader. In fact several of my first sales were poems. My first byline was a poem that I sold to the Denver Post newspaper when I was 17. These days I love Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and a good friend named Collette Tennant, whose little book Commotion of Wings, is fantastic.
The Fence My Father Built is a poignant story that deals with tough family issues. Are parts of the story drawn from your own family history? Yes, in that I did not know my bio dad growing up. I searched for him and we met when I was 42 years old. But unlike the novel, my real dad is alive and well and living in Chino Valley, Arizona.
How did you come up with the title? A friend said that the fence was what the book was all about. I said, “hmm,” and retitled it, which also gave it this double metaphor that made the whole story more meaningful.
What’s the most important truth you hope your readers will hang onto after they’ve read the last page of the story? That no matter what you struggle with or how bad your life seems, your Father loves you and is watching over you.
What’s your favorite part of the process of writing a novel? The discovery phase, which for me comes when I’m doing the first revision, of a depth of the characters who have slowly opened up to let me see into these lives. I start out very excited about a story idea, then get frustrated if I don’t know everything about the character. The process of learning exactly who I am writing about comes slowly, as in real life relationships. When I start to grasp that character’s deepest needs, wants, shortcomings and joys, then I feel honored to be the writer of these fake people’s lives.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard? Writing is rewriting.
If you’re the type to keep favorite quotations or Bible verses posted near your computer, can you share one or two of them with us? My verse is Micah 6:8 : He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you But to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God? (NAS)
Would you like to tell us what you’re currently working on? I’d so excited to share that I’m working on another story about Native Americans. This one is called A Sky without Stars: Lakota Star Quilt and is for Abingdon Press again, probably in a year or so. It’s set in the Arizona desert. A Lakota woman, Franckie Chasing Bear, and her young son Harold, relocate to Arizona to start over after Harold’s father was killed in a barroom fight. Franckie’s afraid Harold will lose his heritage and is making a Lakota Star quilt to help him when she meets a handsome part-Lakota man who works for the BLM. He’s got a faith Franckie can’t understand but that intrigues her. She’s torn between the past and the future as she struggles to keep the old ways alive for Harold without getting trapped in the past herself.
Where can readers learn more about you, The Fence My Father Built, and your other endeavors? I hang out mostly at my blog, Linda Clare’s Writer’s Tips, and I have a Group, and a Fan Page on Facebook. I do Twitter too and Linked In and Branch Out, all at Linda S. Clare. C’mon over for almost daily writing tips, book reviews and giveaways and the occasional bit of news. I’d love to learn more about what you’d like to see in Christian fiction, how the books you read impact your life and anything else you’d like to discuss. Thanks to Meg, for inviting me over. She’s been a guest on my blog and will be appearing there again.
BIOGRAPHY: Linda S. Clare grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and taught art as well as elementary school in public and private schools. She has published four books, including her debut novel The Fence My Father Built (Abingdon Press 2099). She has won several fiction awards, teaches college writing classes and works as a mentor and editor. Her husband of thirty-two years and their four adult children, including a set of twins, live in Eugene, Oregon, along with five wayward cats, Oliver, Xena Warrior Kitty Paladine, Melchior and Mamma Mia!
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