Saturday, December 26, 2015
Interview with Stephanie Grace Whitson
Welcome Stephanie! We're so glad you could visit us today.
Thank you for inviting me.
What made you decide to become a writer?
I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember. I was the weird kid in school who loved writing assignments. My mother once told me that when I was learning to talk, my older siblings delighted in teaching me new “big” words. I think I’ve always been a “word person.” One of my earliest memories is of my mother reading to me, and she was an avid reader as well. Story has always been a big part of my life.
Where did the inspiration for your latest book come from?
A Basket Brigade Christmas was inspired by a museum exhibit I attended at the Illinois State Museum that focused on Illinois women and the Civil War. As part of that exhibit, a video introduced viewers to a woman (a reenactor) who’d participated in the Decatur, Illinois Basket Brigade, ministering to wounded soldiers being transferred to hospitals in the north on a train that went through Decatur each day for a few months. When the train stopped in Decatur, the women boarded the train with baskets of food. The video describing that effort, along with some of the quotes I read at the exhibit—in other words, the actual words of real women—were unforgettable. When I told my writing friends Nancy Moser and Judith Miller, about it, they agreed we should collaborate on an anthology paying tribute to those women.
What is your favorite thing about writing a Christmas story?
Learning how people in the 1800s celebrated—often in difficult circumstances.
There hasn’t been a huge difference for me, other than the obvious need to learn how people in a distinct setting would have observed the holiday. Historical research is often my favorite part of writing, so I love looking for answers to the questions that inevitably arise.
How does your faith and spirituality work in with your writing?
Faith isn’t something I have to think about adding to a story. All my stories are essentially about a character’s spiritual journey. The basic questions of life are the same for everyone; my characters who live in the 1800s wonder why bad things happen—just as I do. They struggle to cope with problems and challenges, just as I have. Since the only true, lasting, comfort I’ve ever experienced is anchored by my faith in a personal God, it’s only natural for me to walk my imaginary friends along a similar path. Sometimes my characters hear truth from a wise friend; sometimes it comes from a stranger. At other times they discover it on their own in God’s Word. God has worked through those means in my life, so that’s how He works in the lives of my characters.
What are you working on next?
The past few months have been spent working on a Pony Express story for FaithWords. Messenger by Moonlight releases in May of 2016. The galleys should arrive soon, and I’ll have one last chance to “tweak” the manuscript. In the meantime, I’m in the proposal/synopsis stage for both a historical novel and another Christmas novella.
Very interesting. Looks like you have some great stuff going on. Thank you so much for being with us! I received A Basket Brigade Christmas as a gift yesterday, and I'm so excited to read it!