Bonnie Grove chats about writing, reading and publishing

Bonnie Grove is a fellow Inscriber and blogger whose debut novel, Talking to the Dead, releases in the summer. Her enthusiasm for writing and reading are contagious. I’m looking forward to meeting her at the 2009 ICWF Fall Conference, where she’ll be one of the keynote speakers. (Plus she’s got a great name!!!)

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TKM: How did you become a writer?

Bonnie Grove photoBonnie: Beats me! Talk about your accidental tourist; that’s me. I meant to become a psychologist. I took a job developing strength-based programs for families at risk. When my contract expired, I realized much of the programming I had developed needed to be made available to a wide audience.

So I wrote a proposal and submitted it to a publisher. They accepted! That book, Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You is now available in bookstores.

Meanwhile, we moved to a new city and I needed to be home with my young children to help them transition. Hubby and I prayed, and we felt God was opening a door for me to write a novel. I did. I shopped it around and found a few interested publishers. That’s when it hit me; I have NO idea what I’m doing!

Talking to the Dead by Bonnie GroveThanks to a friend who was willing to stick her neck out for me, I was introduced to a marvelous agent who signed me, and sold the novel and a second one as well (I’m currently writing my second novel). That novel, Talking to the Dead, will be available June 1, 2009.

TKM: What inspires you to write?

Bonnie: I love stories. I am THE best audience ever. Tell me a story and I’m yours. I’ll sit, dreamy-eyed, and listening until you say, “The End.” On top of that, I’m big into research. When I find a topic that interests me, I’m off and running to find out more about it. I suppose those two qualities, married in the same person, would sound like an obvious recipe for a writer, but it wasn’t so obvious to me. I wanted to be a psychologist!

When I went back to University as a mature student, I took some English lit courses for fun. Soon, the English department was trying to recruit me from the Psychology department. But I didn’t bite. English was just for fun.

It took a God moment for me to step onto the path of writing for real. And while that moment lasted the blink of an eye—it had taken God all these years to set up every perfect detail in order so when the time came, I was ready.

TKM: What author do you most admire and why?

Bonnie: My list of “well-loved” authors grows daily. One reason is because now that I write full time, I’m always bumping into “new-to-me” authors. Just this past month I’ve read a half a dozen novels by authors for the first time. Authors like Kathleen Popa, Sharon K. Souza, Debbie Fuller Thomas, Susan Meissner, and others.

The writer I admire most is the one I’m reading at the time who can capture my full attention and tell a story in a way that makes me happy. Gifted word smiths like Arthur Plotnik and Susan Isaacs make me giddy with happiness. Authors with silken voice such as Frank McCourt and Alice Sebold light a fire beneath me and stretch me to reach further into my storytelling bag of goodies. Writers who can weave timelines and plots together like threads in a tapestry such as Susan Meissner and Francine Rivers are writers I admire. But the list grows and I grow as a reader. I bet yours does too.

TKM: On your website, you say you think about the reader all the time. Can you elaborate?

Bonnie: I write women’s fiction, and when I write (or even when just thinking about a book or story I’m working on) I keep my readers firmly in mind. I ask myself all sorts of questions – like “Will this interest her?” “What is the best reading experience?” When I write a scene, I read it over and over, editing out all the bits I think will weight the reader down, slow her enjoyment of the book, or over-explain.

I respect my readers, I know they are savvy and intelligent – so I work to craft books that are a partnership between reader and writer – we’re in this together! A book without a reader is useless. So when I sit to write, my reader is the only person who matters.

TKM: This year, you launched a new blog called Novel Matters, where you discuss books and writing along with several other writers. Why?

Bonnie: I’m thrilled to be partnering with the talented women of Novel Matters – Kathleen Popa, Sharon K. Souza, Patti Hill, Debbie Fuller Thomas, and Latayne C. Scott. All of us are contracted with an agent at Books & Such Literary Agency, and our fantastic agents brainstormed the idea of putting the six of us together for a joint project. We loved the idea, and now, not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for giving our agents this wonderful idea. My life is enriched for being apart of it.

TKM: What is your best piece of advice for writers trying to get published?

Bonnie: Find your authentic authorial voice. Nurture it, cultivate it. Spend time thinking about what is unique about your way of seeing the world and then writing about it. And remember being published is just one step on a larger journey – count the cost before plunging in.

Find out more about Bonnie on her blogs: Fiction Matters and Novel Matters.

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