Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband of 22 years, four children, three fat cats, and a tortoise named Moe. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, volunteering at church and school, battling dandelions, and dreaming about her next adventure – whether it be in person or on the page.
Savanna: Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Stephanie. Congratulations on today’s release, The Tomb. I can’t wait to read it! 🙂 While writing this story, did you ever uncover a piece of history that really surprised you?
Stephanie: Thank you, Savanna. I hope you love The Tomb as much as I loved writing it. I always find surprising bits of history as I research my novels. Some even make it into the book. In The Tomb, A Novel of Martha, one surprise came early on in my research. I’d always envisioned Lazarus as an older man, maybe even elderly, but as I began to read about the family in Bethany, I discovered that most scholars believe that Martha was the oldest sibling in the family, that she was most likely not yet married, and that their father was no longer alive. Suddenly, Lazarus became a much younger character in my story: A young man, just reaching adulthood when he fell ill and died, making his death even more of a heartbreak for his older sisters.
Savanna: Wow! I’d always pictured him older as well. How neat! Which of the characters in The Tomb was the hardest for you to write and who was the easiest? Can you tell us why?
Stephanie: I’ve always identified with Martha—the worrier, the worker—and as I suspected, she was easier for me to write about. I loved exploring what made her so anxious because many women have some of the same hurts and worries in their lives that they try to alleviate with busyness. The hardest character to write was Penina . . . because she can’t talk! Her dialogue took a great deal of thought and imagination but in the end I loved her character.
Stephanie: All of them! If I had to choose I would say Mary, the mother of Jesus. She knew him best and I would never tire of hearing her stories of her son’s childhood and early years, something we know almost nothing about.
Savanna: What is one of your most unforgettable moments from your writing career to date?
Stephanie: I don’t think any author ever forgets her first contract offer. When Howard Books offered to publish The Well AND wanted me to write two more books of biblical fiction, I was floating on a cloud for weeks. The next unforgettable moment came when I turned in the final edits for The Tomb . . . I couldn’t believe that I’d actually done it!
Stephanie: A favorite place is harder to choose than my favorite book! Last summer, my family went to Scotland for a week and I loved it. The beauty, the history, and the people were all amazing. If I could move to a cottage on the tiny Isle of Skye, I’m not sure I would ever want to leave. As for where to visit, it’s such a big list I have to keep track of it on a Pinterest board. But my number one choice would be the Holy Land. I’ve done so much research and never been there, so that is on the top of my bucket list.
Savanna: Can you share with us a piece of writing advice that has made a difference in your career?
Stephanie: You can’t edit a blank page. I can’t remember who said it, but it was someone brilliant. Sometimes I think what I’m writing is so terrible I should just hold down the delete key to put the story out of its misery. Then I remember that even a bad story is a good start. Usually, when I read it the next day, it’s still terrible. But by then I can see where the story can be improved and even spot some little nuggets of gold that inspire me to keep writing.
Savanna: Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Stephanie! It’s been great to have you here and celebrate your new release with you. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
In addition to the giveaway of The Tomb on your blog, I’m hosting a blog tour giveaway on my website in honor of the release of The Tomb, A Novel of Martha.
Stephanie has graciously offered to give away a copy of The Tomb. Enter below and it could be YOU! 😉
Thanks for entering! Contest is open only in the U.S. and ends March 24, 2015. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody! 😉