Monday, 3 July 2017

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Grace L Sutherland

1. Tell me about your book, Next Year In Huntsville, and where you got your inspiration for it?

I'm really not sure where the inspiration came from. I was visiting my younger son and his family, and something came up about birthdays. I thought, What if three people found they had the same birthday? From there it trundled around in my head for about four years before it finally landed on paper last year.

2. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

I don't think I've ever gone completely without writing. My Dad was a writer, and I don't remember a time when I didn't write. When I was young, writing poetry was a primary emotional outlet through some very difficult years. One of my earliest jobs was in the publicity department of a television studio, which involved writing for press, TV and radio. Over the years I've been publicity officer for a slew of different organizations, I've written as part of my ministry, I've maintained various blogs and written for other online sites. One way or another, writing is always part of my life.

3. Mountains or the beach?

Probably mountains. I like the ocean, but I hate hot weather and these days I'm not too fond of sand between my toes.

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would love to do the railway journey through Russia. When I was a kid, one of my great ambitions was to be a ballerina, and I read just about every ballet book in the local library. Many of them were set in Russia, and I have been fascinated with the country ever since.

5. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?

Past. There are so many fascinating people that I would like to meet and whose stories I would like to hear.

6. What motivates you to succeed as a writer?

Even though I have always written, I have never actually wanted to be a writer. I write because I am egotistical enough to think that I have something to say that others will find helpful, challenging or entertaining.

7. What makes you cry?

I'm a real sook. Sad movies, I cry - even if I've seen it a half a dozen times before. Sad books, I cry. I even cried when reading my own book.

8. What genre do you write in and what draws you into this genre?

Next Year in Huntsville is a saga spanning nearly 50 years, and I had fun weaving the characters' lives around the true details of history. I will probably write more like this in the future. I have also dipped one little toe into speculative fiction, and enjoyed the experience of being able to create my own world, so I would like to write more in that genre too.

9. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?

No, I am a terribly undisciplined writer, and my life tends to never run in an orderly pattern. I write what I can when I have the opportunity.

10. Do you let a book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

Yes. A great deal of my “writing” takes place before it ever hits the paper. I get an idea and it runs round in my mind for some years. Once it is written, I think it is important to give it a little time to air before going back to it.

11. What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Obviously, any writer wants good reviews. However, bad reviews are not necessarily bad news. If someone just says, “This book stinks,” then clearly that is not particularly helpful. However, if he says, “The characters are one-dimentional and the plot is flat,” then that gives the writer some idea of where he/she can improve.

12. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

Because Next Year In Huntsville ranges over 50 years, and I needed to fit everything in with actual historical events during that time, I started out with a spreadsheet listing each major character and the events in her life for every year of the story. However, as I wrote I did at times find myself thinking, “Hold on, Tess wouldn't do that,” or, “No, that's not what Mel would say.”

13. Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

The main characters are loosely based on people, but no character is based on a single individual. Sarah, Tess and Mel each have a bit of me in them, and I have borrowed bits from a whole range of different people to sew together into the characters.

14. Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?

I have been in Christian ministry for over 40 years, although I am not currently doing much in that area. I also work part-time as CEO of a local charity supporting people with mental illness.

Sarah, Melanie and Theresa are three very different girls, each in her own way a misfit. A shared birthday binds them together in a friendship that spans almost fifty years and three continents. Set mostly in a country town in Gippsland, Australia, and against a backdrop of actual world events, Next Year In Huntsville is the saga of their intertwined lives as they share their ups and downs, joys and sorrows, the dramatic and the mundane, all building to a stunning climax.
 You can read the first two chapters HERE


About Grace

Grace L. Sutherland is the fiction-writing alter ego of Lynn Fowler. Lynn's father was a writer, and she couldn't escape the gene pool. She had a children's picture book published in Australia and USA in 1990 under her then-married name, Lynn Cox, and has published several Christian non-fiction books and a book of poems as Lynn B. Fowler. Lynn lives in a tiny country town in Victoria, Australia. She has two adult sons who live in other states, and five grandchildren ranging in age from 23 down to 11.

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