BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

BIG GIVE AWAY - ALISON STROBEL MORROW INTERVIEWS WITH NORA

ABOUT AUTHOR: (From her website) Alison inherited the writing gene from her father, Lee, and grew up composing stories on everything from napkins to typewriters. Her talent earned her awards throughout school, a two page spread featuring her work in her senior yearbook, and even saved her from failing college chemistry. But it wasn't until she moved to California after college that she wrote her first full-length novel, and that's when God made Alison's oldest dream come true.

Waterbrook Press (now Waterbrook Multnomah) picked up Worlds Collide and published it in 2005. Violette Between followed it in 2006 and earned Alison a nomination for the prestigious Rita Award from the Romance Writers of America--a shock, since she hadn't realized she was writing romances. After taking a break to become a mom to Abigail and Penelope Jane, she landed two contracts, with David C. Cook and Zondervan, to write a total of four more novels that will release in 2010 and '11.

Parenthood turned Alison's head (as well as her husband Daniel's) to children's books, and together they penned That's Where God Is, the first in a series of children's books on spiritual formation, which will also release in 2010.

Alison and her family now live in Colorado. When she's not writing, she's reading, obsessively stalking her favorite online parenting forum, playing trains (or hide and seek, or school) with her daughters, or out with the whole gang exploring their new home state.






Did you have a working title for your book Worlds Collide? Or did you always have that title for your book?
Titles almost always come to me when I first get the idea for the story. In the case of Worlds Collide, one of the inspirations for the story was a song with that title by the band Plumb. It fit perfectly with the concept of the book--Average Jane's world literally colliding on the freeway with that of Mr. Hollywood. To date I've written 5 books, and with only one of them did I not get a title until after the book was completed. And in the end I wasn't even the one to come up with the title, which was a little weird for me. I mean, these books are like my children, and to let someone else come up with the title is a bit like letting someone else name your baby! But the title was such a perfect fit that I was able to let go of the disappointment that I hadn't thought of it myself. (That book, by the way, is The Weight of Shadows!)

Could you tell me how the book cover process works for you? The covers on all three of your books are very eye catching, just wondered if you had a say in how they turned out?

I've been really blessed with my book covers! I especially love Violette Between's cover--I looooove color and impressionism-style painting, so that one really got me.
With Waterbrook (where Worlds Collide and Violette Between were published) and Zondervan (where The Weight of Shadows is published), I didn't get to choose the covers. Waterbrook emailed me one day and said, "Here's your cover!" for both books I did with them. (Though, as a funny side-note: when I first signed with them, my editor asked someone in their graphic design office to whip up something he could glue onto someone else's book and show me, just to say, "Congratulations, you wrote a book, and someday it'll look like this!" He gave the guy a quick synopsis of the plot, and he came up with a cover. Well, two years later when the book--Worlds Collide--finally released, the cover they ended up using was the same one the guy had come up with on a moment's notice!) Zondervan, however, asked me to send them the ideas I had, as well as the names of books whose covers I really liked, or whose covers had an element in them that I really liked. They then used that information when coming up with the final cover. With David C. Cook (where my September 2010 release, Reinventing Rachel, is being published) they sent me four sample covers and asked me to critique them. I actually put together my own little focus group and asked those women for their input, then included their remarks with my own thoughts when I responded to the publisher. In the end, the cover they chose wasn't my favorite one, but they were receptive to changes I suggested on it and make a couple of them for me, which I appreciated.

People really do choose books by their covers--I do it all the time!--so it's really more of a marketing decision than an artistic one, in the end. And because of that, I totally understand when a publisher just hands you a cover and says "Here you go." But I really appreciate when my input is sought and considered. I know some authors whose covers have been...well, shall we say, NOT what they would have chosen. I've been really blessed that my covers, even the one for Reinventing Rachel that isn't my favorite, are all still really eye-catching and interesting.

How did you come up with the idea for The Weight of Shadows? Were you happy with the book cover if this book?

