Thursday, March 19, 2009

Author of the Month: Getting to Know Marlo Schalesky!

I had the privilege of interviewing author and friend Marlo Schalesky, and what a treat it is to get to know her!! Her novels are unique in voice and message, and I'm finding out that Marlo is unique as well--in a VERY good way. So take a few moments to get to know her better:

1) I first discovered your writing with your historical fiction novel about Ishi. What kinds of research did you do on that book?

Wasn’t that a neat story?! I loved learning about Ishi, the last Yahi, who was dubbed the last “Stone Age” Native American (the last one who had not been influenced by outside cultures but still lived as his tribe had before the “white man” came to this continent). And what was so neat about the research for that story was that there are just a few books that contain the first-hand accounts of Ishi and his life. I was able to read the accounts directly from the people who lived and interacted with Ishi after he walked out of the woods in 1911 and into the “white man’s world” in Oroville, CA. I also read the children’s book that was translated into English from a tale Ishi told that had been handed down from his people. And did you know they have old wax recordings still of Ishi telling some of these stories of his people? They’re kept in the museum in San Francisco along with tools that Ishi made and other remnants of his life. So cool!

2) I grew up just down the road from the Ishi Monument. Did you ever spend time in my old hometown, Oroville, CA?

I grew up in Auburn, CA, which isn’t too far from Oroville. But I didn’t get to spend a lot of time there, except for basketball tournaments and occasional trips for other things.

3) Your earlier books were historical fiction. Now you're writing love stories with a twist. Which books leave you most satisfied?

Probably these new “Love Stories with a Twist” because I so enjoy matching the poignancy of a Nicolas Sparks type love story with the jaw dropping surprise twist of an M. Night Shymalan movie (at least his older movies ;-)).

And what’s so neat about these new books is that the point of the twist is more than just surprise and delight. For all these books, the twist is meant to reveal a deeper meaning in the story – to reveal the wonder of God’s secret activity in the lives of the ones He loves.

So what we see is not just the love between a man a woman, even when that love reflects God’s love, but we end up seeing the love of God Himself revealed in an amazing and breath-taking way.

And that’s really my vision behind the “loves stories with a twist” tag. To reveal God and His work in a way that causes readers to catch their breath in wonder.

4) What's your preference: plain M&M's or peanut?

Plain. But the ones I really love are the peanut butter M&M’s. Mmmmm…

(I can see a package coming to you in the near future, Marlo:-)

5) Tell us a little about your newest release, "If Tomorrow Never Comes".

Ah, I love this book – mostly because it has such a fun twist, and it’s also about infertility, which has been the major means by which God has taught me so much in my life (having been on the infertility journey for some 20 years now!).

Anyway, here’s the official “blurb” about If Tomorrow Never Comes:

They say you should reach for your dreams.
This time, they’re wrong…

Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams—marriage, children, a house by the sea…everything they needed for happily ever after. What they didn’t plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes. Now, all that’s left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until…

Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, and the threads of the past, present, and future weave together to reveal the wonder of one final hope. One final chance to follow not their dreams, but God’s. Can they embrace the redemptive power of love before it’s too late? Or will their love be washed away like the castles they once built upon the sand? The past whispers to the present. And the future shivers. What if tomorrow never comes?

6) I found a little diner in our town that serves the most delish coconut cream pie. What's your preference: pie or cake, and what flavor?

Pie. Some favorites are chocolate silk, banana cream, and strawberry.

7) I would imagine this book was close to your heart, as it deals with infertility. What words of encouragement or wisdom do you have for women longing to be mommies?

Wow, I could write a whole book on that! Oh wait, I did. :-) My only nonfiction book was one on infertility – Empty Womb, Aching Heart, Hope and Help for Those Struggling with Infertility.

So, here’s a bit of encouragement for those going through the journey, and for those who want more, I’ve also posted helps for infertility on a page on my website:

Spiritually, don’t be afraid to go to God with your doubts, fears, and even your angry accusations. Yell, scream, pound on his chest if you have to. Just go to Him. He can handle your frustration. What He can’t do much with, however, is your silence.

Emotionally, live your life to the fullest now. Do the things you enjoy. Don’t put things off “just in case” you might get pregnant. Infertility can consume you. And it’s going to be emotionally taxing, so try to make time to do things that you find refreshing.

Physically, don’t waste time being treated by your local OB/GYN. Once you’ve tried to get pregnant for a year and not been able to, go straight to a specialist – a reproductive endocrinologist. They’re up on the latest technology, are specially trained, and deal with infertility all day, every day.

