Dana Corbit interview

» Posted on Jul 2, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Dana Corbit interview

Don’t forget if you want to enter the drawing for a copy of Homecoming at Hickory Ridge to leave a comment with a way for me to contact you if you win or email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com.

1.What made you start writing?
I’ve been a story weaver all my life. Just ask my older sister, Sabrina, who usually took the brunt of my stories. In my young world, truth was a bit subjective. I started putting my thoughts on paper in third grade when I became the resident poet in my class. Because I have a tendency to be an observer of life rather than a liver of it, writing offered me the chance to get in the game. I realized I had something to say and that others just might be interested in hearing it. Words were gifts to me, treasures I could collect and savor. Teachers recognized my rough talent and encouraged me all along the way.

2.How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I earned a journalism degree in 1988 and worked as a newspaper reporter and features editor, but I never initially thought about writing fiction, unless you count that play I wrote about horses when I was in fifth grade. That changed when I attended a novel-writing seminar at the local college extension program just before the birth of my second daughter. I only registered to get a Mom’s day out and, of course, so my husband and our two year old could have some together time. Anyway, I had the second baby, and a few weeks later a plot came to me in a dream, and I became a fiction writer. That was 1994. After writing three “practice books”, giving birth our third daughter and coping with the serious illness of our second child, I finally followed other authors’ advice to “write what you know” and sold my first inspirational romance on January 16, 2001. “A Blessed Life”, published by Steeple Hill Love Inspired in October 2002, deals with the subject of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the condition affecting our daughter. (She has been in remission several years.) Since then, I’ve written ten more books, nine more for Steeple Hill and one for Guideposts Books, but none has ever been closer to my heart than that story.

3.How do you handle rejections?
I’m horrible at it. I cry. I mourn. I whine to friends. And then after a few days, I read the rejection letter again and get back to work. My compassionate husband offered me these sweet words after I received one of my rejections: “Oh, no. Are you going to be suicidal again?” Naively, I used to think that rejection was something I would only have to face until I became published. Wrong. I still receive these lovely things called “revision letters”, and I’ve had a few of those outright “passes”, too. I’m still waiting for the day when rejection becomes easier for me to take.

4.Why do you write?
I have to write. I can’t not do it. I’m a writer. Over the years, I’ve written poetry, novels, newspaper and magazine articles, public relations campaigns and even an article in a medical journal, but I have to be writing something. It’s my absolute dream job being a fiction author, though. I get to sit around and tell myself stories, and someone pays me to do it. What could be better?

5.What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
Reading and baking. I love to read all kinds of books, and I’m a pretty good baker of pies, cakes and cookies. I even have a few county fair ribbons. What I really do with my “free” time is attend soccer games, volleyball games, swim meets and choir concerts for our active children. I can’t complain because I love doing those things. Whatever the girls are doing is very important to me.

6.What are you working on right now?
I just received a new three-book contract for a trilogy called “Wedding Bell Blessings” about two best friends and their trials and successes as they play matchmakers among one’s three daughters and the other’s three sons. The idea came out of plan my best friend, Melissa, and I had to arrange marriages among her three sons and my three daughters. Sadly, I don’t think the idea is going to pan out in real life. The first book, “An Unexpected Match”, will be published in September 2009, with the second, “It’s a Wonderful Christmas” (working title), in December 2009, and the third, Wedding Cake Wishes, in March 2010.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
I definitely do but not as much as I did with my first book. Serena Jacobs in “A Blessed Life” had a lot of my qualities, including my own difficulty in giving God full control in my life. I based the character of her daughter, Tessa, on my daughter, but beyond sharing the condition JRA, they didn’t share a lot in common. As in my new trilogy, I do put some ideas from my life into stories, but I just use them as jumping-off points.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
My new book, “Homecoming at Hickory Ridge” is the fifth and probably final installment in the Hickory Ridge series that also included “A Blessed Life”(10/02), “An Honest Life (12/03), “A New Life” (10/04) and “A Hickory Ridge Christmas” (11/06). “A Hickory Ridge Christmas” was selected as a 2007 HOLT Medallion winner. “Homecoming at Hickory Ridge” is Julia Sims’ story and involves her relationship with Kyle Lancaster, the ex-con brother of earlier series hero State Trooper Brett Lancaster. This story is about forgiveness and finding a real place to call home.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
So many people come up to me and say, “I have a book in me.” My advice is always the same: “Well, let it out.” If you don’t begin the story, you’ll never finish it. If you don’t submit a manuscript, you’ll never sell it. You must write and keep writing no matter what happens in your life. There will always be reasons not to write, things you feel like you should finish before you start writing. Believe me; I know. When my daughter was really ill, I had to tell people not to give me an excuse not to write because it was too easy to stop at the time. Also, once you send out a manuscript, immediately begin something else. It’s a sad truth that most authors never sell their first book, so the new one you’re working on might be the one. I never sold my first book, or the second, or the third or the fifth, but I’m still hopeful.

10. How important is faith in your books?
Faith is big part of my books. Real faith, the kind we live every day through our choices and the ways we treat people. I write about real Christian people living their lives, messing up and relying on God’s forgiveness to put them back on track. You know, like that old hymn, “Leaning on the the Everlasting Arms.” My characters always grow in their faith and have eye-opening moments, but I only write conversion stories when they are appropriate to the characters. I’ve been told that I handle faith elements in my stories with a light touch, but I don’t mind that observation. I just tell the story that I feel God gives me and then I let Him handle how He chooses to use those words to speak to someone’s broken heart.

11. What themes do you like to write about?
I write a lot about forgiveness, about coming home and about the lies we tell ourselves and others. It’s funny how we as authors often have recurrent themes in our books.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
My favorite has to be “A Hickory Ridge Christmas” because I wrote it with my daughters in mind. The story is about a young, unwed mother who must face her past and the choices she made years before when she is reunited with the father of her child. The story’s original title was “A Forgiven Life,” because Hannah and Todd must find forgiveness in their hearts before they can finally build a life together. I have heard from many teens who’ve connected to the characters in this story.

13. What is your writing schedule like?
My usual writing schedule during the school year involves morning duties around the house, then email and business office tasks until about 9:30 a.m. Then I head out of the house and do most of my writing at the public library or Starbuck’s from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., when I pick up my high schooler. I’ve just found that I’m more productive when I can’t get on the Internet or change a load of laundry. I often get a few more writing hours at soccer practice or late in the evening. During the summer, most of my writing is completed on my Alpha Smart at the local pool while my daughters swim. I’m sure the word “sunscreen” must sneak in my manuscripts once in a while. Of course, when I’m on deadline, I get on a nutty schedule, and the kids and my husband pick up the slack. My new contract is going to push me to produce faster, so if you ask me about my writing schedule next year, my answer might be very different.