Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

This statement quoted by President Packer in a fireside on February 1, 1976, and later printed in the Ensign, was made by Orson F. Whitney in the early days of the Church. President Packer was voicing his disappointment in the artists, writers, and musicians of that day (1976) who were clearly not using their talents to aspire to this goal. I have kept that statement close to me as I have written all my books, hoping someday someone would stand on my shoulders and reach this exalted position.

As I read H.B. Moore’s latest book, Ammon, I suddenly realized that that day has arrived. Before you take issue with me on this weighty matter, remember two things. What was the greatest criticism of Shakespeare? That he never wrote anything original. All his plots were derived from legend, history, or myths. What Shakespeare did that earned him the title of “the bard for the ages,” was that he likened these stories to human experience. He drew out of them insights and conflicts that were very accessible to the human mind, not only in his day, but in all the days until the present time. Shakespeare put you in the story and made you face its conflicts. In so doing, he gave these stories a kind of immortality. He gave us heroes and villains with faces, bodies, parts, and passions.

And what of Milton? Didn’t he take his work directly from the Gospel as he knew and understood it? Didn’t he make us participators in his perception of eternal progression? Like Shakespeare, he likened his writings unto us, his readers, so that we could participate as fully as possible in the choices involved in the human drama that is mortality.

Moore does exactly the same thing with Ammon, that great, towering hero of the Book of Mormon. She has written many other books about the heroes of this scripture, but never with the flesh and blood immediacy of Ammon. The way she has accomplished this is by taking what is written, and just as Shakespeare did, studying the brief information to envision unwritten personal reactions, consequences, complications, tests of faith, and all manner of things that might have resulted from the miracles and testimony which Ammon bore to his deadly enemies.

For instance, what do you imagine was the fate of those who were scattering King Lamoni’s flocks? How did they react to the deaths of their comrades? Who exactly were they? Do you imagine they would have been converted by Ammon’s preaching?

What about all the priests and priestesses of the existing temples built to idols? The priests lived off the people. Do you imagine they would have been easily converted?

What would have been the position of King Lamoni himself in regards to his people? Wouldn’t have he had to give up his reign as a virtual dictator in order to allow freedom of religion? What would he and Ammon have done if they were opposed by armed and dangerous rebels who refused to be converted by a Nephite? How would the common man have reacted to accusations that Ammon was only there to create political unrest, so that they might be weakened in the eventuality of a Nephite attack?

Would Ammon have fallen in love? How would this have complicated his missionary labors?

I can almost guarantee that if one puts ones mind to the seemingly simple, heroic story given in the scriptures, one will find many, many consequences and possible story lines to follow. One of the looming, almost insurmountable differences between most of us and H.B. Moore is that we don’t know what she knows about life at that time. With Moore’s capabilities as an historian and a storyteller, the world of the Book of Mormon opens up like a 3-D movie. The smallest detail of life in that age is portrayed with a mastery that makes it seem unremarkable. Her details don’t shout “look what I know,” but rather slip into the story naturally and almost unnoticed. This is a phenomenal achievement.

As for the storytelling, Shakespeare couldn’t have done better! The suspense that builds through the story between Ammon and the unbelievers and that culminates in their capture of his beloved is stellar. Here is a story you know, and yet Moore endows it with natural consequences and elements that seem absolutely real. You all know the ending, and yet, I promise you, this masterful work will keep you up past your bedtime. After reading this book, you will realize that Ammon had to have been a much greater hero than the “superman” who lopped off the arms of the rebels at the waters of Sebus!

In terms of President Packer’s plea for this kind of literature, I hope we LDS writers will all take a lesson from Moore in writing to the greatest measure of our talent and using that talent to help people liken heroes, even everyday heroes, to themselves. There is great comfort and a blessed peace in knowing the things we know because of the Gospel. Even though it is more politically correct to write about the ills of society, let us celebrate the triumph of the Spirit!