And remember, it’s a huge misconception in our society that children make a family. When God created Adam and Eve, he pronounced his creation “very good.” It was complete. A husband and wife are a complete family. Children only expand that family. So, think of you and your spouse as a family of two and do family things together – bake cookies and decorate the tree together at Christmas time, hide Easter baskets for each other – whatever your family traditions were as a kid, continue them as a family of two.

8) I'm a HUGE Diet Vanilla Pepsi fan (you should see my garage right now:-). What's your beverage of choice?

Starbucks decaf venti white mocha, especially if I’m at Starbucks writing while I’m drinking it.

9) What's next in line for publication from your pen (or PC or MAC)?

My third “love story with a twist,” currently titled Shades of Morning, is due out in early 2010. I’m in the midst of writing it now and am enjoying the characters and plot. For those who read If Tomorrow Never Comes, watch for Marnie, the quirky owner of the coffeeshop and bookstore, who will be the main character in Shades of Morning.

Marnie has her life just where she wants it. At least that’s what she tells herself – her past is hidden, her regrets locked tightly in a box on her shelf, and her bookstore and coffeeshop business is booming. No one knows what she’s done, who she’s been. That is, until the man she once loved finds her again and brings startling news – she’s now the guardian of her 15-year-old nephew, a boy she never knew existed. And to make matters worse, when the boy arrives, she discovers he has Down Syndrome. The past collides with the present, the box of regrets is exposed, and Marnie’s world shattered and rebuilt through the love of one special boy who makes all things new.

10) If you could achieve one eternal purpose with your writing, what would it be?

To reveal God’s incredible love in the midst of trials and tragedies. I dream of opening readers’ eyes to the wonder and mystery of our vivid God. And I hope the vision of Him will take their breath away.

11) Any books on your night table right now?

I’m wanting to get to the third book in the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer (my hubby got it for me for Christmas, so it’s been sitting there that long). I also have Who Goes There? A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell by Rebecca Price Janney that I’m going through. Fascinating stuff!

(Marlo, read the NOT watch the movie first:-)

12) I've been in a tight spot at times and in need of a bookmark with none in sight. What's the weirdest thing you've ever used as a bookmark?

A piece of toilet paper. Happily, it wasn’t a “used” piece though. ;-)

13) Are you planning any more historical fact based novels in the future?

Not yet. I need to finish Shades of Morning, then I need to find out from God what’s coming next. Maybe a couple more Love Stories With a Twist! But I do enjoy the historical fact based novels too, especially when then have a mystery to them. So, we’ll see . . .

14) What's the one question you've wanted to answer but have never been asked? And what's the answer?

What do you love about God, besides that Jesus died for you and has redeemed you?

I love the tenacity of His love and the mystery of a life lived with Him. Ephesians 2:10 (my translation from the Greek) says, “You are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He before-prepared for you to walk around in.” I love that I’m God’s masterpiece, and He’s committed to make me into the beautiful vision that He has for me. And I love that’s He doesn’t “assign” me tasks, but instead has already specially prepared them for me walk in, to live my life with Him in (not just “to do” or “to accomplish”).

How cool is that?! I love that about God and this life lived in Him – that my life may not be as I’ve dreamed it, but it can be as God dreams it. He loves me (and you!) that much.

So, there you have it! Want to ask Marlo a question? Leave it in a comment, and if she chooses yours to answer, you'll get a treat from me:-) Marlo and I'll pick a winner on March 31st!!

Happy Reading!



Unknown said...

What was the initial inspiration for the twist in If Tomorrow Never Comes?

BTW I loved the idea of the visitor and what was left behind to remind them.

Rel said...

Hey Marlo and Deena ~ thanks for the work you are both putting in to the AOTM posts! I am part way through If Tomorrow Never Comes - amazing reading and I'm not even close to the twist ;-)

Amber Holcomb said...

Great interview! This author's work sounds really inspiring and creative. First, I actually wanted to ask about the last contest for this book on March 17 (with the tulips)...I might have just missed where you posted the winners, but I was just curious how the contest turned out. Also, here's my actual question: Where's your favorite place to write? Where do you find the most inspiration?

Thanks for the interview!


ReadingRobin said...

Marlo ~
How do you come up with the story line? Do you have thoughts of a story, dream it or just make it up as you write?

cmrobin at bellsouth net

Aymee said...

I don't have a question for you but have to say that Deena, you find the most fascinating books! Marlo, you sound like an amazing and diverse woman!