Every once in a while, I hear of a book that I really want to read. Mary Haskett’s novel The Reverend Mother’s Daughter is one of those books. It tells her own story of being raised by the Mother Superior of an order of Anglican nuns. Mary is a fellow Inscriber whom I’ve met only over the email listserve and who agreed to answer my questions.
How did you become a writer?
I’ve loved writing as far back as I can remember. By age six I was writing simple little poems. Later I wrote songs; one was about a little girl called Mary May who escaped her hard life by going to live with the fairies! Upon reflection, that could have been my own subconscious desire.
I loved books and determined I would write books when I grew up. I had a little note pad and a list of bestseller titles, none of which I can remember now, besides I didn’t even know about bestsellers, I just knew I wanted to write. I excelled in English and composition, but I won’t tell you about my math!
I think my first foray into writing was updating a booklet on the history of my church and that was followed by an article in the local paper about my church. I took some evening courses at UWO and met a woman in the class who had been my son’s math teacher. Fortunately she was only interested in writing. We joined a writer’s group where a dominant personality wrote opinion pieces and rebuttals to a major paper and made us feel so inadequate we quit the group. Praise God I found InScribe and some very encouraging folks like Marcia Laycock and Glynis Belec. Do I digress?
What inspires you to write?
I find myself weaving stories around every scenario. My husband laughs at me analyzing people and situations when we are out. Before we reach our destination I have a plot with these unwitting characters in a story. I also draw a lot from my own experiences in life. Definitely reading other authors is inspirational. And my own writer’s group inspires me tremendously. When they are writing and publishing, it somehow makes me want to keep up with them.
I have to mention Dan Penwell here, acquisitions manager for AGM publishing in the States. He read my work at a conference and was so complimentary. He asked me to submit a book proposal to him. My proposal was not accepted, but his rejection letter was so kind. He took time to explain that out of 2000 proposals only five were accepted for publication each year. But he told me I was a very good writer and to keep at it. This week I decided to email him, thank him for his encouragement and tell him how far I’ve come. He responded right away! 🙂
What author do you admire and why?
It is almost impossible to cite one author. I’ve read hundreds of books in my lifetime and admired many authors. In my preteens it was Enid Blyton and her stories of four children and their dog. The stories were set in England and the four had adventures outwitting spies, robbers and smugglers. Her books were page turners and certainly birthed in me a desire to write.
And then as a teenager and young adult, I continued to enjoy books in the same vein: John Buchan with his adventure novels, like Greenmantle, Hunting Tower and The Thirty Nine Steps. I also loved the Bronte sisters and especially Charlotte’s Jane Eyre. Frank McCourt is another favourite; his book Angela’s Ashes tells a tale of abject poverty, but at the same time the story had me crying with laughter; Phil Callaway has that same ability.
Another author who inspires me is Jan Karon, with her stories about Mitford and her delightful descriptions of the town and its characters. Who wouldn’t love Father Tim!
Currently I’m reading The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Cotstain, a novel of yesteryear, but beautifully written with detailed description of life after the death of Jesus.
I suppose I cannot name a particular author whom I admire. I admire so many.
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