Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A View from Mindy Starnes Clark and John Campbell Clark's Window! - Echoes of the Titanic

Let's look back at my trip to Orlando, shall we?  Mindy and John Clark are a very talented, very in love couple who have just published their first novel together!  I seriously doubt it will be thier last.  Please join me as we discuss their novel, Echoes of the Titanic!

Where was the idea for this story born?  Our publisher suggested the idea, and I immediately  became very excited because John is a HUGE Titanic buff.  John has always played a huge role in my writing. He’s my brainstorm partner my research partner, my first reader, my story helper…he has always been a co-author anyway.  The idea was suggested  four years ago in anticipation of the Titanic’s anniversary.

John:  I’m a lawyer by trade and I write all the time anyway – just in a different style.

Mindy – John has an instinct for story like no one I’ve every met.  He can detect where the story lags, and where the characters need more development and suggest ideas that take my story from good to the next level of Wow!  I’ve never had as much fun as writing with my husband. 

Who began the actual story idea?

Mindy – actually I was tied up with other things, so John was left alone with the story for quite some time.

John – I had to find a relationship between the history of the Titanic and a modern day story that would create mystery. I had to ask the question: “What would carry through time?” 

Mindy – early in the story, it is suggested that someone that survived the sinking of the Titanic switched places with someone who died and that the person that survived is not who she says she is.  That idea is carried forward into present day by a woman who idolizes her great-grandmother and the history  of her survival.  She works at the company that her great-grandmother founded….and then she is publically challenged by the news that instead of the great role model…her great grandmother is a liar and wasn’t who she said she was at all.

How did you find time to write together? 

Mindy – John actually wrote a lot of the story.

John – I outlined the story.

Mindy – what he wrote only needed to be polished

We finally had to crunch an intense couple of weeks together and get the story done…around the clock.  I had a three week period just after sending another project in to my publisher, so we went to our vacation house and just wrote around the clock.  He was in one room and I was in another, and we would take our notes and tear them into strips and lay them out on the bed and physically build the story together.  We had it spread  it out all over the place.

The original idea was to tell the entire modern story at once and then tell the entire historical story at once.  About a week before the story was due to the publisher Mindy had the idea to intertwine the two. 

Mindy – we tell about five chapters of modern and a chapter of historical.

Will we see more titles with both your names on the cover?

Mindy – It was too much fun not to do it again! I think it woke up his inner writing voice. Now he keeps hinting about writing about the Lucitania because the 100th anniversary of it history is only three years away.

John – and it would be a spy novel

Mindy – and it would be a wonderful companion  to the Titanic.

What is it like to win a Christy Award?  It’s so exciting to win a Christy! It was thrilling to have that affirmation of my work – our work. (co-author on  the Christy-award winning novel was Leslie Gould.

You have three projects out that were co-authored with others. How was the process different with each writing partner?

Leslie Gould is an artist  - a real word crafter – she is a precious Christian lady that I was willing to do it a second time

John is such a great story crafter

Kim is such an amazing resource  

They all brought something very different to the process of crafting a novel that it was completely different every time – but very rewarding! I’d heard horror stories about writing with someone, and that has not been my experience at all

Writing is a very lonely occupation, and you don’t realize how lonely until you’ve written with someone – our deadline is not my deadline but it’s our deadline. It was so much fun to have someone to share all of that with – at every level.

Do you have any solo projects in the works?

I’m like an idea machine…I wish I could turn it off occasionally! Nothing that I can talk about right now…but I have a lot of stuff in the works.

I’m rewriting a non-fiction project right now, The House That Cleans Itself – it was very successful when it released.   When I wrote it the first time, I was kind of feeling my way through how to explain the concept. Now, after  a lot of feedback from people who have worked the program, I feel like I can restructure the book so it’s easier to understand  and follow the program.  It will come out in January.

Will there be more non fiction?

Yes. I think non-fiction pulls from a different side of my brain. For me, fiction is hard but fun, and non-fiction is easy but boring. Non-fiction is kind of like writing a book report, and I don’t have to get in the “zone” and stay there until I get it down. I wish I could do one non-fiction for every three or four fiction titles – that’s a nice rhythm for me.

John – now that you’ve tapped into the fiction writer in you, are there any stories in you that you want to share?

You might be talking to me next year! (BIG smile!)

Mindy - Our daughter just graduated from college, and she’s an amazing writer, and I (Mindy) see the two of them writing something together.

John – “Some families sit and watch tv together, and we sit down and write together.

Closing word of encouragement that you’d like to share with readers or other writers?

Mindy - To other writer’s  - hang in there. When I graduated from college I thought I’d write a best-seller and have it published within a year – it took me twenty years before I even wrote something that was good enough to even try to sell.  I thought that was wasted time – but in hindsight – thank the Lord that it happened when it did and not any sooner! It would have been a disaster! God knows what He’s doing and He has this timing under control. 

So keep at it, polish your craft and trust God for the timing.

To my reader’s – I have two roles when I write - first to entertain, I don’t want you to go to bed at night because you can’t put my book down to go to sleep.  And secondly, I hope that I’m giving you stories that are good enough that you will pass them along to both Christian and non-Christian and that the story will bring truth and light into some dark places and will be comforting and that will answer questions in their lives.

What is God doing in your life right now?

Well, a year ago in April, I was at our vacation home and tripped and fell and suffered a brain injury. A bad one to my left frontal lobe – the word center of the brain.  The busiest year of my life – when I had three books to write – I blew out my brain. It was the worst year of my life in that aspect, but God was working out His plan in me.  It probably saved my life in a way because I had such bad work habits, was pulling all-nighters, and I shouldn’t do that at my age.  

And I was writing the book with Kim about a woman turning fifty – and asking the question: “Without my looks, who am I?” and I could relate to that in a real way when I was struggling to find words as a person who has always been a writer. Suddenly, I totally “got” that character, because I had to answer the question “Who am I?” in my own life.

It has slowed me down.  God is showing me how to enjoy my life in a whole new way.

John – how did Mindy’s injury impact your life?  The hardest thing for any man is to know he can’t fix something.  And I couldn’t do anything to help.  I kept wanting to ask, “Are you better yet?”  and it was frustrating to know I couldn’t do anything to speed up the process. I had to learn to turn the situation over to God completely. It was scary to watch a brain injury heal.   I learned how to surrender to God.

No comments: