It’s my pleasure to introduce Marlo Schalesky, author of Beyond the Night. Let’s meet Marlo!
Marlo Schalesky is the award winning author of six books, including her latest novel Beyond the Night, which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist to create a new type of story. She has also had over 600 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on more “Love Stories with a Twist!” for Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers, a division of Random House. She owns her own construction consulting firm and lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four young daughters.
JA: Your latest book is Beyond the Night. Please tell us about it.
MS: I’d love to! First, here’s my “teaser” blurb:
They say love is blind. This time, they’re right.
A poignant love story . . .
A shocking twist . . .
Come, experience a love that will not die.
A Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) type love story meets an M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) twist in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can’t tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed.
And this is from the back cover:
As a woman lies unconscious in a hospital bed, her husband waits beside her, urging her to wake up and come home. Between them lies an ocean of fear and the tenuous grip of memories long past. Memories of wonder. Of love. Memories of a girl named Madison and a boy named Paul…
Madison Foster knew she was going blind. But she didn’t want pity—not from her mother, not from her roommate, and especially not from her best friend Paul—the man she secretly loved.
Paul Tilden knew a good thing when he saw it. And a good thing was his friendship with Maddie Foster. That is, until he started to fall in love.
With the music of the seventies as their soundtrack and its groovy fashions as their scenery, Maddie and Paul were drawn together and driven apart. Then one night changed everything…forever.
And only now, when life tiptoes past the edge of yesterday, along the rim of today, can they glimpse the beauty that awaits them…beyond the night.
JA: In the story, Maddie is going blind. You have very personal, poignant experience with that subject. Could you share how that influenced the story?
MS: When my grandfather was going blind, he took a shotgun to the backyard and ended his life. He was a good man, kind and wise. Blindness didn’t change that. It wouldn’t have changed it. But the fear of it did.
It didn’t have to be that way. Today, there are 1.3 million people in the United States alone who are legally blind. Another nearly 9 million are visually impaired. Every day in this country people find out they are going blind. Seniors, mothers, fathers, children. Last year, it was my own mother. For her, it’s just a matter of time.
So, Maddie’s journey through blindness and fear grows out of my family’s experiences. It also, in a broader sense, comes out of my own. For even though blindness is a specific malady, Maddie’s condition is also a metaphor for the dark times we all face. For the difficulties that come and rattle our faith, for those times when we can’t see what’s ahead, when life is masked by shadow and doubt.
For Maddie, losing her physical sight prompted her journey through doubt and fear. For me, it was infertility and miscarriage.
If there’s one thing I know about it’s living the life God has given you when it’s not the life you dreamed. Infertility taught me how to do that. It taught me that life takes unexpected turns and dark, difficult times come. And it taught me that it’s not the darkness that will destroy you, but the fear of it.
So, in many ways Beyond the Night explores my own questions, my own doubts, my own faith journey in facing the darkness, facing fear, with hope and dignity. That’s why Beyond the Night is about overcoming the fear of the unknown, rather than letting it overcome you. It’s about finding the light, the hope, the promise that lies beyond the darkness. And I think we could all use that, whether we’re going physically blind or not!
JA: A significant setting in Beyond the Night is Stanford University, your alma mater. What made Stanford perfect for this book?
MS: Setting the story partially at Stanford was SO MUCH fun! :+} It allowed me to pluck out some neat memories from my husband’s and my own love story and sprinkle those things throughout Paul and Maddie’s story. Mem Chu, Tressider, and the Quad … it was fun to go back relive moments through Paul and Maddie’s eyes. And when Paul and Maddie take their trip to the city (that is, San Francisco), well, let’s just say Sam Wo’s is a place not to be missed!
Plus, for Maddie’s situation, I needed a university that would both work with its students to keep them enrolled but was also highly dedicated to its educational standards, a place where most students are pursuing a specific vision for their lives, a vision, which for Maddie, is interrupted by blindness. Stanford fit the bill there too.
So, if readers want to find out more about the connection between Stanford, me, my hubby, and Paul & Maddie’s story, I encourage them to check out the fun, informal Stanford video tour on my website (just click the video player on the bottom right side of my front page!)
JA: What do you hope people take away after reading Beyond the Night?
MS: Funny thing is that if you’d asked me that when I first proposed this book, I would have said something about the enduring qualities of real love. And that still is part of what Beyond the Night is all about. But as I started to write, I soon discovered the story, at its heart, was really about overcoming fear – fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of getting hurt, fear of letting go – the kinds of fear that regular, not-particularly-fearful people still have to face in their everyday lives.
