Q&A With Dawn Crandall

Dawn CrandallDawn Crandall joins us today to talk about the Everstone Chronicles, her publication journey and future novels.

Beth: Hi, Dawn! So great to have you on Straight Off the Page! Let’s talk about the Everstone Chronicles – how would you describe this series? How did it come about?

Dawn: I would describe them as deeply emotional love stories told through the first person point of view of the heroine as she discovers who she’s really meant to be… and also who she is meant to fall in love with.

Well, I honestly started writing The Hesitant Heiress in 2010 for the sheer fun of it. My husband encouraged me to quit working so I could focus on writing. He had no idea how difficult it is to be traditionally published, but I did. I told him he was silly to think that I would ever get published. Well, about half way through writing it I realized that I didn’t know half the story! So I took a break and I decided I’d practice writing another character… so I tackled Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) that November and wrote 50,000 words of what would (about two years later) end up becoming part of The Bound Heart! I had my agent by the time The Hesitant Heiress was finished, and she was pretty sure she’d be able to sell the series and encouraged me to continue to write the third book about Estella after I finished writing The Bound Heart. At the time I thought she would end up with Jay Crawford… but then as I got to know her better, I realized she needed someone else to come along–someone infinitely better for her. And I’ve always had Vance’s story developing in the back of my mind all these years as well, but my book contract was for three books. And now, with the introductions of a few other characters who won’t leave me alone, I plan to write at least three more books to go along with these first three Everstone Chronicles.

Beth: Your publishing journey has been somewhat unconventional as the digital copies of your novels release was prior to the paperback release. What have the pros and cons been of having the digital side published first? What has this journey meant to you?

Dawn: It was a bit crazy launching the eBooks all so closely together! I also had a baby 4 months before the first one released! It was hard not knowing when or if the print copies would come out, but now that they are we get a whole new push for the series! I try not to think about the what ifs and how different it would have been if they had been released the normal way with paperbacks and eBooks coming out all at once every 6-9 months. I’m just grateful to be traditionally published by a publisher in the ever-changing book industry.

Beth: You write using first person narration. This is my favorite narration style, but doesn’t seem to be done often in Christian fiction. Was this a conscious choice on your part when you began writing? What appeals to you about this narration style?

Dawn: I really never thought twice about it. I knew whenever it was that I’d set out to write the novel I’d always wanted to write, that it would be from first person POV. The stories naturally develop in my imagination from this perspective, and it writing it is very natural. I get so into the mind of my heroines that it’s like I’m experiencing everything they feel and go through in the book as I’m writing them.

Beth: I’ve loved all of your main and secondary characters, but have a hard time picking a favorite (okay, okay, Lawry is amazing!). Who was your favorite character to write and why? Who was the hardest to write and why?

Dawn: I think my favorite character to write was Estella because I’d only seen glimpses of her throughout the first two books. It was so interesting to get to know her and figure out what she was dealing with, why and how things in her past had shaped her personality, and just WHO it was that would be her perfect hero.

As for the hardest, that’s easy… Meredyth was rather difficult to write at times. Because of her inner struggles she would sometimes do things that were self-inflicting. But they also didn’t only hurt her, but others she cared about. There were times I found her doing things I’d never even planned for her to do, and many times that I found myself crying for her as I wrote the story. I’ve never actually struggled with what she struggles with in The Bound Heart, but I do believe God made me feel what I needed to as I wrote this book. I had a counselor friend of mine from college read the book before I sent it to my publisher, and she told me that Meredyth responded to everything in the book just as anyone else who was going through the issues she dealt with would.

Beth: Tying in to the above question, in what ways do you see yourself in your characters, and where do you draw your inspiration for them? To what extent are they based on people you know in real life?

Dawn: For the most part, they aren’t based on real people. I just really like to develop characters and then put them into trying, yet interesting and entertaining situations. I’ve always like to study people, and I think I’m really good at understanding why they do the things they do… which translate into creating believable characters in my books.

Beth: Your books touch on a lot of relevant themes, but one that stood out to me is the idea of overcoming guilt and shame from past mistakes. How did you prepare to write the scenes of heightened emotion when the characters are coming to terms with their past? What themes and/or scenes were the most difficult to write? Which were most rewarding?

