Writer’s Desk with Stephenia H. McGee
Stephenia H. McGee is the award-winning author of many stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South, including The Secrets of Emberwild. When she’s not reading or sipping sweet tea on the front porch, she’s a writer, dreamer, husband spoiler, and busy mom of two rambunctious boys.
More about The Swindler’s Daughter
A surprise inheritance. A cache of family secrets. A choice that will change her life forever.
Lillian Doyle has lived her entire high-society life with her widowed mother, believing her father died long ago. But when news arrives that her estranged father only recently passed away—in jail—Lillian is startled to find that the man has left a business and all of his possessions to her, making her a rather unusual heiress.
When she goes to take possession of her father’s house in a backwoods Georgia town, the dilapidated structure is already occupied by another woman who claims it was promised to her son, Jonah. In her attempts to untangle the mess, Lillian will discover not only a family she never knew she had but a family business that is more than meets the eye—and has put a target on her back.
To discover the truth and take hold of the independence she’s always dreamed of, she’ll have to make friends with adversaries and strangers—especially Jonah, the dusty and unrefined cowboy who has secret aspirations of his own.
Q&A with Stephenia H. McGee
TG: Everyone always asks for an interesting fact, we’re going to flip the question. What is one boring fact about yourself?
SHM: I like the color gray. I painted rooms in shades of gray at my house. I’m currently wearing a gray shirt and a gray jacket. I’m not sure there’s a more boring color than that, but hey, I still like it.
TG: Where did you get the inspiration for The Swindler’s Daughter?
SHM: I can’t tell you too much about that without giving away some of the revelations in the story, but let’s just say I found a fascinating article about a discovery they made in an old house and I thought, “Wow. That’s neat. I wonder…” and the entire book bloomed from there.
TG: Do you have any habits or rituals as a writer?
SHM: I do my best writing in the morning, so I try to make it a habit that after my morning coffee and Bible study, the first thing I do (after returning home from taking my boys to school) is to get to work on my book.
TG: What habits would you encourage others to take up to be a more productive writer?
SHM: I think consistency is key. Not every day comes with a burning desire to write. Some days are just hard. But if you consistently put aside time to write and make a habit of doing it on a regular basis, then before you know it you have a book in hand!
TG: What do you snack on or drink while writing?
SHM: I’m usually sipping coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon while I write or edit. I try not to snack while writing. It tends to leave me with a sticky keyboard!
TG: How do you overcome writer’s block?
SHM: I set the manuscript aside and go for a walk or do a few chores around the house. When I get my body moving and allow my brain to work on the story in the background, I can usually come back to work with a fresh idea.
TG: Are you an “edit-as-you-go” writer or do you wait until the very end before you do any editing?
SHM: I like to edit as I go. I usually write a chapter, go back through it to flesh it out, and then send it to my critique partner. Once I’ve worked through her notes, it’s an official “rough draft” chapter. I don’t go back through those until I’ve finished the story. Then they get another round of editing before the manuscript goes to my first editor.
TG: What would you say is the most common mistake new writers make?
SHM: The need to tell the reader everything all at once. I used to teach creative writing, and I would often see large information dumps each time the writer introduced a new character.
TG: What is the best piece of writing advice you’re ever received?
SHM: Jerry Jenkins said something along the lines of “there comes a point when you are no longer making your story better. Only different.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s something I heard at my first writer’s conference that stuck with me. It’s a bit of advice I still turn to whenever I get paralyzed by perfectionism.
TG: What is coming up next for you?
SHM: After my release of The Swindler’s Daughter in May, I have a 1920s showboat story set on the Mississippi River coming out in October titled The River Queen.
Win a signed paperback of The Swindler’s Daughter and a signed paperback copy of The Secrets of Emberwild.
*Note: due to the cost of shipping, winners of the paperback must have a US address.
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