Author Chat: an interview with FH Daily
Title of your most recent book:
The Song of Sadie Sparrow (FaithHappenings Publishers, 2017)
Tell us about the book in one sentence or two.
It’s the story of three very different women whose lives intersect in a warm and wonderful nursing home called The Hickories. Representing three different generations, worldviews, and life stories, these women forge unlikely bonds that impact each other’s lives in the here and now—and perhaps for all eternity.
What do you love to write and what inspired you to start?
I prefer writing fiction, having grown up on writers from Carolyn Keene and Agatha Christie to Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart and Helen MacInnes. And in fact my first published book was a medical thriller called The Cure (Main Street Press, 1987), chosen by mystery writer Sue Grafton as the winner of the first and only Milwaukee Book Festival contest.
I wrote several other suspense novels over the years, all of which are sitting on a shelf gathering dust. Instead, in the last decade I’ve published two non-fiction books: Hip Ideas for Hyper Dogs (with trainer Amy Ammen, Howell Book House, 2007) and Heaven Without Her (Thomas Nelson, 2008), a memoir recounting my conversion from feminist atheism to a born-again Christianity.
Still, I’ve always felt that I had a few heartwarming tales to tell somewhere in the depths of my soul. Perhaps I’ve finally stumbled across the right setting and characters with The Song of Sadie Sparrow.
How and where do you write?
I write in my home office, set up decades ago for the freelance corporate copywriting business I operated for 40 years. I seem to be glued to my PC; I’m always working on something, if not my own manuscript or a friend’s, then letters, articles, book reviews or blog posts.
Where do you find inspiration?
I’ve been closely affiliated with a nearby nursing home for 25 years, first because my mother lived there and, since her death in 2000, as a volunteer. These days, I spend about 60 hours a month there, primarily visiting with an ever-changing group of elderly residents—the dearest people you’d ever want to meet. They’ve lived through the best and worst times in our nation’s history, as well as through their own personal joys and sorrows, and most are still able to laugh and love with abandon as they wait for the Lord to call them Home.
There’s probably a little bit of each of them in the characters of The Song of Sadie Sparrow. And these friends have supplied me with ideas for many other characters whose stories have yet to be told.
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard; How Darwinism Corrodes Morality by Jerry Bergman; and Here I Stand by Roland Bainton. On deck are Grace Livingston Hill’s Crimson Roses, David Teems’ Tyndale, and a reread of James Sire’s The Universe Next Door. And I’m aching to get back to my collection of Kathleen Thompson Norris novels from the early 20th century.
What is one of your favorite lines (scenes, quote from a character) from your current book?
In one of my favorite scenes, Sadie is poring over her old photo albums, ostensibly to pick out the best snapshots for a mini-biography that an Activities staffer is writing about her:
Except for periodic pauses to wipe her eyes, Sadie barely looked up from her albums until her aide came in to get her freshened up for dinner.
“I’ve been lost to the world this afternoon,” she laughed. “Foolish old woman! As if remembering a happy past can make you happy today.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” the aide replied, wheeling Sadie to her desk. Her name was Shelly or Sally or something like that; Sadie couldn’t quite remember. “My mom always said that remembering the happiness of the past is like catching sight of the joy awaiting us in heaven. Or something like that.”
“Your mother is a wise woman, my dear,” Sadie said, dusting her nose with her favorite loose powder. “Thank you for that reminder.”
What films do you love and would watch again and again?
Gone with the Wind, The Sound of Music, The Best Years of Our Lives, and a hodgepodge of dramas and romances from the 1940s and 1950s.
How would you describe yourself as a kid, teen, young adult?
I was an angry, driven, ambitious, greedy, self-centered rebel. And then I met the Lord Jesus Christ.
What a-ha moment has shaped your life and writing?
Whispering to my dying mother, “I’ll see you there,” and not having a clue what that meant. It kicked off my quest for truth. My findings, described in Heaven Without Her, changed everything.
What legacy would you like to leave?
I would like the unbelievers I know to think, “Hmmmm, maybe she wasn’t as stupid as I suspected. Guess I’ll look into this Jesus thing after all.”
How do you want your readers to feel after closing your book?
I’d like them to yearn for their own Sadie Sparrow to befriend and to love; she’s as close as the nearest nursing home.
What deep underlying truth do you want your reader to know?
Absolutely nothing matters beyond your relationship with the Lord. This life is just a blink-of-an-eye prelude to all eternity, and you want to be sure you’ll be spending forever with Him.
--From FH Daily, November 28, 2017. Republished with permission.