A little over a year ago, about the time that I decided that Betrovia, book one of the trilogy, drastically needed a new cover, I somehow stumbled upon a group of indie writers using Facebook to share their writing ideas, successess, fears and failures.
One writer in particular made an immediate positive impression: Mary C. Findley.
What was so impressive about Mary is the number of novels and non-fiction books she and her husband Michael have published. Another wonderful thing is her ability to give positive, constructive feedback whenever it is asked for.
And it seems like she is never not logged into her Facebook account!
Not too long ago, Mary begged for an interview. Through many days of frantic soul-searching and antagonizing introspection, I finally relented. :)_
And what can be found below is that interview.
In a nutshell, who is Mary C. Findley?
If I have to be in a nutshell, I prefer almonds, thank you. Seriously, I grew up in the Catskill Mountains of upstate NY, number 5 of 6 kids. I loved to draw, read, and hike in the woods. I went to the same small school K-12, got a BA in English from Bob Jones University in SC, where I met my husband. We have lived all around the country, homeschooled, taught school, and did a little of everything to earn a living while raising 3 children. I also love to do crafts, including making wall art, puppets and designing costumes. I study and imitate accents -- British, Yiddish, Western. I have the smartest husband in the world, and I'm not just saying that to be nice.
According to your Amazon.com author's biography, you have created nearly everything media-related: TV commercials, instructional videos, and of course novels. At this point in your career, explain what you like to do the most.
I like to illustrate and design book covers the most, but getting into the video aspect for book trailers is also enjoyable.
What is at least one particularly-interesting adventure you have experienced while riding shotgun for your truck-driving husband? Might one of these adventures ever end up in one of your books?
We picked up animatronic dinosaurs at a workshop in Mickinney TX. Even though the life-size T-Rex would not "lie down" and get rolled into the trailer for four hours, it's still the most fun load we ever had. We got to watch the workers make dinosaurs and take pictures and videos while we waited. I am planning for one of the books in a series I'm writing to include dinosaurs so those pictures just might come in handy.
At this point in your writing career, what is your greatest strength and how did you come to learn that this is your strength?
I have really learned to listen to other writers and reviewers, as well as graphic artists and cover designers. I didn't have that opportunity for many years, but in the last year or two I have been blessed to be exposed to these accomplished people, and that has become a strength -- the ability to change and grow into a better writer.
Along that same line: what are you doing to shore-up any, if at all, weaknesses in your writing process?
People have said some of my stories are hard to follow at the beginning. I have been working a lot on consolidating my Point of View, leaning more toward first person, and trying to make that a way of improving my readers' experience. I don't want them to be jumping around in different people's heads or to different locations, so I'm trying for a linear flow from one person's perspective.
In what ways does riding in an 18-wheeler all over the continental US "get your creative juices flowing"?
Frankly, it doesn't, for the most part. It's tiring, and there are so many distractions. But we do see a lot of beautiful scenery and get to observe so many different kinds of people. Those can be inspiring. Even the rougher roads and changeable weather can be inspirational, helping me broaden my ability to describe all these things more accurately.
If a well-financed movie producer asked you which of your novels you would like to see made into a feature-length film, which one would you choose and why?
Oh, what a hard choice. I really think I want to see Chasing the Texas Wind as a movie. It deals with the Texas battle for independence. It reinforces our need for patriotism, for friendship, to know who you can trust, to be honest and willing to sacrifice yourself for a cause. It also teaches that we need God so much when life gets hard and we don't know what to do.
What are your writing goals for the next year? For the next 10 years?
My husband and I are working on a series called The Conflict of the Ages. It combines History, Science, and Literature in modules to teach the truth about God, creation, and man's place in it. I also hope to continue a fiction series I'm writing and to complete a contemporary romantic suspense work in progress. I have quite a few sequels to existing books in bits and pieces, and I want to try to finish some of those as well. That may all go past the ten year mark.
How difficult is it to write fiction that entertains as well as leads your reader to Christ? Explain.
My goal is to make it a natural part of my story. Everyone has opportunities in their lives to witness, even if they're not preachers or Sunday School teachers. I have one character who has dealt with evil to the point where he doesn't consider the possibility that the next criminal he confronts will break down and beg to hear the gospel because of his example of courage and moral character. No one is beyond redemption. Be ready always to give an answer.
Thinking about the books you have co-written with your husband Michael: what has been the process for starting and finally publishing those books? Along that same line, what do you think you and Michael will be collaborating on next?
We each do independent research and writing on a project at first. He is the hard science and history guy. I am the literature and "factfinder" person. Sometimes it gets frustrating, because we think so differently, and we pass things back and forth with endless changes, it seems. Our Conflict of the Ages project is our main focus right now. We have a burden to help homeschoolers and to teach people to recognize and confront Secular Humanism before it destroys us.
Tell us about Sophronia Belle Lyon and where you would like to see her writing career go?
Sophronia is a corset-wearing, bustle-bottomed, tea-drinking Victorian mechanicals lover. She writes a genre most people haven't heard of, partly an invented one. Steampunk Literary Tribute means creating an alternate world in Victorian times with "What if?" technology, airships and mad gadgets made of bronze and powered by steam and gearwork. She also includes beloved literary characters like Dickens' Oliver Twist, Mowgli from Kipling's Jungle books, and even some folk from Louisa May Alcott's books. The purpose of the Alexander Legacy series is to reach people who love Science Fiction, Fantasy, Great Literature, and Classic Adventure. Steampunk includes all those elements. She hopes to write books from the point of view of all eight main characters in the series. So far Florizel of Bohemia and Oliver Twist have had their turns. Next will come Sluefoot Sue, a character from the American Tall Tales about Pecos Bill. The series explores human trafficking and the need evil men have to dominate others, to seek immortality, and to explore every means to become as powerful as gods and bury the truth of the God Who is real.
And now for some "way-out-there" questions!
You have three choices for breakfast and can only select one: Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Post Raisin Bran. Which one will you pour into that bowl and why?
Oh, Cheerios and Raisin Bran! I love them both. But I think today I will have Cheerios. Why? Because the raisins get stuck in my teeth.
You're the captain of a pirate ship and it's time to decide how to divvy up the gold. The problem is your crew consists of some of the meanest, nastiest men (and women!) who have ever sailed the seven seas! How to do this and to make everybody happy and still give you the largest portion (since you are, of course, the captain)?
I will borrow Oliver Twist's pet tentacled monster, Beastie, and let him decide who gets what.
You've probably been to every state in the Union at least once (excluding maybe Alaska and Hawaii). If you were granted the power and authority to kick one of the 50 states out of the Union, which one would it be and why?
I think the states are full of pretty good eggs, but there are quite a few cities I'd like to try to do without. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Boston -- They are nasty to trucks but still want their stuff.
What type of music best describes you?
Tchaikovsky writes music that soars and plummets. That's me. And I love his stuff.
What one thing about your life do you wish you could change and why?
I want us to stop driving truck. We need to live in a geothermal cave and have goats and a garden. And I'd like to invite in a community of friends and family where we could teach and learn the Word freely.
If President Obama and his wife Michelle wanted to come to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for them and why?
Humble pie comes to mind, but I know they would never eat it.
When you were a kid, what did you dream about doing when you finally "grew up" but now, in retrospect, have no desire to do?
I read the biography of Mary Slessor and briefly wanted to be an African missionary. I am now convinced I never had any such calling.
Thanks, Mary, for becoming part of The Land of Betrovia!
I hope you enjoyed composing your responses
as much as I did writing the questions!