Friday, 5 October 2007

Interview with Sharlene MacLaren

Sharlene MacLaren has captivated readers with her delightful historical romances set in Little Hickman Creek, Kentucky.

I am giving away three copies of Shar's latest release and there is still time to enter ~ click
here and leave a comment.

Here are Shar's thoughts on numerous topics, starting with:~

On writing...

Please share some of your writing/publishing journey with us

This has been an interesting journey for me! I didn't actually start writing until the year 2000 and just three years before retiring from a teaching career. Since then, I've published five books and am currently working on my next 3-book historical series. All honor and glory go to my Heavenly Father who planted this seed of passion in my heart.

Why Christian fiction?

Well, I am determined to write fiction that makes an impact on my readers, touches their emotions. I think nothing reaches the soul quite like Christian fiction.

What kept you busy before the writing bug bit?

I retired from 31 years of school teaching in the spring of '03. I taught 2nd grade for 28 and 4th the remainder of the time. Loved it all the way up to my last day!

What project or book are you working on now?

Currently I am working on my next 3-book historical series with a West Michigan setting, 1903. The research has been quite fascinating for me, especially since this is my stomping ground. The series is entitled The Daughters of Jacob Kane. Each book will bear one of the daughter's names, beginning with the eldest, Hannah Grace.

What does a regular writing day look like for you?

Sadly, full of distractions. There are days I volunteer in the church office and in our local school. My mother is in her final stages of Alzheimer's, so I need to spend time with her as often as possible. Then there are the day-to-day chores I never seem to finish, weekly small group Bible studies with couples from church, a mentoring program I'm involved in called Apples of Gold in which an older woman teams up with a young mom or newly married woman. We meet weekly. In between all this busyness, I try to make time for writing. Writing is something I truly need to focus on, yet so many things keep me from doing it. At times, I grow extremely frustrated, trying to figure out how or what I could pare down to make more time.

On Sarah, My Beloved...

Your stories are character driven ~ how do you create and name your characters?

I love to build characters that show emotion, weakness, and sheer humanness. How I do that is somewhat of a mystery even to me. I've read so many books that lack depth and dimension and, frankly, bore me to death. Unfortunately, those books go unfinished. And so as I write, I aim to keep my reader turning pages. One thing that accomplishes that is building interesting characters, keeping plots moving, and adding twists and turns the reader doesn't expect.

What was your favourite scene to write?

Well, I've been known to say I love love, so I guess as I write, I enjoy working up to that pivotal point at which the main characters begin to see each other in different lights. To me, that first innocent, experiential, maybe even awkward, kiss is one of my favourite moments, and I think the same rings true in Sarah, My Beloved. Here were two people married to each other in name only, striving to remain unmoved by the other's presence. But then one night--in a moment of weakness--that first kiss transpired. I think my heart was racing about as fast as it did when my husband kissed me for the first time. Hahaha!

You have written historical novels and one contemporary one. Do you have a favourite genre?

I truly enjoy both genres, but for now, my heart is into writing historical. We'll see how I feel a few years from now.

If this series was made into a movie, who would you cast?

Oh, my goodness. I love Ann Hathaway. (The Princess Diaries) She has such a classic beauty. As for male characters, I haven't a clue. I'm not too “up” on my movie stars.

What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader?

As always, my hope, aspiration, heartfelt desire, and deepest prayer is that God will speak to my readers through my “feeble” words. I long for hearts and souls to change because of reading one of my books. I love it when a reader takes the time to write and tell me what an impact some little sentence or inserted Bible verse made on their life.

Emma Browning is my favourite character and she has her own story, Courting Emma, releasing next year ~ a sneak peek please?

Oh my! Courting Emma may well have been the hardest of the three books to write. Not sure why that is exactly, but sometimes it felt like pulling teeth! However, in the end, I think it became my favourite. As usual, love prevails. But getting there was the agonizing part. Not so hard for one of the characters, nearly impossible for the other. You'll see when/if you read it just what I mean by that.