And what of those of us who are not writers? What lesson can we take from this fulfillment of Elder Whitney’s prophesy? I truly believe it is what the Lord has demonstrated again and again. I know H.B. Moore. I hope she will not be uncomfortable with my revelation of the fact that she is first and foremost a wife and a mother. In fact, she has quite a handful of very active children. She never misses a game (and they are an athletic crew). Her husband and children are always her first concern. Not an ivory tower writer with a powerful literary agenda, she lives, outwardly at least, a normal life. However, she has a date with the Spirit every morning at five a.m., when she sits down to write. Those few hours that she has to create her stories are magnified. The Lord is there to give her what she needs to do this particular mission in the limited time she has.

H.B. Moore is a mother and a wife. In the time she wrests from hours when others are sleeping, she is also a masterful writer. Once again, the Lord has taken a seemingly ordinary being and helped her to accomplish great things.

We all know, of course, that genealogists make the best detectives!  And we know who the best fictional genealogist is, don’t we?  Here is the complete set of my Briggie and Alex books for you to choose a gift for that special someone (your mother-in-law?) for Christmas.  They are all available on Kindle as well.

I also have some exciting news and a contest!

Exciting News!

I have a new suspense novel, Foggy With a Chance of Murder, coming out in the spring, featuring a new sleuth, Chloe Greene, who looks like a sprite, writes suspense novels set in foreign places, and packs heat which she doesn’t hesitate to use when required.  Her mother is a Texas lady with an attitude.  Add a terrorist cell, an old love and a new one (who someone is trying to kill), and you have a dangerous recipe!

More exciting news!

At this moment, I am plotting with my cohorts a new Alex and Briggie Christmas novel for ’11!

A nice interview: http://www.astorybookworld.blogspot.com/

Contest!

If you subscribe to this blog today, and leave me a comment telling me so, you will be able to enter the drawing for one of two copies of Hidden Branch, the fifth A & B adventure or a $20.00 gift certificate for Deseret Book.  If you win, You will get it in time for Christmas.  But you must act now!

Reminders of why you love Briggie:

Cankered Roots:

A split second later she heard the front door.  Whirling, Alex ran into the entryway and stared out into the night.  It was easy to see Briggie in the moonlight, her white Royals nightie, giving her the appearance of an overweight fairy as she sprinted across the lawn to her Bronco.  Another shape, this one rotund and not quite as fast, was lumbering down the driveway from the back of the house.

Briggie emerged, backside first, from the Bronco, her thirty-aught-six rifle in her hand.  Meanwhile, the rotund shape had made it into the street and was hustling across to what looked like an aged Pinto.

Her partner[Briggie] took aim, “Hands up!” she cried.

Ignoring her, the intruder opened the car door . . .

Hey!” she yelled, running across the lawn.  The car started.

Alex heard a shot.  There was a burst of fire by the back tire.  Another shot.  “Darn,” she exclaimed as the Pinto disappeared around the corner.

Of Deadly Descent

[Briggie upon being introduced to antique wonders of Oxford, England]

Well, Stewart [Alex’s dead first husband]what do you think?” she asked aloud.  “Is heaven as magnificent as Oxford?”

Of course, there was no one beside her in the bus but Briggie.  Clutching her duffle with unusual ferocity, Alex’s white-haired friend looked at her in reproach:  “in heaven they drive on the right side of the road.”

The picture of comic terror, her white, wiry hair on end from a night passed on a train, Briggie suddenly relaxed her hold on her bag to pat Alex’s knee.  “When I picture Stewart in the spirit world, I see him pacing.”

Look around you, Briggs! Have you ever seen any place like it?”

Gold flags glinted from the four corners of Magdalene Tower.  Though the November trees were bare, the landscape was far from stark with the college walls glowing their warm honey color in the morning light.

The bus swerved to avoid a bicyclist.

No.” Briggie answered shortly, renewing a death grip on her belongings.

Tangled Roots

[Briggie introducing Alex’s mother to what it means to be a genealogist]

“Oh my goodness,” her mother said.  “This is getting dangerous.  Do you think we should go ahead with it?”

It’s our business,” Briggie told her briskly.  “If it’s an inheritance deal, then something’s up with this genogram.  You say Gladys has the family Bible?” she asked Alex.

Yes.”

Maybe that will give us some kind of lead,” Briggie said, squinting to peer through the falling snow.  “Boy, this is getting interesting.”

Later:

Suddenly, behind her [Alex] she heard a commotion.  Everyone looked up.

The little maid was screeching as Charles and Briggie rounded the corner into the corridor.  Briggie took one look at the scene before her and raised her deer rifle, squinting into its sight.  “Hands up!” she commanded.  “Unless you want your ugly head stuffed and mounted on my living room wall.”

Poisoned Pedigree

[Alex, as she races to rescue Briggie from almost certain death]

How in the world could she bear losing Briggie?  Alex thought of her staunch freind, who had rescued her from her bottomless grief and abandonment in Scotland.  Stewart’s Scottish relatives had been so stoic and phlegmatic that Alex couldn’t pour out her grief to them.  The cold village kirk had offered no comfort.  There hadn’t been a body to mourn, or even a memorial service.  After she lost the baby, Alex had begun to waste away, not caring whether she lived or died.  One day Briggie had appeared at her bedside, and in her gruff American accent had told her she was related to Stewart.  Briggie invited her to get out of bed and try to help her prove it.  Since the, she had issued one challenge after another.  Come home to the States where you belong.  Come live with me in my house, and we’ll start a genealogy business together.  Go to my friend, Dr. Brace, and get some help for your depression.  Listen to the missionaries–they have a message that will give meaning to your life.  Go see your parents and make peace with them . . .

Hidden Branch

[Alex is just coming to from another head injury on the floor of a fugitive’s house, when she gets a frantic call on her cell phone]

Briggie’s voice said, “Alex, Leon and I are both in jail in Santa Ana.  Can you come and tell these stupid cops that I didn’t steal those coins and that I didn’t steal those coins and that [ can’t be a spoiler here] . . .”

How did you wind up in jail this time?” Alex asked, exasperated.

“Leon was chasing me in his car, and I ran a couple of lights.  We were both doing about sixty in a twenty-five zone.  We both got stopped.  I thought it was my lucky day.  I told them about Leon, but as soon as they called in, the cops fount out about my arrest the other night.  Leon was claiming I had stolen the coins.  But since I claimed he was a murderer and the FBI was after him, the cops decided to take both of us in.”

“Well, at least you’re safe in jail. . . “

That’s all from Briggie and Alex until next Christmas, which gives you plenty of time to catch up on anything you’ve missed (put it on your Amazon wish list), or introduce the indefatigable Briggie to your friends and relatives! (Click on book cover to order from Amazon)

Contest ends December 6.

1
Nov

PTSD: The Secret Storm in the Soul

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff

[This will be the homepage for a new website scheduled to be up on November 8]

I am a writer. I knew this long before I knew that I was a PTSD survivor. When I began writing the book that came to be titled The Pieces of Paris, I was in the process of learning to write "from my bones." Until that time, many events in my life were contained under a virtual lead shield. My conscious mind sent them into some dark spot inside me that I did not visit.

However, good writers are required to be emotionally honest. I had cultivated a cheerful, passive disposition, but when I began to write this book, I found myself writing a story about a deeply concealed trauma in my own life—the death of my fiancé in Vietnam. For twenty years, I had been having frequent nightmares and waking flashbacks as my nervous system mourned this heartrending loss in its own way.

