Friday, June 15, 2007

Guest Author: Maureen Lang

Today we're in for a treat with guest author Maureen Lang. Don't miss the contest news at the bottom of our interview.

Hi Maureen, thank you for visiting. Let’s start with how long you’ve been writing. What got you started?

Passion for reading and storytelling! I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to sit down and either read a book or write one. When I was young (9 or 10) I’d ask my best friend if we could just sit down and write stories together instead of playing games like “normal” kids do. She was my best friend and so she’d often say yes, but I guess it was never the same for her since she gave it up. When recalling this memory recently she laughed about it and told me she never could get what I was doing and why I liked it so much.

Do you feel that your writing is a ministry?

Absolutely. I’m sure you’ve heard other writers remind people that it was through parables—stories—that Jesus taught people. That’s so true. Actually, I’m just trying to learn what God has to teach me through putting characters into situations and figuring out the most God-honoring way out of their dilemmas, or how God would grow someone through a dilemma. Faith always plays some role in my characters’ lives, but it’s part of the story so I’m hoping my books will appeal to people who go to church as well as those who don’t.

Reading your book has changed my life. Here’s the thing—I read a LOT of books a year and rarely run into one that so profoundly changes a paradigm of mine. Thank you for sharing this story. What one message do you hope people glean from “The Oak Leaves?”

When my son was first diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome (the disorder that’s the main challenge for the characters in Oak Leaves, a form of genetic mental retardation) two of the things I questioned were: is God really good, and does He really love me. I needed to explore those emotions, which is what I did through my characters. I think it worked because by the end of writing The Oak Leaves I honestly did feel loved by God, and convinced He loves my son just as much, just as he is. I do look forward to Heaven a little more now than before knowing I’d be dealing with Fragile X the rest of my life, but is that a bad thing? I still believe in God’s goodness, because I’ve learned and grown in so many ways (not the least of which is in my faith) that it’s hard not to see some of the benefits once I started looking. So…most of all I want readers to feel loved by their Creator, to know He is still sovereign no matter what, and maybe to entertain a little bit, too. I’m all for escapist reading so long as it’s wholesome and God honoring.

Please tell us about the sequel (name, characters, release timing, etc.).

I’m working on the sequel right now. It’s titled “On Sparrow Hill” and I’m sooo excited about it. I’ll once again have two story lines, one contemporary and one historical. The contemporary story follows a descendant of Peter Hamilton’s, his great-great-great-grandson, who is the current owner of the family’s country estate. He falls in love with his commercial manager, who is a descendent of servants who’ve been employed by the family for 12 generations. There are class clashes and a rather unwelcoming mother-in-law-to-be, but suffice it to say it’ll have a happy ending (all my stories do!). The historical segment revolves around Peter Hamilton’s sister, Beryl. I was eager to get into her character because I liked her so much in Oak Leaves. She goes to Ireland to open the school Cosima once envisioned, to teach the “feebleminded.” Berrie, as she’s called in the book, has a lot to learn about servanthood and where God really wants her to serve. Though she lives in 1850’s Ireland, she faces the modern-day dilemma of whether or not she can have both a career and marriage. She believes not—until a handsome Irishman steals her reluctant heart.

I’ll also bring back Dana from The Oak Leaves, and a visit from Talie toward the end, which was huge fun—like seeing old friends again. :)

On Sparrow Hill will release through Tyndale in February of ’08 (next Feb.).

I know this story came from your experience in as much as Fragile X syndrome is a family fact for you. I appreciate your courage and openness. I believe God is going to use it in people’s lives, even those who haven’t faced these kinds of issues. Thank for writing it.

Well, thank you for saying that. I have to admit that writing it was good for me, that I wrote it for myself first as a Fragile X mom wanting to make some sense of things, and then for others (selfish, I know!). I’m just grateful God placed the story with Tyndale, which has been so great about getting it out there.

Please tell us about other topics or themes you see yourself writing about one day (when this series is wrapped up). Will you remain in women’s fiction as a genre?

I love writing women’s fiction because that’s one of my favorite genres to read—and really, don’t writers just write what they want to be reading? I know I do. I also love historical romance so it was huge fun to mix the two genres. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do that again, but I’d love to be able to write in both genres, maybe switching back and forth with one book then another. I also have a couple of books out from Kregel that are set during the First World War (Pieces of Silver and its sequel, Remember Me). I love the First World War time setting and I’d like to revisit that again someday, too. To me that period seems to hold a sort of nostalgia about it, a little bit historical with a touch of contemporary. “Pieces of Silver” was recently named a finalist for a Christy, so I’m excited about that and hope it means it’ll be a little easier to market another novel set during that time period.

What is your biggest dream?

The first thing that always comes to my mind if someone asks me what I could wish for is seeing a cure or treatment for Fragile X Syndrome. Wow! That would be something, to actually have a conversation with my son and not worry about his future (guess I need to write about a character struggling to trust God with the future!).

As far as writing goes, I’m pretty much living that dream, but I never feel like my writing career is a done deal. All I want to do is sit down and write stories, or talk about writing. That’s been my dream since I was a kid. If the stories I write can continue to reach an audience through publication…well, keeping that dream going is pretty big, too.

Thank you for sharing your life and writing story with us today, Maureen. You are a blessing.

Thanks so much for having me, Annette! This was fun!

Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of her book. I'll choose a winner on June 20th. Check back here to see if you've won.

Read my new comment to find the winner. :)

6 comments:

cws said...

I think that it is fantastic that Ms. Lang has a novel out there addressing FXS. I have two children with the syndrome and I understand what she means by needing to write to make sense of things. I blog to do just that and it helps. I am happy this book got published and can help spread the word about FXS.

Kathie said...

Enjoyed reading through your post. Plan to visit again.
Blessings

Diana said...

It takes a lot to get out of your comfort zone and I believe Ms. Lang has done that and then some. I have learned recently that trusting God and relying on him are the most important, regardless of what you come up against, because He knows your heart and where you are and where you are going.

Annette M. Irby said...

Hey everyone, I threw your names into a cup and drew one and the winner is.... CWS!! Please email me at annette [at] annetteirby.com with your snail mail address and I will forward the info to Maureen so she can send you an autographed book. Congratulations.

Thanks everyone for reading. God bless,

Annette M. Irby
www.annetteirby.com

cws said...

Thanks Annette

I sent you an email with that info :)

Maureen Lang said...

I just wanted to thank Annette for having me visit her blog - this is one I'll want to visit again! And thank you, too, to those who read and left comments. Congratulations to the winner!
Blessings.