On matters personal...

Do you read Christian fiction yourself? If so, some favourite authors or books both Christian and/or secular?

I think my all-time favourite Christian book was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. This was a heart-wrenching read. I shed tears!!! But then I punished myself by continuing to turn the pages. Oh, it wreaked havoc on my heart. But what an amazing read, one of those books that makes you sigh with great relief and something like awe when at last you close the book on the final page. In secular fiction I always loved LaVyrle Spencer, although she's now retired and most of her books have ceased circulating.

What are you reading at the moment?

I have just completed the full 8 (or was it 9) book Mitford Series by Jan Karon. I'm taking a breather and trying to decide what's next. I have a huge pile of “must-read” books.

Favourite movie and favourite line from a movie?

This may seem particularly odd to many, but it was my fifth wedding anniversary, and hubby had whisked me off to Chicago for a whirlwind weekend. We went to the opening night of Tootsie. I fell in love with Dustin Hoffman's twin characters as he played both a man and a woman. It was a movie that touched me in many ways and to this day, I remember it with such fondness, maybe because it was a special time for hubby and me.

Favourite line??? Oh, it has to be from Jerry McGuire when she held up her hand in that halting fashion and said, “You had me at hello.” Even now, just thinking about it, I got that sweet little squeezy tug at my heart.

Who inspires you?

If you read the dedication page on the inside cover of Sarah, My Beloved, you will discover exactly who inspires me most. My darling, precious, sweet and romantic husband.

You have two daughters and you counsel other young married woman. As a mum of three young girls, any advice?

Love them unconditionally, teach them scriptures, live your life so they'll see Christ in you (not always easy, by the way), and pray with them every chance you get. Oh, and don't forget to laugh with them til your sides hurt!

Please share some of your faith journey...

I've been a Christian since I was a teenager. I grew up in a loving Christian home, but didn't make my faith my own til I was almost out of high school. Every day since has been a journey of ups and downs, joy and discouragement, laughter and tears. But in every day, I've known God's awesome presence and felt His power at work in my life.

Some essential Aussie questions...

When/if you make the trip Down Under what do you want to see first? A platypus or a koala?

Most definitely a koala. They're so adorable. I think a platypus is strange looking and a creature I'd prefer to view only from a distance. But what about a kangaroo? I wanted that to be one of my choices. What must it be like to live in a country where kangaroos roam the land? I can't imagine driving down the highway and happening onto one the way we Michiganders happen onto deer, one of which my husband rammed into just last week and totalled his car.

Barrier Reef or Uluru (Ayers Rock)?

Barrier Reef for sure and here's why--I've never heard of Uluru.

You are visiting Australia ~ do you say yes or no to some vegemite on toast?!

I say yes, of course! I'll try about anything once. I've heard it's quite delicious, but something you have to acquire a taste for, which probably means it comes nowhere near tasting as good as chocolate, right?

Any last words?


Thanks Shar for spending time at RelzReviewz ~ it has been a pleasure. I look forward to hearing about your future writing plans :)

To read my reviews of Shar's books, click on the titles below:~

Loving Liza Jane

Sarah, My Beloved


ausjenny said...

Thanks Shar for the interview i really did enjoy reading it. and am impressed you would try vegemite.
look forward to reading your books.

Sharlene MacLaren said...

Hi, Jenny! I have some very dear friends, Troy and Jenni Beer, who live in the Brisbane area. They swear by Vegemite and were quite disappointed to learn they couldn't find it anywhere in the states when they lived here for a year.

Thanks for posting!

Love and Hugs,

ausjenny said...

Oh i can understand how they would feel. i just went on my first overseas trip to Hawaii then Canada and i took some with me for the ladies to try and an extra for a friend of my friends who comes from Australia and was really missing it.
I would also suffer without it.
and thanks for replying also.

Anonymous said...

hey. hope i didn't miss this one! i saw the review last week but obviously didn't read carefully enough as missed the giveaway! :P please enter me :)

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