Hello everyone, today on the blog Author Donna Scofield will be joining us for an interview. Be sure to stop by her website, Facebook or Twitter to stay in touch! Her book, That First Montana Year releases today and you can get your hands on the e-book here or the paperback here. I definitely recommend checking it out! My review is coming soon. Without further ado, here is our interview.
Hello Donna! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, to start us off why don’t you tell us a bit about you and then a bit about your new book “That First Montana Year” – what inspired you to write it?
After visiting the area, I wanted to set a story in that part of Montana. The concept of homesteading has always interested me, and I thought the struggle of a young, innocent couple making a serious mistake and then working hard to make the best of it would illustrate their basic goodness and strength.
So tell me, how long have you been writing fiction? What other types of writing do you dabble in? I believe I saw that you write a column for your local newspaper, is that correct?
I’ve been writing fiction for about twenty years, beginning with a romance novelette published by Harlequin. I’ve been writing a column called “The Family Chuckle” for the Yakima, Washington Herald-Republic newspaper for thirteen years, giving me the chance to get even with my kids for long labor, stretch marks and gray hair. I also wrote an historic fiction/romance novel (fiction based on fact) about the life of my great-great-grandfather (1830-1926) who was a minister on the edge of the Ozark Mountains, and self-published it, titled Back Home. I’ve also written a chapter book for middle-grade schoolchildren, about two 21st century boys who time-travel back to 1850 and experience the trek on the Oregon Trail. Oh, yes…and a “cozy mystery,” and even tried my hand at science fiction. I’ve had some short stories and articles published in magazines, and written a children’s Christmas book for my grandchildren. I guess I’d have to say that I love writing in all its forms.
2.) How much of an influence would you say your Faith has on how you go about writing?
Mine is a quiet faith that has supported me through thick and thin. When our oldest son died at the age of twenty-six, it kept me going. I was raised in a very restrictive religion, resented it and rebelled, although in later life, when I re-found my faith, I appreciated the knowledge and grounding it had given me. In writing, prayer and meditation guides me over a rough patch.
3.) Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
I don’t really experience any long-lasting writers’ block, but I DO suffer from writer’s laziness at times. At those times, I devote myself for a little while in something completely different, like cleaning a closet or making homemade vegetable soup and peasant bread from scratch. Sometimes I just give myself a few days of vacation and come back to it refreshed.
4.) If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would you tell them?
Research your facts! I hate reading happily along and being jarred to a stop when a congregation in an 1850’s church is singing a hymn that I know wasn’t written until the 1880s, that golden age for American hymns. Or they’re picking blackberries in early spring, not late summer. Or their dialogue uses modern expressions that weren’t in use at that time. The internet provides facts about most anything a writer needs to know. Use it. (You’d be amazed at what kind of spam I received after I did internet research on 1800s methods of birth control!)
Also, I would advise that the aspiring writer finds a writing group to guide and critique. The group I belong to was invaluable to me when writing That First Montana Year. They found the flaws, picked up the pace, helped smooth the rough transitions.
5.) What has been the best part of having this book published? How about the most difficult?
For me, the best part is the excitement of knowing I’m going to see my book on Amazon, and on a shelf at an honest-to-goodness bookstore! The most difficult part has been trying to get my un-technologic self into the mode of using social media to help the book’s success.
6.) I always like to ask a few “fun” questions to mix things up – if you could have lunch with any one person, living or dead, who would that person be?
I’d love to have lunch with Erma Bombeck. We’d puritanically order the diet plate, but top it off with a banana split. We’d talk about our teenagers driving us crazy. We’d end by thanking God for the experience of loving that family, even as they drive us crazy.
7.) What do you like to do in your free time when you’re not writing?
My husband and I like to go on spur-of-the-moment jaunts, traveling until we’ve played through all the music CDs I packed (usually several days). I do some of my best thinking for writing on these little trips. I also love making special memories with my grandchildren (and now, great-grandchildren)…baking, making gingerbread houses, reading stories in a nest of pillows on the front porch, creating crafts. I do my best to make every holiday, especially Christmas, special for my family.
8.) When writing, do you prefer silence or perhaps some music playing in the background?
I like music playing in the background, but not always. My writing nook is a corner of the living room, so often there are family activities going on that are in the periphery of my attention. This doesn’t bother me unless I’m in a sticky writing problem.
Also, I’m a night person. I do a lot of my writing late at night when everybody’s asleep and our house is the only lighted one in sight.
9.) Do you have anything else you’d like to tell potential fans of you and your novel?
I hope they’ll enjoy my book. In writing, my goal is to create something that a mom can enjoy and hand off to her teenage daughter, knowing it’s wholesome. I don’t like to read bodice-rippers, and I definitely don’t write them. I think a tender romance beats the heavy-breathing kind every time. I hope my book shows that willingness to start over, to build on the positive things in life, to work hard, trust God and make Him your guiding force, can lead to happiness.