Saturday, September 19, 2009

with Maureen Lang

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Welcome to Patterings, Maureen! It's a special treat having you here!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

To tell you the truth I don’t know if I had a single moment when I knew I wanted to seriously pursue publication; I just always wrote stories and wanted to share them with the widest possible audience. But as far as actively pursuing publication, I do recall a High School writing class where the teacher required each of us to submit something to a publisher. An article, a poem, a short story, a novel idea. She just wanted us to get that first rejection and put it behind us. That was probably my first taste of the “real” pursuit, but even then it seemed like one of those someday…maybe…dreams. When I was in my twenties I joined my first critique group, and it was there I realized I could get published if I just stuck with it. The group was encouraging enough to convince me I had some talent.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I always say my favorite book is whatever book I’m currently working on, which is absolutely true. Like every other writer, I get so enmeshed in my stories that I seem to be living/breathing my character’s air. But when asked about my favorite, I usually go back to The Oak Leaves. That was such an important book for me personally, because so much of it was inspired by my own life experiences and so few people have heard of Fragile X Syndrome, the genetic disorder that plays an important part of that book. But beside all that, the historical portion of that book was just plain fun. The conflict worked, and I loved the characters. It was hard to say good-bye to that one when the final edits were finished.

But, that said, I have another project that’s a close second as far as favorites go. I hesitate to say this because it might be just the typical current-book-favorititis factor creeping in. The book I just finished edits on is titled Whisper on the Wind, and it’s the second book in this Great War series. It’s set in Belgium and follows the lives of people who are involved in an underground press during the German occupation of Brussels during World War One. This one had me racing to keep up with the characters from page one.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Almost every time I start a new novel, it takes a while for me to feel like I have a good idea for a sustainable, engaging, workable story. Having my editor’s confidence is a huge plus, as well as valuable input from my critique partner. But it’s a routine I recognize, so I remind myself the beginning will likely require the most revision but it’ll be easier once I have a feel for my characters. That’s really key for me, knowing my characters and making sure the conflict between them makes sense. The one exception to this routine has been Whisper on the Wind, which will be out next summer (2010). That one, for whatever reason, just flew from my fingertips, with the characters well defined from the very beginning.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
In general, the hero is usually easier for me to write—isn’t that weird? Since I’m a woman, writing from a man’s point of view should be harder, shouldn’t it? But seeing my hero more clearly was true again in Look to the East. Charles Lassone has such flaws in the beginning, at least for the typical romance hero. I was enamored of those flaws, though. He was slightly cowardly, at least in a way that I could relate, and a little self-centered. It was so fun to see him face his flaws, feel inadequate for the first time in his pampered life, and then look outside himself to see God. It was a nice character arc, very satisfying as a writer to see.

What is your strangest habit?
My strangest habit…hmmm…I might have more than one! Actually, I habitually forget how old I am. I think, a long time ago when I turned 21, I stopped caring how old I was. Then, around the age 35 or so, I started paying attention but only insofar as to sort of “warn” myself of my age in the upcoming year. So for a while I was adding a year to my current age, until it just became something I almost never thought of. Until I turned 50. That was the only year I knew how old I was. But now I’m back to adding a year, so I’m usually a year off.

Oh, I am soooo glad that I'm not the only crazy person out there that doesn't know how old they are...and doesn't really care! LoL
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Perhaps this goes in one of the quirky habit categories, but I usually try to do first that which I hate. I guess I was raised with the old adage about work before pleasure. I can’t sit down to write with a clear conscience if my kitchen sink is filled with breakfast dishes, so I clean the kitchen first. However, I have been known to put off filling the car with gas—just long enough until I know my husband will be driving that car, so he can fill it instead. He takes care of me (and my car) and doesn’t seem to mind. What a guy!

