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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Author Interview--Norma Gail

Anne: A few weeks ago, I reviewed a book called Land of My Dreams, the debut novel of a newfound friend and fellow writer, Norma Gail. To read that review, click HERE.

Norma is an incurable bookworm. It can be quite irritating to those not similarly gifted. She remembers sneaking inside to read when her mom thought she was playing with her friends. And did you know it’s possible to unload a dishwasher while holding a book in one hand?

She believes books are like friends. You can never have too many, and good ones grow better over time.

I asked Norma here today to tell us a little more about her writing. So...the first thing we always want to know is, what inspired Land of My Dreams?

Norma: Land of My Dreams was partially inspired by a dream. When my husband and I were preparing for our 2006 anniversary trip to Scotland I had several dreams before we went, about things I had read and studied. When we were driving around the Scottish countryside, I fell in love with the green fields dotted with white sheep. It was so peaceful and pastoral. One night I dreamed about living on a sheep farm. The images remained with me. When we met an American woman who had married a Scot and lived there for many years, it sparked my imagination. My husband’s family immigrated to the US from The Netherlands, so I knew something about what that is like. As story grew, so did my desire to make it a story that said something important to Christians. The themes I saw developing were those of a Christ-centered relationship, as well as how God carries us through the hard times in life and brings us out stronger on the other side. The best answer would be that Land of My Dreams was inspired by God and the beauty of Scotland.

Anne: I loved the characters and their naturally different personalities. How do you "design" your characters to make them so real?

Norma: I am very much a “pantster” when it comes to writing. I love to sit down and see what message my brain sends to my fingertips as I type. I’m not a big outline and plotting fan. This is pretty contrary to my nature, as I tend to over-plan everything else in my life. My main characters, Bonny and Kieran, are typical, not of the people you see in Scotland, but more the stereotype of what people think of, as far as their appearance. They are both redheads, Bonny more so than Kieran. Then I tried to create secondary characters to both compliment them and also be their opposites in spiritual matters. I wanted to develop a montage of the people God brings into the lives of people at different stages of their Christian walk to grow and mature us.

Anne: How much of your own hubby is in Kieran?

Norma: Kieran's deep, accepting love and his heart are very much my husband. His incredible loving nature, putting Bonny first, being concerned for her needs, seeing her potential, giving of himself, especially toward the end of the book, is very much like my husband. The struggles that Kieran goes through are as distant from my husband as they can be, but they hopefully illustrate some of the darkness we walk through in times of fear and doubt.

Anne: When you visited Scotland--what was your favorite place, and why?

Norma: It would be difficult to narrow down one favorite place. When I go on a trip I want to see everything possible in the time we have, so we don’t spend too long any one place. I fell in love with the Scottish countryside. The mountains, lochs, and spectacular landscape that Bonny is taken is with parallels my own first reaction to Scotland. God’s creation is so spectacular, and I am never happier than when I see His hand in the unique settings He has placed around us to reveal Himself and to give us joy. Being from drought-stricken New Mexico, the lochs fascinated me, so I set Kieran’s farm on a loch. We New Mexicans are fascinated by large bodies of water.

Anne: Can you tell us something that your readers might find surprising about you?

Norma: I am not an adventurer or a risk-taker by nature. I am a homebody and a reader. However, I love to take my Jeep on 4x4 trails in Colorado—and I do the driving. My husband goes along for the ride. That usually surprises people. Because I have fibromyalgia and some other physical problems that make hiking difficult, I have discovered that I can go places in my Jeep, instead. I thrive on mountains!

Anne: I can see that you really did your homework when you wrote Land of My Dreams. How do you do your research?

Norma: Research is one of my favorite things. I am an avid researcher of my family history, so I use census documents and for learning about families, in this case, clans. I read everything I can get my hands on, both non-fiction and fiction. I created a screensaver of over 400 photos of the areas where the book takes place, so anytime I am near my computer, I see images that create ideas I want to describe in the book. I watch movies to get a feel for the speech patterns, and discovered a Scots Gaelic-English dictionary on the Internet, as well as lists of names and common Scottish slang expressions. I read a lot of history of the people and the area, even for a contemporary. I find it interesting to know something of what shaped the people and the society they live in. It reveals a lot about what is important to them.

Anne: Would you like to tell us about your next book?

Norma: I am working on sequel to Land of My Dreams called Within Golden Bands. It will bring back all the other characters as well as Bonny and Kieran. We will see the challenges to their faith as relationships change and grow through some very painful circumstances. The characters that my readers love to hate, Adam and Deirdre, will be back as well.

I am also gathering material for a historical series based on ranchers and farmers in New Mexico and Texas that will be loosely based on characters from my own family history.

I really enjoyed your questions, Anne. Thank you for the opportunity!

Anne: Not nearly as much as I loved your answers. Thank you for allowing us this glimpse inside your life, and thank you for being here! I loved being an influencer for this book, and I hope you will allow me to join your promotional team for Within Golden Bands.
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