Where Readers & Writers Connect
I love to read. If you’re here, I figure it’s because you love to read too, so let’s talk about that! I don’t feel like a day is complete unless I get to read at least a few pages from a novel before I turn the light out at bedtime.
What genres do you read most?
My favorite genre is historical romance. I love big, sweeping epics, with multiple points of view and layers upon layers of sub-themes.
Who are your favorite authors, and what makes them special to you?
I’m enjoying new authors all the time. A couple of those are Laura Frantz and Sarah Sundin because I love early Americana (The French & Indian wars, the American Revolution) and WWII stories. These gals have a terrific voice and characterization in their stories. They also include nice twists and leave enough uncertainty to compel me to read further.
Some of my all time favorites–the ones who have stayed with me through the years are Bodie Thoene, Angela Hunt, Francine Rivers, Charles Dickens, Bette M. Ross. Their works have stuck not only because I think they are all wonderful writers (especially when it comes to historical fiction — they write with GRIT) but they have all been influential on me, either in craft, or in subject matter.
Can you tell us what you believe has had the greatest influence on your writing?
The biggest influence on my writing has been authors, like those I mentioned, who are dedicated to craft and are wonderful story-tellers, and my own conviction that God gave me a desire to write, a certain amount of talent to hone, and a drive to finish the task — a belief that it pleases him when I use what talents, gifts, desires, or drives He’s given me.
How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?
Though I enjoy writing contemporary romance, and have done more of it lately, I mostly write historical fiction, so it’s nearly impossible for me to begin without doing a lot of reading first. I read essays on the web, historical works by other authors, biographies, diaries, and whatever else I can find that will help me understand the history of the individuals, the place, and the time I’m writing about. I pray a lot as I go through the research and plotting stage, seeking God’s leading and ideas for a book.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest book, The Black Rose, is a good example of what I’m talking about. I grew up in Wisconsin and have lived my whole life here, minus a three year stint in southern Minnesota. However, learning what life might have been like here in my home state a hundred years ago was no small task. A single neighborhood can change dramatically over a twenty year span. How much more a city, or a new state? I gobbled up stories of Wisconsin folklore, of its logging and railroad history. I also read other fiction set during Wisconsin’s past. I fill notebooks with messy notes. Some of it winds up as tidbits in my fiction. Some of it merely plants itself in my mind, and as I write it helps me to create a certain ambiance in the story because I’m mentally awash in that period.
For The Black Rose, I learned that the town I currently live nearest (Superior) was once one of the largest in the state. This was a big surprise, because Superior is average in size now, and has suffered population loss over the past few decades.
I also studied up on the more notorious stories about this region. Another town that’s prominent in The Black Rose is Hurley, Wis. They used to say, “Hayward, Hurley, and Hell — the three hottest places on a Saturday night.” Well, I learned a lot about that, and Jesilyn’s story in The Black Rose tells you why. Hurley is the place she runs to while trying to escape her shame. But it’s not the sort of place to let her forget it, or put it far behind.
How do you get an idea for a book?
Again, reading is usually where my ideas come from. I may think about themes when I hear a good sermon or have an interesting conversation. I may notice personality quirks that I’d like to give a character. But it’s those tidbits I find in reading that really inspire the ideas to catch fire in my brain. The history of my home town and the rise of logging empires inspired The Green Veil. The stories I read of myriad tragedies during the Great Peshtigo fire and of soldiers returning home after the Civil War inspired The Red Fury. The history of the northern boomtowns like Hurley and Superior ignited my imagination for The Black Rose.
What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?
Let’s go back to the bit you mentioned at the beginning. Writers must first be readers. Now let’s narrow that down. There are hundreds of great lessons to learn from reading, but one of the more difficult is to learn how to craft story beginnings that are able to hook readers interest without resorting melodrama. The second part of that is to understand truly where a story should start. Beginning writers almost always start with too much back story. So study great story openings, and learn what made them that way. What kind of hooks really grab you, and where did the story start that made you want to stay with it?
Do you have any favorite inspirational quotes?
I’ve always been inspired from the line in Chariots of Fire, the Eric Liddell story. “I feel God’s pleasure when I run.” Well, I feel God’s pleasure when I write. I don’t know what He wants to make of it. That’s up to him. But he gave me the desire and the gift. So I feel His pleasure when I use it. I hope whatever desires God puts in you, dear reader, you’ll make the most of them and feel His pleasure by doing so.
Do you read books on the craft of writing? If so, what are your favorites and why?
There are tons of great books on craft. If you’re building a library, include some of these: Hooked: Write Fiction that Grabs Readers on Page One and Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke, Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, and most importantly — great novels, the kind you’ll go back to and re-read. You know — your favorite novels to figure out why they are that way. Happy Reading!
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Amazon Buy Link: Empire in Pine Series
Naomi and her husband Jeff live as epically as God allows on a ramshackle farm in Wisconsin’s north woods near their five young adults and three grand-children. Amidst it, she writes stories about imperfect people who are finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles. Her entire Empire in Pine series, available now in eBook from Desert Breeze Publishing, will also go to print in 2013. She invites new friends and old to say hello and find out more about her books, passions, and other writing venues at http://www.naomimusch.com or look her up on Facebook Naomi Musch – Author and Twitter NMusch.
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