Monday, 21 November 2011

Author Spotlight - Q&A with Theresa Stillwagon

STEPH: I don't know much about Renovations. What's it about?

THERESA: Renovations is the second book in the Callaway series. It's Megan's, the youngest sister. She's tired of her old life, tired of the way everyone treats her, so she decides to buy an old plantation called Green Oaks and renovate it into a bed and breakfast. It takes her a year to finally make her decision to do it, though. She's happy until Andy shows up with his reaction. He thinks she's going to mess up the 'historical value' of the place.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

THERESA: I was going to set all the stories in Texas, on the ranch, but I couldn't fit Megan's story there. Right now I live in Georgia, near Savannah, and I'd always been interested in Civil War history. These two things just brought the book together. I had them eat lunch at Cracker Barrel where I used to work a few years ago and I'm familiar with the area. The small town the story is set in is a fictional one.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

THERESA: Actually the first draft only took about two and a half months. (Book 3 of the series is taking much, much longer.)

STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for the novel?

THERESA: Not really. I used a lot of places I was familiar with like the hotel off Interstate 95 and Cracker Barrel. I did do some research on small towns in Georgia and searched for pictures and information about antebellum plantation.

STEPH: Andy doesn't want anything to change on the plantation. Why?

THERESA: Andy is the president of the local Historical Society, and also a history teacher. He's trying to find proof that the original females who lived on the plantation were teaching their slaves how to read. (The owner of the plantation was considered one of the cruelest men around at the time.) He's afraid Megan will destroy that proof during her renovations if he's not involved with it from the beginning.

STEPH: What do you want the reader to take away after reading the story?

THERESA: I think it's that you can always find good people in even the most depressive situations. And, if you look deep into yourself, you can find the strength to change your life.

STEPH: Why does Megan have a strong desire to change the plantation into a bed & breakfast?

THERESA: Everyone thinks she's just a pretty face, with nothing much else going for her. No one believes she can renovate the plantation, and make it profitable. She plans on proving them all wrong.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

THERESA: Yes, I have a Kindle. My husband got it for me on my birthday, and I love it. Truthfully, I don't know how I lived without it for all these years.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

THERESA: I'm an in-betweener. I think about a story for a long while before I actually sit down and start making notes. I need to know the characters well, and I need to have some structure or the book ends up going off in the wrong direction. I usually have a general idea of how the book will end and a bit about how I'm going to get there. Usually in the middle somewhere I need to stop and rethink my plot.

STEPH: Fun question: What's your favorite Thanksgiving pie?

THERESA: I like Apple Pie. I remember growing up my mom and dad would both make pies, and we had to say which one we liked best. (My father was a cook, in Africa, during World War Two. He loved making pies.)
It was all in fun though.

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