I've been ruminating and sitting on this story for almost seven years! What kicked it off was a tragic accident that occurred in the town where I worked. One of the other teachers at my school told our staff about it. A high school senior she knew had been driving home, and hit an off-duty policeman while he was out biking. He was killed almost instantly, and it was determined that the accident had actually been his fault. Nonetheless, she was a total mess over it. In the days following, she met his wife--I can't remember the details of how--and the woman turned out to be a Christian. She took this poor girl in her arms and told her there was no blame on her, the policeman's family held no grudge, and she was forgiven for her part in the accident. What an incredible show of grace and mercy! It made me start thinking about how that girl's life could have been changed for the worst if she had not been given that grace. That led to me thinking about guilt, and how guilt can destroy us over time.


The cover--it's awesome! Very Jodi Picoult, who is one of my writing heroes.

BOOK TRAILER FOR THE WEIGHT OF SHADOWS


Can you give us a sneak peak into what book you are working on right now? When does it release?

I have one book that is already finished and waiting for release--that's Reinventing Rachel, and it comes out in September from David C. Cook. It's about what happens to a young woman after she leaves the faith she was raised when a series of tragedies in her life convince her that God must not really be there. I also just finished the slightly-polished rough draft of my fifth book, the working title of which is Muscle Memories--that one releases with Zondervan in 2011. It's about a nationally-known writer and speaker who ministers to women, and what happens to her family and ministry after she wakes up from a heart transplant and finds her faith gone. I'm really excited about both of these books. They're both very different, but they, along with The Weight of Shadows, are turning my career away from the romance genre that Worlds Collide and Violette Between fit into (even though I never think of either of them as romances, and certainly didn't write them to be!) and more towards women's fiction, which deals a lot more with life and faith and not just love and relationships (though love and relationships often show up in women's fiction because women tend to be very relationally focused).

Can you tell me of two “Wow” moments you’ve had since you’ve been published? What made it a “Wow” for you?


















One of the 'wow' moments was a negative one, actually. Some of my word choices in Violette Between got censored, and I was stunned. They weren't swears, not my a long shot. One was "gosh" (I'm not kidding) and one was actually a phrase: in the scene where Christian is talking with the priest in the hospital chapel, when he thinks Violette has died, he says something about feeling like God was screwing him over. Yes, I will agree it's a somewhat crass statement to make--but the man thinks his girlfriend is dead, and this is after already losing his wife to cancer! I could have written something much harsher than that and have been justified--even Christians think and say things they normally wouldn't when faced with that kind of situation. But I thought I was striking a good balance between showing how deeply he's struggling but keeping the language tame. My publishing house thought otherwise. After talking with them, though, I learned something, and that's where I had my 'wow' moment. They said that the censoring wasn't something they wanted to do, but that they *needed* to do because of the audience that typically frequents Christian bookstores. It was a sad realization, thinking about how judgmental Christians can be, and how restrictive they can be on artists. I know SO many Christians who don't read Christian fiction because they think it's too sanitized, too unrealistic, and not authentic enough. That's why *I* didn't read Christian fiction until I started writing it! But when writers try to be authentic and true to life, we run up against a lot of opposition. I'm happy to see, though, that the tide seems to be turning, and that Christian fiction is getting a lot more realistic. The quality is going up, both of the writing, the production, and the cover art. That's really encouraging.

And NONE of that is to say that I have any problem with readers who don't want to deal with certain kinds of content. That is absolutely their choice! And thankfully there are plenty of Christian writers who will continue to produce great books for those people to read. But those people aren't who I'm writing for. It gets frustrating when my books are changed so as not to offend people who aren't even in my readership.

The second 'wow' moment was when I got the call from Waterbrook offering me my first contract. I've been writing stories since I was five years old. I wrote my first book when I was twelve. I never, never thought I'd be blessed with the talent and the opportunity to do something I love so much as a career. To get that call was so validating and exhilarating, and incredibly humbling. God gave me the desire of my heart, and when I realized that I was overwhelmed by the responsibility to steward those gifts well. I believe this is a calling for me, and that God gives me the stories he wants me to write. I feel a lot of pressure to produce the best writing I can, to do the most I can with what I've been given, to not waste my time or resources, so that God will be pleased with how I've managed the skills and blessings he's entrusted to me. That 'wow' moment comes back to me a lot, and renews my energy and motivation to give God my best.

Is being an author everything you thought it would be? What surprised you?

Yes and no. :) I never thought writing would be HARD work, and sometimes it is. Until I started writing for contracts, I always just did it when I was inspired. You can't wait for inspiration when you're on a deadline, though; you have to carve out the time every day and do it whether you feel like it or not. I almost always *feel* like writing, but whether I have any idea *what* to write is a different story. :)

All through school my writing received high praise. Save for my freshman year of high school, I don't think I ever got a bad grade on a written assignment (at least, not for my writing--the content might not always have been so perfect, though!). So when I discovered that my natural talent wasn't going to cut it long term, I was really taken by surprise--not to mention a little put out and frustrated. :) I didn't think I had anything to learn about writing. Silly, silly me. :) When I started listening to recordings of ACFW conference workshops, I was astounded by how much there was to know about story structure, plot development, character development, etc. Because I'm a pretty voracious reader (or at least, used to be when I had more time on my hands) I picked up the basics just by being exposed to them through what I read. But there are a lot of things that you actually need to study to learn them, and discovering that was like opening a whole new door to the writing world for me. I LOVE studying the craft, I love working on my writing and trying to make it better. Now that I've been doing this for a few years, I see how much I still have to learn. The longer I do it, the more I realize I need to work on to become the kind of writer I want to be.

Why write Christian Fiction when you could write any other market? What’s the draw?

I never consciously chose to write for the inspirational market. In fact, when I wrote Worlds Collide I didn't think I'd ever get published because I thought it was too secular to be inspirational fiction, but too Christian to be published in the ABA. The stories God gives me to write suit the inspirational market at this point, but I don't go out of my way to MAKE them inspirational. They just fit that genre. What 'compromises' I make when writing to keep the book Christian-friendly are in word choices only; I've never softened a plot point or written a scene differently than how I really wanted to just to keep it 'safe.' I don't like reading violence, or steamy sex scenes, so I don't want to write that kind of stuff, either. (And I don't like to read foul language but occasionally a choice (and un-CBA-approved) word or two would convey a character's emotions much better--and that's when I just have to get creative and find a different way to get that emotion across.) That being said, if God inspired me to write a story that was definitely NOT inspirational fiction, I would have no qualms doing that. I'd love to have my work considered by a wider audience. But I think my books would appeal to non-Christian readers if they knew about them.

QUESTIONS I JUST KNOW YOU WANTED TO ASK ALISON BUT WERE AFRAID TO SO I DID!!

What are your THREE Favorite books of all time?

Only three!?



1. Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. I LOVE this book and wish I could recommend it to everyone, but I always worry that people who aren't very knowledgeable about techie things might not enjoy it. But oh man, it's so good.






 2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Such a wonderful book. A classic for a reason. I read it for the first time in years with my book club last year, and I caught SO many things that had zipped right past me the million other times I'd read it in junior high and high school. I love when a book reveals more of itself every time you open it.





3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I admit I do not recommend this book very often. Not because it isn't good--because it is--or because I don't love it--because I do! But because she has some, shall we say, rather steamy scenes scattered throughout, and I have to know someone very well before I recommend they read it because I don't want to find out that they were horribly offended. But, in defense of the book, they take place between a married couple, and really, you could skip them and the book would still be fantastic. But they give you a glimpse into the depth of their relationship and how it deepens over the course of the book, which given the nature of the story (a 1940's English woman finds a time warp of sorts that spits her into 1700's Scotland, where she is "persuaded" to marry a young Scottish warrior to keep from being taken away by the English while she tries to figure out how to get home) is a very fascinating study. (Oh my gosh--my synopsis of the book totally doesn't do it justice! It sounds like a trashy historical romance! It really isn't, I swear.) It's one of the most addictive books I've ever read--and the books that follow are equally excellent.

What THREE things would you rather not live without?














1.Indoor plumbing.

2. GentleChristianMothers.com

3. A tie between cheese and bread.


What THREE movies could you watch over and over again?



1. Love Actually

2. Across the Universe

3. Back to the Future

If you had the opportunity to hang out with any two people in the history of the world—alive or dead; who would you pick and what would you do? (someone other than Jesus)













1. Corrie ten Boom

2. The Apostle Paul

A friend of yours has a time machine that they are letting you use. But you can only witness two events in this history of the world. What to events would you experience? Why?