As I endeavored faithfully to follow my characters through lives so interwoven with my own, I had a life-changing experience. As I sat down at the computer on what I thought was an ordinary day, I was shocked at what spewed forth from some hidden well inside me. Anger! Such anger that I had never felt anything like it in my life. It was the scene where the young man, drafted to serve in Vietnam, turns suddenly vitriolic, venting his real fears and rage on his hapless fiancée. He tells her that he is going to die—that she must get away from him, not wait, and that he is unilaterally severing their bond. He warns that if she does not leave him, she will have to watch him drown himself in the river. I wrote with tears pouring down my cheeks. Tears I had never cried for my lost love who, turning into a brutal stranger before my eyes, claimed, exactly like my character, that he would die in Vietnam.

It didn’t happen exactly like that. My ex-fiancé would endure a three-year coma, during which time I held him like a child in my arms and rained kisses and tears upon him. We cried together, his face contorted in sorrow. By the time he died, I had been married only a matter of months. Fearing disloyalty to my husband, I had never allowed myself to grieve.

I knew nothing about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had no idea that I was a ticking time bomb. From those moments of anger in front of the computer, my rage grew alarmingly. Too late, I became a Vietnam war protester, writing a livid novel that worked all those buried feelings out into the open. My natural grieving process had been stalled on the denial setting for twenty years. Now I experienced rage followed by soul-ripping anguish and despair. As happens to my heroine, Annalisse, my one-time fiancé stalked me. I could feel his presence. I could feel him watching everything I did. I came to believe, like Annalisse, that I was living life for the two of us.

Gradually, my feelings leveled out into normal sadness that continues to this day. It wasn’t for another ten years that I learned that in writing that novel (which I decided I could not publish) I had experienced what was called "PTSD."

But that was not to be the end. In my fifties, a bigger land mine inside me exploded with crying jags that seemed to have no trigger. They went on for months and would begin any time, any place for no discernible reason. Eventually, pain that had hidden under my lead shield from the time I was a child descended upon me with a ferocity that felt like crawling naked through broken glass. The full weight of every buried horror from childhood through adolescence visited me all at once. I held onto life by only a sliver of will. For twenty years, I had been living in a depressed state, but nothing like this had ever happened.

I know now, that there were angels in attendance who saved me. Living friends held me while I wept, and people from the other side of the veil of mortality intervened, carrying me along, sheltering me from self-harm until finally my rage and my pain were spent.

I said at the beginning that I was a survivor. But, I am more than that. I am victorious! Step by step, I felt my way to forgiveness of those who had caused my long-buried pain. I could not have done this without the understanding of a Savior (or as many would say, "a higher power") who stood as a perfect protector, friend, advocate, and mediator. As I became more devout in my understanding of Him and His plan, I began to make rational sense out of the world around me. My shield finally dropped away, and I learned for the first time to trust and to truly love. That shield that had kept pain in for so long, had also kept love out.

Once I felt that love and its honey-sweet healing power–from my Savior, my husband, my family, my dear friends–all I wanted to do was share it with the world. I had no desire so great as to heal people of the pain I had experienced. My tool was my pen (or my computer, to be more accurate).

Like I said, I am a writer. Tolstoy said that the task of real art is to carry the reader inside the author’s characters to such depth, that the reader will virtually experience everything the characters do. Recently, I realized that everything I have written is related to recovery from PTSD. My series of mysteries chronicles the recovery of a woman who was rejected by her parents and then lost her husband in a terrorist attack. ( http://ggvandagriff.com )The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War, is a story of another heroine’s progress from a starry eyed debutante in the Vienna of 1913 through the hell of World War One and its aftermath. Although she had no control over history, she had control over her reaction to it. Changing from the inside out, she came to know and to express the deepest reaches of that love that redeems.( http://last-waltz.com)

Then it was time to do something about that ancient manuscript about the Vietnam War. It was old news by now. In the rewriting of it, to bring it into the present day with a more timely trauma, I found deeper meaning in the journey of my characters. I realized that my opening paragraph, written far before I understood it, characterized PTSD perfectly:

It was the simple things that undid her, Annalisse had discovered. Something as ordinary as the scent of lilacs when the air was heavy, a brief measure of Tchaikovsky, or a dream. A dream like the one she’d awakened from last night—so real she could smell the Paris Metro in it. Any of these things could revive in a moment the memories she’d spent the last six years burying. They crept under the leaden shield around her heart and found the small, secret place where she still had feeling.

