Today I’m interviewing author Laura Nelson Selinsky. Laura, thank you for joining me today. Let’s start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a book, tea, and garden lover with a background in education and pastoral ministry. I’m also a wife of thirty-eight years; we’ve been together through thick, thin, and the first three weeks of an open-ended Stay-at-Home-Order. My husband, my kids and their partners are all PhDs or MDs, so our family is a bunch of scary-smart scientists versus one little English teacher. I’ve taught high school English for twenty-four years, first teaching adjudicated students, then those with significant learning differences. On my fiftieth birthday, I decided to take the writing skills with which I had coached my students to win writing competitions and write fiction myself. Ten years later, almost to the day, Anaiah offered me a contract for Season of Hope—quite a sixtieth birthday gift!
What is your book about?
Claudia, a shopkeeper with two little sisters, is trapped in a tough neighborhood. She reluctantly falls for Nick, a naïve young pastor; he thought he’d come to save the neighborhood, but he’s watching his mission fail. When a terrible crime threatens Claudia and her sisters, she and Nick work together to protect each other and her family. They rediscover hope and embrace the future together. Season of Hope is a Christmas-in Quarantine gift to romance readers.
What is the inspiration behind your story?
Philadelphia is a city of distinctive neighborhoods. For Season of Hope, the neighborhood, downtrodden, but feisty and well-loved, inspired the book before I knew a word of Claudia and Nick’s story. The book cover is a simplified vision of Philly, the perfect choice for this story.
What was the catalyst for your interest in writing?
My small hometown had two libraries: a tiny one in the elementary school (I read every book) and a branch of the regional library over our fire station (peaceful, except when the siren went off!). The little girl for whom reading was central made her way to writing—inevitable, I think.
How do you find time in your day to write?
During the school year, I do “small picture writing” (a few hundred words of drafting or a few thousand words of revision). When school’s in, I’m best motivated by deadlines and my beloved critique group. Summer breaks let me do “big picture writing” (revise a whole novel or reconcile the books in a series).
Do you reward yourself when a book is finished?
I don’t usually celebrate finishing a draft. Since Season of Hope was my first published novel, I gave a tea for family, friends, and my critique group to celebrate the book release. I love “tea” as a practice and as an excuse for eating buttery treats. Seriously, I love tea—last summer, I had tea in Edinburgh Castle.
What book do you wish you would have written?
If I were younger, I might wish I had written my favorite book Jane Eyre, which I’ve read an embarrassing number of times. But, I wouldn’t want the constrained and difficult lives of the Bronte girls; I know I am better off with my own life and my own small stories.
Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?
To avoid offending existing businesses, my editor had me devise an original name for the little urban Chinese restaurant, mentioned in passing in Season of Hope. Two hours of googling name after name was required to find an unused, but believable, thing to call the restaurant.
Who was your favorite character to create?
My favorite character to write was Nick because of the humility and courage he needs to learn. He’s a great guy and he means well, but he came from affluence to lead a poor urban ministry with few of the skills or attitudes required. Writing Nick’s growth without patronizing or rushing his character was wonderful…and very, very hard.
Share your favorite excerpt from your book:
Picking a “favorite” is so hard. Here’s the first meeting between Claudia and Nick, and it’s definitely not “meet cute.” In this scene, Claudia thinks her abusive stepfather Tomas has returned, and with water in her eyes, she can’t quite make out who is bending over the children…
“Take your hands off those kids.” Claudia gripped the broom handle, swung, and connected with the figure’s shoulder. The crouched figure straightened, much too tall and thin for Tomas. She swept her sleeve across her face, clearing her vision.
Nick spun to face her as she dropped the broom.
“Oh, no, Pastor, I thought you were…”
Thank you for being my guest today, Laura. I enjoyed reading Season of Hope. The neighborhood and its characters are very realistic. I was inspired by the growth that your character, Nick, went through.
Where can readers find you online?
You can find Season of Hope and other books that include my work through my Amazon Author’s Page at http://amazon.com/author/laura-nelson-selinsky