Monday, October 20, 2008

Stacy Gooch Anderson interview

I had the opportunity to interview Stacy about her writing and her book, The Santa Letters. Following are her answers.


What writing project are you currently working on?
I have a couple I am working on. They all are listed on my author website. The two that are closest to being done though are As A Beacon Light, Talk to Me, Sweetheart and The Inmate Letters which is the companion book to The Santa Letters. The first chapter of that is on The Santa Letters website.


What inspires you most as a writer?
Everyday life and everyday people. I see ordinary people who do extraordinary things as they find a way to get through life one day at a time and that inspires me. I watch people who, in a world filled with so many negative things, find a way to hang onto the positive and count their many blessings and help others to do the same - and that inspires me. I witness those who, despite the many challenges placed before them, follow in their Savior's footsteps keeping their focus singularly on eternal goals and that inspires me too.

Describe part of the research process it took to write a certain manuscript.
For The Santa Letters, it was important for me to get it just right and truly understand the mission and life of the Savior so I read and studied the New testament and another book by James Tallmadge called Jesus The Christ. I then took that information and in a non-threatening and non- offensive way (I hope) wrote it into the letters in language that was as simple as could possibly be while putting all the emotion and respect His life deserves into them.

Where do you get most of your ideas?
From real life and real people and the emotions they inspire. Anything that brings a tear to my eye or making me go hummmmm I think makes a good story. Anything that connects one human to another in a good and positive way I think makes a good story.

Describe your typical writing schedule.
This summer has been a bit chaotic as my siblings and I have parched through my mom's things and gotten her home ready to sell but on a normal day, I get up and get myself ready for the day, hit the computer for a couple of hours, have lunch and then get my housework done before the kids get home form school and I'm off to soccer and hockey practices and school functions. If a story line is really pounding at my skull, I'll go back to it late at night when it's quiet and do some more and find every other moment in-between to get it down.

As a child, what were your favorite books to read?
Anything I could get my hands on. In St. Louis, the Bookmobile lady knew me by name. I'd walk out of there with as many books as she would let me carry home and I'd have them all read by the next week when it would be back. When I was in 5th grade I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond and I still love that one. In seventh grade I read Johnny Trumain and still love that one! And as a junior in highschool, I read The Scarlet Letter and to this day it's one of my favorites.....

What books influenced you most of all when you were growing up?
I loved anything historical, that made me think or gave me a good feeling as I closed the book. My dad always surrounded me with good literature and spent a LOT of money on books. All six siblings inherited a collection that was important to them. One got his Franklin Mint leather bound collection, one his Zane Gray collection (my dad grew up in Arizona where Zane Gray is huge), another his church doctrine collection, my sister has his children's classics collection and my youngest brother has his and my mother's scriptures. I inherited his complete Harvard Classics collection. So as you can see, reading was of paramount importance in our family and a well rounded reading education was even more important.

What inspired you the most to write The Santa Letters?
Right after my father died, I found out that two of my sons had been in a sexually abusive situation. Since the perpetrators were wards of the state and under the care of a foster father who is lacking at best, the state knowing its liability came after us to take our children trying to scare us into silence. After spending an exorbitant amount on legal and counseling bills, there was no money for Christmas. I needed however, to find a way to heal my family and bring peace into my home again. I decided upon letters from Santa reminding us of the many blessings we still had. A friend finding out what we were doing, later challenged me to write the story insisting that it was one that needed to be told. Two years later......

What writers' how-to books do you have on your bookshelf, and which one is your favorite?
The Dictionary, my Thesaurus, Comedy Writing Secrets, the AP styleguide to name a few. Probably my reference books because if I read too many "how too" books, I subconsciously adopt someone else's voice rather than staying true to my own. But I do like the educational value of them so I read them when I'm not in the middle of writing projects.

Share one tip you would like to give about writing a book with a holiday theme.
Don't be afraid to write what is in your heart and stay true to the real meaning of Christmas. It is after all about the birth of a Savior - the greatest gift ever given on any Christmas day! There was a time when we didn't try to pretend that this wasn't a religious holiday. Unfortunately, in recent times however, it has become heresy to admit that Christianity has anything to do with Christmas. The thing that I have found out during this process is that people are starving to find a way to return to simple truths and return to those simple meanings. The commercialization of the season has become overwhelming to them and they long for the peace and tranquility a season celebrating a Savior's birth was meant to give.

2 comments:

Stacy G. Anderson said...

Elysabeth,

Thank you so much for taking the time to be a part of this tour and for sharing your thoughts on The Santa Letters! Reading it second time around was just as much fun as answering your questions the first time...;-)

And I am so glad that you liked it and that it brought a bit of that "Christ"-mas into your heart.

All my best!
Stacy

Rena said...

It sounds like a great book. Seems I haven't been to this blog in awhile, so I have some reading to catch up on.