1. What inspired you to write Riding the Wind?
Most of my books have unique conceptions, but this one may be the most original. Our air conditioning had been out for several weeks as we searched for the best and least expensive replacement. On the day the guys we’d finally settled on came to rip out the old and start installing the new, my husband stayed home from work. The windows were open, extra people were around, and in an atypical action, my husband turned the radio on for the day. He usually likes quiet. I usually listen exclusively to Christian music. He chose country. Before long Rodeo by Garth Brooks came on taking me back to my high school days when I listened to country music and dated a bull rider. Almost immediately, the story started forming in my head.
2. You’re a wife, mother, and author, you home school your children, and you spend time speaking at different events. I have to ask, how do you find the time for everything?!
I tend to work 15-18 hour days. While I do sleep (I actually crave and love sleep) when I’m up I rarely stop moving. Usually even if the tv’s on, I’m working on something. I’m also a huge multi-tasker. That’s sometimes good and sometimes gets me in trouble. I also have a phenomenal support network made up of my husband (who graciously doesn’t say anything when the house is a wreck), grandmothers, other homeschooling friends, and a college girl who cleans my house for next to nothing. Without playdates, free babysitters, and great friends who offer regular encouragement I wouldn’t be able to do half of what I do.
3. When you manage to find a spare moment, what do you do to relax?
My top pick is reading. I have enjoyed reading since being a child and can’t seem to get enough books. While I read mostly fiction, I also read several nonfiction books and do regular Bible studies to keep growing. And if I’m completely honest, I also am a TV fanatic. Sometimes I do better than others, but Netflix has kept me distracted me more than once. I’m also diligent about carving out family time. I stay off the computer completely one day a week. Those days are set aside for family, worship, and resting and help reenergize me for my busy days.
4. When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
I didn’t start writing until after my second child was born and I became a stay-at-home mom (something I never thought I’d be) for the first time. I was also doing childcare in my home and experiencing some postpartum depression. I began writing as a coping mechanism, to dump out all my feelings, frustrations, and defenses for my choice to stay at home. Being a person made to naturally share the lessons I learn with others, the goal of making those thoughts and results of my research at the time into a book grew. While that book is still sitting in the filing cabinet unfinished, obviously my passion for writing has grown since that time. I started my first novel almost five years ago and that really sparked the desire to be an author. Now I can’t imagine not writing.
5. What are some of the books that you loved when you were a child?
The books I remember most are Judy Blume’s books and Sweet Valley Twins. My love of reading came later, rather than earlier. I don’t remember reading much before middle school, probably because I rarely sat still even then. But there were days in my house where everyone else was buried in a book and the only way to entertain myself was to pick up one of my own. Once I discovered the worlds reading opened up, however, I was hooked.
6. One of the things I enjoyed the most while reading, Her Whole Self was the male lead, Barrett. In your opinion, what are some character traits that every great male lead should have?
Every great male lead should be masculine. I don’t think we give men enough credit for being who God made them to be. They are different from us ladies and they’re different for a reason. I love that my husband is the one who goes out in all sorts of weather to help friends with manual labor issues. I’m not above hard, physical work, but I’d rather keep my jobs inside. I also think that they should be sensitive, but not unrealistically so. I’ve met many men who are very male, yet can love gently. They may not always see things the way we see them, but a good man will choose to care about and address the things the women in his life care about and are concerned about.
7. When you write, how do you balance sharing a message with the reader, but also entertaining them at the same time?
This is a skill that has come with time and lots of practice. My first manuscript still needs to be completely overhauled, especially the more “preachy” parts. I’ve learned that a writer can’t tell the reader what she wants them to know or get. The characters have to be allowed to experience things that bring them to those conclusions and the reader will follow – at least in the story, which is a start. It’s all about letting the character and story lead the message, instead of the message being announced on a bullhorn to the reader throughout the book.
8. Is there a romance in Riding the Wind, and if so, what type of romance can we expect to read?
There is romance in Riding the Wind, although the main character is already dating the male lead. Several events occur in the story that continually place wedges between the two, however, and one of them eventually becomes too big to overlook. The question becomes which wins in the end: Love or Faith?
9. What was the last thing that made you laugh so hard you cried?
It’s top secret. But I can tell you that it happened at a ladies weekend with several good friends from my church, so it was clean.
10. Without giving spoilers, of course, what can you tell us about Riding the Wind that the synopsis does not cover?
Great question. There are several sub themes that are woven in throughout the story. Friendship and how it grows and changes, how it’s affected by boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, and what makes a true friend. There are also themes of forgiveness, sharing God’s grace with others, and generosity in giving. Dana’s friends and parents are important to her, but until everything comes crashing down around her, she doesn’t realize how much of an impact they truly have on her. Or how much they really care.
11. I like to do a short game at the end of an interview, just for fun. I will start the sentence, and you finish it however you like!
(A) When I was a child, I spent a lot of time…moving. I did gymnastics, basketball, dance, loved climbing trees, and riding my grandparents four-wheeler.
(B) I can always count on my best friend for…babysitting. No, really I’d have to say encouragement and support for all my crazy ideas.
(C) I have always wanted to travel to…Hawaii. My paternal grandmother lived there until I was 30 and I never got to go. Maybe when my children are grown they’ll send me.
(D) The funniest person in the world is…oh I can’t decide! So it’s a tie: Chonda Pierce and Tim Hawkins.
(E) The world would be a better place if…everyone would submit their lives to Christ each and every day.