Saturday, September 20, 2014

Author Interview with Anne Mateer

Anne Mateer has a passion for bringing history to life through fiction. She is the author of four historical novels, a three time Genesis contest finalist, a 2013 Carol Award finalist, and will have a contemporary short story included in the upcoming release of A Cupof Christmas Cheer II.

Anne and her equally history-obsessed husband live in Texas. They are the proud parents of three young adults.

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But when she receives a shocking telephone call from her sister, Jewel, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.

After the sudden death of Jewel's husband, Jewel needs Lula's help. With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister. But the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Neither subject belongs anywhere near the halls of academia, according to Lula!

Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year, determined to do well and prove herself to the town. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

Anne, thank you for stopping by to visit with us today and congratulations on your new novel, Playing by Heart. The main character takes combination music instructor/basketball coach position. What’s the inspiration behind this job for Lulu? I’m wondering if there’s a story behind the interesting job!

As a matter of fact, there is! The spark of the job idea came from something that happened to my grandmother when she was looking for a teaching position in the 1930s in Oklahoma—she was required to take on coaching the girls basketball team along with her classroom duties. And she knew nothing about basketball! The music part was my own addition. I’m really not sure what subject my grandmother taught that year.

I enjoy all your novels, but your characters, especially the females, are always so believable and their lives seem so interesting. I always kinda want to be their friend! Can you tell us the story behind switching from contemporary to historical to write your first published novel, Wings of a Dream?

My first ever completed novel was historical. That has always been my first love. But after writing that book a contemporary story idea pulled at me and refused to let go. I ended up writing three contemporary novels and really thought that was the direction the Lord would take my writing into publication. But everything changed in 2008, when the Lord made it very clear to me it was time to return to historicals. Looking back, I see that writing those contemporaries helped me view my work more objectively and learn the craft of writing. And I did find I enjoyed both genres for different reasons. Maybe someday I’ll publish a contemporary novel. Who knows?

Glad that it all worked out, we are blessed to have such a fabulous author in the CBA. Onto your personal life, well a little bit. I know you are empty nesting it now . . . tell us how that transition has gone for you.

One word: awesomeness! I love my kids, but between marrying while still in college/grad school and having our first baby soon after finishing school and both hubby and I being introverts, we are reveling in this time for just the two of us, without the chaos of so much activity with the kids. Now I am able to travel with him on some of his business trips and we often visit our scattered kids, which I love, too, because we get to be with each of them one at a time. Don’t get me wrong—I love when we are all together, but I love the day-to-day quiet with my husband, too.

I'm so happy it has worked out for you! Some don't adjust as easily, can't imagine myself in two years.... Anyway, back to you ~ now that the house is empty during the day, what’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?

My biggest challenge has always been balancing motherhood and writing. I recognized that my children would not be with my long and I didn’t want to look back and regret choosing writing over relationship with them and I knew my tendency would be to lose myself in my work. So many, many times I set my projects aside and focused on them. I’m glad I did. I have amazing kids and I’m so glad that even as young adults they let me be part of their lives!

Honestly, I thought this struggle would get easier when they weren’t living at home, but in some ways it is harder, because when they do come home I want to spend every minute I can with them!

You must look forward to holidays, especially the big ones! Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

Two of my books have their roots in stories from my family history. I love those kinds of sparks because they come from things that really happened in the past, not just things that could have happened. For the same reason, I love reading old newspapers, especially small town newspapers.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?

My faith is such an integral part of me that it just seems to ooze into my writing. Most times I find that my characters end up struggling with issues I’ve grappled with in my own life and what the Lord has taught me through those times. It’s amazing how universal these issues can be, that the transcend time and place. Even with all that has changed in the world, people, at their core, are really still the same.

Time for a fun question . . . You are alone and stranded on a desert island and can have ONE food product and ONE drink, what would they be?

Oh, my! Chocolate and coffee. I think that would hold me.

Same here, chocolate is my BFF! Thank you, Anne, for your time today, it was fun! And congratulations again on your newest novel Playing by Heart.


  1. PLAYING BY HEART looks & sounds like such a wonderful read.

    1. If you've never read a novel by Anne Mateer, you need to!

  2. This is a great interview and Playing by Heart looks like an amazing story! I love the basketball thread.
    I have to agree, chocolate and coffee on the island! :)

  3. Anne, as you've discovered an empty nest isn't all bad. :-) I love the story of your grandmother, and I think that happened quite often back in the thirties. Looking forward to reading Playing by Heart.

  4. Hey y'all! I've been on the road and am trying to catch up! Thanks, Heidi, for the great interview! And I love seeing everyone here. :)