Today at the Diamond Mine, we’re digging into how Lena Nelson Dooley produces her gems! She’s a multi-published writer of contemporary and historical Christian fiction. Today we’ll be spotlighting the first book in her historical trilogy: “Maggie’s Journey,” a book I greatly enjoyed reading.
Hi Lena, and welcome to the Diamond mine!
Your McKenna’s Daughters trilogy is your latest in a long line of wonderful historical stories. What made you choose to write historical fiction?
I’ve written and been published in both contemporary and historical fiction. The last several books have been historical. Writers come up with ideas and write proposals. Their agents send out the proposals to various editors. The last four to sell were historicals.
I see. I’m new at this, so it’s good to know! Do you do all your research before the writing process or also during?
I do research ahead of time, but I also do research during the process. I might be writing along and decide I want to use something in the story. I have to find out if that was possible in the time period. I also research setting details, society, news, clothing, food, and a number of other things, so all the details in my story are authentic to the time period. In my historical novels, only my characters and their stories are fiction.
I’m writing a historical fiction now, and I understand how much research goes into it. I really enjoyed all the details in Maggie’s Journey. I was especially struck by the details of train travel back then. Really interesting, and I felt like I made the trip with them. So, I’m curious. Do you use outlines for your stories?
I create a timeline, then divide it into possible chapters, then write a few details of what could happen. That’s all the outlining or plotting that I do on paper. Of course, the story develops and grows in my mind before I ever start writing.
How do your stories come to mind? Do you actively think of a scenario or character first, or do the ideas just pop in your head?
I do study people, and I’m always on the alert for interesting happenings. I do believe that God created me with a vivid imagination that He planned for me to use at this time in my life.
What was your first book, and how long did it take to get it published?
Home to Her Heart published by Heartsong/Barbour in 1992. I had finished writing it in 1984.
My experience is pretty similar. A book I wrote in 2008 will be my debut novel this fall. I guess that’s where perseverance comes in! Lena, what genres are your favorites for reading as well as writing?
I have very eclectic tastes in reading material. I do love reading historicals, suspense novels, contemporary romance, even some sci-fi and fantasy books.
Sounds like we have a lot in common! Do you have a favorite book or character among your stories?
It’s usually the characters in the book I’m writing at the time that I’m asked this question. I do love the characters in the book I’m writing. But I love most of my characters for their uniqueness.
What do you most want to convey to a reader through your writing?
I want first to entertain the reader. Most people use reading to take themselves out of their mundane world or to give them a break from the stress. And I always include flawed characters, who grow spiritually and emotionally through their circumstances. I hope the stories will help someone else who is facing the same kind of problems to see a way out of their circumstances as well.
What new stories do you have planned?
My new series Love’s Road Home is about people who have a second chance to find love. I’m writing the first novel right now—A Heart’s Gift.
Any advice for new authors?
Read, read, read. Read novels by good writers. Read novels in the genre you want to write. Then network with other authors.
Thanks for the advice. As a new author, I’ve got the reading part down, and am busy learning the networking part. Like this wonderful interview with you! Thanks so much Lena!
We’ll be giving away a copy of “Maggie’s Journey.” It’s the first book in Lena’s trilogy of McKenna’s Daughters. Just leave a comment with your email address and you’re entered in the drawing!
Here’s a blurb about Maggie’s Journey:
Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her.
Maggie desires a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn’t fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost.
When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life?
To learn more about Lena and her books, visit her at: Lena’s website or enjoy her award-winning blog: Lena’s blog View and buy her books at: Lena’s books on Amazon and Lena’s books at Barnes and Noble
Thanks again to Lena Nelson Dooley for stopping in at The Diamond Mine!