Friday, May 13, 2011

Rose Marie DeHart's The Giveaway Girl

Rose Marie DeHart, author of The Giveaway Girl, is my guest today. She lives about an hour west of me.

It's nice to have you here, Rose Marie. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you, Susan. Well, I am retired from the United Methodist Foundation. My husband, Murry, is a retired Methodist minister and we live in Raleigh, NC. Since my retirement I have participated in the Lifestyle Enrichment Program with Norwegian Cruise Line as a lecturer.

How interesting! What topics?

I have presented lectures on Accessorizing With Scarves and Color Analysis.

We have enjoyed travel since our retirements. We have cruised to Alaska, Hawaii, and the Carribean. One of our travel highlights was the summer we joined Professor Stevens and her students of mystery writing from the University of Wisconsin on a tour of the British Isles. We were treated to a visit/lecture with an English mystery writer each morning of the three week tour. We heard, among others, Edward Marston, Andrew Taylor and Keith Miles.

At the conclusion of the time with the delightful students, Murry and I visited Scotland, Ireland and Paris, France. We have also toured Israel.

I have always loved books. Some of my favorite authors are Pat Conroy, Anne Rivers Siddons, John Dunning, and Nelson DeMille. I also read Patricia Cornwell (although she sometimes tells me more than I really want to know),John Grisham, Margaret Maron, and recently discovered you, Susan Whitfield. Oh, add Lee Smith and Clyde Edgerton to that list.

I was a member of Carolina Crime Writers and published the monthly newsletter for the group. Margaret Maron was a founding member of this group. We met monthy for dinner and a talk by a professional related to crime solving - law enforcement, coroners, detectives, attorneys, bail bondsmen etc. To my sorrow, CCW no longer meets. I was also a member of North Carolina Writers.

Me too.
Rose Marie, what books influenced your reading and writing?

I suppose everything I have ever read has influenced me in some manner.I always received books as gifts at Chrismas and birthdays. In my pre-teen years, I discovered a writer, Grace Livingston Hill. She churned out books as fast as I could read them and I probably read all of them. I come from a background of readers and writers. My paternal grandmother wrote poetry and religious tracts and kept a journal. I have one of her journals. My Aunt Massa Lambert kept journals, also. She taught English at Asheboro High School for over forty years. My Dad was a printer/publisher in Asheboro. William Sidney Porter (O Henry) was a distant relative of my grandmother, although I think they reserved bragging rights during his incarceration in Texas.

In my teens, I received,as a gift, a book written by Hiram Hayden, The Time is Noon. It was, probably, the first grown-up book I ever read. My older sister joined a book club and I began reading all of her books, in addition to the ones in the public library. Books have always been a large part of my life.

What are your writing goals?

After years of starting stories and rarely ever completing one, I look forward to the publication of The Giveaway Girl. I am working on a second book that is a mystery. I also have one in process about the colorful life of my Dad's youngest sister. I love books. I love words. I regret that I have waited so late in life to finally join the ranks of published authors.

What is your most rewarding experience during the writing process?

I love writing and have a computer full of ideas, a few chapters here and there. My reward is seeing the characters come alive and begin to speak.

Now, Rose Maire, tell us about The Giveaway Girl.

The Giveaway Girl came to me word by word. I had no idea where it was going. Every class I have ever taken says plot, plot, plot but I seem to just let it happen. The idea of meeting at a fast food restaurant came to my mind and I just went with it. I can't explain why I chose those names, Ashley and Scarlet. The publisher said it was too improbable but I overruled them. Here is the quote from the back cover - "Ashley Wilkes and Scarlet O'Hara meet and find love in the foothills of North Carolina. A chance encounter at a fast food restaurant is the beginning. Identifying a photograph leads Scarlet and Ashley on a journey to find the father that Scarlet never knew. The search uncovers long buried family secrets that involve the world of racing and moonshine liquor. Along the way, Ashley discovers that he is not the person he has thought himself to be. The cast of characters includes two dowager sisters, their British chauffeur, a mother on the edge of dementia, a gardener who loves crossword puzzles and a Gulf war hero. Don't miss the surprise that unfolds for Scarlet."

Do you think your writing has improved since your first attempts?

Oh, my yes! My first attempts were so long ago, I hardly remember them. In high school, a friend and I collaborated on a play that our dramatics class was prepared to present and the principal nixed it because the characters were in pajamas at a slumber party. Imagine that. I have a few short stories tucked away that never had a chance for publication.

How do you determine your voice in writing?

I usually stay with third person because it is easier. The mystery I am working on now is in first person. It is challenging, but the character speaks to me. I have come to know him.

Why did you decide to switch, Rose Marie?

When it was in the early stages, several years ago, a friend read it and asked me why I didn't write it in present tense. I decided to try it. I have 18,000 words on it and when I read through it, I see a tense change or two that I have to correct. To make it even tougher, a man is telling the story.

You can do it!

Susan, I appreciate your taking this time to help me as I enter the world of writers. Thank you so much.

You are certainly welcome, Rose Marie. Perhaps we will meet in person one day soon.

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