Today, we have Carol Moncado visiting our blog! Seeing as my To Be Read pile is about 12-stories high, I (Jaime Jo) haven't had the opportunity to read Carol's work. So this interview is great for me too, learning about who Carol is and her novels!
It’s not TECHNICALLY my newest release (that’s Discovering Home, out last week) but it did come out in the last month and is the book that’s the closest I’ve come to a “book of my heart.”
Grace to Save started about four years ago when my “other mother” and I did Flash Fiction Fridays. We’d pick a prompt, write for five minutes, do minimal editing, then post. This particular one was on the 9th anniversary of 9/11 It changed a lot from there, but it started with the story prompt “Tim would never forget where he was when he heard planes had crashed into the Twin Towers.” Another one we’d toyed with was “Tim was the last person from Manhattan to know about the attack on the Twin Towers.” Like a lot of authors, I played a lot of “what if.”
What if someone wasn’t at Ground Zero because of a phone call earlier that morning? What if it was someone who very likely would have survived anyway? (He worked in the basement mall.) What if Travis doesn’t talk to his parents anymore but his mom calls to make sure he’s all right, and that’s how he finds out about the attacks? What phone call would have consumed him to the extent he didn’t already know? If the attacks don’t send him running back into his parents’ open arms, what would?
For Abi… What if she had a one-night stand no one knew about? What if the one person who supported her (older brother) died on 9/11 – but not at the Towers? What could make her give up her baby – and what could make her come back 15 years later?
So it opens on 9/11 and the first chapter is in 2001, then jumps ahead to 15.5 years later. Travis and his daughter have made a life for themselves. He’s the drama teacher at the local high school and even thinks he’s finally fallen in love. Then bio-mom shows up with an impossible request – donate bone marrow to Abi’s father – the one who made his daughter give up her baby and accused Travis of the unthinkable.
So what would happen from there?
As I dug into the hero’s background, I realized he could easily have been a Rich Mullins fan – just as I was. As soon as that clicked, some of the truths I learned from my years of listening to Rich Mullins’s songs began to permeate the story.
And fun fact? The teenager on the cover is my oldest daughter. I figure since I want to write more stories about Cassie in the future, I should probably keep my cover model close by ;).
Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?
Oh goodness. Probably Cassie. This book is a bit of a departure for me – the hero and heroine have their points of view, but their 15-year-old daughter does, too – in first person, because snarky teenager seemed to work better in first person.
Can you tell us about a scene that you wrote and eventually deleted? It’s always fun to know of the little details that didn’t make the cut J
Actually, I’m not sure I cut anything out of this particular one. I changed some things, but no scenes cut. I did write a “prequel” scene. The hero and heroine had a little bit of a history – Travis was Abi’s older brother’s best friend. I made reference to a time when they’d gone out with her brother and a bunch of his friends and somehow ended up hanging out alone together. I wrote that – complete with almost kiss ;). This reminds me that I need to polish it up and get it out there as a bonus J.
How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?
All of my novels are set in the same fictional universe. This one is in Serenity Landing, MO – the fictional version of my hometown. The hero and his daughter have made cameos in other stories. It was a pretty easy decision.
What made you pick these specific names of your main two characters?
The hero was named after my favorite manager at my favorite Panera – Travis insisted I name my next hero after him. I did – and then the real Travis was killed in a car accident a couple weeks after I finished my first draft L. He left behind his long-time girlfriend and two young children. Travis and Cassie both have amazing blue eyes, because the real Travis did. Abi was named after a friend who won a drawing on my Facebook author page.
Because I wrote this during the first SpeedBo – Seekerville’s version of National Novel Writing Month – I needed to pay homage to that. Travis’s last name is Harders – after Audra Harders. Abi’s is Connealy – for Mary Connealy. And Travis’s parents? Julie (a writer!) and Keith!
Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What’s your least favorite household chore and why?
All of them? /thinks/ Folding clothes and putting them away probably tops the list – and cleaning bathrooms.
What are your hobbies outside of writing?
Television/movie watching. I’m no Tony DiNozzo, but I tend to binge watch my favorite shows and movies. I own NCIS, Big Bang Theory, and FRIENDS on DVD – along with a bunch of older, more classic, shows I watch with my kids – I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, Gilligan’s Island, Boy Meets World, Full House, Cosby Show, Andy Griffith, etc. Weekly, I watch a bunch of shows. Probably too many ;). Thanks to the wonder of streaming, I’m currently working my way through Star Trek: The Original Series and Gilmore Girls is on my horizon. I tend to obsessively rewatch movies, too – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Jurassic World already. I can quote Twister and Independence Day like nobody’s business.
And reading of course! Always reading!
Fall is upon us, and full of events. Are you doing anything special this fall season?
This year holds new events for me! My oldest daughter is a freshman this year – and she’s very active in her marching band! Tomorrow is her first competition. They didn’t march their show at the first football game because they weren’t ready. The last two games have been rainouts for the band anyway (too many instruments can’t handle that kind of wetness). This will be their first time marching their show in front of an audience. If things continue as planned, I’ll be a band mom until 2025! Longer if they all march in college!
We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?
My faith permeates my writing even when I don’t necessarily realize it. It’s not something I generally consciously weave in, but then at the end think “okay, I need to make sure the spiritual thread is up to snuff” and realize God’s already been working it in. The most obvious example is in Hand-Me-Down Princess. Prince Malachi has been telling his bride (they met at the altar) she needs to come to understand that her value is because she is a child of the One True King and not because she married the son of an earthly one. Okay. Cool. And then suddenly, it’s Malachi who has to grapple with the same concept – something he’d thought he’d learned years earlier. I didn’t plan it, but there it was… Go figure. God had it planned all along ;).
That said, Grace to Save is the first (and only(?) to date) novel I’ve written with the salvation message spelled out in it. Abi wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and this whole religion thing is a little weird to her. She doesn’t expect her daughter to donate bone marrow to the man who did awful things, but she has to ask anyway. Slowly, Travis and Cassie begin to show Abi the unspeakable, immeasurable, completely overwhelming Amazing Grace that God gives to all of us.
Tell us a little about a day in the life of you? Wake up time? Lounging in your jammies all day, drinking coffee, living the luxurious life of a writer ;)
This year’s a bit different. Officially, I’m taking the fall off from teaching a couple classes at the local community college, but the reality is that it will be hard to go back for a variety of reasons. Now that I don’t have anywhere I have to be on a regular basis… I work best late at night, so I’ve been staying up late and sleeping in – though some days I do get up and get my kids out the door when my husband has to leave early. Mostly they’re pretty self-sufficient in the morning which helps. I get up in the late morning and do miscellaneous stuff – cleaning, marketing, editing, whatever – then do my creative stuff after the kids go to bed at night. Not jammies, usually, but definitely comfy clothes :D. I need to get “working out” in there too.
We have a bit of a war going on here at the CCC blog. Anne and Jaime LOVE coffee and Erica and Gabriella enjoy a joyful cup of tea. What is your preference? Help us break this tie…
Uh… Dr Pepper. I don’t drink coffee or tea (of any kind).
And a few fun and quirky questions always reveal of lot from our authors who visit. So, first, if you were to take a boat down the Amazon river, what would you be most interested in seeing?
Oh, goodness. The resort at the end? Definitely not the bugs! But if the bugs were out of the way, I would enjoy all of the flora and fauna and animal life – as long as it’s not trying to eat me!
If you had a choice of living in any era other than the present, what would you choose and why?
Oh goodness again! Can I go with the future? Where there’s transporters so I can hop across the country, or even around the world, to see a friend whenever I want and still be home in time for dinner.
We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! Please share something below:
Travis leaned back on his hands and stared upward. Abi did the same. “Rich says something about how sometimes he looks at the stars and thinks about how God told Abraham his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky and that one of those stars had Rich Mullins written on it.”
The sounds of happy high schoolers provided the background music for the vast emptiness above them. “Thousands of years ago, without light pollution, how many stars could Abraham have seen? Millions? Trillions? Gazillions? Who knows, but one of those stars hung there in the sky because of me. Because of Travis Harders. Because of Abi Connealy. It has my name or your name or Cassie’s name written on it. The God who can make all of this had me in mind when He hung a star. It’s so simple and so mind-blowing at the same time.”
Abi didn’t know what to say, how to react, but before she had time to, he went on. “I know you don’t believe in all of that, but it’s true.” When he looked at her, his blue eyes were as serious as she’d ever seen them. “God loves you, Abi. He was thinking of you when He created a star millions and millions of light years away in a spot you’d never visit. You were on his mind when He hung on the cross.” Travis stood, brushing picnic table dust off the back of his jeans. “If you ever want to talk, I’m here or my mom’s a great one to talk to.” As he walked off, he took several backwards steps. “God loves you, Abi Connealy. He always has. He always will.”
He turned, whistling loudly to draw the students back toward the bus.
God loved her? He thought about her while He created the universe?
She might be able to buy into the idea that a Creator existed, but that He cared so much about a woman who’d abandoned her baby? That didn’t seem like much of a God at all.
Enter to WIN a copy of Grace to Save!
Amazon follow: https://www.amazon.com/Carol-Moncado/e/B00OMAOWZI/
Grace to Save: https://www.amazon.comdp/B01L9KW4TE/