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  • Release Date: Oct 1, 2009
  • Publisher: Bethany House
  • Pages: 316

Things Worth Remembering Q & A

Why did you write this book?

Perhaps nothing can make us emotionally healthy and profoundly happy more than or better than deep and sweet relationships. Likewise, few things are as sad as the loss of those relationships. Things Worth Remembering is just one more look at these two life-altering dynamics. In my world view, the outcome of fractured relationships depends on how willing mere mortals are to let God’s infinite and unconditional love motivate and guide them.

I taught college students for many years. More than a few of those students were deeply hurt by a parent’s choices. A few stories I heard broke my heart. Those stories played a part in my inquiry into these issues.

Too, my husband and I have often discussed the issue of faithfulness or lack of it. He has always maintained that affairs (emotional, physical, or both), are ridiculously unfair, a self-indulgent fantasy where the players are always lovely and amusing, which is easy to pull off when one is not bogged down with the essential but often mundane business of life.

Some situations are more understandable than others, but any kind of affair keeps us from addressing relationship and personal problems or from finding significant and fulfilling outlets when boredom sets in.

I imagine certain personality types and backgrounds make some people more susceptible to the kind of unfaithfulness described in Things Worth Remembering, but my husband and I have also discussed what constitutes unfaithfulness, believing the answer to be quite broad. Are we any less faithful when we give all of our time and attention to our jobs or hobbies than when we lavish it on another person? Is unfaithfulness involved when we take away someone’s self esteem in any number of ways or rob someone of “becoming”? And so on—

 

How did you develop the initial story idea/plot line for this book?

While teaching, I had occasion to hear a story about a daughter who was deeply affected by her mother’s unfaithfulness. So I wondered: We are assured that we can find reconciliation with our God, but can we find it with mere mortals as well?

I “dreamed” most of the essentials before I began writing. I knew (“created”) Kendy’s history with her mother and father, I knew how deeply she and Maisey loved each other, I knew most of the details of the indiscretion, I knew about the baby and the depression that follows his death, I knew about Kendy’s reconciliation with her husband Luke and with God, and I knew how all of it would end.

I wanted to keep the present action in the time frame of the wedding week even though that meant many of the most poignant scenes were back story. So I began. Once the first scenes were written, I began the process of asking, “What happened next?”

 

Did you encounter any interesting challenges while writing/researching for this book? Please explain if so.

Only the pain that I assume most authors feel when writing about something so sad.  My heart hurt. Often I wanted to quit writing. But there were such lovely scenes too, scenes I was thrilled to write.

 

Did the book involve special research? Please explain if so.

Not really, but I have been asked what enabled me to present the complex emotions and relationship of Kendy and Maisey with such realism. I can’t account for it completely besides saying it is the dreamer in me.

I am the mother of two daughters who have given me great joy. As I say in my dedication, my daughters are my beloveds. So I know well the kind of love Kendy and Maisey shared, and I could imagine Maisey’s horror and anger and misery when she quietly happened upon her mother and Clay in an “indiscretion,” and I could imagine Kendy’s sorrow when everything changed between her and Maisey, though she was not aware of why.

All of that struck me as so sad. Maybe I could imagine it because of my older daughter’s temperament. After she was in college, she said in a casual conversation that if her dad and I had broken up for any reason, no telling how she would have reacted. She was pretty sure she would have been so angry that she would have acted out or even left home. She would have considered our leaving each other or hurting each other a loyalty issue. I understood what she was saying, but all these years later, the irony strikes me, that if that had really been her response, that would have been a loyalty issue as well.

This is a complex story where many issues converge. I could write it because I’ve lived a long time, observed a lot, read a lot, thought a lot, and inquired of the Lord a lot.

A seed of knowledge or understanding becomes the fruitful crop of story when imagination cultivates and nourishes it.

 

What is the underlying theme/message of the book? Is this what you set out to write?

Mankind’s need for forgiveness and the need to forgive—we don’t have to live long for both of these to become essential for a joyful and peaceful life of love. My wish is that a transference will be made, that the audience will contemplate many different things for which we need forgiveness, many different things we need to forgive. Yes, this is what I set out to write.

 

What is the take-away message you want readers to receive after reading your book?

That we are, as Luke says, “children of dust.” We are not God; we make mistakes. But the “unfailing love” of God covers us with the righteousness of Christ. His love is “wide and long and high and deep,” and life is good and relationships are restored when we can begin to love as he loves.

 

Almost every author puts a little of themselves into their stories-what did you put of yourself into this one? (personality traits, life events/jobs, settings, characters based on people you know, likes/dislikes, etc.)

Paula and Jackie are good friends to Kendy and Maisey. They are not unlike Willa, Audrey’s friend in my first novel, Tender Grace, or a character in a novel I’m working on now. I have wonderful and supportive friends that provide a basis for creating such characters.

I know and admire a lot of school teachers. I taught children’s literature and some of that may have shown up in a scene or two.

We once had a next-door neighbor, an older gentleman, who hid gum for our young daughters in a bush outside their backdoor and told them Jahooty did it. That always tickled them, and me too.

I kept a baby journal and a secret high school journal for my daughters, who are only nineteen months apart. They loved them.

My older daughter and her husband ministered to two churches in Indiana. I found the countryside and the city of Indianapolis charming.

A piano teacher at the college where I taught always mesmerized me when she played in concert. I described her in a concert scene. That is art; that is worship, Kendy told Maisey. That’s what I always thought when I heard my friend play. (I took piano for too many years, and I assure you, I didn’t have the “spark” Kendy mentions.)

