Today's interview is with Diane Craver, a fellow Jewel of the Quill. This week I was interviewed on her blog. That's a cool bit of reciprocity.
1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
I write in several genres. I've written chick-lit mystery, inspirational romance, women's fiction, and historical fiction. And my historical fiction happens to be my latest release, A Christmas Gift, which makes me feel old. The girl in this story is based on me as a child. When I told my daughter, I couldn't believe it was considered historical fiction, she said, "Mom, it wouldn't be considered contemporary."
2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
I chose to write my first inspirational romance, No Greater Loss because I enjoy reading this type of romances. Next I wrote women's fiction, then a chick-lit mystery and etc.
3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
I'd like to try writing a time travel romance sometime. I am not interested in writing erotic romance.
4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
I read a variety of fiction for pleasure. I might get on a mystery binge, then switch to romances. I enjoy reading both contemporary and historical romances.
5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
I've been married to the same wonderful guy for thirty-five years. We live in southwestern Ohio. We were blessed with six children - five daughters and one son. Two of our daughters were born with Down syndrome and live at home with us. They are wonderful but can be challenging, so we try to get away for a day or two once in a while by ourselves. In the spring and summer months, I have a seasonal job scoring tests that students hate to take.
When our oldest daughter Sara was a toddler (she's 34 now), I started writing nonfiction. I wrote a partial book, Born to Love about her. I never finished it because no book publisher was interested in the story, but I did get a few magazine articles out of it. One was in Virtue magazine, one in Down Syndrome Today, and a few other publications. In 2001, my first short book was published and later I switched to writing fiction. My first inspirational romance was published in 2006. I've also been published in Woman's World and have several articles on writing published at WritersWeekly.com
6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That's a tough question to answer but Whitney Benson is probably one of my favorite characters. She is the youngest sister in my contemporary romance, Whitney in Charge. She's a former New York producer and moves back home to take care of her ill mother. I can relate to Whitney because she's the youngest sister and has two older sisters. I happen to have three older sisters so it was fun to write Whitney in Charge with older sisters playing matchmaker to their little sis.
7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
I have villains in my books. For example, my villain in A Fiery Secret is the murderer. I did a lot of brainstorming first about this villain so once I started writing my mystery; it was easy to nail this character. Sometimes an evil character in my books might become a different person by the end because of a faith-changing event.
8. What are you working on now?
I'm working on a story about a father and daughter, both teach at the same college in Virginia. The father is anxious for his daughter, Lexi, to get married and give him a grandchild. Lexi thinks her father needs to move on with his life. Her mother died three years ago on the way to the bridal shop to pick up Lexi's wedding dress. I also have started an inspirational romance series that I'm excited about.
9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
My latest release is A Christmas Gift. It released this past November. I had thought of writing a story about my father for a long time. His life was hard with his mother's rejection at a young age so he was raised by various relatives. Some homes were better than others, because he stayed at times with an alcoholic uncle. Even though both parents deserted him, he had a deep faith and was able to be a good father to me and my siblings. I wanted the young daughter to be the one to help her dad with his disability. I thought it fitting that she could make him believe that his obstacle could still be overcome at his age. In turn, he gives her a beautiful gift that comes from his heart.
10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.
A Christmas Gift was published under the title of The Christmas of 1957 in 2001. With a new title and new material added, I submitted the new version to Whimsical Publications last spring and was happy to receive a contract for it. I love the new cover. If you look closely at it, you'll see a subtle angel at the top of the book cover. The prologue and epilogue are written in an adult POV by Debby Reeves while the rest of the story is told by seven-year-old Debby. Although some of it is based on my childhood experiences, the characters and story line are fictional.
Here's a short blurb for A Christmas Gift:
Justin Reeves is a man who has it all: a good job, a loving wife and children who are the center of his universe. Justin also has a secret he's hidden from everyone his entire life or so he thought. Quite innocently his small daughter, Debby, stumbles upon his secret and is shocked by what she finds. She confronts her father with the awful truth, and together they embark upon a journey which takes her father from the darkness of shame into the light of victory.
Here is the beginning of the prologue from A Christmas Gift. Happy Reading!
It was 1957 when I saw something that I wasn't meant to see. I have never forgotten this night because it had such an impact on me. I was only seven years old, and what I saw my father doing confused me. Finally, I had enough courage to ask my mother about it. After she explained everything to me, I was shocked and saddened.
What happened after I learned my father's greatest secret was extraordinary to our family. When my father, Justin L. Reeves, decided to conquer an overwhelming disability in life, he was fifty-four years old. He gave our family an incredible gift to last a lifetime because of what he accomplished at this age.
His triumph made me into the woman I am today. My three older siblings were able to make the best decisions of their adult lives because of our father's influence.
This is a story of determination and hope. My father's journey was not easy. But if it had been easy, I wouldn't be telling his story now. After you finish reading this book, I pray that the true meaning will linger in your heart and mind; just as the outcome of my long ago memory has remained in my soul for fifty-three years.
My name is Debra Reeves Cunningham, and I am sixty years old. It's not hard to take you back to the beginning in 1957 when I was seven. My life was good and simple. My memories of this wonderful year are crystal clear. We lived on a farm with eighty acres outside of Findlay, Ohio. My petite mother, Lucille, worked hard doing whatever needed to be done on the farm. She was a big help to my dad when it came to dairy chores. With no milking machines, they milked seven cows by hand in the morning and again in the evening.
My siblings didn't help with this time-consuming job. My oldest sister, Gail, was twenty-five and lived at home, but not by her choice. Whenever she mentioned moving to an apartment, our mother insisted that wouldn't be proper for a single woman. Gail worked as a secretary at the impressive Ohio Oil Company in Findlay. She always dressed in pretty clothes and went out on dates all the time.
My brother, Carl, at the age of twenty-one was in the Army, and he hated it. He wrote me the best letters. The past summer, we all traveled in our blue Mercury car to visit him in North Carolina.