ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Linda S. Clare
I took a lot of time off writing between high school and today--raised four children, including a set of twins,owned too many cats to remember and a couple of dogs, too. I'm a polio survivor, with my share of blessings and burdens along the way. Those burdens have given me a neverending source of writing material, reflected in my books.
More than anything, I love to write and read about God in my life. I started out with a mean angry God, but I'm crawling toward a God whose lovingcare and comfort blows me away, time after time. For years I've been seeking God, but all along, He's been hunting me. These are the Grace Notes of my life: God singing to us, God singing through us, God singing for us.
JA: Congratulations on being part of the Abingdon Press fiction launch. How did you hear about Abingdon Press, and what made you want to be part of this bold new venture?
LSC: My long-time pal, Melody Carlson, mentioned my name and manuscript to Editor Barbara Scott. Dumb luck or God’s hand? I prefer to see it as God’s perfect timing. Once I found out what Abingdon fiction was about, I got as excited about the fiction launch as everyone else. What a buzz!
JA: The Fence My Father Built is the story of Muri Pond, a librarian who hauls her kids to the tiny town of Murkee, Oregon, only to discover her dismal inheritance from her father: a dilapidated house trailer and a fence made of oven doors. What was the spark that ignited Muri’s tale in your mind?
LSC: My own life-long search to know my biological father was the driving force. Also, I come from a family of educators, and to honor my Aunt Shirlee who retired recently as Head Librarian for Tempe Schools in Arizona, I made Muri a librarian too. And about that fence: my newspaper ran a feature story on an old guy who lived in this dilapidated trailer in a rural area around Eugene. He’d made a fence out of old oven doors. I couldn’t get the image out of my mind, and later on, I discovered that the fence had major significance both to Muri and to the one who built it—her own father, Joseph Pond.
JA: Muri has her hands full with two unhappy children and a conniving neighbor, not to mention her own spiritual struggles. What do you think is Muri’s most admirable character trait?
LSC: Her determination. She does her best to raise the kids, even when the older one, Nova, runs away. She won’t back down when the conniving neighbor threatens to take over the very place her father had loved and cared for. Above all, Muri is a spiritual seeker, and although she starts off being rather cynical of God’s Love, she is open enough to accept God’s presence as the story goes on.
LSC: I hope readers will take away that it’s never too late to honor your own heritage. You can find your way home, to where you belong. It’s never too late to mend fences (groan) and forgive. It’s never too late to let God run your life.
JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
LSC: Right now I’m shopping a stand-alone novel that examines the question of how a mom who has tragically lost one son deals with her grief and also the remaining son, who has been implicated in his brother’s death for ten years. It’s called Hiding From Floyd. Beyond that, I have a series proposal for The Fence My Father Built, and a couple of other stand-alone and series ideas.
JA: You’ve co-written three non-fiction books. What’s the greatest challenge and/or joy in making the shift to solo fiction writer?
LSC: I have loved every moment of being a published novelist. When I coauthored three nonfiction books, I swore I’d never do it again—there are many challenges of coauthoring, from bumping heads over ideas to deciding which one (and often publishers only pay for one) will travel to appear on television or other media interviews. But, just this past weekend another Abingdon author, Kay Marshall Strom, and I co-hosted a three day Church and Culture Conference. After we discovered we both live in Eugene, Oregon, both have had debut novels with Abingdon, we sat down and looked for common themes in our books. We arrived at the topic of social injustice so Kay spoke about human trafficking to tie in her historical novel’s theme of the eighteenth-century African slave trade. I spoke on the contrasts between the forced Indian Schools of the early 1900s and the heritage-affirming Lillian Vallely School in Blackfoot Idaho, serving Indian children on the Fort Hall, Idaho reservation. I don’t know if tying your novel’s themes to some current issue is an original way to market a book, but we worked well together and may take our act on the road. So apparently, working with another author is not completely off the table for me.
JA: The current theme of my blog is The Year of Dreams. If you could realize one life-long dream right now, what would it be?
LSC: I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I’m ambitious. I’ve got all these stories in me that drive me crazy trying to get out. I once joked that I want to be the next Sue Monk Kidd. I think that’s grandiose but I do think I’m called to write. My dream would be that readers would clamor for my next book, and that I wouldn’t disappoint them.
JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
LSC: I blog at http://www.godsonggrace.blogspot.com/. On that blog I write about writing mostly (I teach writing classes at Lane Community College in Eugene) but I have started doing “selected” book reviews. And if I have personal publishing news I can’t help but write about it. I’m also Lindasclare on Facebook, Twitter and ShoutLife. And I occasionally shout from rooftops.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Muri Pond has always longed to know her biological father, who left when she was a small child. Years later, she’s still reeling from learning that it’s too late: Her father, a half-Nez Perce Indian named Joseph Pond, has died, leaving her an inheritance of property in Central Oregon. As Muri and her two children, Nova, 16, and Truman, 11, make their way from Portland out to the tiny town of Murkee, Muri has lost a lot: her librarian job, her marriage and her faith in God. When she arrives at her newly-inherited property, she’s shocked: it’s little more than a ramshackle trailer, surrounded by a fence made from old oven doors. As she tries to make the best of things, she grapples with Joe’s charismatic sister Aunt Lutie, her husband, Tiny, who keeps potbellied pigs and mountains of bicycle parts for needy kids and Linc Jackson, a conniving neighbor who threatens to sue over water rights. Muri struggles to accept her father as he was and in doing so rediscovers the faith he somehow never abandoned.
WIN THE BOOK
If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Fence My Father Built, just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on October 20th. 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!
Watch the book trailer for The Fence My Father Built