BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

COMPOSING AMELIA ALISON STROBEL INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY







ABOUT ALISON STROBEL: 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 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 released in 2010 and 2011.

Parenthood turned Alison’s head (as well as her husband Daniel’s) to children’s books, and together they penned the award winning That’s where God Is, the first in a series of children’s books on spiritual formation, which released in 2010 and was followed by That’s When I Talk to God.

Alison and her family live in Colorado. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, obsessively stalking her favorite online parenting forum, playing pet store (or reading books or homeschooling) with her daughters, or out with the whole gang exploring their new home state.


How did you come up with the idea for Composing Amelia? Were you happy with the book cover? I love it.

My best friend in college developed bipolar disorder our junior year. Her family was in complete denial, and I was the only friend close enough (we were roommates) for her to really open up to about what was going on. It was an incredibly rough time for both her and me, and there were no Christian resources at all for either of us to walk us through what was going on. I thought at the time, "Someday I'm going to write a book about Christians and mental illness." This was long before a writing career was even a blip on my radar! But I was so frustrated by the misinformation and lack of understanding that so many Christians around us had of mental illness, and I really wanted to change that. I always expected to write a non-fiction book about it, but God had a different idea. :)

And yes, I do love the cover. The book went through a couple different titles before landing on Composing Amelia, and once we had that and I saw this image, I knew this was the perfect cover. If I remember correctly, though, the girl in the original image had hair with kind of purply-pink highlights. I was like, "Um, Amelia's a natural redhead, think we can fix that?" :D The wonders of PhotoShop! 

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

I don't have another contract at the moment, but I proposed four books to one of my publishers, so when I have time I'm working a little bit on each of them. My favorite so far is tentatively titled "The House That Built Me". The first time I heard this song by country music singer Miranda Lambert (I love country music!) the wheels started turning. My second favorite was inspired by my favorite TV show, Leverage, and features a single mom taking on major corporation with the help of a thief-gone-good. 

What was your favorite scene in to write in Composing Amelia?

My favorite scene to write didn't make it into the final version of the book! There are essentially two Composing Amelias. The first one was a travesty that my editor rightfully shredded with her notes, and then there's the second one that gets to see the light of day. In the first version of the book, there's a scene where Amelia has it out in the middle of a ladies' tea with a woman who is gossiping about her and pretty much turning people at the church against her. I love writing scenes with major conflict in the dialogue--which is funny because, in real life, I can barely get myself to disagree with people because I'm so afraid of starting an argument! I guess maybe because those scenes let me be loud and bold like I wish I could be.
Your dad Lee Strobel has written his first fiction book called, The Ambition. Are you all thinking about or would you consider writing a fiction book with him?

My book club is reading The Ambition this month! It's so fun to read my dad's book and see all the Chicago references. I think it would be a hoot to write a book together--a hoot, but very difficult, because we approach writing fiction in completely different ways. Maybe if we did alternating chapters we'd be able to do it. But even that would be hard--he's a seat-of-the-pants writer, and I am a staunch outliner. Talk about conflict! :D
 


What made you want to write children’s books? How does the writing process work when you are writing to children? How does the process go when you work with the illustrator?
When we were pregnant with Abby, my husband Dan came up with the idea for That's Where God Is. We'd started looking for books we could buy for the baby that would help us with the monumental task of passing on our faith to our children, and we weren't at all excited with what we were finding. When he came up with that idea, we just ran with it, and ended up with a whole series of ideas that we pray will all get published someday. 

God really knew what he was doing when he put Dan and I together to write books. Dan's a big idea/concepts guy. He comes up with the themes, the main plot points, the organization of the story, that sort of thing. After he's done with his notes, he hands them off to me, and I turn them into a rough draft of the content and page spreads. From there were edit back and forth until we're both happy with the final product. 

We've been incredibly blessed to work with Cory Godbey, who does our illustrations. I swear he can read our minds! We don't give him any input at all; he just takes the story and draws the images he thinks work well with the text. He sends us sketches that we provide feedback on, and we've only asked for major changes on maybe two of the spreads; the rest of our suggestions were just little things that we wanted tweaked. His style is just beautiful; I've been so pleased to see how well they enhance the story.

You have small children to care for and jobs to do, when do you have time to come up with new ideas for books and have time to write them? Do tell!

