Monday, May 3, 2010

Interview with author, Lena Nelson Dooley

I had the joy of reading LOVE FINDS YOU IN GOLDEN NEW MEXICO for endorsement and loved it. What a ride! Such great characterization and great plot twists. I can't wait for this book to release. I know that readers will love it. In the meantime, I've come up with a host of questions for Lena to answer, so let's get this show on the road!

1: Lena, what was it like, working with a new publisher (Summerside Press)?

I absolutely loved it. The people at Summerside Press welcomed me in so many warm ways. I’ve come to appreciate each of them. And the editor who did the actual work on my book was the easiest editor I’ve ever worked with. (Thank you, Ramona.) She encouraged me and helped make my words shine.

I’m so glad you had a great experience with Summerside. I’ve learned that working with a great editor can make the process much more enjoyable!

2. How did you come up with the idea of setting your most recent story in Golden, New Mexico?

I needed a place that had gold mining and area nearby for ranching. Also, the name of the town needed to have meaning in the story. I did about two days of research to find the exact town that fit what I needed. I found out that the first gold strike west of the Mississippi was actually in Golden in New Mexico Territory in 1825, which preceded both Colorado and California strikes.

I love the symbolism in your title/setting. I’m also crazy about your character descriptions in this story. They are beautifully layered

3. How did you go about choosing your characters and growing them into such complex men and women?

This was my first chance to write a long novel, so I’ve never been able to do it as I did in this book. I firmly believe that God gave me insight into each of the people, which helped the story become multi-layered. Of course, you and I both know that having a drama director background helps an author be able to dig deep into characters, revealing their feelings, desires, and regrets.

I hear ya! When you’re accustomed to working with characters on the stage, the transition to the page just seems to come naturally. Now let me ask you another question.

4. Your story begins in one city and ends in another. Tell us about that progression.

It did make for more work while I researched for the story. The heroine’s story arc takes her from Boston, where she grew up in a wealthy family to the Wild West town. The contrasting of the two cultures gave another level to the story.

5. As writers we're taught that our bad guys can't be all bad and our good guys can't be all good. How did you go about accomplishing this in your story?

Actually, in the beginning I planned for the bad guy to be all bad, but along the way, God showed me his motivation for being a villain. That changed some things in his part of the story.

And with the good guys, let’s face the fact, none of us are good all the time. I love to write realistic stories that show a character’s foibles as well.

Yes, it always comes back to goals, motivation and conflict, doesn’t it!

6. Who is your favorite character. . .and why?

I get asked this a lot. It’s almost like asking, “Which of your children do you love the most?” I loved them all, because they each had something to add to the story, even the most minor characters. But if I have to choose, I’d have to say it’s. . . see, I just can’t do it.

Perfect answer. And I totally understand.

7. What was the most intriguing thing you learned during your research for this book?

I had a quandary about how an orphan baby could be fed on a cross-country train ride. I found out a lot of interesting things about infant feeding. A Swiss doctor made an infant food formula that really gave babies what they needed. By 1890, it was available all across the United States, through the Nestle company. I found that interesting. And the baby bottles were so different from what are used today.

I always think it’s so much fun to discover “products” that were available. The Nestles formula was perfect! Now, let me switch gears. . .

8. You did a great job of "showing" the reader the town of Golden, New Mexico. What surprised you most about Golden?

Golden was a thriving town and the center of mining in that area, even after the railroad chose to go through Los Cerrillos far to the north. But when the mining died out, the town dwindled to a ghost town.

9. Your story is a lovely romance, filled with a strong inspirational thread. Can you tell us a little about the role romance has played in your own life, both in your marriage and your relationship with the Lord?

God gave me my husband when I didn’t know that I needed him. Three months and three days later, we were married. That was almost 46 years ago. Our romance has grown stronger and deeper over the years. In the same way, my intimate love of the Lord has grown stronger and deeper. I love Jesus and James more each day.

Both of those relationships (with James and with the Lord) shine through in all you do, Lena. I love hearing your stories about your sweet hubby, and your love for the Lord is the absolutely sweetest thing about you! You are a genuinely kind and loving friend, which is why I’m so delighted this book is releasing. You deserve it!

10. Lena, you've always done such a great job of showcasing the work of others on your blog and via other social networks (and we're eternally grateful). What is it like, to share about your own stories here? Is it harder to promote yourself. . .or others?

I love showcasing and promoting the work of others. Actually, that’s what God told me to do on my blog. It always feels awkward when I’m doing my own. I’ve answered the questions I’ve sent to other authors, but this way with you as guest interviewer is much better.

Trust me, I know! It’s always harder to promote yourself. That’s why I wanted to jump onboard with this one. Once readers have a chance to read this story, they will begin promoting for you! And speaking of promotion…

11. If a Hollywood director called and said, "I want to turn your book into a movie!" what would you say/do? Would you have an active role in the filming of the movie? Who would star in it?

You’re kidding, right? After jumping up and down and screaming, I’d agree wholeheartedly. I do think I’d have my agent make sure there is a clause where I could have a final approval on any screenplay. I do understand the need for screenwriters to make adjustments, but I’d want to be able to say no if they changed the story in a way that is unacceptable to my principles. If we’re dreaming here, I’d love to have Sandra Bullock as Madeline and John Schneider as Jeremiah (even though his hair is the wrong color.

12. What other projects do you have in the works?

Right now, I’m between contracts, but my agent has several proposals with editors.

13. When you were a little girl, did you ever dream you would be a multi-published author?

It never crossed my mind.

How interesting! I pegged you to be one of those little girls who knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up!

15. Is there anything you'd like to say to up-and-coming romance authors out there?

Write the stories of your heart. Network with other authors. Never stop learning about the craft. Never give up.

Amen, to that, sister. Those are “golden” words of advice!

Thanks for visiting, Lena!

Friends, you can find Lena on the web at: