Monday, 22 August 2011
Author Spotlight - Q&A with Shirley Kiger Connelly
STEPH: I don't know much about Say Goodbye to Yesterday. What's it about?
SHIRLEY: This is not exactly the blurb, which you can read on the Desert Breeze site, but here is a brief synopses.
Annabelle Lou Jordan walked away from her faith years ago and now faces one set of trials after another. In need of a fresh touch of God's Grace, she's in no hurry to return to her faith.
Her story begins in 1878, several years following the secret delivery of her second child. Still unwed, Annabelle and her two daughters reside in the home of an aunt and reverend uncle where the children live as wards of the church. Annabelle remains convinced she must keep both her physically-impaired girls hidden from the father, who vocalized his distaste for children with imperfections, naturally giving her cause to finally send him away.
But when the community discovers her and her daughters’ fifteen-year-old secret, it changes everything. Booted from town by the church folks and most of the community, Annabelle is forced to take the girls to the father after all. She convinces herself he’s her only choice. If he comes through with his old marriage pledge, her children will finally have the security, home, and future they so desperately need.
But that was before Annabelle found herself drawn to Major Carlton Radcliffe. How was she to know she’d fall carelessly in love with someone far beyond her reach, loyal to the faith she’s fleeing, and possibly pledged to a wife and family of his own?
STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for it?
SHIRLEY: Part of my inspiration came from the many years I’ve counseled with people who have gone through similar problems. I also found in my historical research that this type of thing was happening a lot more in the 1800s than was ever brought out for our knowledge, and, yes, even in the Christian community. Times have not really changed that much.
STEPH: How long did it take you to write?
SHIRLEY: FOREVER! (smile). I mean really forever. I am a very slow writer. I must have rewritten this thing a bazillion times. But maybe it’s because I find so much that can be improved upon every time I go through it. (I’m so proud of those who can do four books a year in one fell swoop.)
STEPH: How important is setting to the novel?
SHIRLEY: I love to write about the east coast mostly. There’s so much history back there, but it seems that I find myself pushing westward in my stories during the 1870s and1880s, maybe because so many people were venturing off in that direction back then. I guess I would have to say setting just has to fit with the time and the particular situation.
STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for the novel?
SHIRLEY: I did a lot, but I love to do a lot. I see a great importance to dig for what REALLY happened during a certain time. Not just what they SAY happened. Really learning about it. I also love anything that involves military life. That takes extensive research too.
STEPH: Hollywood just told you they want to make a movie of your novel. Cast the leads!
SHIRLEY: Oh, that’s a great question. Well, already I know who my hero would be. I see a young Val Kilmer but with curlier hair and not the blond streaks in my particular story. Okay, whose my heroine? Hmm, let me think. Drew Barrymore could be my Annabelle. For my Geraldine, who plays a very strong role in my book, it would have to be the little girl that was in the recent movie called Matilda, with Danny Devito. But I don’t know her name. (I mostly watch old TCM movies.) When you read the book, you’ll have to picture who the nanny would be. She is in a league all by herself.
STEPH: What do you want people to take away from the novel?
SHIRLEY: Life can be very difficult, and often is for a lot of us. It’s the choices we make that determine the difference in where life will take us, and we need to realize more, how our decisions don’t just affect ourselves, but rather affect everyone around us and not always for the best.
STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?
SHIRLEY: More of a pantser than a plotter. After I’m well into the story, I can begin to plot a little better. But I usually write just what comes to mind in the middle of the night or while I’m looking at the computer screen. Maybe that’s why I take so long to flesh out my story.
STEPH: What's your writing space like?
SHIRLEY: My husband built me a great computer stand for my laptop that rolls around wherever I feel like going. I have an office where I keep my printer, but I don’t like to sit in there at my desk. I also have a lovely vintage parlor with a small roll top desk but I can’t sit in a straight back chair for very long. So I go where my mood takes me…out on the front porch, in the parlor on the small couch, in the living room, wherever.
STEPH: Tell us a little about the state you live in.
SHIRLEY: Right now I’m on the southern coast of Oregon. It’s beautiful. Have lived by the ocean for years, back east, up north, down in California, and right now I can see parts of the Pacific Ocean right from our front yard. But I would rather be in Texas, I think. Somewhere around Austin