I wanted to introduce everyone to a new author, Miralee Ferrell. She's made a triumphant entrance into the fiction world. I really enjoyed this book. It covers a hard topic; a husband's infidelity before the marriage, but during the engagement. The following is an interview and then my review of the book and details for the giveaway.
My premiere novel is The Other Daughter—the story of David and Susanne Carson, a couple with an already fragile marriage that’s rocked to its foundation when a young teenaged girl appears at the door….here’s a brief summary:
The girl standing at the door took a deep breath, pulling her suitcase a little closer to her trembling legs. "My mama's dead. He's my daddy."
How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?
An editor friend and I were brainstorming about what I could do for my first book, and she suggested using something I knew, possibly from my own life. That triggered the idea of using an episode from me and my hubby’s personal life—we received a letter from an 18 yr old girl a number of years ago, claiming to be my husband’s daughter. After investigating and meeting Trisha, we accepted her into our lives and hearts, and have continued a relationship with her. The basis for the book came from that episode, but the balance of the book is fiction, other than the setting—I live in the Pacific N.W., in the area where the book takes place.
Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?
I’m very blessed that I have two areas to write, depending on the noise and traffic level. I have my lap top in the kitchen area on a desk for easy access when I want to jot a few notes, do some marketing, check email, etc. When I want to do serious writing and close a door, I can retreat to my office/library to work. It has a wonderful view of the woods out any of the four windows, and a spacious work area, so is very conducive to writing.
There really is no typical with my hubby and myself. He’s semi-retired, but still involved in a large project/invention that’s going to market soon, so he’s in and out a lot. I’m involved at our church, but much less than I used to be, and also involved with family. This past couple of months we put a new lawn in, planted flower and a vegetable garden, and working on my Love Finds You romance novel. Of course marketing is an ongoing process that doesn’t seem to have an ending point.
Take us through your process of writing a novel briefly—from conception to revision.
I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants writer…I get an idea, decide who the main characters are and start writing. I don’t follow a lot of rules, and tend to get better acquainted with my characters as I go. I have a basic overview of the story line in very simple outline form…A few sentences that might fill one page, at most, with details only about the main plot points….all of which are subject to change as I go along.
It makes it a bit more time intensive in that I probably have more revisions than an organized writer, but I’ve found I can be more creative if everything isn’t mapped out along the way. My characters have more room to grow, change, and make some of their own decisions…I’ve had things happen in my story line that weren’t planned that fit beautifully and strengthened the plot. After writing the rough draft, I’ll submit it to my crit group a few chapters at a time, as well as having an editor I trust review the first third to half of the book for plot holes and inconsistencies, then start revising and editing.
Do you have anything else in the works besides the book we’re discussing today?
Besides Past Shadows, the sequel to The Other Daughter, I’m working on a historical romance set in 1877 on a horse ranch. The title is Love Finds You in Last Chance, California and it’s due to release in early February, 2009 with Summerside Press. I’ve started another historical romance as well that’s under review and should know something about it in the next few weeks. Readers can always check my website for updates on future books. http://www.miraleeferrell.com/
What can you tell us about Past Shadows, the sequel to The Other Daughter?
It’s a spin off on Jeena, a secondary character from The Other Daughter. Jeena is a well meaning friend of Susanne’s who meddles in the couple’s marriage with almost disastrous results. In book 2, Jeena, (pronounced Gina) is a bit of a pill---not a Christian, worldly and very career minded, but had some hard knocks growing up and a couple of devastating ones we’ll see as an adult. So far my advance readers have wanted to spank her, hug her, cry with her and shake her....but the few that I've allowed to see it so far have been rooting for her to make it through the dark shadows that are rolling in around her.
Your characters are very well drawn, exhibiting realistic emotions, reactions, etc. What kind of research did you have to do in order to “get into their heads”?
None. The emotions were drawn from personal experience, as well as putting myself in the character’s place. While we didn’t have a 13 yr. old girl appear on our doorstep, we did have an 18 yr. old young lady write a letter to my husband, claiming to be his daughter. I went through some of the same feelings of shock and disbelief Susanne experienced. I didn’t fight against it, however, as I was a committed Christian who cared about the welfare of the girl and the rejection she’d grown up with, being told her dad didn’t want her. Susanne’s actions in the scene where she struggles with alcohol, and with her feelings of revolt against being under someone else’s authority (even God’s) were based on feelings and struggles my husband experienced. The two younger children in the Carson family were drawn from our two children at that age. I think that’s one of the reasons why the book was initially written in only 5 wks. The story was very real to me, and the characters were easy to bring to life.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Keep your priorities in order…God first, family next, ministry and others (including your writing) third. Write for the Lord, and yourself, rather than to be published. It will cut way down on the disappointment and frustration level, and bring a deep sense of joy and accomplishment.
Be sure to visit Miralee's blog and website:
Web Site http://www.miraleeferrell.com/
Susanne is married to David. Together they have 2 children. David has been a Christian since they were married, but Susanne was brought up to think for herself and not to give control over to anyone, let alone God. For the most part they'd had a decent marriage and had opened their home to foster children.
One day Susanne opens her door to find a young girl standing before her and a truck leaving dust as a calling card. Susanne inquires as to who she is and if the person in the truck is coming back for her and that's when the introductions happen. Brianna claims that David is her father. Of course this is shocking to Susanne and she can't quite believe it's true because they were both virgins when they got married, right? If that's the case, then why does this girl bare a striking resemblence to her husband?
This is a complicated topic that is well covered by Miralee. I have to admit I would've reacted much harsher than Susanne did, but I believe that her experience with hurt foster kids helped her accept Brianna to a degree. I also think that David and Susanne's marriage was pretty solid even though like every marriage it had it's ups and downs.
If you'd like to win a copy of this book, give me an idea of how you would react to a kid showing up on your doorstep, suitcase in hand claiming to be either your child or your spouses? I'll hold the drawing on July 7th.
Blessings on your summer reading! US residents only please. Can't afford to send out of the country.