Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway - Mindy Starns Clark - Part 1

Mindy Starns Clark is the award-winning author of 19 books, bth fiction and non-fiction, including the #1 CBA/ECPA bestseller The Amish Midwife (co-written with Leslie Gould) and the perennial favorite The House That Cleans Itself. Her works have been finalists for ACFW's Carol Awards, RWA's Inspirational Book of the Year award, RT Book Club Magazine's Reviewer's Choice Award, and the ECPA's Christian Book Award. A former stand-up comedian, Mindy is also a popular playwright and inspirational speaker. She lives with her husband and two daughters near Valley Forge, PA.

I'm excited to have Mindy with us for a 2-part interview and giveaway. Be sure to check out the contest details below.

1) How did you and Leslie meet and decide to collaborate on a series?

We have the same agent, Chip MacGregor, and it was his idea. Leslie was wanting to write an Amish but didn't have the knowledge; I was wanting to come out with books more frequently but didn't have the time. For at least a year, Chip kept telling me about this author and how great she was and how we really ought to co-write a book. I didn't think I'd like the co-writing process, but I finally decided to give it a shot. As it turned out, I liked co-writing so much, I now work with three different co-authors! I love them all, but each situation is unique. Working with Leslie is incredibly rewarding and way too much fun. I also think we bring out the best in each other's work, and that's the main goal, to write a really great book.

2)What was your inspiration for The Amish Midwife?

It was Leslie's idea. She had read A Midwife's Story by Penny Armstrong and Sheryl Feldman a long time ago and had been wanting to use the information in a novel somehow ever since. She also had home births with her own children, so she had that experience to draw from as well.

3) Since I'm collaborating on a book with my friend, Karen Lange, I'm interested in your process. How do you divide the research, planning, and writing?

You know, it's different with each of my co-authors. With Leslie, she comes up with the basic plot then we hammer out the salient details together with lots of emails flying back and forth, until we've got an outline that runs several  pages. Then she writes the rough draft and sends it to me. I write the next draft, which sometimes involves significant changes and sometimes is just a matter of polishing up what's there. Our "voices" are very similar, so it's not hard at all for us to make it sound like one author rather than two. Once we've each had a crack at it, we work together on the finishing touches, and then we're done.

The best part is that we each bring different strengths to the table. She's a character-driven author and has a beautiful way with prose, which constantly has me in awe. (She's also far more organized and prompt than I am, so she keeps us on schedule. Haha.) I'm a plot-driven author with a real knack for pacing and storytelling. Together, we pretty much cover all the bases.

As for research, in the beginning, I was the "expert" on the Amish and handled that part of the equation. But she's learned so much since then-much of it through first-hand experience from her own research trips among the Amish - that nowadays she knows as much as I do about them, if not more. Beyond the Amish elements, it just sort of works out that we both research the things that seem needed at the time. For example, in The Amish Midwife, she handled almost all of the birth-related stuff. In The Amish Nanny, which involves characters who are traveling, I worked a lot with logistics, geopgraphy, and timelines, because as a former travel agent, I'm kind of obsessive about getting things exactly right. Overall, she does a lot more research than I do, though, because she's the one who's writing that first draft.

Thanks, Mindy! Wow, I can't imagine working with three authors.

And now for the giveaway details:

1) Mindy has generously offered to give away one copy of The Amish Midwife and one copy of The Amish Nanny. Two books = two winners! The contest is open to current and new Followers of Christian Writer/Reader Connection. Only residents of the U.S. are eligible for the giveaway.

2) You have the possibility of four entries. A comment on each of the interview posts will give you two, mentioning it on your blog gives you a third opportunity, and posting it on Facebook will get you a fourth entry. You must let me know in your comment if you mentioned the contest on your blog or Facebook.

3) I will need your email address in your comment. No email = no entry.

4) The deadline is Saturday, March 10, 2012, at midnight. The winner will be notified by email, and an announcement will be made on the blog on Sunday, March 11, 2012. I will forward your snail mail address to Mindy, who will send the two winners their books.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any remuneration for doing this interview.

Question for Writers: Does the idea of collaborating on a book appeal to you? Why/why not?

Question for Readers: When you read a co-written book, does it seem like it's written by more than one person or is it seamless?

Hmm, I think I'm going to pick up that book The House That Cleans Itself!


Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

Thanks for this interview Susan, love the 2-part deal :) and how interesting... another co-authorship.

Sarah Forgrave said...

Great interview, Susan and Mindy! I think it would take just the right relationship to co-write a book.

Btw, Mindy, I met an Amish family in northern Indiana who mentioned you may have visited friends of theirs as part of your research. I believe it was your name they said, but I may be mistaken?

Terri Tiffany said...

Thank you for this! I have always been afraid of the idea of co-writing a book but she makes it sound so easy and better! I too agree not just anyone could co-author--it would take similar personalities and writing styles I think,

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Marja - Yes, we don't see many posts on co-authoring. I find it an interesting subject. :)

Hi Sarah - Thanks! It's a small world. Maybe Mindy will stop in and answer your question.

Hi Terri - Having a good relationship with the other person is critical to success.

Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

Great interview. Appreciate learning more about Mindy, and about her collaborative projects.

As for your question, yes, I do believe I would enjoy doing a collaborative project with someone. :)

Would love to be entered in the giveaway I am a follower and I am sharing this on FB.

Thanks and blessings,

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

LOL! Would I happen to know this person?

For everyone out there scratching their heads, Karen and I are collaborating on a book.

Susan :)

Leslie Gould said...

I have to say I've done my best work, so far, with Mindy. :) She is a brilliant plotter and really, really makes our work shine. Writing can be a lonely business, day-to-day, so collaborating adds a totally new dimension. I've really been blessed by it and by Mindy--she was too modest in this interview.

Thank you, Susan, for promoting The Amish Midwife!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Leslie -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

You and Mindy did a wonderful job on The Amish Midwife. Two heads are better than one at times. :)


Mindy Starns Clark said...

Hi Sarah, all of my research has been done here in Pennsylvania, where I live. But Leslie did take a research trip to Indiana while writing the third book in this series, The Amish Bride, (which will be out this summer) so maybe they were talking about her.

For anyone interested in co-authoring, you might also check out my article "Collaborating while Cohabitating: A Survivor's Guide," in the latest issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine. It's about the experience of penning Echoes of Titanic with my husband and the lessons we learned in the process.

All three of my co-writing relationships are completely unique, but each one is great fun and very rewarding in its own way. Go figure--this from a woman who NEVER thought she would enjoy the co-writing process! Nowadays, it's my favorite way to write.

Anyway, thanks for the fun interview, Susan!