I am delighted to have my fried Kim Sawyer join us for an interview. She's a talented writer, who quickly pulls readers into her settings.
Kim, you live in Kansas and your books are set there. How do you find your ideas for the books?
To be honest, more often than not, the ideas find me. Inspiration strikes, and the story unfolds...it seems, sometimes...on its own. I just to go along for the ride. :o) And yes, most of my stories are set in Kansas. The reason for this is twofold: 1) I'm familiar with Kansas, having lived here all but one year of my life; and 2) the stories fit in Kansas--it's believable.
I just finished reading Bygones and Beginnings. These books are as richly layered as Waiting for Summer's Return and Where Willows Grow, but are modern. What was the greatest challenge in writing Bygones & Beginnings?
The biggest challenge in these stories involved the Mennonite aspects. There are so many different Mennonite sects, and each fellowship has its own set of guidelines by which they live. They are not a "cookie cutter" type of people! So researching and deciding which particular sect would work best for my little community was the hardest part. I finally just had to decide it wouldn't be an "actual" group but a blending of several.
The other challenge regarding the Mennonite aspects was to avoid perpetrating stereotypes and myths. I wanted to be honest in how they were presented (they live their faith, quite literally, on their shirtsleeves, yet they are human and with failings, just like anyone else) rather than casting a "this is right and this is wrong" shadow.
I find that I usually learn something from my characters. What did you learn from Marie and Beth? How about Henry, Andrew and Sean?
Oh, my, you would not believe how much God used these stories to minister to me! When I was writing Bygones, my family faced a situation that could have divided and devastated us. But because I was writing about a family divided and devastated due to their unwillingness to forgive, it helped me make the choice to forgive rather than hold onto a grudge. So Marie and her father taught me the power of forgiveness. Beth reminded me how important it is to seek GOD's will rather than pursuing my own. Henry's faithfulness, even when he received nothing in return, is a wonderful example of Jesus' love. Sean had his priorities in the right order...eventually :o)...and dear Andrew had to discover selfishness benefits no one. So yes, these characters each provided wonderful opportunities for my own growth.
And those characters are exactly why I found the stories so compelling. They were so real in their struggles and responses. God has opened amazing doors for you in writing...what fresh dream has He laid on your heart? It's interesting you should ask this, because I've been wrestling with a desire and trying to figure out the logistics of making it happen. So many wonderful authors reached out to me and bolstered me along in my writing journey, and I want to be able to do the same for others. As you may know, I was a teacher in my "former life," and I miss the interaction of teaching. I'd like to host events with small groups of new authors, focusing on one aspect of writing--maybe characterization,or weaving in the spiritual thread. I've been praying about it, and I've reached the conclusion that it will probably be a little while before it comes to pass (remember Sean's priorities--family before work? *smile*), but I plan to keep praying, preparing myself, and waiting for God to make the opportunity available.
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and who would you take with you?
Oh, this is easy! I would pack up my family and go to Germany and Russia! My mother's family (Mennonites) immigrated from Germany to Russia before coming to the United States; Daddy's family was Russian Lutherans. So I would love to take my family to these two countries to examine our roots. That would be a dream come true for me.
Any advice for aspiring writers?
Heed the Siren's call. If God has laid this desire in your heart, then write. Even when it's hard and you feel as if you're getting no where, continue to write. I firmly believe there is a purpose in every task God sets before us, and there are no wasted steps in a God-directed journey. So listen to His voice, open your heart, and write.
Thanks so much for joining us, Kim!