One time Tony took his beloved bird dog Bandit to the vet. Early the next morning, the vet called and said, “What do you want me to do with this collar?” Tony was in shock when he came into the bedroom and told me how the vet broke the news to him that his precious dog didn’t make it. We’ve laughed about it since, so that became a joke in the book, used differently, of course (and overlooked by everyone but me probably).

My daughter Stacey miscarried her second baby. And while we were terribly sad, she did not go into a depression. The hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” sustained us. Later though, several years after a second child was born, she dreamed there were three children playing on the swing set in the back yard—her son, his younger sister, and a little boy in between their ages she hadn’t seen before. She cried and cried in the dream, realizing who the little boy was and longing for the middle child she did not have. We often wonder if God sends my stoic Stacey dreams to work out her grief. Also, a fertility specialist told my younger daughter Leanne she would never have children. Though she has three now, two of them birth children, I could imagine Kendy’s grief and depression when she lost her baby boy.

No doubt there are more examples, but these give you an idea.

 

What stands out about your characters? Do any of them embody unusual personality or physical traits (autism, physical handicaps, etc.)?

No, they’re your average, every day people with lovely traits to celebrate, frailties to overcome, and problems to face.

As a rule I tend to see and celebrate people’s strengths and forgive their weaknesses (for weaknesses are common to mankind). I’m sure someone will accuse me of creating characters who, in the end, are just too nice (though some will likely have less sympathy with Maisey than I have). I’m handicapped as a writer—I know too many delightful people.

 

What are the setting and time period of your book? Are any real streets, towns, cities, physical structures, or landmarks used? If so, what are they and why did you choose
them?

I set it in the country, near the city of Indianapolis, as I said, because my daughter lived there for a time and I found the area charming. My tendency is to set things in the here and now not only because I can’t remember what things were like even five years ago but also because I’ve discovered I like the here and now. Even though I love to read historical fiction, it is contemporary fiction I want to write. Or maybe it is what I can write.

 

Are there certain writing techniques (point-of-view choice, tense, flashback, etc.) you used to achieve a specific purpose or effect? If so, what did you use and why?

I’m so glad my editors at Bethany House embraced my desire to tell the story in the framework of the wedding week and that they very much liked the first person narrators. They were glad I didn’t shift to third person for Maisey’s scenes, that I let both Kendy and Maisey speak. I enjoyed it, too. Of course, there were many flashbacks! Many. I know that was a risk, but I tried to write them as though they were happening, and I think the flashbacks worked. I hope readers feel like they’re putting together a puzzle. I like to think all the pieces are there.

 

Why is this book/story relevant today?

Are you kidding? So many people, including Christians, are tempted by some form of unfaithfulness. Sometimes it’s a physical affair, sometimes emotional, sometimes it’s a male/female friendship that pushes the envelope, diminishing our most precious relationships.

We hear of it all the time. People sort of lose their minds.

And we are so deceived. This is how Kendy puts it:

It is a sad, stupid, pitifully common story, though the Father of Lies presents it to soul after soul as unique. Luke has always disliked any movie that venerates unfaithfulness. He absolutely hated The Bridges of Madison County. I, on the other hand, thought it had some poignant moments.
I no longer think so.

In another scene Kendy wonders what “deficiency” allows such a thing. To answer that question adequately would require an essay, maybe even a book. Things Worth Remembering reveals a few of the causes and deficiencies.

 

What makes your book different than others like it in the market?

I’m not sure. There must be hundreds of books about mother/daughter conflict, and hundreds more about unfaithfulness. The problem in Things Worth Remembering centers around the need for forgiveness and the need to forgive, which may set in apart. I think the title itself reminds us to think on things that matter most-that there are things to dwell on and things to let go of, and that emphasis may set it apart from many others, too. Tackling the issue raised in the great psalm makes it different: “Against you, you only, have I sinned.” And what makes it different from some books dealing with this subject is that it is ultimately positive. I think God wants to turn our negatives into positives and will if we let him. I love Matthew 12:20—“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Emmanuel came and revealed God to be a compassionate healer.

 

What points do you believe should be emphasized in the promotion of your book?

What makes us do what we do? What price do we pay for bad choices? How do we survive the consequences of bad choices? How do we thrive despite them? I’ve wrestled with these questions.

 

In your opinion, what special markets does your book have?

I would say this book should appeal to a broad and general audience, anyone who isn’t antagonistic to a Christian world view. It might also be used in counseling people who have been hurt by someone they love deeply. Novels are often enlightening in a non-threatening way—an audience can do with it what they will.

 

What type of relationship do you have with your readers? Are you interactive, how often do you interact with them, are you accessible to them, etc.

This web site provides some accessibility. I’ve also been a speaker for 28 years and still do speaking engagements as time permits. When I speak anywhere, I’m generally perceived as very open and friendly (and most erroneously, energetic). People have said when I speak, “I’d love to live next door to you!” Boy, would they be disappointed! My girls smile, knowing how private I really am. But I hope to have a good relationship with readers, and I’m already inquiring of the Lord and others how I can be “out there,” but also have time for my personal pursuits and for my family. My web site should help (so far I’ve been able to answer every note and will try to keep that up). Some personal appearances should help as well.

 

You have thirty seconds to pitch yourself to a radio host for an interview; what do you tell them?

I have loved being a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and grandmother. I have also loved being an English teacher for 31 years, though I’ve had a few students who have thought working at Taco Bell or being a prison guard would be more rewarding, and certainly more fun. They were wrong, of course. I have also been a speaker and non-fiction writer for 28 years, and recently I have made trips to two incredible missions in Cambodia. And now God has brought me to this place: the writing of fiction. It has been an act of faith and an incredibly stimulating pursuit. There is nothing quite like story to spotlight truth and to beckon an audience to ponder it.

 

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