It is my great pleasure to have Miralee Ferrell on my blog today. Miralee is such a sweet person, and I'm so glad that I've gotten to know her a little better recently. Miralee is the first author to be featured on my blog, and I hope after reading her interview, you'll get to know her a little better, too. :o)
Miralee, thank you so much for joining us today!
How did you begin your career as a writer?
I'd had people over the years suggest I should do some writing, but never took it seriously until Feb., 2005. I went forward at the end of an evening church service with a special speaker. He prayed for each person individually and started to pray for me, then stopped and spoke to me instead. He said that the Lord impressed him that I need to be writing…he didn’t know what type, but felt strongly that it needed to be published. That was it. Short and to the point, but it impacted me in a huge way. I spent two weeks praying about it and decided to be obedient and begin writing. I spent a few weeks writing a 100,000 word auto-biography covering the time my husband and I met one another to the present. It wasn’t meant for publication, but for family, although I infused a lot of spiritual applications through out and someday might consider revising for possible publication. Afterwards I went on to short stories, then wrote The Other Daughter, which was contracted a year later with Kregel.
Do you ever use any of your own personal experiences when you're writing a story?
Yes, they're woven into almost everything I write, and I think most author's use many personal experience to bring a freshness and reality to their work. My current book, Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA is set in the old west on a horse ranch outside of a small mining town in 1877. I've owned horses most of my adult life and still do a lot of trail riding with my grown daughter. There were horses in my first book as well, so it's easy to make those scenes believable. Also, we took in foster kids for years (dealt with in the first book), owned two cougars (not taken out of captivity) and touched on the subject of a wild Mt. lion in this current book. I've also used emotions I've felt and a smattering of personalities from people I know.
How do you get ideas for characters in your books?
That's a great question and hard to answer, as I've gone about it several ways so far. On The Other Daughter, the two children in the Carson family were drawn from my own kids, Marnee and Steven, at that age (11 & 8), with the same personality traits (on the most part). Jeena, the not so nice friend of the main character, Susanne, was total make believe, as was Grandfather, a man of Native American descent.
In my current book, Alexia, the heroine who is trying to keep her ranch going after her father dies, is drawn from my grown daughter, Marnee. She's a horsewoman, very independent, strong values and mind set, and very capable. Justin, the hero, is kind of a George Strait type guy...sweet, strong, caring and very good looking, LOL! Think George when he was young, with dark blond hair instead of brown.
In a proposal I'm doing right now for another old west type book, I was lying in bed one night thinking about the main character, and wondering what I'd name her and what she'd look like. Only about half awake, I said...."so what's your name?" (spoken to my heroine) She immediately popped right back "Angel Ramirez", and she's half Italian, half Mexican with long dark hair and dark eyes.
Tell us about the featured book.
It’s 1877 and Alexia Travers is alone in the world. Her father has died unexpectedly, leaving her burdened with a heavily mortgaged horse ranch. Marrying one of the town's all-too-willing bachelors would offer an easy solution, but Alex has no interest in marriage. Instead, she dons men's trousers and rides the range, determined to make the ranch a success on her own.
But despite Alex's best efforts, everything seems to go wrong: ranch hands quit, horses are stolen, and her father's gold goes missing. Alex is at her wit's end when wrangler Justin Phillips arrives in Last Chance with his young son, looking for a job. But there seems to be more to Justin's story than he's willing to share. Will Alex ever be able to trust him? More importantly, will the independent woman finally learn to depend on God?
In spite of it's name, I found the town of Last Chance to be very intriguing. How much of the history of the town that you wrote into the book is true?
All of it as far as the history goes, none of it as far as the story line. The spring behind the blacksmith shop is still there, the apple trees in the meadow nearby unfortunately got cut down by vandals just a few years ago (150 yr old trees, still bearing small apples for the deer). The country is extremely rugged, and wagons were a rarity, as most supplies did come in by mule team. I have no proof that a horse ranch ever existed, but there was a plateau a few miles from town where it would have been possible. Allen Grosh, the man who first located the Comstock lode (silver mine) is buried in the old Last Chance cemetery. There were many successful mines dotting the landscape in the area, as well as a saw mill, and the hotel depicted with the upstairs bunk room accessed only by a ladder is accurate...I have a picture of the building in my files.
After writing this book, do you have any plans to write more historical fiction down the road?
Yes, I'm working on one right now that will release in Feb. of 2010, Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon set in 1904. I'm also sending in two proposals, one that's set in the Roaring 20's in a small town during prohibition and the Mafia. The other is another Old West setting, 1860's era, in cattle country, Wyoming. Not sure if either will see the light of day, but I'm particularly excited about the old west one, as it deals with a strong young woman who's been raised in an outlaw camp and escapes.
What do you hope your readers take with them after reading one of your books?
Each book is different, but all have a spiritual message woven through out. It may deal with forgiveness and redemption as the first one did, with understanding who you are, where you fit and what's important in life, (Finding Jeena...coming soon), or dealing with rejection and the desire to be accepted as you are....and giving unconditional love, my current Love Finds You book. But mostly, I want the reader to meet Jesus in the pages of my books...if they don't already know Him, then I hope they'll find Him there...If they do know Him, then I hope they'll get a felt need met, or draw closer in their own personal experience.
What authors do you enjoy reading in your spare time?
I have a raft of Christian authors in several genres that I enjoy, as well as a few secular. I love mystery/suspense, (Brandilynn Collins) romance/suspense, (Terri Blackstock) some fantasy (as in Ted Dekker), courtroom drama (just finished a John Grisham), general fiction like the Mitford series (Jan Karon), historical fiction (Kim Vogel Sawyer, Leisha Kelly) and of course, I love Francine Rivers who fits in several genres. I also enjoy the old Zane Grey westerns, Gene Stratton Porter (Freckles, Girl of the Limberlost) and so many more. At this point, I do a lot of my reading by listening to audio books when I clean house, exercise and drive, as I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and read.
If you were not a writer, what would be your dream job? (Of course, this is assuming that writing is your dream job!) :o)
Actually, it is….very much my dream job, and one that 5 or 6 yrs ago I’d never have dreamed I’d be doing. Over the years I wished I could work on a ranch, but not one that works cattle….one that ministers to street kids, has a horse program, and the kids live there full time. That’s still a dream…if I were independently wealthy I’d help start or support one and volunteer there.
Are there any new books that we can expect from you in the near future?
Yes, besides the one releasing in Feb. next year, I have one releasing (approx) the end of January with Kregel, and it’s the sequel to The Other Daughter. The title is Finding Jeena and follows Susanne’s worldly friend Jeena as she begins to climb the corporate ladder, then discovers her boss is dishonest, and his criminal involvement impacts her life in a way that will permanently change everything she’s ever known.
Thanks for joining us today, Miralee! I certainly look forward to featuring you again in the future.
I have posted a review of Miralee's book here. If you are interested in purchasing it, you'll find it listed on Amazon and Christianbook.com. Also, if you are a member of the ACFW group(American Christian Fiction Writers), Love Finds You in Last Chance, California will be featured as the group read for the month of May. If you are interested in joining the group to participate (which is not the only reason you should join....the group is a wealth of information for authors and readers alike), you can get to it by going here.