Carla Stewart is the author of six novels that reflect her passion for times gone. Exploring eras from the Roaring Twenties to the tumultuous Sixties, Carla’s novels have been nominated for the Oklahoma Book Award five times. She’s been an OWFI trophy winner, received the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and been a finalist for the INSPY and Selah Awards. Carla and her husband live in Oklahoma. Learn more about Carla at www.carlastewart.com.
Welcome to PASTimes. Tell us a little about what you write.
My publisher calls it heart-warming fiction, and that truly is my goal – to take readers back to that familiar place in their hearts called home. I find it’s easier to do that with stories from the past when times seemed simpler even though they often weren’t. My stories have spanned the decades from the Roaring Twenties to the tumultuous Sixties and have strong family themes as well as those of friendship and pursuing God-given dreams in whatever fashion that happens to be for my characters.
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?
Funny you should ask. I’ve been a full-time writer for a dozen years or so, but last September I jumped at the chance to watch my new grandson eight hours a day for this school year while his mommy worked. I have had the most marvelous time and wouldn’t trade watching this precious baby for anything, but it made me painfully aware of how hard it is for moms who write and for writers with day jobs. Now that my days are my own again, getting back into the discipline of writing has been the biggest challenge. And as always, social media – as wonderful as it is – is a constant threat to my writing time.
What historical time periods interest you the most and how have you immersed yourself in a particular time period?
The fifties and sixties have always held great interest for me since they are the decades when I was growing up. I enjoy exploring these eras with new eyes as story ideas come to me. However, my agent and editor challenged me to expand my focus. I settled on the Roaring Twenties for my last two books, and I’ve loved it! The research is a bit more challenging, but the possibilities for great stories are endless. As far as immersing myself in the time period, I do try to slip into the skin of my characters and experience what they might have. I watch period films, read non-fiction work for research, make playlists of music from the era I’m writing about, and you might even hear me throwing out a phrase like “You’re the bee’s knees!” Pinterest has been wonderful for giving me visual images of fads and fashions, hairstyles, cars, and vintage items. I have secret boards for research and public ones for all of my books. The biggest problem is slipping back into the reality of my life today.
Introduce us briefly to the main characters in your most recent book.
Mittie Humphreys is an adventurous young horsewoman from Kentucky who yearns to be an aviatrix. She’s tall and athletic, strong-willed, and lovely, although she believes that her twin sister, Iris, is the pretty one. She fusses with her mother, is faithful and helpful to her father who’s suffered a back injury, and wishes she could erase a tragic childhood incident that has had long-lasting repercussions. She believes in love as long as it doesn’t interfere with her pursuit of flying.
Ames Dewberry is a dashing aviator who travels the country barnstorming and gave Mittie her first joyride in his airplane. He is charming, talented, and irresistible even to Mittie. He is passionate about the aviation industry and gaining a patent on his aviation invention.
Bobby York, a young British pilot, has just arrived in the States. His father is acquainted with Mittie’s through the horse industry, and when he’s invited to the farm for dinner, he finds Mittie quite fetching. He confides in her that he will be staying in Kentucky to pursue a position as a flight instructor. He too is handsome, but guarded about his past.
Calista “Peach” Gilson is as equally charming and talented in the cockpit as Ames and Bobby. She’s a fierce competitor, witty, and quickly becomes Mittie’s nemesis both in love and in the skies.
What are you working on now?
I’m researching a story set during the Dust Bowl about a young girl whose mother died of dust pneumonia and whose father abandons the child and her three siblings.
A reader once asked me this question, and I thought it was a good one. Is there ever a time when you feel like your work is truly finished and complete?
Never, although when working on a deadline, my goal is always to have the story as polished as I can before I send it to my editor. There are usually threads I wish I could have added. Thank goodness for editors, though, who can help shape a story and make suggestions for improving the work. I’m usually pretty satisfied when the final galleys have been read and I turn loose of my stories.
Thanks for visiting us today, Carla. Day 2 of Carla's interview will be posted tomorrow.
Carla is giving away a copy of her new novel, A Flying Affair. To enter the drawing for a chance to win, click the contest link below and follow the instructions.