Monday, February 18, 2013

Featured Author Interview: Olivia Newport

Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet.

Her husband and two twenty-something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where daylilies grow as tall as she is.

The following is a February 2013 interview with Olivia.

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning (Avenue of Dreams #1)

1.   Tell us a little about yourself. 

I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and met my husband in California, only to discover that he had grown up not too far from me. We lived in several states before settling in Colorado about 16 years ago. We absolutely love it here.

2.   How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write? 

I have sort of the classic writer’s story—yes, I always wanted to write. As a child, I always had stories going in my head and acted some of them out with a brother who was my cohort in imagination. I always thought I would like to be a novelist, but it takes guts, and I guess I needed a lot of time to get up the courage to try in recent years. I’m glad I did. The first novel I published was not the first one I hoped to publish, but it was the first one that was actually ready for the market.

3.   What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? 

I think it’s significant that Christian fiction has become a competitive force in the book market, at least in the U.S. The definition of Christian fiction is wide-ranging, but the fact that the category exists at all points to the quest that readers are on to make sense of their faith and find where it intersects with the authentic themes of life that Christian fiction portrays.

4.   How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write? 

I hope they will identify with my characters and see them as real people. That probably reflects the way I read stories myself—I want to care about somebody, first and foremost. The two series I have going right now are very different from each other, but still character-driven.

Accidentally Amish (Valley of Choice #1)

5.   What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why? 

Right now, two things have been happening. First, people have been reading Accidentally Amish, which came out in October, at the same time that I am writing the third book in that series. I’ve found the encouragement of hearing from readers about how much they enjoyed the first book has given me energy to pull out of a writing stall and finish the third book. Second, as I read reader reviews of The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow, which just released in January, I see how much people were waiting for Charlotte’s story after meeting her in The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. I’ve been so grateful for that sensation of knowing people were waiting for a book.

6.   How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ? 

Jesus is the leading figure of God’s story as given to us in Scripture. Being a novelist has deepened my understanding and appreciation for the meta-story of the Bible that has a clear beginning and a clear end and a lot of great stuff happening in between. God invites us to step into that story and be a part of what God is doing in history and in the world as we see the kingdom of God unfold. That’s an incredible invitation.

7.   Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life? 

A life-theme that is important to me is the idea of whole-life health. I want to be healthy not just in body, but as the body-and-spirit being that God created me to be. That includes my work, my family, my friends, what I eat, how much I move, how I pray—the whole package. This is not so much the kind of goal I can check off a list, but the kind of goal that is a life pursuit. Writing novels fits somewhere in that tapestry as a part of my whole-life wellness. (And maybe I should put “visit New Zealand” on the kind of list I could check off!)

8.   What do you like to do in your spare time? 

This is always a difficult question for me because I am so driven! (Which is one reason I need to pursue whole-life wellness.) I love to get lost in a good novel, of course, and if I can do that in my hammock on the patio, I’m pretty happy. Lunch with a good friend satiates me in body and spirit. Walking in the Colorado sunshine with a view of the Rockies never gets old.

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow (Avenue of Dreams #2)

9.   What can you tell us about your latest novels? 

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning and The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow are two-thirds of the Avenue of Dreams series. They share a setting of 1893 Chicago and a cast of characters that contrasts the privileged families of a particular historic neighborhood and the domestic staff it took to run the household.

Accidentally Amish is the first in the Valley of Choice series. One thing I’ve loved about writing this series is the chance to tell two stories, one with a contemporary setting and one historical, and intertwine the themes and challenge the reader to examine the values that drive personal choices.

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning
[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow 
[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

Accidentally Amish
[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

In Plain View (Valley of Choice #2)

10.   What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead? 

The Invention of Sarah Cummings will wrap up the Avenue of Dreams series at the end of this year. In Plain View and Taken for English both release later this year as well to complete the Valley of Choice series. So it’s a busy year with three more books coming out!

In Plain View

11.   What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?

I am blown away by the idea that I have fans in New Zealand! “Worldwide” is a humbling word. So I say thank you for reading and thank you for reaching out to me to let me know you are reading. It’s more encouragement than anyone will ever know.

12.   Do you have any parting words?

Chase joy! That theme rises out my pursuit of whole-life health, and I offer that blessing to my readers. Find where the joy is in your life and go there!

Buy Olivia's Books at The Book Depository

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