Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Interview With Author Carla Stewart - Day 1

Award-winning author Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by. Her desire is to take readers to that familiar place in their hearts called “home.” Her three previous novels have won both local and national awards, including the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She’s been an Oklahoma Book Award finalist the past three years, and Stardust was recently short listed for the INSPY Award. She and her husband have four grown sons and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren. Sweet Dreams is her newest release.

We are so blessed at Novel PASTimes to have author Carla Stewart visiting us this week! Welcome, Carla, and tell us a little bit about your latest novel, Sweet Dreams, by introducing us briefly to the main characters.

Dusty Fairchild and Paisley Finch are close-knit cousins but opposite in every way. Blonde and top in her class, Dusty has lived a sheltered life, raised on a Texas ranch by her widowed, oilman father. She’s never lacked for material possessions but yearns for a life of adventure and studying geology in college. Instead, her daddy sends her to finishing school in East Texas.

Paisley, has grown up traveling the country with her bohemian mother, and is wise to the ways of the world. Dark haired and clever, she’s grateful to her uncle for letting her join Paisley at Miss Fontaine’s. She’s weary of the “grasshopper” lifestyle of her mother and ready to live a settled life.

At Miss Fontaine's, their loyalty to each other binds them, but when they fall in love with the same handsome young man, their relationship teeters on shaky ground. Only after a tragic accident do they learn where their true hearts-and dreams-lie.

What drew you toward writing books set in the 1950’s and 60’s? What do you like most about it?

What I love the most is the music! Pop, doo-wop, some of the early country, the love songs. They’re the soundtrack of my growing up years, times of both emotional highs and lows. And so many questions about life. I’ve always been drawn to those that were different (like Paisley) or who had a rough time. So my writing nostalgic stories is my attempt to explore those things I was curious about and give voice to some of those characters.

The topics of your women’s fiction novels are filled with depth, compassion, and some difficult storylines. Did any personal experiences prompt your plots or are they strictly writer’s imagination?

Thank you for saying that they have depth and compassion – I do strive for that, so I appreciate the comment.

They’re all from my imagination, but they stem from questions I had growing up – what is a nervous breakdown? What are shock treatments? What if a girl wanted to pursue a non-conventional career? What would it be like to be a famous jazz singer? What if someone I loved contracted polio?

I love taking two or three unrelated and unusual scenarios and weaving them together into a story. I’m constantly amazed at the struggles people have gone through when, on the surface, they seem so calm or ordinary. We each have a story to tell – I just take bits and pieces from people I’ve known – or wish I’d known – and turn loose my imagination.

What sparked the idea for Sweet Dreams?

This is funny! I had long wanted to write a story about a girl who wanted to be a geologist. I had several early attempts that just didn’t work, but I knew I also wanted to write a story that paid homage to my teen years – the glorious and turbulent sixties. I wish I could say there was a match that sparked the flame, but it really was more a collaboration of my ideas and the input from my genius editor. The story that emerged is so much stronger because of her input.

I do know that when I decided to include Patsy Cline and her music that I had that spine-tingling inspiration for the title. Never mind that a dozen other books have the same title!

Sweet Dreams is your fourth novel. How did you balance the publicity and marketing for one book while going through writing and editing for another project?

Not very well at times. Spreadsheets and calendars help. Multi-tasking is not a skill that I was blessed with so having a daily reminder of what I’m to do helps keep me on track. Since I’m more creative with writing in the afternoons and late at night, I’ve found that I can do marketing tasks and social media in the morning. Staying connected with readers is important to me and by doing promotion in small chunks on a daily basis, I don’t feel guilty for turning off email, Twitter, and other interruptions so I can concentrate on word count. I chart my progress daily with a “soft” deadline in mind for having the first draft completed. I try to allow for enough editing time that I don’t feel pressured. And in a perfect world that’s how it would be . . . sigh.

The reality is that I resort to fast food and frozen dinners, and have piles of laundry on the floor and weeds in my garden when I’m on deadline or in a promotion cycle. But I have a sweet, understanding husband who’s very supportive (and helpful!).

Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time? 

To learn the answer to this and more questions from our guest, come back tomorrow for Day 2 of our interview with author Carla Stewart.

To be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Sweet Dreams, please leave a comment with your e-mail address and answer this "Question of the Week" from our guest author:

In Sweet Dreams, the cousins have always made up a dream list of things to do each summer (like a bucket list). What are three things that are on your bucket list?

The contest this week is available only to US or Canadian residents. 


karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this beautiful novel.

my bucket list: Charleston, SC; Aurba and the Rocky Mountains.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

carla stewart said...

karenk - Charleston, SC is on my bucket list too!!! Thanks for stopping by, and thank you - Novel PasTimes for having me. What a treat!

Cindi A said...

What are three things that are on your bucket list?

1. Go camping with my horse
2. Read 12 novels
3. Share the Gospel with a stranger

Julie Abbott said...

Bucket list:
Take vacation alone with adult son.
Take vacation alone with adult daughter.
Live to see grandbabies.


Anonymous said...

Bucket list:

Attend church more instead of watching online (I've recently became disabled because of a medical error).

Read more books.

Be more helpful and kind to my Mother (she's my caregiver and a great one).

Thank you for entering me in your giveaway.
Barbara Thompson

Nancee said...

Three things on my bucket list... hmmm.. I haven't thought about that for a while. 1) A trip back to Maine,
2) A trip back to Gettysburg, 3) A cleaning lady so I can read more! Thanks for offering this giveaway!

Cheryl Barker said...

I've never written out a bucket list, but if I did I think I would include:

1)moving closer to my daughters -- if they would get their act together and live in the same state! :)

2)travel to places new to me -- New York City, Washington DC, and even to Ireland with some of my family to see the homeland of my ancestors

3)see the book I'm working on for mothers of the bride published! :)

Cheryl Barker said...

I've never written out a bucket list, but if I did I think I would include:

1)moving closer to my daughters -- if they would get their act together and live in the same state! :)

2)travel to places new to me -- New York City, Washington DC, and even to Ireland with some of my family to see the homeland of my ancestors

3)see the book I'm working on for mothers of the bride published! :)

ckbarker at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I would love to go to Jackson Wy. and see the beautiful Teton Mountains and Jackson and Jenny lakes. and also visit in Colorado. And, go to OK and visit family there that I've not seen since 2007.
I would love to win this book. Carla Stewart is a new author to me. Thanks for hosting her.
MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Walk the Camino!

Kristin said...

1. Travel to Germany, Austria and Italy and go to all the homes and museums of famous classical composers.

2. Learn to play the banjo (I'm a classical pianist, but I think my "inner music" is bluegrass and I'd love to learn to play!)

3. Enjoy a long vacation in a hut on the beach in Hawaii and take a cruise to Alaska

Kristin said...

Ooops, here's my email (for the comment from Kristin who wants to learn the banjo!)

kleehar [at] gmail [dot] com

Elaine Marie Cooper said...

I LOVE these great "Bucket list" ideas! You are all so creative and your responses are heartwarming. We're so happy to have Carla with us this week, as well! Thanks for commenting. Leave a comment on Day 2 as well for an EXTRA chance to win her book!

Pam K. said...

I don't really have a bucket list, but I can make one up now! I've always wanted to go to England and walk on the moors. I'd also like to go to Atlanta and see the Swan House, then to Texas to visit friends.
Sweet Dreams sounds like a great book that I'd love to win a copy of.Thanks for the chance.


Michelle said...

Carla, I love that you write stories set in the 1950's and 1960's! Nostalgic stories are a favorite of mine. Having been born in 1971, I missed that era, so it's fun to be transported back in time through books like yours. I love older music, too! Some of my favorites are Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Patsy Cline! :)

On my bucket list:

1. Travel anywhere in the south
2. Go to the Titanic museum in Branson, Missouri.
3. Visit lighthouses along the Outer Banks.

Thank you for another chance to win!

Scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

Merry said...

Fun question!
1. Go to Disneyworld with my whole family and enjoy a few days of fun.

2.Learn to do watercolor painting.

3. Go back to Hawaii with my husband and enjoy the place we married and lived in for the first 2 years.

worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

carla stewart said...

What great dreams you all have! Thanks, Michelle, for your lovely comment. I have been to the Titanic Museum in Branson and it's wonderful!

You all are making me drool - so many places to see and things to do. Thanks for sharing all your thoughts!