Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Allison Pittman is the author of The Bridegrooms, Stealing Home, the Crossroads of Grace series: Ten Thousand Charms, Speak Through the Wind, and With Endless Sight; and her nonfiction debut, Saturdays with Stella.
Her first novel, Ten Thousand Charms, was nominated for two RITA's.
A former high school English teacher, she serves as the director of the theater group at her church as well as a writing trainer, speaker, actress and comedian.
She makes her home in Texas with her husband and their three boys.
Published by Multnomah Books is on sale now.
Tragedy hits the Allenhouse family when a mother of four vanished. Eight-year-old Vada virtually grew up overnight and raised her three younger sisters while her father lost himself in his medical practice in the basement of their home.
Now, Vada is a grown woman, still making her home with her father and sisters. Her days are spent serving as an errand girl for Cleveland's fledgling amateur orchestra; her evenings with Garrison Walker, her devoted, if passionless, beau.
Dizzying change occurs the day the Brooklyn Bridegrooms come to town to play the Cleveland Spiders and a line drive wallops the head of a spectator. The fan is whisked to the Allenhouse parlor, and questions swirl about the anonymous, unconscious man.
Suddenly, the sbudued house is filled with visitors, from a flirtatious, would-be sports writer to the Bridegrooms' handsome star hitter to the guilt-ridden ballplayer who should have caught the stray shot. The medical case brings Dr. Allenhouse a frustration and helplessness he hasn't felt since his wife's disappearance. Vada's sisters are giddy at the bevy of suitors. And Vada's life is awakened amid the super-charged atmosphere of romantic opportunity.
You write wonderful, character-driven stories. What inspired The Bridegrooms?
Pittman: The Bridegrooms was actually inspired by the name of the team--I just thought it was so whimsical and romantic. At first I wanted to do a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers type of thing, but that story never came true to me. Then, I won't mention what particular novel inspired this thought, but I got a little frustrated with heroines in Christian fiction who are so restrained from what they want in a relationship. I loved the idea of creating a woman--Vada--who could be strong, but not spunky. Like, not strong in retaliation to the male-dominated society she lives in, but strong just because she is. She's a woman who understands and embraces physical attraction, and we don't see a lot of that. Women characters are always shying away, or terrified, or, they're cast as something shameful.
What was most challenging about writing a story about the four Allenhouse sisters?
Pittman: The character of Garrison was, I think, the most challenging one for me to create. Subtle and sweet is difficult to convey. Also, this is the biggest cast of characters I've ever had to work with, and it's challenging to keep track of everybody!
What surprised you as you wrote this story?
Pittman: I developed an all-out crush on the character of Dave Voyant. Seriously, I would just be writing along and find myself giggling.
You've bookmarked lunar calendars and baseball schedules. How much do you research for a historical novel? How do you keep organized?
Pittman: Probably a lot less than most historical writers! My passion is for my characters, and I worry about writing them in a void. I'll get a few research tools, and cling to those. For this book, I had a Cleveland street map from 1908. (love ebay!). I laminated it and it's covered with Vis-a-Vis markings...and now it's, like, a placemat on my "desk." As for organization...um, next question?
How long did it take to write The Bridegrooms?
Pittman: About 6 months, but I carried the idea of the comatose baseball fan around for years!
When does your next book debut in print?
Pittman: I'll have another book out in October. It's one I wrote with Tyndale, telling the story of a young woman who gets caught up with the early Mormon church.
How long did you write before making your first sale?
Pittman: Not long, really. God knows me well, and He knows I have a total lack of tenacity and dedication. I had a contract within about 3 years of the time I seriously began writing--like, by the time I decided to pursue Christian fiction. I sold that book (Ten Thousand Charms) before it was actually finished. Knowing me, I would never have even finished writing that story if I didn't have some guarantee that it would be published.
Will you describe how you knew you were supposed to write?
Pittman: That has always been there...something I've always recognized as being a strength. When I finally said, "You know, God? I'd like to be a professional writer," I had no interest in writing Christian fiction. I'd never read a Christian novel except for the requisite Christy in middle school. Then, at a writers conference, after years of bumping ideas around, I won a copy of Lynn Austin's Eve's Daughters and thought to myself--I can do this...no deadlines! No query letters! No research and interviews!
What would readers be surprised to discover about you?
Pittman: I'm not the greatest reader. Not skill-wise, but I don't necessarily enjoy reading. I can go days upon days upon days and not read a thing. I can put down a book on page 147 and not pick it up again--ever--simply because I forget about it. Rare is the book that grabs and consumes me. I'd say I only finish, maybe 2 or 3 out of every 10 books I start. But, when I love a book, I love it with unrestrained passion.
What do you wish I'd asked?
Pittman: "Who's got your vote for American Idol?" ~~ Lee!!
Thanks so much for being with us today, Allison. Learn more about her at www.allisonpittman.com
~ Roxanne Sherwood
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