Monday, February 18, 2008

Meet Maureen Lang - Interview & Book Giveaway

Maureen Lang - PhotoI’m so happy to welcome author Maureen Lang to the blog. Her latest novel is On Sparrow Hill (The Oak Leaves Series #2). Let’s get to know Maureen…

THE BIO

Believing herself a hopeless romantic, Maureen Lang writes stories that revolve around romance — whether contemporary or historical, she loves finding ways to keep heroes and heroines apart until the very end. Her newest release, On Sparrow Hill (Tyndale House), combines both historical and contemporary settings in one book. Please visit her website at www.maureenlang.com.

THE INTERVIEW

JA: Your next book is On Sparrow Hill. Tell us about it.
ML: On Sparrow Hill is the sequel to The Oak Leaves, which came out from Tyndale last year – but don’t worry, readers can enjoy this book without having read its predecessor! On Sparrow Hill was so much fun, mainly because it has not just one romance, but two. In my opinion, the pages of a book turn a whole lot faster when there’s a romance involved! The two storylines are related, but one is contemporary England and the other Victorian Ireland. They’re connected through letters the contemporary heroine finds in the estate home where she is the curator. The lesson she learns about servanthood affects her own decisions when she has the opportunity to leave behind the role of a servant to join (by marriage) the circle of modern-day aristocracy. In the historical segment, the aristocratic heroine has left behind her pampered life to serve others afflicted by mental retardation – only to be tempted back into aristocracy by her attraction to a Member of Parliament. But she knows her role as a servant is too much a part of her to leave behind.

JA: Many of your books contain a blending of two different time periods. (I love that premise… like time travel without the paradoxes!) In On Sparrow Hill, which idea came first: the past or the present?
ML: The historical, definitely! I love a good romance no matter when it takes place, but I have to admit my preference for historical settings. In fact, when I first began the contemporary story line, I was concentrating on an entirely different character (Dana, the character who also played a minor role in Oak Leaves – I wanted to give her a book of her own!) But as I began the story, the curator of the modern-day estate kept turning up in my thoughts. I really tried to ignore her, but when my editor said if she was the one I wanted to explore, I should go for it. So I did, and I ended up having so much fun with her story, too.

JA: You use the genetic condition Fragile X in The Oak Leaves and On Sparrow Hill How has Fragile X impacted your life, and did you find it cathartic to write about it?
ML: My twelve-year-old son is affected by Fragile X Syndrome, the leading cause of genetic mental retardation. He has it because I carry the disorder in my genes. I didn’t know I was a carrier until he was diagnosed, but ever since learning about it, Fragile X has been a huge part of my life. I try to make people aware of it, do fundraising for a cure, so of course it was the major impetus behind writing both of these books. I wanted people to hear about Fragile X, because the more people who hear about it, the more likely they’ll be to donate toward a cure!

Writing both of these books was absolutely cathartic, because they forced me to think about things I’ve learned by having this disorder impact my life. Yes, there are frustrations when dealing with a family member so limited by mental retardation. But there are joys, too, which I never expected after the diagnosis. My son has his own personality, Fragile X didn’t take that away. He has a great sense of humor and his natural bend is to be happy. We love making him laugh, but it’s fairly easy! Mostly, though, having Fragile X in my life has brought me closer to God, and I look forward to Heaven more than ever now. I needed to share that with others, because God really is the answer.

JA: There’s a wonderful video trailer for On Sparrow Hill. [READERS: Click here to check it out] How did that come about?
ML: Actually a friend of mine approached me and wondered if I might want to do this. I was intrigued by the idea, but I had no idea how much fun it would be to see various aspects of my book come to life so visually. Diane Whiddon-Brown is so creative and just a joy to work with.

Maureen Lang CoverJA: What do you hope people take away after reading this book?
ML: The thing I felt God trying to teach me during this book was that we should all strive to be servants. Jesus was a servant. There are plenty of opportunities, even though sometimes we resent our role as servant, especially as a woman with endless to-do lists. But serving others, whether it’s in a job or at home, is always harder when it’s done begrudgingly. I needed the reminder that being a servant is to be like Jesus, and so I hope my readers will be reminded of that and take comfort in it.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
ML: I have another book coming out with Tyndale near the end of this year (’08). This is a book I’m so excited about. It’s tentatively titled My Sister Dilly, and it’s the story of a woman who prefers big city life in LA near the ocean rather than the small, Midwestern town she left behind. But when her younger sister is desperate enough to make an awful choice and ends up in prison because of it, my heroine goes back home to take care of her after she is released from prison. But when she leaves LA, she also leaves behind the one man she’s ever loved. She learns she can’t really go back, she can only learn to accept forgiveness, both her sister’s and God’s. It’s a romance (of course!) but just as interesting to me was being able to explore the relationship between these two sisters, which was sometimes a love/resentment sort of thing.

JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
ML: That I am, like many other writers, insecure to the core. Even though I was raised in a loving home, even though I have a loving husband and family, even though I’m absolutely living a dream by seeing my books in print…who would think it possible to be insecure? But I am. So if you ever see me at a writer’s conference and I look like I’m trying to fade into the wallpaper, it’s not because I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just like to keep my insecurities to myself.

JA: Dream time: If you had a week to go to a luxurious spa and do nothing but be pampered and read, what books would you take along?
ML: First I’d have to take a box load of history books, because history is the fodder for endless stories. So much drama! So much angst! So many settings! I actually find reading history books very relaxing. As for fiction…well, I’m eagerly awaiting a new novel by Leif Enger, and I’d also bring anything by Siri Mitchell, Ruth Axtell Morren, and so many others. Unfortunately, I’m a slow reader, maybe because I read every word and sometimes stop to ponder…so my stack of books for just one week might be smaller than someone else’s!

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
ML: I’m not nearly as technologically savvy as I should be, but I try to keep my website up-to-date (www.maureenlang.com) and I also belong to ACFW, RWA’s Faith, Hope and Love Chapter, The Writer’s View, and all of those wonderful loops allow me to announce good news. I also love visiting blogs, like this one!

Thank you, Maureen, and continued blessings on your writing journey!

WIN THE BOOK

On Sparrow Hill is in stores now, but you can win a copy here. Just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll combine them with the responses of my Blogger and ShoutLife blogs to pick a winner at random on February 26th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) ShoutLifers will be contacted via ShoutMail. Good luck!

26 comments:

Hannah said...

great interview! i'd love to win a copy of this book! hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com thanks!

pat jeanne said...

Thank you for the interview with Maureen, Jen. Enjoyed reading it. Put my name in the drawing for Maureen's new release, please.

Lesha said...

Sounds great :)

Doreen said...

Nice interview!

Kristi said...

I very much enjoyed your interview. I'd like to be included in the drawing for a copy of the book. It sounds wonderful. kristialabama(at)charter(dot)net
Thanks.

margy said...

Enter me please! =)

Virginia said...

I really enjoyed the interview. This book sounds really good I would love to win a copy. Please put me in the drawing.

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

Leanne said...

Thanks for the great interview - I am eager to read this sequel after recently finishing The Oak Leaves.

Leanne

Lean(at)charter(dot)net

Carolynn W. said...

That sounds like a great book. I love it when a story involves more than one time period at a time! Thanks for the chance to win:)

Jennifer AlLee said...

This is a comment from Kay (who doesn't have a Google account, but sent me an email:

Great interview! I never heard of Fragile X before, so this was new to me. Would love to read BOTH books! BTW, I – like Maureen - also read every word, but I'm trying to cure myself of that! Too many great books out there that I don't have time to read! LOL Please put my name in the drawing. kayscmalbums[at]tx[dot]rr[dot]com

Jennifer AlLee said...

Hello, Lovely Ladies!

Thanks to all of you for stopping by. I think Maureen's book is going to be a real treat!

Be blessed!

Donna Moore said...

What a great idea to weave two different time periods together. I aggree that the pages of a book flip faster with a good romance involved. Please include me in the drawing.

stampedwithgrace said...

sounds great! please enter me, thanks!

gheidema said...

Please enter me. I'd love to win this book.
bookwurm70 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Miralee Ferrell said...

Maureen is an exceptionally talented author and a very nice person, as well. I wish her the best with her newest release (and I hope I win her newest book!). Miralee

Carole said...

Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of this book. I know I would enjoy it.

cjarvis[at]bellsouth[dot]net

Lucie said...

Thank you for the interview. Enjoyed reading your blog today. Please add me in the contest for Maureen's book.

~Lucie

LucieInCA (at) aol (dot) com

dianewb said...

Maureen is a great writer and I love her books. I'm really looking forward to reading On Sparrow Hill. It was such a pleasure to work with her on her book trailer.

Maureen Lang said...

I just wanted to thank everyone for all the excitement and interest in my books. It's so fun to connect through interviews, and I'm grateful to Jennifer for this opportunity. Blogs are fun anyway, but I love it when there's a free book in the mix!

Jennifer AlLee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Diane! The book trailer you did for Maureen is just wonderful.

And big thanks to Maureen for taking time to hang out with us on the web.

Blessings to all!

windycindy said...

I think this book sounds great! The cover is beautiful. Please enter me in your book drawing. I appreciate it! Thanks,Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

anne said...

What a fascinating and interesting interview. The book appeals to me and thanks for this wonderful giveaway.

ruth said...

Thanks for this wonderful interview. The book is fascinating and this giveaway is delightful.

Bebemiqui said...

Great giveaway! Count me in. bebemiqui82(at)yahoo(dot)com

Tara said...

sounds interesting!
taradawnrobertson at hotmail dot com

Jennifer AlLee said...

And the winner is... Kristi! Congrats to Kristi, and thanks to everyone who dropped by!