I understand you have a new release out called Her Forever Family. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
This is the second (A Texas Ranger's Family was the first) in a three book series about siblings separated very young by family tragedy and then lost from one another in the foster care network. Alison, a child psychologist and volunteer rescue worker, is the oldest of the three siblings. She’s spent her life studying family dysfunction so she can help children with backgrounds similar to hers. Alison is the force behind reuniting with her sister and brother.
Her Forever Family is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
As with any child from a broken home, Alison longs to restore her family and keep them together forever.
What made you decide to write in this genre?
I feel called by the Holy Spirit to write in the Christian fiction genre. My goal is to give readers an engaging and relevant story that reinforces their Christian worldview. In addition to being entertaining I want each story to remind readers that God is sovereign, loving and forgiving.
Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?
Although I always begin the process with a 10-12 page synopsis, I’m a pantser for the most part. The synopsis gives me a twenty thousand foot roadmap through the story, but each day I’m free to change course if my characters surprise me and take off in an unexpected direction. I admire writers who plot to the nth degree, but that skill is foreign to me even though I’ve tried on several occasions to add it to my toolbox. Each author has to use a method that works for his or her own creative style and natural ability, so don’t feel like you’re process is wrong just because it’s different.
Being a pantser allowed me to be flexible during the writing of this book. I added characters and plot twists I hadn’t planned originally. As a result the story is more complete and will give the reader a greater feeling of satisfaction when they reach the last page.
Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?
This book opens with a long line rescue in Big Bend National Park out in West Texas. Alison is dangling from the bottom of a helicopter, about to be lowered into a canyon where the hero’s autistic son is trapped. I was blessed to have the personal guidance of a friend in Arizona who performs these missions in the Grand Canyon. She described her role in the rescue and I filled in the questions that I had during the writing, as I always do, with Google. That’s my favorite Internet tool for locating information, photos and contacts.
Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
From the best source of all… Real Life. As I said, I had a friend and co-worker in Arizona who volunteered with Grand Canyon Rescue. Her stories intrigued and prompted me to write a heroine with the same amazing courage in the face of such dangerous situations. Alison is a survivor in many ways and she passes that on to her patients, kids suffering from mental illness and abuse who have lost their ability to trust. Another dear friend shared with me the difficult life of her teenager who struggles day to day with obsessive-compulsive behavior and social anxiety disorders
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
While I loved my heroine (Alison) and hero (Ben, a former Dallas Cowboy!) I especially enjoyed writing the hero’s son, Ethan. I researched the form of autism known as Aspergers Syndrome for this story. What I learned allowed me to get inside Ethan’s narrow way of looking at the world and see things from his short-circuited perspective. Though I never used his point of view, I was careful through dialogue and actions to show Ethan’s internal struggles with the external world.
Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?
A lot of my pre-work for a book is done in my head as I consider the personality and back story of the characters. Each synopsis starts with a paragraph or two about the main characters and then more is revealed as the synopsis unfolds. But the real character development happens as the story is written. I don’t know my characters really well until I’m over half way through the book. When the book is finished I go back and edit in whatever continuity is necessary in dialogue, behavior and emotions to make the character consistent throughout the novel. Research can definitely impact the character development if I learn something in the course of writing that changes the character’s motivation. Again, the freedom of flexibility is one of the neat things about being a pantser.
Do you have any authors that inspired you?
Too many to mention, but most of them are my writing contemporaries and personal friends. I confess I have never been a big fan of the classics, preferring Jackie Collins to Louisa May Alcott! Yeah, I know, that’s not the genre my writing gravitated toward but it’s the way my love of reading developed in my college years. These days I try to read my author friends for fun (and to support them!) and I read subject matter experts to add depth and credibility to my novels.
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
I believe a website is the one promotional effort every writer needs to make. A reader wants to know something about you, see your photo and be able to reach out with a comment or question. A website connects you to a reader much more than a bookmark or postcard and allows them to feel a personal touch from their favorite author.
What do we have to look forward next?
The final book in this series, A Season for Family, will be out in November 2010. Heath Stone is an undercover cop investigating Olivia Wyatt who is suspected of running drugs through her homeless shelter in Waco, Texas. I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Erin, Alison and Heath as much as I enjoyed creating and ultimately reuniting their family.
To celebrate her book release, Mae is offering free personalized copies of A Texas Ranger’s Family as well as Her Forever Family to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)
She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...
Check out author’s website at www.MaeNunn.com