As part of the Virtual Book Tour for Stay With Me (by Carolyn Astfalk), I interviewed Carolyn a few weeks ago about her book.
1. Stay With Me is your first published novel. But is this the first novel you have written? If not, tell us about your other works in progress.
I have three other complete novels that are in various states of polish. My first, Rightfully Ours is a coming of age story about the value of friendship, first love, and integrity. All In Good Time is a contemporary romance (with a touch of suspense) about a widow and mother of young children who falls in love with a never-married man. Ornamental Graces is a Christmas contemporary romance about lost innocence, overcoming guilt, healing, and an ex-girlfriend who won’t stay in the past.
2. Rebecca’s sister, Abby, is hilarious, but also a very believable (and blunt) character. Is she based on anyone you know? Or perhaps an amalgamation of people you know?
Writing Abby was sheer delight. Her snarky, brutally-honest remarks are the kinds of things that would never slip past my internal filter. So, while she’s not based on any one person or persons, I suppose she says and does the things I imagine I might if I had a radical personality change.
3. Some authors know at the beginning of the writing process how the story will end. Did you know as you were writing the book that there would be a — for want of a better phrase — fall from grace for some of the characters?
I envisioned a happy ending from the beginning, but the final twists in Chris and Rebecca’s relationship were unplanned, mainly because they defy convention for this genre. They were the result of simply wondering What if? and then realizing how such a fall from grace, as you put it, was exactly what needed to happen not only to test their love but as the final impetus to solidify Rebecca’s internal transformation.
4. You’re the mother of four children. How did you find time to write a full length novel?
It’s tough. I began the first novel when I had only two children and my husband was gone on extended travel for work. I’ve discovered I cannot out-wake my children, so I write when I can in small increments during naps, late at night, and when I can around activities, meals, diaper changes and daily chaos. Some days no writing gets done, and some days too much. It’s difficult to strike the right balance.
5. What are the best three books you’ve read recently?
I loved Tammy L. Gray’s Sell Out, a modern Christian romance with an anti-bullying theme and messages about courage, kindness, hope, and forgiveness. I also enjoyed Susan Peek’s Saint Magnus, The Last Viking, which is about as far as you can get from a dry, stodgy, lives-of-the-saints tale. It’s full of action, strength, and courage. And finally, Corinna Turner’s The Three Most Wanted, the second in her I Am Margaret dystopian series is a great read. It’s fast-paced and action-packed.
6. As I said in a previous question, I found the characters in Stay With Me so believable and endearing. Do you happen to have a sequel planned for Stay With Me? Did you have a sequel planned when you starting writing this novel?
I wrote Stay With Me as a standalone novel. However, between other projects, I began writing about Chris’s brother Alan and sister-in-law Jamie just for the sake of increasing my daily word count. I’m not sure if it’s a novel or a novella, but although those chapters have been lying dormant for months, I think there’s more there. In Stay With Me, you get the sense that while Alan and Jamie love one another, their fledgling marriage has a weak foundation, and I’m interested in exploring why and how they can recommit themselves to a more fruitful marriage.
7. Tell us more about your writing journey. Have you always felt called to write fiction (and more particularly, Theology of the Body fiction?) Or did it gradually develop over time?
I always enjoyed writing, but through high school, college, and in the jobs I held after college, I wrote nonfiction. Until I tried National Novel Writing Month in 2010, I’d never written any fiction longer than a short story. Until that time, I hadn’t grasped that my elaborate day dreams were stories my subconscious wanted to tell, and I didn’t nurture my creativity. When I began writing Rightfully Ours, though I had a vague idea about the plot, the Theology of the Body themes that emerged surprised me. Early in our marriage, my husband and I had a deep interest in the Theology of the Body and participated in many Engaged Encounter weekends. The wisdom and beauty of the Church’s teaching about human sexuality is close to my heart, and I believe it’s critical to our health as individuals, couples, and even as a society. Time and again, it simply resurfaces in my writing.
8. What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?
My favorite part is when all the puzzle pieces fit together – the plot is resolved, the themes emerge, and all of the threads are neatly tied up. Sometimes I marvel at how it happens almost as if the story has a life of its own. My least favorite part is extensive editing. I like the problem-solving aspect of editing, but by the tenth go-round, it’s lost its appeal.
To buy Carolyn’s book, Stay With Me, on Kindle, click here.
To buy the print book on Create Space, click here. To receive $2 off, use this code: B3E4E622
To buy the print book on Amazon, click here.
To check out the novel’s website, click here.