Jen: Our guest this weekend is Rebbie Macintyre. Rebbie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Rebbie: Like most writers, my life experiences have provided the fodder for my stories. I’ve been an English teacher, a counselor for troubled kids, a salesperson, a violinist, swimming coach, SCUBA diver, and a sludge truck operator. My great-grandfather claimed to be a dowser, a legend that provided the seed for my first book, Cast the First Stone. I was a single mom and then became a stepmom, and my second book, A Corner of Universe, mirrors some of the emotions I struggled with during hard times.
Jen: Tell us about Cast the First Stone and where it’s available.
Rebbie: Cast the First Stone is a historical mystery set in Depression era Colorado. It’s the story of a young Hispanic widow who saves her brother from a murder conviction by using the ancient art of dowsing. It’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I’m also giving away signed copies of the book; I explain that at the end of the interview.
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Rebbie: I started writing diaries when I was seven or eight years old. (I saved a half dozen of those little vinyl books with the locking tabs!) It wasn’t until my daughter was grown that I took up writing full time. I wrote three different books with a dowser as a protagonist. It took me several years, lots of critique groups and a pond of tears to learn the craft. When I thought the story was good enough, I queried and contracted with an agent. A year later, he called with the news that Five Star had offered a contract for the book. From the day I came up with the idea for the story until the publication date was ten years. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but there you go.
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Rebbie: My niece, who is twenty-two, has just finished the first draft of her first book. My daughter just received a contract to write a textbook for a course in fashion design. My cousin, Freedy Johnston, is a music composer who tours with his own group. Another niece is also a music composer and performer.
Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
Rebbie: I write like E.L. Doctorow describes: Writing a book is like driving down a road at night with your headlights on. You know where you’re headed, but you can only see a little way in front of you! I start with a one or two sentence summary of the book, then write a paragraph which includes the inciting incident, turning points and the ending. Then I begin the first draft. The scenes come as I drive down the dark road, and I like to write a fast first draft, usually only four to six weeks working every day. There are a lot of holes when it’s over, but it gives me a story from which to build.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Rebbie: Lots of research on the web about the Great Depression and dowsing, but I also used my mother’s stories from what she remembers about that time.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Rebbie: Getting a great idea is the most challenging aspect of finding a story, no question. The easiest? I’m not sure I could apply the term to writing.
Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Rebbie: For me, finishing the book is the most rewarding aspect of writing. I spent over two years on a book that I did not send out for publication because it is simply not right. I learned a lot from it, though, about finding my own voice and style, being myself on the page, and not trying to imitate someone else. Even though it probably will never be published, I still felt an immense sense of accomplishment when it was finished.
Jen: Is there a genre that you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from and why?
Rebbie: My voice and style are suited for suspense, I believe, so I’ll stick to that. Cast the First Stone is a fast, page-turner read and it’s a mystery. My upcoming release, A Corner of Universe, is a suspense story set in current day Chicago. I can’t see myself ever writing sci-fi or fantasy. But then again, you never know what turn your creativity will take!
Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Rebbie: There are so many present day authors I read and love, in all genres. But for the classics, I love Charles Dickens and the uniqueness of his characters. Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf. I’m also an admirer of Brenda Ueland, a woman who shouted out her writing voice without reservations!
Jen: Do you do anything special to celebrate a sale, new contract, or release?
Rebbie: Hubby and I pop a bottle of bubbly!
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your book?
Rebbie: When Cast the First Stone was first released, I got a lot of emails from people about how their family members were dowsers or they’d heard stories about ancestors who dowsed. It was a great way to connect to readers.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Rebbie: Read, of course, bike and walk. Be with the family. I take a girl trip every fall and we go hiking in Colorado or Montana. It’s the best!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Rebbie: My upcoming book, A Corner of Universe, will be released in March 2010. It’s set in current day Chicago and is about a physician’s wife who takes in her adult stepson in hopes of saving her floundering marriage, but ends up jeopardizing everything she holds dear—including the life of her unborn child.
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Rebbie: www.rebbiemacintyre. com
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Rebbie: Yes. I’d like to know how you as a reader discover new books. How influential is the Internet in making your selection for books?
Jen: Readers, Rebbie is giving away five (yes, that’s 5) copies of Cast the First Stone. She will personalize the copy to whomever you’d like, if you want to use the book as a Christmas gift. To enter the contest, leave a comment or question for Rebbie. Then you must either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. The contest will end on Thursday, December 10.