Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli and I talk about writing and her new book TEMPORARY BRIDESMAID

Veteran writer Lu Ann Brobst Staheli has just released a romance, Temporary Bridesmaid. Here's part of the review I posted on Amazon. "It’s a book with an interesting main character—not the dewy, young, just-turned-twenty miss of so many romances, but a successful career woman of thirty-nine with a closet full of bridesmaid dresses . . .With some nice, unexpected plot twists, Ms. Staheli carries us through the expected romance format to a sweet conclusion that leaves us smiling." You can read the whole review by clicking here.

I wanted my friends and readers to know more about Lu Ann, as she's such a force in the Utah writing community, and she graciously consented to do an interview.

 LIZ: I’m aware that you’ve been writing in the nonfiction area for awhile. Before we talk about your foray into fiction, tell me about the books you have already published.

LU ANN: I’ve published in both the non-fiction and fiction genres before. When Hearts Conjoin: The True Story of Utah’s Conjoined Twins (Richard Paul Evans, Inc.) and Psychic Madman (Source Books) are both biographies and each won Utah’s Best of State for Non-Fiction. My most recent non-fiction is also a biography of sorts. Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith (Walnut Springs Press) is a comparative study of the similarities of the lives of these two men, one the leader of a country, the other the leader of a church.

Also in the non-fiction realm, I’ve published two books for Language Arts teachers. Books, Books, and More Books: A Parent and Teacher’s Guide to Adolescent Literature was my Christa McAulliffe project, and One Day at a Time: Teaching Secondary Language Arts is a compilation of the newspaper columns on literacy which I wrote for two local newspapers.

But non-fiction is not my only genre. I’ve also published a series, Small-Town U.S.A., which includes one middle grade novel (Leona & Me, Helen Marie) about my mother’s childhood in 1922 southern Indiana during the first depression, and two young adult novels (Just Like Elizabeth Taylor and A Note Worth Taking), each about a young girl and her experiences coming of age. The first book in the Explorers series (Tides Across the Sea) has also been published. Each of them won awards from the League of Utah Writers and Elizabeth Taylor was the winner of the Utah Arts Council Juvenile Novel of the Year.

LIZ: So, with all this different, heavier-weight-type writing that you’ve done, why did you decide to write anything as fluffy as a romance? I say this without prejudice, because I’ve written romance myself.

LU ANN: Temporary Bridesmaid came about because people kept asking me to tell my own story. Although the novel is fiction, those who know me well will recognize elements of my life. I met my husband later in life and we married when I was 40 and he 35. We met at Payson Jr. High School where I was a fulltime English teacher and he came as a substitute—a temp. I had given up on ever finding a husband, and he on finding a wife. In addition, I was taking care of my elderly mother who suffered from dementia, the early stages of Alzheimer ’s disease.

LIZ: Temporary Bridesmaid is about a single, career-track woman who falls in love at thirty-nine. After reading your acknowledgements, I have to ask, are there any autobiographical elements to this story?

I guess I spoiled this one in the answer above. ;-)

LIZ: I was interested in your third story line, the character of Stephie. Why did you decide to include her as a prominent subplot?

LU ANN: Stephie just appeared out of nowhere one day as I was writing—something authors understand. I had known some young couples who were suffering from the same break-down in communication that she and Phil were experiencing. I’ve also known some young men who had become so wrapped up in their gaming that they had withdrawn from those who loved them. Her part of the story practically wrote itself. I felt the contrast to Jenny’s desire to marry and the happier couples around them both was important to the full development of the story. Life doesn’t always work out the way we—or our characters—expect it to. My plan is to eventually give Stephie a new, and perhaps happier, love story in a sequel to this book.

LIZ: What have new have you learned about writing from the experience of Temporary Bridesmaid? Or maybe I should ask, was this process any different from the nonfiction writing you’ve done?

LU ANN: With non-fiction, you do a lot of research, often needing sources you can footnote, so the process can be time intensive. But the same can be said for fiction. This novel started out to be my story, so the first draft was fairly easy—it was my NANOWRIMO book three years ago. But during the revisions, I discovered that what I thought was romantic, because it was actually how my love story had developed, didn’t read as all that romantic to people who read and wrote nothing but romance. Luckily, I have great friends and several romance writer mentors in my critique group. I think I’ve managed to keep the elements of my own personal romance true, but added just enough to satisfy other readers who enjoy a good romance.  

LIZ: What’s the next project we can expect from the pen of LuAnn Brobst Staheli?

LU ANN: I’m in final revisions for a novella that will be in the Timeless Romance Anthology Silver Bells edition. I haven’t settled on a title yet, but I will tell you it’s about Dick Wilkins and Pricilla Fezziwig, and includes the more familiar character of Ebenezer Scrooge.

After that, it’s back to non-fiction as I’m finishing a memoir titled Living in an Osmond World, which is a collection of experiences I had from the time I met the Osmond family through the years I worked for Alan Osmond Productions as an Associate Producer of Stadium of Fire.

LIZ: Is there anything else you’d like to add, anything you’d like to say to readers or potential readers?

LU ANN: My childhood dream was to be a published author, and I’ve been thrilled to see this dream coming true. I’ve always been an avid and eclectic reader, and I suppose you can use the same labels to describe me as a writer. When you follow your passion, as I am doing now, the money is nice, but the true reward is making someone smile. I hope that somewhere in my crazy list of publications I have something that does that very thing for each of you.

Thanks for letting me be a part of your blog, Liz. And thanks for bringing a smile to my face!   

LIZ: Thanks for letting us all get to know you better.


Joyce DiPastena said...

Great interview! I read Lu Ann's "Tides Across the Sea" and loved it. I hope she has another novel in her The Explorer's series on that busy writing agenda of hers somewhere. :-) Thanks for sharing this, Liz!

Michele Holmes said...

What a wonderful interview--about a truly wonderful person. If I could add one thing it's that in addition to her own writing,
Lu Ann has taken the time to mentor many other writers (myself included) and is generous in sharing her knowledge and talents. I'm certain the list of those she has helped on the path to publication is quite a long one. She's an excellent author and an even better person.

Liz Adair said...

Thanks for your shout out for Lu Ann's TIDES ACROSS THE SEA, Joyce. And, Michele, I'm glad you brought up Lu Ann's mentoring. As I said, she's a powerful force in the writing community. Wait, did I say that? If I didn't, I should have.

Tanya Parker Mills said...

Terrific interview, Liz. Loved reading about Lu Ann's own romance and I'm relieved to know I'm not the only LDS writer out there who married a younger man. :D

Lu Ann is definitely a mentor. I really appreciated her editing of my latest fantasy manuscript.

Liz Adair said...

Hey, Tanya, thanks for stopping by. I'm so proud to have interviewed Lu Ann. I've been in awe of her for a long time. I didn't even think about the parallel with the 'younger man' thing. Maybe that's why I'm in awe of you, too.

Canda said...

That sounds like a good book, and I love the personal connection to the story.