17 September 2006

Interview with Mary DeMuth

Today we get a glimpse of Mary DeMuth's new book, Wishing on Dandelions, the sequel to Watching the Tree Limbs (see review of book here). Here is the back cover copy:
God says I love you in many ways, some of which are hard to hear. Maranatha needs to hear God’s voice. At seventeen, Natha admittedly has some trust issues. Though the abuse by a neighbor boy has stopped, Natha is anything but healed. Now her best friend has left for college, the trials of dating have begun, and God, ever since he spoke to her underneath the pecan tree years ago, has remained elusive. So when brash Georgeanne Peach blows in to take over the only place that’s ever felt like home, leaving a trail of peach fabric swatches and cloying perfume, it’s easy to understand how something like a little ol’ tornado might not be a big deal. Like every teenager, Natha tries to sort out the confusing layers of love—of friends, of family, of suitors, and, desperately, of God. Natha struggles to find herself before she gives in to the shadow of a girl she used to be in this moving follow-up to the critically praised Watching the Tree Limbs.
I was able to interview Mary DeMuth about this new release.

What is your vision with this book? What inspired you to sit down and write this story?
Maranatha kept talking to me!!! She wanted her story to be told beyond her nine years. So when I started writing the book, I knew she'd be seventeen. I wanted to show how an abuse victim deals with life as an adolescent. And I wanted the reader to know she had grown up a bit. When I sat down to write the story, I had a picture in my head of Maranatha riding her bike down this long Farm to Market road away from Burl toward a burned out house. She was riding with a frenzy. You can read the first chapter of the book here.

How did you go about researching both the character and the setting for this series?
There's a little bit of Maranatha in me (I think all our characters have bits and pieces of us inside them), so I pulled from myself as well as watched other girls her age. The setting came from an experience my husband and I had in East Texas. We moved from Seattle to East Texas, where he was going to set up a department in a hospital. And it was a cross-cultural move for us. At my first church potluck, someone asked if my ham and bean soup was possum stew! Oh my! So, as a detached observer, I absorbed a lot of the culture of East Texas. That served me well when I decided to write the book.Anything special you would like to say about Wishing on Dandelions?It's a love story, on many levels. A love story with a romantic twist as well as a love story between Maranatha and God. I feel it's a better written book than Watching the Tree Limbs, and I pray its impact would be far-reaching.

Tell us a little about your publishing journey.
I've written since 1992, mostly in obscurity. I got my start writing a for-profit newsletter for several years, which branched into formatting and editing several church newsletters. After doing that about ten years, I started working toward real publication. I started selling articles here and there. I found a writing mentor. I attended conferences. I went to monthly critique groups. I became a newspaper columnist. All that happened within two years. Then I went to Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference after I'd completed my first novel. By God's surprise, I met the person who would eventually become my agent. I sold two parenting books (Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God, Building the Christian Family You Never Had) before selling my fiction. I still believe it's a bit miraculous that my fiction ever sold.

Has being published conquered writing insecurities or do you still struggle at times (if you struggled at all)?
It certainly does help. The thing that gave me the most confidence was reading the Publisher's Weekly review of my first novel-a starred review! I cried! Publisher's Weekly is the industry standard for recognizing good writing, so to hear them say lovely things about it made me realize that I actually am a writer and that there's something to this gift God has given me. I still have insecurities. Writing fiction is just plain hard. Selling it is even harder. I write edgy stuff, and publishers are a bit freaked out by me. So, I'm also venturing out to the ABA, hoping my books will reach a wider audience. I still get rejected all the time...

What is the hardest part about writing (or being a writer)?
The extra time it takes to become a marketer and a publicist. It takes so much time. And having three books out in one year nearly killed me! (Just kidding, but it was a LOT of work!)

What is your main piece of advice for aspiring writers?
BOC. Bottom on chair. Stick your hiney in the chair and write, write, write. You won't improve if you don't do the time.

What are your favorite books or authors?
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd


Gina said...

Great interview! Can't wait to meet you at ACFW!

relevantgirl said...

Thanks so much for hosting, Heather. YOu ROCK!

L.L. Barkat said...

I've got the hiney, got the chair, and got the glue... thanks for the candid advice, Mary. And, thanks to Heather for taking the time to post it!

Jennifer said...

Great questions and answers. Thanks Heather and Mary. My copy of Wishing is on its way to me now!!

Beyond Words said...

Great interview! Perfect timing! This week I've been tempted to stop writing fiction--believing my plate is too full. Three nudges from God: your blog, Karen Hancock's blog, and Isaiah 32:9--"Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice;
you complacent daughters, give ear to my speech."

I assume "rise up" is a literary device, and for me, it means "keep your hiney glued to the chair."