It's all God, truly! When I got my first contract back in 2002, I only had one book and no ideas for another. But Waterbrook was offering me a two book contract, and I wasn't about to turn them down! I prayed, "God, this whole thing is all Your doing, so if You're prompting them to give me a two book contract, I'm going to assume that means You have another book idea for me. Whenever You're ready to share, just let me know." Over and over, it's been like that: I have one idea, I get a two book contract, and God drops the idea in my lap right when I need it. 

How do you balance family and work when you work out of the house? My husband worked out of the house for many years and it was hard some days.

The writing of the books...yeah, that takes some juggling. :) Luckily Dan works from home, too, so we take shifts with the girls and write when we're not on parental duty. I get about 4-5 hours four afternoons a week, and God turns that into just enough time to get books written and interviews done and emails answered and all that stuff. The last couple years were really hard because of the ages of the girls, but it's slowly getting easier because they're not as clingy as they used to be. 'Course, the older they get, the more we'll be homeschooling, so we'll be adding another job into the mix, but God has called us to that just as He's called us to write, so we trust He'll make it all work out. :)


 QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK

If someone gave you a give certificate to eat anywhere you desired, where would you eat and why?

If the gift certificate came with a cure for my gluten allergy, then I'd head straight to Chicago for Edwardo's spinach stuffed pizza. It's my most favorite pizza ever and I haven't had it in *years*.
 


You’ve been given and opportunity to go out on a special date with your husband. Where would you go and what would you do?

Dinner somewhere that doesn't have a kids' menu, and then either to a movie at the Landmark (a really cool theater in the Denver Tech Center that only allows adults; they serve food and adult beverages and have a bunch of loveseats!) or to a game--either the Avalanche or The Rockies. 
 


If you had the funds to take your family on a vacation to anywhere on the planet, where would you go and what would you see?

Europe! A year-long tour of Western Europe. I lived in Scotland for a year during college and did the backpack-across-Europe thing, and I'm dying to do it again and bring my family along--when the girls are older, of course. I think their appreciation would be limited at their current ages of 3 and 5. :)
Name two jobs that you’ve had that might surprise people?





I worked for two weeks at an espresso bar during high school--kinda funny since I didn't start drinking coffee until years later. Also during high school, I worked as a telemarketer for a financial planner. I was actually *really* good at it.


Can you share any fun photos with us? I do enjoy when authors share!
Alison & Dad at Violette Between book Signing
This was tough Nora, I'm the one usually the one behind the camera!

-Alison
  
What is your favorite holiday? Why?
Christmas for sure! I love the music, and the snow, and the traditions, and decorating, and the food (especially the cookies)...

What has been your favorite book club experience? What made it so much fun?

The book club I attended in California read "The Namesake" one month, and the woman hosting the discussion catered in Indian food for us! I'd only eaten Indian food once, and it was back when my tastes were much more narrow, so I was thrilled to have another chance to try it. None of us ate Indian food regularly, so she'd told the restaurant manager to prepare a variety of things that he thought would be good for us to start with. It was the perfect introduction to the "genre," you might say. :) 

ANY FINAL COMMENTS ALISON FOR READERS?

I'm launching a new website and starting up my blog again with the release of Composing Amelia, so come check it out! And I love to interact with readers in my Facebook group; come join us there! 


author of "The Heart of Memory" and "Composing Amelia" (Sept 2011) and others
~ Visit my website to sign up for my free newsletter! 












Your new book Composing Amelia,  touched me on so many levels? I had gone through something very similar to the experience newlyweds Amelia and Marcus Sheffield had in your book. Had I not moved when we did I would have missed out on a huge blessing God had in store for us. I also realized later that God sees the bigger picture, He knew we would experience some hard times and the church we joined were loving, prayer warriors that would be instrumental in bringing hope in a dark situation. The body of Christ in that church were the hands and feet of Jesus to us. I’ll never forget how that move changed the direction of our life forever. As I read the dialogue in your book it was as if you had read my prayer journal for that time period. THANKS for the honesty and showing how easy it is to get turned around and for showing through your main characters how it’s not always easy or feel good to do the right thing. LOVED Composing Amelia!

THANKS for stopping by Alison. Excited about your new book. It definitely makes a great book club pick! So much to talk about!

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network
www.bookfun.org

MANDATORY - PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT
 About the interview for your name to be entered in the drawing.

DRAWING WILL BE - SEPT 20th

For EXTRA CHANCES to win this book you can

1. Become a FOLLOWER of my blog (1) entry - please make a separate comment
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PLEASE REMEMBER to leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win (Use (At) and (dot) so that people won't be able to spam your email address) - I will contact the winner and need to hear from them within 48 hours to claim their prize! Winners chosen using Randomnumber.org.

ALL THE BEST TO YOU

Blessings
Nora :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 only to U.S. residents, odds of winning depend on number of entrants *****

29 comments:

  1. Great interview! I've read and reviewed two of Alison's books so far (Reinventing Rachel and The Heart of Memory) and enjoyed them both. Composing Amelia sounds wonderful. Looking forward to reading this one, too!

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  2. I really enjoyed the interview with Alison. I think it was one of the most honest interviews that I have read lately. Composing Amelia is a must read book for me and I have put it on my list. We never know what God is leading us to do or where he is leading us to go. The great news is, he has already been there!

    Blessings,
    judyjohn2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  3. Looks like I have more books to read! I hope heaven has a library (ha ha) because I'll never read all the books I want too!

    Great interview!

    Gail Mundy

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  4. Thanks again for the interview, Nora! And Lynda, Judy, and Gail, you'll have to let me know what you think of the book when you get a chance to read it. Come join my group on Facebook and we'll chat! :D

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  5. WOW, my curosity is definitely peaked and I will definitely check out this book as a possible book club selection.

    Thanks again Nora, for introducing us to another author. Can't wait. What's that saying; "so many books, too little time".
    I think this is my new motto.

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  6. Alison and Nora, Thanks for the great interview. Really enjoyed it. I do so want to read "Composing Amelia". We have had to deal with mental illness and know what a challenge it can be. Thanks for the opportunity of winning this book.

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

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  7. I follow your blog

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

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for introducing us to the book and Alison, Nora. Look forward to reading it. Tisha

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  9. This is not a common subject for a book - mental illness. I'm interested in reading this book! Thanks for the giveaway offer. BTW - I also host a book giveaway link up. I'd love for you to list any book giveaways you have!!! Thanks!
    Book Giveaway Link up

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  10. Thanks for the interview! I loved the stories about how she co-writes with her husband and how they put books together as a team.
    She mentioned liking Christmas as her favorite holiday, me too! =)
    readinginks ( at ) gmail ( dot ) com

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  11. Im a new follower of your blog - I really enjoyed looking around!

    readinginks (at) gmail (dot) com

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  12. Thanks for the great interview and for writing the book. I'll put it on my list for sure. I read a great memoir a few years ago when a coworker was diagnosed called "An Unquiet Mind". So helpful for understanding.
    Gail
    Bookwurm70 at gmail dot com

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  13. I have dealt with depression and anxiety
    for most of my life...There is still a stigma
    associated with "Mental Illness!" I found this
    interview very interesting and informative...
    Many thanks, Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  14. I follow your blog publicly via Google
    Friend Connect...windycindy
    Again, many thanks to you!
    Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Tweet!"
    http://twitter.com/#!/cmh512/status/111827195734921216...
    Thanks, Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  16. I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. It sounds very good. Tore923@aol.com

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  17. Having relatives with bi-polar, this would be an educational as well as interesting read. Please enter me.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I'm a follower

    desertrose51743 at gmail dot com

    I think I forgot my email address on my comment.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I tweeted via onedesertrose.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  20. I added your book club button on my site.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

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  21. I am looking forward to reading your book since it is not often there is fiction written about Christians and mental illness. It still seems to be such a taboo subject even to talk about, let alone write a book about. I commend you, Alison, for tackling this difficult subject.
    I would be very pleased to win a copy of your book. Thanks for giving the interview and for the book giveaway.

    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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  22. I'm a follower of your blog. Thanks for the extra entry!
    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

    ReplyDelete
  23. Many thanks to Alison and Nora for the great interview. I truly enjoyed it and look forward to reading Composing Amelia. I have five generations of bipolar relations. Please enter me in the giveaway. Blessings, Francine Morrow Keehnel

    francinekeehnel@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  24. Well now I want to read the gossip confrontation scene! I'm looking forward to reading this book, even without it :P

    xoezane[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  25. This was a great interview, a lot of information. Thank you for the chance to win this book.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  26. I'm a follower

    Blessings,
    Jo
    ladij040(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  27. I have a very close friend who had a bipolar diorder. Thanks so much for tackling this subject with grace and compassion.

    ReplyDelete