In Pieces of Paris, Annalisse and Dennis’s trial of their marriage became, with my added understanding, an epic similar to the first chapters of Genesis. They learned, as we all must, that there is no Eden in this life. When Dennis decides to put such notions of perfectionism behind him, he chooses honest love, just as we all must if we are to find the joy mortality has to offer. Love redeems, love purifies, and love makes us fit for heaven.

And, after all that’s said and done, life’s very purpose is to shape us, using pain as a tool to enlarge our souls so that we can serve as we are served and love as we are loved.

Do not ever put your life’s journey on hold, or cut it short. The best times occur along the way, as you come to know the higher power, and how magnificent and all-changing that power can be. As you take it into your lives and do your best to emulate it, you will enter a sphere of peace in this troubled world.

I think T.S. Eliot said it better than I ever could: In order to get to where you are to where you are not, you must go through the way in which you are not.

Courage. You are not alone.

14
Aug

Pieces of Paris

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff

A great part of my writing past is about to see the light of day on October 1.  For twenty-five years, I have been layering and reconstructing the novel now known as Pieces of Paris (which my long-time editor claims is my best work so far).  My original title, back in the eighties, was Paddle on the Right, named after a humorous canoeing incident in some river in Missouri where my husband and I capsized.  That scene has long been axed, and the novel has evolved to such an extent that it has gone through at least ten titles.  However, one thing remains.  The question: “What do you do when you find out you are married to a stranger?”

I am not talking about a dangerous stranger, a criminal, or any kind of person with a “shady” past.  I’m talking about a fairly familiar phenomenon.  We never know who the person we marry is in a complete, eternal sense.  As my heroine’s father says, “Why shouldn’t a good marriage be an endless process of exploration and discovery?”

I didn’t know that this book was emotionally biographical.  I was just confused about a lot of issues in my life that had never been resolved.  Alone with my three children most of the day and many nights while my husband worked, or was away, I began having flashbacks to these issues and experiencing long suppressed anger and feelings that had been been put to rest.    In my efforts to deal with these, I entered a sort of twilight life where I existed in the present, but my mind was caught up in the past.

Annalisse Childs, my heroine, has a very dramatic, passionate past, just as I did.  However, hers is full of different and far more interesting issues.  Once a European concert pianist, she is endeavoring to partner her idealistic husband of four years in his “Walden” experience on a farm in Southwest Missouri.  To his credit, Dennis knows nothing of her past except that she grew up on a farm in Wisconsin.  Because of tragic memories Annalisse has no intention of revisiting, she has cut music out of her life.  But, bit by bit, the pieces she once performed in Paris, accompanied by their ecstatic and terrible memories are the thin edge of the wedge.  Once she goes back to the piano, she cannot help the flashbacks from recurring.

As her husband witnesses the transformation of his stoical, practical wife into someone who makes public scenes, cries in closets and basements, and yet clings with superhuman tenacity to his heroic version of reality, he feels as if the ground beneath him has crumbled.  What should he do?  Does he have anything in common with this woman?  Why does she suddenly hate farm life and express a desire to sit up all night in Paris discussing the Opera?  Where is their marriage headed?

As nearly everyone who has read this manuscript has noted, Dennis is a thinly veiled version of my husband David.  Both are truly one-in-a-million amazing men.  And hopefully, reading the account of the hairpin turn in the fictional story will cause you to think deeply about your own relationships, and be filled with the kind of deep-seated well-being that accompanies the truest kind of love.