Dawn: Those very meaningful scenes will simmer for a long time before I actually write them. For the scene in which Meredyth comes to the point of facing her mistakes, I remember that the scene came to me while driving through an early morning thick spring fog while listening to the song “Let the Waters Rise” by Mike’s Chair. It was all there—all the emotions, all the details… but I couldn’t write it then! I wasn’t to that part in the story yet! It was months later that I actually wrote the scene… after going through all the tumultuous and heart-rending ups and downs between Meredyth and Lawry! And when I did write it, I totally felt like God took my heart and put the words to the feelings He’d been creating in me so that I could write it as it is.

Beth: What kinds of research did you have to do for the Chronicles? What appeals to you about the time period and the setting?

Dawn: I don’t feel like I do much “research” because simply ingesting history is something that thrills me! It just seeps in, and stays there! And then when I write, it’s just there.

Beth: What does the writing process look like for you? Where and when do you write? What are some writing quirks and habits that you have?

Dawn: I outline a lot. But then I always have about 50% of the book come to me as I go. I do write on my iPhone quite a lot! I have little hands, I guess! And I have ADD! So I basically have no real process! I feel like I just collect a bunch of characters and scenes and themes, and then somehow I get them all in order. I am a complete scatterbrain when it comes to order or organization in any part of my life… so it’s pretty much a miracle I’m so good at getting this inner world out and onto paper! But it’s also, really truly, the only thing I LOVE doing. Writing these three books (so far!—I’m working on more!) has been my very favorite thing to do!

Beth: And some questions for fun. You can pick more than one. Name your favorite…

Beth: Book?

Dawn: Pride and Prejudice

Beth: Author?

Dawn: Jane Austen

Beth: Snack?

Dawn: Too many to name! All of them!

Beth: Time of day?

Dawn: Nap time!

Beth: Hot beverage?

Dawn: Coffee and Tea.

Beth: Everstone novel?…Kidding!

Dawn: 🙂

Beth: Since it’s now officially fall, do you and your family have any fall traditions? What are your favorite things about this season, if any?

Dawn: Rhett was just a baby last fall, so we took him to a pumpkin patch and took his picture. I love all of the fall festivals that go on in Indiana around this time of year.

Beth: I hear you will be continuing with the Everstone Chronicles. (Is it true that Vance will find redemption??) What can you tell us about the next story?

Dawn: The first in the series will be a book about Violet Hawthorne, whom the reader will have met in the third book, The Captive Imposter… and Vance Everstone, the black sheep Everstone brother is, indeed, in need of some serious redemption.

Here’s the official back copy blurb:

Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother transforms her deceased parents’ respectable country inn into a brothel to accommodate the lumberjacks nearby—but then her reputation is compromised and she finds herself forced to enter into an engagement with Vance Everstone. Can she trust this man she hardly knows who has a scandalous reputation in his own right? Soon Violet finds out that Vance has become a Christian and that her brother had lost her hand to Rowen Steele, one of the vilest poker sharks in Northern Maine, and that the mess they’ve found themselves in is likely his way of saving her from landing in Steele’s hands.

Getting to know Vance as her valiant protector while also trying to understand his past, Violet eventually comes to realize she wants no other life than one with her now-reformed fiancé. Only now, despite his obvious attraction to her and the society wedding being planned by his family, Vance is determined to send her off to Kentucky to become the wife of a missionary friend of his. Will his plan work? Or will Rowen Steele kidnap Violet before Vance has a chance to claim her heart for good?

My working title for this book is The Cautious Maiden, and the other two in the series are {tentatively} called The Reckless Bride and The Sensible Widow. It is going to be another series – kind of the way Julie Lessman had two series about 6 siblings. It might be considered an Everstone Chronicle, or we might decide to name it something different but similar. It will probably be a while before they are published and available though. I’ve had a crazy last year having a baby and launching The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart and The Captive Imposter. They were the only three books I’d written, and now I have to play catch-up! 🙂

Beth: I know I’m not the only reader that is ecstatic to learn that you have more books in the works. I’m especially eager to read Viola and Vance’s story! Thank you, Dawn, for answering my questions and visiting with readers of Straight Off the Page!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *