Wow! This week has really flown by. I can't believe that today is the last day of my Blogaversary! I hope that you've enjoyed meeting my guests and learning a little about their new Titanic novels! Today's guest is Mindy Starns Clark, co-author (with her husband!) of Echoes of Titanic. Several years ago a friend introduced me to Mindy's Million Dollar Mysteries series and I read all of them (except the last one!). I recently rediscovered Mindy and her books are even better than I remembered!
Mindy Starns Clark: Well, let’s see… I was born and raised in Louisiana and met my husband John when we both attended Clemson University in South Carolina. Best friends throughout college, we fell in love a few years after graduating and ended up getting married nine years after the day we met.
We now live in Southeastern Pennsylvania and have two daughters, Emily, 22, and Lauren, 19, both of whom are in college themselves.
In the professional realm, John is a CPA and attorney and has been working in the faith-based non-profit field for many years. I work full-time as a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. Echoes of Titanic is my 19th book and his first.
ib4b: Give us a little background on Echoes of Titanic.
MSC: We like to say it “combines a fascinating tale of modern-day corporate intrigue with the deeply moving story of Titanic’s fateful voyage.” In other words, we have two totally connected, concurrent stories, one in the present and one in the past. As you move between the two, you learn more about both, and see how the past has echoed down to the present—in some surprising and compelling ways.
ib4b: The Titanic fascinates a lot of people. Why did you choose to write a book featuring the Titanic?
MSC: It was my publisher’s idea, but as soon as I heard about it, I went nuts. My husband has been a lifelong Titanic buff, so I knew this would be the perfect project to co-write together.
MSC: For Kelsey Tate, we pictured a 30-ish Jennifer Connelly. For her love interest, Cole Thornton, maybe the actor Chris Pine.
ib4b: What was it like writing this book with your husband?
MSC: It ended up being “more” of everything I expected. I expected it to be fun, but I didn’t know it was going to be an absolute blast. I expected it to get a little contentious sometimes, but I didn’t know we were going to debate so many elements of the story all along the way. (Which is different from arguing—we were careful not to fight or to let it move beyond the book. But we did debate a lot. And, for what it’s worth, all that debating made for a better story. When you have to defend a plot point, the novel becomes stronger for it.)
Also, I expected it to infringe on our free time and our home life, but I didn’t know we would have to become “all Titanic, all the time” to get the book finished. Mostly, I expected to enjoy sharing this process with my hubby, but I didn’t know it was going to be so incredibly rewarding and fulfilling—nor that it would give him so much insight into my world and provide me with a new perspective on my own profession.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.
ib4b: I know you did tons of research before writing the book. Was there a story/person that you came across in your research that was especially memorable?
MSC: Believe it or not, until we started writing this book, I had no idea that one of my very best friends had three relatives die on Titanic! When you think you know somebody really well, that comes as a huge shocker. Fortunately, this friend was able to provide some excellent source material, and even just hearing her talk about their deaths and how it affected the family had such an impact on the story. Even though she never knew these cousins and they died before she was born, the sense of loss was palpable. When we went to a Titanic exhibit and were able to touch their names on the wall of those who’d gone down with the ship, the feeling of connection was profound.
As a thank you, we actually put her relatives into the book by name. They don’t appear “on stage”, so to speak, but we have a scene where one of our fictional characters talks about them. We put it in there as a surprise, and when our friend ran across it while reading the book, she was thrilled and deeply touched.
(If you’re curious, the name to look for as you’re reading is Austin van Billiard, who was traveling with his two sons. All three perished in the sinking.)
ib4b: Wow ... that's amazing! And what a great way to honor your friend's relatives! This IS a party, so what's your favorite kind of cake? I want to make sure I serve my guests their favorite. [Wink!]
MSC: How fun! Virtual cake is the only kind I can have, as my husband and I gave up all sugar a few years ago. But since it’s pretend… let’s see, I’ll take a homemade yellow cake with buttercream frosting—the kind that’s made with butter and confectioner’s sugar, not out of a can.
ib4b: I don't know how you do without cake! How do you celebrate special occasions in your family?
MSC: For birthdays, we try to arrange that person’s “favorites”—favorite food, favorite restaurant, favorite activity, etc.—so that it’s all about them. One of us might ask for dinner at a fancy restaurant and a Broadway musical, while another might just want their favorite home cooked meal and an evening of board games or putt putt golf.
For more general occasions, I love to decorate cakes, so almost every big event and holiday around here merits some elaborately over-the-top cake. (Around the same time we were giving up sugar, our daughter was taking cake decorating classes herself, so the mantel has been passed on.)
I think the key is that we all like to be together for the big occasions. Our daughter was studying abroad this fall and had to miss Thanksgiving, which we always share with my husband’s family, and it was awful for her—and us too. We really missed her!
ib4b: Those are all great traditions! What's one of the most memorable gifts you've ever received?
MSC: Years ago, when our kids were small, my husband tricked me into meeting him in a restaurant, saying it was a dinner for his work. Instead, when I got there, I found it was a special celebration just for us—and then he gave me a gorgeous amethyst-and-diamond necklace. What made it so amazing, though, was the reason for the gift and the celebration. John is a real “numbers” guy, and he had figured out the math of how long we’d known each other. We met at age 19, so exactly 19 years and 1 day after the date we met, he surprised me by celebrating the exact day we now knew each other longer than we hadn’t known each other. I mean, come on! That’s what I call romantic! I was completely swept off my feet.
ib4b: That's so sweet! John sounds like quite a guy! I can't let you leave without asking you a few bookish questions. What were some of your favorite books growing up?
MSC: James and the Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web, Heidi, Two on an Island, Bristle Face
ib4b: What was the last "must read" Christian fiction book that you read?
MSC: Probably Cindy Woodsmall’s Sisters of the Quilt series. She’s such a great writer, and I really enjoyed all three of the books in the series. She handled the love triangle with great finesse, making me go back and forth between which guy I wanted the character to end up with.
ib4b: Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now? When can we expect to see it in stores?
MSC: I have two other co-written novels coming out this summer: The Amish Bride, third in the Women of Lancaster County series with co-author Leslie Gould, and Beauty to Die For, first in the Spa Mysteries series with co-author Kim Alexis. Both will be in stores in August.
ib4b: How can readers connect with you?
MSC: My website is www.mindystarnsclark.com, and for a brief while I also have up www.echoeslaunchparty.blogspot.com, for anyone who might be interested in coming to our Echoes of Titanic book launch.
ib4b: Mindy, it's been great getting to know a little more about you and Echoes of Titanic! Thanks so much for coming to my party today!
Okay, everyone, today is officially the last day of my Blogaversary. I couldn't end the week without one last giveaway. Today's prize is the winner's choice! You may choose ONE of the four books that were featured on i blog 4 books this week: Hearts that Survive by Yvonne Lehman, Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke, By the Light of the Silvery Moon by Tricia Goyer, or Echoes of Titanic by Mindy Starns Clark & John Campbell Clark. Another rafflecopter below, so you know what to do! US residents only. All giveaways end on Monday.
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