A MOMENTO: Pieces of Paris is now available for pre-order on Amazon.  Anyone who pre-orders and e-mails me (through my website http://ggvandagriff.com) a copy of their confirmation and snail mail address will receive a sterling silver charm of the Eiffel Tower! Deadline is the end of August.

EXAMINER CONTEST: The winner of the three copies of The Last Waltz are: Wendy Pop, Mary Deborde, and Kristine Armstrong!

25
May

Interview with author, Lynn Gardner

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff

Lynn’s hallmark as a writer has always been fast-paced suspense that takes place in interesting locals which she carefully researches.  Her latest novel, Pursued, is second in her Maggie McKenzie series, intertwining Maggie’s search for her brothers, who were adopted out at birth, with a world wide plot involving the destruction of major cities and landmarks.  It is non-stop action from page one.  Lynn’s webpage is here.

Following is an interview I had with the very prolific, Lynn, whom new LDS readers may not know very well.

GG: How long have you been writing the Maggie McKenzie series?

When Rubies and Rebels, the 9th book in the gem series was published in 2003, my editor asked what my next project was. I had just completed the research (a trip to Italy and Greece with my husband) on the 10th book, Topaz and Treachery. She asked if I anything else in mind. Actually, I had been thinking about a young photojournalist fresh from college who has a demanding boss who didn’t want her in the first place so he gives her all sorts of ridiculous assignments. She suggested that instead of writing Topaz, I start the new series. Vanished: A Maggie McKenzie Mystery was published in 2004.

I then wrote Topaz, and as soon as it was finished, I started on Pursued, the second in the Maggie series. But the editors didn’t like the twin mind connection, (they didn’t much like it in the first book either, but since I had so much documentation on the research being done on that subject, they relented if I toned it down considerably, which I did.) But with each rewrite and submission, I’d find a new editor looking at the manuscript and suggesting different revisions. At one point, I was so discouraged, I was ready to just forget the whole thing and toss the manuscript “in the bottom drawer” as the saying goes. They encouraged me to make some drastic changes in the story line – which I did.

I had some good advice from my friend, Val, and started over with a new premise, slashed some of my favorite parts which contained the mind connection with the twins and siblings, and the exciting climax which took place in the ruins I most loved in Wales, Tintern Abbey. It is a wonderful, magical place that I could have spent hours in just soaking up the spirit and atmosphere that William Wordsworth felt. He wrote that when his spirits were burdened and he was depressed, he just had to return to Tintern Abbey in his thoughts and remember the beautiful Wye River flowing next to it and he was rejuvenated. But that will never see the light of day. Sorry.

So with all the rewrites and rejections, and more rewrites, you can see that Pursued took four long, agonizing years. Which seems incredible, since Emeralds, the first book only took me two years. It came out in 1995; Pearls, 1996; Diamonds, 1997; Turquoise, 1998; Sapphires, 1999; Amethysts, 1999; (two books that year!) Jade, 2000; Opals, 2001. Then we went on a mission to Armenia, and when I got back, Rubies was published. So apparently, I wasn’t getting to be a better writer during all those years.

GG: What would you consider your hallmarks as a writer?

If you mean, what do my readers expect when they pick up my books, they know they will find in-depth description of place and some history to go with it, a lot of fast-paced action, and a good absorbing story. I love to feel familiar with a place when I’m reading a book because the author has described it so well, so I want to give my readers that experience. I feel everyone should learn something new when they read, even when they’re just reading for escape, and they should be entertained by the story. I want my stories to be unpredictable, so the reader can’t anticipate what will happen on the next page. As I write, I think, what is the worst thing that can happen next? What if? That usually leads off on exciting tangents. I want readers to feel good in the end – not feel the read was a waste of their time. I’m delighted when someone tells me my books got them through a trying time in their lives by taking them out of their troubles for a bit and into another world.

GG: How much on the spot research did you do for Pursued?