Then, as the story progressed, I began to see that overcoming fear isn’t really about “getting up the courage” or trying to be brave. Not at all! What truly defeats fear is a glimpse of the breathtaking wonder of a vivid God. It’s about the awe of knowing that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has risen to understand what God has prepared for those who love Him” (my translation from the Greek of 1 Corinthians 2:9). Just as light drives out darkness, so fear is driven out by hope, and hope is found in God’s amazing love.
So, that’s really what I’m hoping people will take away after reading Beyond the Night – that glimpse of God and His breathtaking love, that glimmer of beauty, that “wow” of seeing a bit more of the wondrous love of God – the love that drives out our fears.
JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
MS: The second in my new “Love Stories With a Twist!” books. The new one will release in March 2009 and is called If Tomorrow Never Comes. Here’s a bit about it:
They say you should reach for your dreams.
This time, they’re wrong…
Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams—marriage, children, a house by the sea…everything they needed for happily ever after. What they didn’t plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes.
Now, all that’s left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until…
Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, and the threads of the past, present, and future weave together to reveal the wonder of one final hope. One final chance to follow not their dreams, but God’s.
Can they embrace the redemptive power of love before it’s too late? Or will their love be washed away like the castles they once built upon the sand? The past whispers to the present. And the future shivers. What if tomorrow never comes?
JA: Besides being a writer, you also do quite a bit of public speaking. What’s your favorite topic to speak on?
MS: I love to talk about Renewing the Wonder in a Vivid God. I love to help people see beyond this dark night (whatever darkness they’re facing now) to glimpse the beauty and light that awaits them, if only they hang on, persevere, and seek the face of God in the trials of life. It’s so easy to get bogged down in today’s difficulties, or even just the ins-and-outs of everyday life, and we forget that God is weaving together the big events, the little moments, the everyday occurrences, in our lives into a wondrous tapestry that’s meant to reflect his beauty. Sometimes the threaded strings are dark, sometimes they just seem a mess, but God’s hand is at the loom. Someday, we will see the glory, glimpse the light, and know what God has planned for those who love Him.
JA: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
MS: Okay, well, I suppose I’ll just break the news here . . . I’m pregnant. And that is a HUGE surprise. I still can hardly believe it. After spending most of my adult life (15 years) dealing with infertility, never ever being able to have a baby without extreme medical intervention (some of which worked, many of which didn’t), finally coming to end of that journey (I thought), turning the big 4-0, and giving away every last bit of my maternity clothes, nursing clothes, baby clothes, baby equipment, everything … I’m pregnant. Can you hear God chuckling? I’ve been in shock (happy shock, but shock!), and hoping that nothing goes wrong (after having four miscarriages last year to end our hopes for a last baby, it’s been a bit scary wondering if this baby would make it . . .but we’ve made it out of the touchy first trimester and so far so good! Feel free to pray for me and new baby, please!) So, that’s the latest, exclusive news for me . . . Surprise! :+}
JA: Have you read any books lately that make your toes tingle?
MS: I’ll tell ya what’s been tingling my toes lately . . . morning sickness, all day. It’s been awful! And it’s really cut into my enjoyable reading time. But, as I’ve moved into my second trimester, I’ve started to feel a bit better, so I’ve gotten my books out again. Right now, I’ve started Daring Chloe by Laura Jensen Walker and I’m really enjoying that. I’ve also just gotten my advanced reading copy of Shade by John B. Olson, and I’m really looking forward to that one. Plus, I recently finished reading Tamara Leigh’s Faking Grace (an early copy that I read to endorse it), and found that to be such a fun read. Other than that, I’ve been reading the editing letter for my next book, If Tomorrow Never Comes, and my toes have been tingling plenty from that. Time to roll up my sleeves and make that story shine! :+}
JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
MS: Well, I hope people will visit my blog at www.marloschalesky.blogspot.com. News shows up first there (and I post helpful info on rekindling the wonder in our walks with God about once a week).
And, I’d love for people to sign up for my e-newsletter, which I put out a few times a year (or whenever there’s exciting news like a book release!). You can sign up on the front page of my website at www.marloschalesky.com. There’s a sign-up box there on the right hand column.
And while you’re there, check out the cool video trailer for Beyond the Night, a fun video tour of Stanford, and an audio message from me. There’s lots of fun info on the website, too, so I hope people will browse around and see what’s available!
Thanks for stopping by, Marlo. May God continue to bless you in your writing journey and with the newest addition to your family!
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If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Beyond the Night just leave a reply to this blog (Residents of the US and Canada only this time). I’ll pick a winner at random on June 30th. 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.) Good luck!