What would a perfect day for you look like?
A perfect day for me would begin after a really good night’s sleep. (Wait until you’re over 50 to appreciate that!) I would get up just after the sun rises, refreshed and ready to take the dog for a walk. I would play music on my Ipod that would best be described as a sound track to my current work-in-progress, interspersed with praise music because that’s the best way to start any day. Then I would eat breakfast with my Bible in front of me, clean up the dishes, shower, and (without further interruption) go to my computer and start working. I would have stopped the previous day at a pivotal scene, or a point that interests me, so I’d be eager to see where my characters take me next. I would work until about 1 pm, have lunch, then tie up some loose ends, answer email, and tend to family matters from there on through evening, when I would say good-night early with a book, and fall sound asleep savoring the words of a gifted writer, so many of whom are friends of mine…

In reality, however, my day is full of interruptions and demands that have nothing to do with writing. Being an introvert, interruptions are difficult for me but if I’m deeply immersed in a project nothing keeps me from getting back to work for long.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My favorite kind of book contains a romance; it doesn’t have to be the focus of the story, but it needs to play some role in order for it to warrant being added to my favorite list. However, stellar writing can trump that. For example, Peace Like A River by Leif Enger is one of my all-time favorite books, and that’s purely because of the writing since there is barely a romance in there.

Are there certain foods or snacks that keep the words flowing for you?
Actually, foods and snacks are on my list of interruptions…not that I can go long without something sweet. Have you ever had those 100 calorie chocolate cupcakes? If I have them in the house, an image of one might pop into my head, which means I need to run and get one. (Thus, an interruption!)

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Each of my books has some kind of spiritual theme, things like doubt about God’s goodness (The Oak Leaves), forgiveness (My Sister Dilly), misplaced faith (my newest book, Look To The East) or, in Whisper on the Wind, God’s constancy. That’s one of the most exciting things about Christian fiction: that the underlying themes are bigger than the characters, and relate to something eternal.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
I’ve always been such a worrier, and recently I’ve felt the Lord really trying to calm me down. It’s a slow process, this refinement to become more like Him, and some days I don’t feel like I’ve made any progress at all. But other days, I see a glimmer of hope. I guess the older I get, the more real eternity feels to me, so all the things I worry about happening here don’t seem as permanent as I might once have thought.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

Look To The East is the first of a three book series, although each book will be fine to read independently and not necessarily even in order. Whisper on the Wind will release next summer, the story of a woman who becomes involved in the printing and distribution of a newspaper uncensored by the German army that occupies Brussels during the First World War. Lots of love and danger, as it explores the power of the printed word.

About nine months after that book releases, the third book will come out, titled Springtime of the Spirit. Each book has a European setting, with the war a backdrop and not the main focus (I’m a woman writing for women, after all!). All three of the books will have romance and adventure, plenty of angst, and always but always a happy ending!

Thanks for having me, Patty!

And thank you for being with us Maureen! I thoroughly enjoyed your interview. You can keep up with Maureen at her website: www.maureenlang.com and her blog.



Maureen is giving away a copy of Look to the East. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Thursday, September 24th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you sign up for the email notifications and confirm your new subscription, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Be sure to check out Mary Hake's book giveaway which is currently going on here at Patterings!

6 comments:

  1. "The Oak Leaves" was the first of Maureen's books that I read, and I would have to say that it is one of my all-time favorites.

    Thank you for an interesting interview and chance to win a copy of "Look to the East." I'm also a newsletter subscriber.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoyed the interview. I had to laugh at how Maureen said she forgets her age. I started forgetting how old I was when I turned 40.

    cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would love to win this book, I really like the reviews you have. check it every day.

    mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just wanted to thank you again for having me, Patty - your questions were fun!
    All the best to you and your blog visitors. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. I do the same thing with my age. Yikes, must be a middle-aged woman thing, huh? lol. Very nice interview, Peej.

    ReplyDelete
  6. joAnn S8:45 PM

    Enjoyed the interview. Please enter me in the drawing.

    ReplyDelete

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