As with all my books, I personally travel to the location so I can get the feel of the place first hand, and I research the history so I can include fun things about it, weaving them into the story line. I traveled to England and Wales with two cousins and a friend to do family history research, knowing at the time that I was writing this book, so everywhere we went, I plotted the story and made notes as to what Maggie would be doing there. Unfortunately, much of what I envisioned on the trip didn’t come to pass in the final version of Pursued, but it may ultimately be a better book for some than the first version. I hope so.

GG: Do you outline your books or make them up as you go along or do something in between?

I know the starting point – the inciting incident of the story – and I know where the story should go, and usually have an idea of how it should end. As I begin writing, the characters sort of take over the story and I envision in my mind what they are doing – a movie playing out in full color and sound – and just write what is happening. Occasionally they start down a road that I hadn’t foreseen and it is better, or sometimes I have to rein the characters in and lead them along the story line that I originally conceived. But I do not do organized plot lines or outlines.

GG: Pursued is extremely complex. How do you sustain that complexity? Is it a natural talent or have you developed it over time?

As I said, I’m seeing all this happening in my mind as a movie. There are things occurring at the same time all over the world, so I need to keep the reader up to date on what’s going on. It didn’t feel complex while I was writing it. I was just recording things as they played out for the characters. Does that make sense? Or does it make me sound loony?? J

GG: I think there are two types of writers: a.) the type who can write a book all at once that needs very little revision, or b.) the type (like me) who writes draft after draft, layering the plot and the characters. Which are you?

I used to be the first kind. Sort of. There were always revisions, but nothing too major or time consuming – until Topaz, the 10th in the gem series. I had an editor assigned to me who introduced himself via e-mail saying he didn’t like romantic suspense, never read the genre, but was my new editor, and by the way, my characters were terrible but since they were already established, he guessed there wasn’t too much we could do with them at this point. Our relationship went down hill from there. J The last three books had major issues that required copious amounts of rewrite and revision. But I don’t do several drafts layering plot and characters, though it seems apparent by the editor’s comments that I should have been doing that.

GG: When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how did you decide on suspense fiction?

My high school graduation year book states as one of my goals I will someday write and publish a book. I didn’t even remember that until one of my classmates reminded me after Emeralds was published (39 years after graduation!) But I’ve always written something – I edited a family newsletter for 20 years, wrote Relief Society Newsletters, sacrament meeting special programs for Christmas and Easter, road shows, special Relief Society and Young Women programs. I just had never written a real story – fiction – until I started Emeralds and Espionage.

I love reading suspense and mysteries of all kinds – not thrillers as a rule like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. I don’t go for the really terrifying stuff, but when I began writing, it was only natural that I would gravitate to the genre that I loved most to read. I’m sure I read every Nancy Drew mystery as I was growing up, then I read all of my Dad’s Erle Stanley Gardner mysteries, and Agatha Christie, then Mary Stuart and Phyllis Whitney. Then a host of new mystery writers emerged and I devoured them. I love mysteries! When we watch TV, it’s always mysteries or suspense or documentaries – never sitcoms or the alphabet networks. The BBC mysteries are the best!

GG: Are Maggie and Flynn going to get married finally?

(Smiling) I guess you will just have to read the book to find out. I don’t want to spoil the ending for readers who haven’t yet had a chance to get the book.

GG: What are your future writing plans?

I’ve been giving talks for 30 years to women’s conferences, youth and single adult conferences, family history conferences, sacrament meetings and stake conferences and other venues, and I thought now might be a great time to prepare some of those for little gift books. I think in these troubled times, people need a bit of an uplift. And since we are always looking for a thoughtful little gift for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Days, etc, I thought I might concentrate on that a bit and give my overworked fiction editors some relief. I’m sure they’ll be glad to hear that.

GG: Share with our readers your goals as a writer.

Very simply, I want to entertain, educate and edify with every story. I hope I do that.