GRAPE BUNCH (acrylic on canvas) by Lorenda Harder
My Interview with Author STACY MONSON
I’d like to introduce you to award-winning novelist Stacy Monson, who resides in the Twin Cities and is part of Mosaic Collection, the international author’s group I recently joined. Her contemporary, faith-based stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life.
DEB: Welcome to my corner, Stacy! I see you’ve published four books, with a fifth coming out soon. Was there a catalyst that launched your writing journey?
STACY: An Oprah Winfrey show on midlife opportunities! I’ve written stories my whole life, but always in secret. One day I was home early from work and Oprah was talking about changing our focus from midlife crisis to midlife opportunities.
DEB: Do you have personal experiences with any of the events in your novels?
STACY: Let’s see—one heroine was a supermodel, one lost a leg in a car accident, and one is dyslexic. I haven’t had personal experience with any of that!
DEB: That’s funny. : ) I read your book Open Circle, which you set in a southern Minnesota town where the social worker is struggling to keep the only adult day program open for the seniors she loves. It’s a homey read—gives me lots of good feels. What would be your favourite quote in that book?
STACY: “The sun is shining, the grass is growing, and the cows are giving milk.” It’s just such a simple way to look at the day and be thankful.
DEB: Yes, your voice comes through in even that short line. It makes me want to ask you about your personal life. I know you’re a long-married mother and grandmother but, come on, tell us something really personal about you that might not come up in casual conversation. Go ahead—get it off your chest!
STACY: Um, okay . . . I am a professional grade procrastinator, I am addicted to sugar and gobble down jelly beans when I know I shouldn’t, and someday I want to ride in a hot air balloon and a helicopter. Oh, and I love, love, love long bubble baths. While eating chocolate. And reading. With a candle lit.
DEB: Yes, I have a mental picture of you now, but you’re in the tub surrounded by foam! (Oops!) So tell me about how and when the idea of your first novel grabbed you.
STACY: Shattered Image (in the Chain of Lakes series) took root back in high school—when I was going to concerts and wondering about singers’ lives offstage. Also, I was a huge John Denver fan, and I loved the story about how he met his wife. I wrote that first draft in high school and then eventually threw it in the fire (literally) while my mom was saying, “You don’t want to do that. You’ll want to read it someday.” And I said no, I wouldn’t. And now I do. How do moms know so much? The final product is a take-off from that original story.
DEB: Tell me a bit about that novel.
STACY: Kiera Simmons’ career as a high-profile fashion model ends abruptly when a failed relationship nearly lands her in jail. Now she forges a quiet life helping teens understand their eternal value in a world saturated with the distorted messages of society. Peter Theisen is on the fast track to everything the celebrity life promises, with each step of his meteoric rise in the music world orchestrated by his ambitious manager. Their sweet, unexpected romance is threatened by her past and his future, a life-changing diagnosis, and financial devastation. As they struggle to find their way back to each other, and to the One who matters most, the allure of wealth and fame may jeopardize everything.
DEB: Sounds as though I need to order Shattered Image as my next Stacy read! Now that you’ve published so much, do you find an organizing theme to your body of work?
STACY: All of my stories wrestle with identity. Who are you when all you’ve been known for is your face in front of a camera, or you’re a dancer who has lost a leg? Who are you when all your life you’ve been told you don’t measure up, you’re stupid, unable to learn, won’t amount to anything? Who are you when you find out the father you adore isn’t your biological father? All of these are instances when that person’s identity has been formed by societal norms, or other people’s opinions, or who they think they should be. The underlying theme in every story is that our identity is based on who God says we are, who He created us to be. Trends come and go—God doesn’t. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
DEB: Let’s wrap up this interview with one last question. Can you give any hints about what you’re currently working on?
STACY: My first book in the Mosaic Collection (and the first in My Father’s House series) is the journey of a young woman who discovers that nothing she’s known about herself or her family is true. She leaves it all behind to search for the truth and discovers things about herself and those around her she could never have imagined. Again—it’s about identity!
DEB: Thanks for giving us a peek into your life, heart, and writing. Now, I need to go order that book of yours . . .
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It was easy for me to envision creating this sketch of the Laird Estate. Your descriptions are so amazing! I am beginning to read it again and look forward to filling in more details in my mind and making even more connections.
Lorenda, sorry that I missed this comment from you. Several readers have already told me how helpful (and lovely!) your sketch is as they read the novel. Thanks again for your close and artistic work, which really has a late Victorian feel to it–suitable for the backstory of THE RED JOURNAL.