1. The resurrection

2. The second coming (I can go forward in time, too, right?)

What THREE T.V. shows were you most passionate as a kid? (You know the ones you couldn’t miss each week)


O man, the memories...

1. KnightRider

2. Family Ties

3. The Cosby Show

What movie impacted you as a child? Why?



It's a Wonderful Life. It became kind of a family joke--we would watch it every Christmastime, without fail, and my dad would blurt it out as an answer to random questions all the time. But every year that we watched it I really "got" more of the story, and to this day I don't let a Christmas season go by without watching it--and sobbing every time. That scene where Uncle Billy loses the bank deposit--I've seen it countless times and yet I still get knots in my stomach!

ANY FINAL COMMENTS--THOUGHTS FOR MY READERS?

Come visit my website--http://www.alisonstrobel.com/ --and say hi on my guest page or blog! While you're there, you can read the first chapter of The Weight of Shadows and see its totally awesome trailer. (I can brag about it because I didn't make it.) I hope to get some trailers made for Worlds Collide and Violette Between soon, as well as get their first chapters up for anyone who might be thinking of checking them out. I also have a bi-monthly newsletter that you can receive for free by signing up on the right-hand side of my website; I have contests in every issue where folks can win gift cards, books, random things that writers love, stuff like that. :)

Thanks so much Alison for stopping by and letting us get to know you and your books. REMEMBER if you are ever in the Atlanta area you’ll most definitely have to stop by and speak to my book clubs.

Blessings

Nora :D

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THE INTERVIEW and
SIGN UP FOR ALISON'S NEWSLETTER At Her Website  http://www.alisonstrobel.com/ FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF The Weight of Shadows, Worlds Collide and Violette Between. This is an EXCITING Opportunity.



DRAWING will be MAY 1st

CONGRATS Go to Brenda Hill, Wanda Chamberlain and Rita Gracia

THANKS EVERYONE for encouraging Alison with your comments and signing up for her news letter. Winners were chosen using http://www.randomnumber.com/

THANKS ALISON for this big give away and letting us get to know you and your books better. :D


****DISCLAIMER: Entering the give away is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws. Void where prohibited; open U.S. residents and Canadian residents only, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****

27 comments:

  1. Looks like an awesome book. Love the cover! Please enter me. Thank you!

    Email in profile.

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  2. great interview thanks agreatdayin2003@yahoo.com

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  3. I love your intensity of what you want to see in a book. That, to me, makes a great writer. I love books that are inspirational.
    Please enter me. Thank you!

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  4. I totally agree that Christian fiction should be more realistic and I have noticed that it is becoming that way more and more. I like a book that challenges and pushes the limits a little. I always appreciate an author with guts! :) I would love to be entered in the giveaway. I'm also going to head over to Alison's website to subscribe to the newsletter. Thank you for the great interview!

    carlyberd[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  5. As usual, it was a great interview and the book sounds great. Please enter me.

    Blessings,
    Jo
    ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

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  6. Thanks for the interview. I've enjoyed her books, so it's nice getting a "behind the scenes" look at them.

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  7. I enjoyed this interview with Alison so much!
    I met Alison at Writer's Day in Orange County a couple of years ago, and absolutely adore her. She definitely has a gift for story telling!

    I like learning about her "Wow" moments, what a great questions.
    Thank you, Nora, for a brilliant interview.
    Hugs, Rita

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  8. I signed up for Alison's newsletter.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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  9. Nora, thanks again for that awesome interview. I loved your questions! And thanks so much to those who are commenting in order to win the books, and to those who signed up for my newsletter. I hope you all enjoy "The Weight of Shadows" when it releases, and that you enjoy the newsletter, too. :)

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  10. yay another Love Actually fan!!! it's one of my absolute favorite movies and always great to see others who loved it as well

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  11. Signed up for the newsletter. Alison is a new-to-me author. Very true about many Christians not reading Christian fiction because of the lack of realism, especially in the characters. That's why I appreciate authors like Lisa Samson, Mary DeMuth, and hopefully Alison Strobel. Please enter me.

    julesreffner(at)gmail(dot)com

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  12. I was a little surprised when my mother recommended Diana Gabaldon to me...for just what you said. I sort of feel guilty for liking her books, too. :)
    Great interview.

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  13. Wonderful interview! I thought I recognized her name "Strobel"! I'm sure her dad is proud! Her book recommendations are interesting and she really did make that last book sound compelling! As for the censor, I have to say I understand. We're baraged with "swear" words all day and the last thing we need is to read it in a book with our ideal of being "Christian". Now having said that, if "gosh" is too harsh of a word then I have a potty mouth! About the "being screwed by God" that one is iffy for me. I would've been surprised to come across it and it probably would've stuck in my mind, but I think that's because it's in reference to God? I don't know. I just know it would've been noticable; good or bad.

    I loved her tv shows and movie choice.

    ~Mimi

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  14. I want to read them all!! She sounds like a wonderful person and I would love to meet her!

    Gail Mundy

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  15. What a fascinating interview! It is so nice to hear a great writer talk about the mechanics of writing as well as fun facts about herself that allow us to get to know her better as a person. Delightful! Maggie Dix P.S. Back To The Future ROCKS!

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  16. Alison, I still remember meeting you for the first time at the WaterBrook retreat. Ever since, I've been a fan of your books and of you as my sister in Christ.

    Keep up the great work. It's fun to read of your journey, both the struggles and victories.

    Eric

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  17. Thank you for the great interview. I thought I recognized the last name. I have read a few of Lee Strobel's books. I would most definitely be interested in reading something by Alison. Please enter me in the drawing.

    walkinfaith4him(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  18. Greetings,
    You always have the best interviews. I can see you take a lot of time and thought into what you do. These books sound wonderful, something I would love to read. I signed up for the newsletter.
    Blessings,
    Trinity Rose

    wandaelaine at gmail dot com

    http://thelifeandtimesofwanda.blogspot.com/

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  19. Thanks for the terrific interview, Alison and Nora. I selected Alison's The Weight of Shadows for my July book club selection, sight unseen last year, something I rarely do! No pressure, Alison ;-)

    Really looking forward to it.

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  20. I loved the interview! I love the questions at the end of your interviews - like their fav tv show (loved knight rider too!)
    wsmarple/at/gmail/dot/com

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  21. great interview. sounds like there is an inheritable writing gene. can't wait to check out her work and her recommendations.

    angela r.

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  22. Great interview. I look forward to reading Alison's work.

    Ginger,
    Suwanee, GA

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  23. First, I loved “meeting” Alison for the first time. I’m familiar with her father Lee but did not know she was a writer as well. It was great reading about her books and I’m anxious to read one of them….but feel like maybe her newest one coming out might be her best???? So I’ll wait – unless anyone has any other comments about her other books.

    The other thing I loved about the interview were the random questions about favorite books, favorite tv shows and who she’d spend time with – I agree – I’d pick Corrie Ten Boom and maybe the apostle Peter.

    Thanks for a great interview.

    Please enter me into the contest for the free books.

    Becky

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  24. Wow, I found out all about the way covers are made. This is very interesting info.
    Thanks for the great interview.

    Would love to win.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  25. Wow, what an interesting interview! :-) Hearing the story of why she wrote The Weight of Shadows really makes me not want to miss it - I have to read it! It's so great hearing an author's reasons for writing. Thanks for sharing!

    Lindsey
    kindredspiritreviews at gmail dot com

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  26. CONGRATS Go to Brenda Hill, Wanda Chamberlain and Rita Gracia all of them winners of Alison's books.

    THANKS EVERYONE for encouraging Alison with your comments and signing up for her news letter.

    THANKS ALISON for this big give away and letting us get to know you and your books better. :D


    Blessings
    Nora :D

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  27. Not sure anyone will even see this all the way down here, but I wanted to just say thanks again to everyone who entered the contest, and to Nora for the excellent interview, AND for all the enthusiasm you all have for reading The Weight of Shadows! I hope you all get a chance to read it, and that you enjoy it as much as I think you will. God bless!!

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