Born and raised in Ireland, though she is half English, Cosima Escott is affected by the curse and has sworn she'll never marry. When a proposal is made by Reginald, an Englishman, Cosima's parents believe the future of the family is redeemed. Cosima travels to England with Reginald, though she refrains from giving an answer to his proposal. Here she meets Lord Peter Hamilton and his family. Although she begins to fall in love with Peter, because he is in line to receive his father's title, Cosima knows she could never marry him and possibly bring the "curse" upon his family for future generations.
Will Talie and Luke be strong enough to face the truth about their son? Will Cosima be able to overcome the fears about her curse and accept Peter's love? How can God bring good through circumstances that seem so bad?
1. Maureen could you tell us a little about yourself? Do you have any hobbies you like to do when you aren't writing?
I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family! They keep me busy when I’m not writing, so once they’re all out the door on weekday mornings I sit down to write. My middle child is sixteen and has Fragile X Syndrome, a form of genetic mental retardation, so there are some added challenges. But those challenges come with his irresistible smile, so life is good!
As far as hobbies, I used to love painting ceramics. You know, those cute little holiday decorations or kitchen accents? (At least those were my favorites!) But unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the time to indulge myself in painting anything for quite a while. Here’s a picture of some of my old favorites, though!
2. Have you always liked to write. When did you start writing seriously? Was the process hard for you to get published?
I’ve always, always loved to write! I’m one of six kids, and when I was very young I heard my father mention to a neighbor that I was “the creative one.” I think I’ve been trying to live up to that description ever since.
I started writing seriously when I was in my early twenties. I joined what was then a new organization called Romance Writers of America, and began honing my craft through critique partners and writing groups, conferences and lots and lots of reading. My first three books were published in the secular world, and that whole process of working hard toward the goal of publication took a few years. But after my third secular book I went through some personal challenges—a divorce, single parenthood, returning to the working world—and so I just didn’t have the energy or the time to write any more. I stopped for about fifteen years, but the best thing happened along the way. I rededicated my life to Christ and knew if I ever found a way to write again, it would be something He would want to read. It took every bit of those fifteen year to get back to writing, but God brought me to a place where storytelling seemed like the most natural thing in the world. My second path to publication took about four years, from the day I sat down to write again, on to joining ACFW, critique groups, etc., until I received my first contract from a Christian publisher. The journeys weren’t all that different: write consistently, read for inspiration and learning, get unbiased feedback from others trying to hone their own writing skills, rejection, conferences for the opportunity to meet agents and editors, contests, and eventual success. It takes as much perseverance as talent.
3. Your book is about children with Fragile X Syndrome. Could you explain why you decided to write on this subject?
The Oak Leaves is such a special book to me. While it’s not a memoir by any stretch of the imagination, it does have a lot of me in it. As I mentioned, my sixteen year old has Fragile X Syndrome. Learning it was a genetic disorder and that it came from me was absolutely devastating, because he was so young when we learned his life would be one of limitations. I knew “someday” I’d write about the experience, first to explore my own emotions and see if there was anything positive to learn, and secondly to write something other moms of special needs kids might take comfort in, some voice to help define a few of the emotions that seem almost universal. Of all of my books, The Oak Leaves is the one that generates the most response from others, particularly from moms who are on similar journeys. I’m always so grateful to hear the book has helped someone articulate some of what they’ve experienced in their own life. The Oak Leaves is one of my older titles (2007), so these days it’s only available for electronic readers, or at the library, but it remains one of my favorites to this day.
4 You mix the past with the present in "Oak Leaves" why did you decide to do this?
The contemporary thread is a reflection on my own journey through finding out my son has a disability. It’s not exactly a “picker-upper” so I knew in order to entertain my reader, and get through the process of reliving the diagnosis myself, I’d have to lighten up the tone of the book. So I imagined what it must have been like to have a genetic disorder back in Victorian times, before we knew very much about genetics or even about how the brain works. Again, not exactly a cheery topic—but this second thread gave me the opportunity to include a romance. Romance is always fun! This one has its challenges, of course, romantic stories always do, but it allowed me to enjoy the entire book because I knew there was love and hope along with the more serious elements.
5. Last, do you have any advice for writers who dream of being published someday?
The best advice I can give is to keep reading. Reading taught me how to write. That, and getting unbiased feedback from others who read like a writer—with more attention to detail, to both the big picture (how the plot/character/goal/motivation/conflict work) and the details (how grammar, story structure, voice and clarity work). Find someone to share the writing journey, because writing can be a solitary occupation until you find a publisher and it becomes a team effort. A positive critique partner can go a long way to helping improve—just make sure that voice is honest but encouraging, someone who genuinely loves your work and wants to see you succeed every much as they want to succeed themselves.
My next book is titled Bees In The Butterfly Garden and releases from Tyndale House in June of 2012. It’s a very fun, romantic tale of a young lady raised in New England during the Gilded age. When she learns her father made his living as a thief, she decides to take up a legacy he never meant for her to share. My most fun book to date!
Thanks for having me visit!