Monday, September 12, 2011

Interview with Stephanie Grace Whitson!

Please join me in welcoming one of my favorite authors, Stephanie Grace Whitson! She's written a variety of books that I greatly enjoy. Find all my reviews here (and, at the bottom of this interview, I'm linking to each of my reviews of her books separately). Her books are ones that I can (and have) read over and over.

Welcome, Stephanie! Before we really begin on the interview, I'm going to copy and paste some of the stuff from your website about you! :)

Stephanie was born in 1952. She remembers things like the Vietnam War and St. Louis Missouri before the Arch. :) Now, she's lived in Nebraska since 1975. Her very first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995; however, she started writing before that. She had five children, four biological, and and one step-child. She does her best not to be an evil step-mom. ;) In her free time, Stephanie loves to ride her motorcycle (named Kitty), listen to music (including Josh Groban!), volunteer at church, read, and quilt.

Now that you know a bit about her, let's start.

What do you enjoy most about being a published author?

Hearing from readers who have enjoyed a book or who offer constructive criticism.

What kind of research did you do for your most recent book?

For A Most Unsuitable Match, I read nearly 2 dozen books and as many academic articles about steamboating history, the Missouri River, the history of St. Charles, Missouri, and the history of Fort Benton, Montana. I visited the University of Nebraska Library to find specific books and spent a lot of time on historical society web sites reading primary documents. While I planned to do some on site research in Fort Benton, I wasn't able to make that trip happen, so I had to rely on even more in-depth research I could do at home. I had fun studying the history of fashion and "shopping" for Fannie's clothes. I hadn't set a book in 1869 before, so I had to learn how women dressed.

Oh, I'll bet that was fun! So what gave you the idea or inspired you to write A Most Unsuitable Match?

As part of a class I'm taking (I'm working on my masters degree in history), we visited DeSoto Bend wildlife refuge in Nebraska. The cargo of a steamboat that sank in the Missouri in 1869 and was resurrected in the late 20th century is on display there. Learning that a few women were on board the ship when it sank raised the question "what would that have been like," and that sparked my story idea.

Please tell us a little about the plot of A Most Unsuitable Match.

An unlikely attraction occurs between two passengers on a steamboat journey up the Missouri River to Montana...
She is a self-centered young woman from a privileged family who fears the outdoors and avoids anything rustic. But she's forced to encounter both in a search for her last living relative. He is a roustabout living under a sense of duty and obligation to redeem a past mistake. She isn't letting anything deter her from solving a family mystery that surfaced after her mother's death. He is on a mission to find and rescue his sister. Miss Fannie Rousseau and Mr. Samuel Beck are opposites in every way... except in how they both keep wondering if their paths will ever cross again.

What is your favorite time period to read about?

Historically speaking, the American West in the 19th Century. When I read for pleasure I don't usually read in the genre in which I write, though. I tend towards suspense when I read for my own enjoyment. Joel Rosenberg always provides a great read. When I want something beautifully crafted that will challenge me as a writer, I can always count on Athol Dickson and Dale Cramer, who write in a more literary style than I ever could. They are true artists with words.

Always fun to know what others are reading. :) And what time period do you most enjoy writing about?

The American West in the 19th century.

If you could be any literary character, who would you be, and why?

Studying history has relieved me of the desire to go back in time. I'm very grateful for modern conveniences and I wouldn't be able to enjoy the past without my glasses :-). I would enjoy observing some events as they happened, but only from the outside looking in ... not as a participant. And since I read suspense and thrillers for fun ... no thank you. I'd be terrified :-).

Hmmm, good point. They weren't real big on glasses back then. :P What are you currently reading?

Nearly a dozen academic history books that are required reading for the two history classes I'm taking, one on American women's history and one in Native American history prior to 1860. At the moment, I'm mid-way through One Vast Winter Count by Calloway and a book about colonial women by historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. I'm also proof-reading the ebook edition of my own novel, Nora's Ribbon of Memories, which will be available as part of the Keepsake Legacies series on ebooks very soon.

What three people, living or dead, would you love to have lunch with? They can be at the same meal, or separate, according to whether you think they'd get along.

Three lunches ...

Reverend and Mrs. Tim Keller ... to thank him for how his ministry has blessed me and to thank her for enabling him as a helpmeet.

Film director Jin Ishimoto, who loves Paris as much as I do.

Dean and Gerda Koontz and their new dog, Anna. Actually ... it might be just as much about Anna as about the Koontz's :-). I'd thank Koontz for writing about Trixie and also for his gentler stories and his honesty about his writing life and how he approaches the craft. He's been a great encouragement to me as a writer because of his work ethic.

Is there a random fact about you that most people don't know?

I'm an introvert.

I have to ask...why did you include your middle name as part of your author name?

I didn't. My first publisher, Thomas Nelson, insisted. I told them it seemed pretentious to me, but they liked the idea that "Grace" is a very meaningful word to believers. Which of course it is. But the funny thing is, my name is "Grace" because I am named for my father, Grayson. 

Haha, who would have guessed? Thanks so much for coming by, Stephanie! It's been a true joy to have you. :) How can my readers learn more about you or contact you?

There you go, everyone! Make sure you check out her website and blog. Oh, and if you've read any of her books, you might want to email and let her know what you thought of them!

Okay, just me now. I'm going to include the titles of hers that I've read and reviewed on this blog  below. Each should be linked to its review.
Ta-da! Make sure you check them out, and get something new to read! She's sure to be an author you'll enjoy. :) And her book covers are beautiful...especially Sixteen Brides, Unbridled Dreams, and A Most Unsuitable Match.


Esther Wysong said...

Hey Charity and Stephanie!

I've read A Most Unsuitable Match and have a copy of it. I LOVED it. It is an awesome book. The characters seemed like real people to me, so much so that when I finished the book, I wanted to meet them!

Thanks, guys, for an interesting interview. Definitely enjoyed it.

faith4u7 at gmail dot com

Stephanie Whitson said...

Esther, thanks so much for taking time to stop in. And Charity, thank YOU for taking time to let me visit your blog. Do you really have "Austen-itis"?

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hi Charity! I always appreciate your thorough and well-written book reviews :-) I wanted to let you know that I've awarded you "The Versatile Blogger Award" on my blog, Congratulations!

Charity U said...

Esther, glad you enjoyed it!

Stephanie, it was a true pleasure to have you. :) Thanks for coming!

Gwendolyn, delighted that you enjoy them. :) Thanks for the award...can't accept it now, but maybe someday. :) Ummm, see my newest post (coming soon) for details.