Before I get to this morning's interview, I want to take time out for this message. Some of you commented that you'll be bookmarking our blog and visiting often. Thank you! If you don't know already, there is a simple way to do this with services such as Bloglines It's free, and once you sign up you can go to one Web page and see all your blogs listed. It will even tell you which ones have been updated since your last visit.
Okay, now on with today's post!
I split this interview in two parts. The second part, if you missed it, will appear on Saturday.
Ann Tatlock is a novelist whose books have received numerous awards, including the Christy Award, the Silver Angel Award from Excellence in Media, and the Midwest Book Award for General Fiction. She has a master’s degree in communications from Wheaton College and spent five years as an editor with Decision magazine (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) before leaving to pursue fiction writing full-time. She and her family make their home in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Welcome, Ann. You are the first interviewee to appear on PASTimes.
Tell us a little about your road to publication.
For quite some time it was a very long road that appeared to be headed nowhere. Between the time I started writing my first novel to the time I saw my first novel in print (which was actually the seventh or eighth novel I wrote), there was a stretch of 13 years. I kept writing stories and putting them aside in the belief that they weren’t good enough for publication. And they probably weren’t. Neither was I ready to be a published author. Both the person and the product needed to be refined through perseverance, patience, and plain old hard work. Not that I have attained perfection, as Paul would say (far from it, in fact!), but God knew when the time was right for me to get connected with an agent who, in a matter of months, secured my first contract with Bethany House.
How would you describe your stories? Is there a recurring theme that you are drawn to?
My stories, for the most part, are simply about people and the human condition: relationships, forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption. I’m drawn to the idea of finding hope and healing in the midst of our broken world.
What sources do you use or have you used for research?
Lots of books (histories, biographies, autobiographies, novels), bound volumes of decades-old newspapers and magazines, microfiche, medical journals, documentaries, museums, historical societies, movies, and of course in recent years, the Internet. The most interesting source of information, though, is people. Over the years I’ve enjoyed interviewing more people than I can count: doctors, nurses, farmers, lawyers, artists, civil rights workers, polio survivors, fire fighters, police chiefs, Japanese-Americans who endured the internment camps of the Second World War. All these people are fabulous stories unto themselves.
We know that research is essential for historical fiction novels. How important is it in other genres?
It’s very important, because there’s so much more to know than simply what life was like during a particular time period. Say you are writing a contemporary novel about a mortician who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey. If you’re like me, you know nothing about embalming and have never been to Hoboken. You’ll need to learn enough to make the story credible, which means a ton of research before you ever write the first line.
Check back on Saturday to read the second half of Ann's interview!