Welcome back to the blog! I’m so glad to have you here today. Congratulations on your new release, Mountain Laurel. I’m so excited to start reading it.
What will you remember most about writing this book?
The writing of this book followed a diagnosis of lymphoma, chemotherapy, radiation, and a side effect of that treatment called chemo fog, which crippled my ability to write and precipitated a nearly five year journey of coming to terms with that loss. When the initial kernels of what would become Mountain Laurel started sprouting, sometime in late winter 2004, I hadn’t written in years, save for a few attempts that had stalled out in frustration. But this new story idea was so very compelling and I dared to wonder if God had been healing my brain during the years I had laid down my passion for writing, my hope of being published. I faced a choice. Shrink back in fear of even trying or take a leap of faith and see what happened. It was a four-year leap, but God saw my feet firmly planted on the other side of a finished manuscript. Learning to wait on His grace and His timing are what I hope I will never forget.
Wow, what an incredible journey. I have no doubt this story will testify of those lessons throughout its pages as well.
What first inspired Mountain Laurel? Was it a character, a historical event, a setting?
It was a character and setting in a novel by Diana Gabaldon, called Drums of Autumn. Josh, an enslaved young man on a plantation in 1760s North Carolina, startled me (and other characters) by speaking with a Scottish accent though his heritage was African. Josh had grown up hearing the speech of his Scottish owners so that’s who he sounded like. With this minor character, Diana broadened my understanding of how the unique circumstances of our upbringing help create who we become. We’re born with DNA that links us to a people group, but extraordinary influences can instill in us unique qualities not all in that group share. Fascinated with the idea of creating such a character, I asked myself a string of what if questions about someone like Josh, which led to the characters of Malcolm, Lily, and Seona, and the setting, Mountain Laurel.
I love that. So fascinating.
What do you love most about being an author?
World building, and having that world exist vividly in my mind and heart. Though they are set during various decades during the 18th century, and in different colonies or states, all my novels to date are part of the same world and on any page of any book a familiar face could show up where he or she is least expected.
Oh yes, and I love it when they do! 🙂
What is one of your favorite things about where you live?
Mountains. But ocean and high desert come in a close second and third. Oregon is a state blessed with glorious natural beauty, and a taste of almost every corner of the USA, from its desert southwestern corner to its lush rainforest in the northwest. From the high desert eastern half of the state to the Cascade and coastal mountains in the west, filled with forested ravines where waterfalls plunge—and the rugged coastline where sea stacks and rock arches and windswept headlands shelter small secret beaches. It’s a landscape photographer’s paradise.
I’ve only been to Oregon once and it was GORGEOUS! I would definitely love to revisit. 🙂
Speaking of your photography, ( which is so beautiful, by the way! ) can you share with us a dream location you hope to photograph someday?
Thank you! It’s certainly a passionate hobby and helps me unwind, creatively. I would be thrilled to find myself in the Scottish Highlands, behind a camera, one day.
Ohhhh, that would be incredible!
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
As I write this, I’m finishing up the initial draft of Mountain Laurel’s sequel. Book 2 in the Kindred duology is titled Shiloh and readers of my earlier books might recognize that name. While I’ve received reader requests to write more of quite a few characters’ stories, none has received more such requests than the Mohawk warrior, Joseph Tames-His-Horse, introduced in Burning Sky. At last I can grant that request! While Shiloh is primarily the second half of Ian and Seona’s story, Joseph plays a significant role in it.
Note to readers: If you haven’t met Joseph Tames-His-Horse, for the sake of his obviously compelling story having the greatest impact, I recommend reading Burning Sky before Shiloh releases in 2021. Readers will also encounter other characters from Burning Sky, twelve years beyond the point that novel ended. Even a few characters from my Pathfinders duology (The Wood’s Edge and A Flight of Arrows), so you might want to read those too!
Such tangled webs are bound to be woven when an author lets her characters wander from book to book, as I’ve freely done.
I can’t wait!!!! Thank you so much for visiting us today, Lori. It’s always a delight to chat with you.
Lori has graciously offered to give away a copy of Mountain Laurel to one lucky winner. Enter below and it could be YOU! 😉
Thanks for entering! Contest ends September 22, 2020 . The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!