Thursday, October 6, 2011

Interview with YA Christian Author Mary C. Findley

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing half of the writing team behind Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion Mary C. Findley.

Author Bio:

I grew up in rural NY and Michael is from AZ. We met at college, taught school in AZ, MO and PA, homeschooled, and created videos for church and commercial productions and curriculum for church and school. We have three 20-something children, and now travel the 48 states together in a tractor trailer. 

Did both of you always want to be authors?

I started out wanting to be an artist, but my pictures always had stories behind them, and by Junior High I had switched over to writing. Michael says he went through many plans for occupations while young, one of which was to be an author. We both believe God has given us messages to communicate for the Glory of God and the edification of believers.

What is it like writing as a team?

Sometimes we argue over what needs to be done, such as priorities and projects. Sometimes we disagree on how to do it. But in the end, we find that our abilities and skills are complementary. I was an editor and proofreader, and am an artist and "creative" person. He is the facts and accuracy person, the organized thinker and "corrector." And we both want to produce a finished product that serves the Lord. This particular book is my work for the most part, but Michael has a Masters in Church History, so he had input into making the setting and historical references accurate.

Tell us a bit about your novel

Seventeen-year-old Hope rebels against her family's arranged marriage plans and her uncle's strange beliefs in Medieval England. She must fight sexual temptation and put her trust in a mysterious returned Crusader and his Arab friend when her home is attacked and her family kidnapped. A cryptic diary and a relentless enemy keep Hope off-balance but growing in reliance on God and her true knight.

How did you come up with the idea for your novel?

I love Thomas Costain's The Black Rose, Scott's Ivanhoe, and other books about that time period. I wanted to write about the Crusades and life in medieval England, but with a strong message about true belief and learning obedience to your family.

If you got the chance to spend a day with any character from your books, who would it be and why?

Sadaquah (an Arab companion to the returned Crusader in the book) still fascinates me. I am thinking about writing more about him, about his life in Egypt, and how he would adjust to remaining in England.

What drew you to the YA genre?

I write for all ages, but this story attracted me because I wanted to deal with teen rebellion, how we often don't appreciate our families, and what happens if they are taken from us. I also wanted to explore how to handle sexual temptation and the influence right teaching can have on making right decisions even in a crisis. 

How does Christianity factor into your books, if at all?

Christianity is a key factor. Hope's uncle is patterned after early reformers and seeks to teach Hope truth from the Scriptures in an era when the Church controlled life and belief but didn't offer true "hope."

What do you hope readers will obtain from your book?

I want to support family teaching, obedience, paying attention to Scriptural truth and wise counsel so you have the tools to make the right decisions, trust the right people, when difficult times come.

Where do you like to do your writing?

Curled up in bed, or, when I was growing up, in the branches of a big old pine tree about a half mile from our house.

What are some of your favorite YA books or authors? Non-YA?

There is a book called "Shadow Castle" that I read in Junior High, a fantasy about a young fairy prince and his life. I loved that book. I think of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit books as geared toward YA, and I liked them. Jane Austen and Charles Dickens are my favorite authors. I wish there were more and better Christian books for the YA age group. 

Are there any books and stories that have influenced or stuck with you from your childhood or young-adulthood?

The works mentioned above, plus Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, a long allegorical poem I studied in college that inspired Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Bunyan and other Christian fantasy/allegory writers.

Do you have any other works published and how do they compare genre/style wise with your current work?

We have 8 titles published, two of which have illustrated versions. 2 are non-fiction, Biblical Studies a compilation of Bible study materials and Antidisestablishmentarianism, a 630-page work about Secular Humanism and its history and effects on culture and true Science. Michael has a Sci-Fi book, the Space Empire Saga. I have one children's book, Benny and the Bank Robber, the beginning of a pioneer Americana series, and three adult romances. I tend to write about similar subjects in fiction no matter what the genre. Family or male-female relationships, putting the protagonist through a devastating physical hardship that forces him to rely on God and the help of others, the need to grow in Christ and to overcome temptation and trust in God no matter what.

Do you have any current writing projects? Can you tell us a bit about them?  

We are writing homeschool curriculum, making a revision/expansion of the Biblical Studies book. We also started a blog recently, dealing with Secular Humanism, Science, History Christian womanhood, and writing. I have some fiction projects I work on from time to time, sequels to Benny and the Bank Robber, a story inspired by the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but dealing with distinctively Christian characters from the books of Alcott, Kipling, Dickens, Stevenson and Doyle. I especially want to do a graphic novel fantasy/allegory dealing with persecution and the need to protect and share the Word of God.

Where can you find Mary C. Findley?

Here is a sample page from the "illuminated" version of Hope and the Knight of the Black Lion Mary C. Findley:

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