Happy Tuesday, Reader Friends!
I have another interview for you. Today, I’m chatting with Zoe M. McCarthy. She’s got a new novel coming out soon for your reading pleasure.
Let’s get started!
About the Book
The Blurb: “Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.”
Toni: Thank you for joining me today, Zoe. First, I want to introduce you to the readers. Can you tell us how you got started writing?
Zoe: Thank you, Toni, for having me on your blog.
Ever since I was nine, I’ve needed to express story ideas. At that age, I had a great cowboy story plot and wrote the tale—all in one paragraph. Receiving ideas has never been a problem over the years. Even in all my rejection letters, editors said they liked my ideas. My problem was putting what was in my head on paper. I became serious about the craft when I self-published two books of contemporary Christian short stories, gave dramatic reading of the stories, and secured an agent. I proved the truth of a different agent’s maxim. Chip MacGregor said it usually takes four completed manuscripts to learn to write, and the fifth gains a contract. My first contracted book, Calculated Risk, was my fifth manuscript.
Toni: I’m glad you hung in there! I enjoyed Calculated Risk. What genre do you write in and why?
Zoe: All my fiction books are inspirational. The first of my four rejected manuscripts was a historical romance. The next three were romantic suspense. These required spiritual, suspense, and romance threads. I put so much work into the suspense part that at least one of the other components suffered in each of the three books. I decided to drop suspense and see if the spiritual and romance threads intertwined into a good story. That worked. And I discovered my writer’s voice contains a humorous vein, which interlaces well with the other elements in my inspirational romances.
Toni: Your next novel, Gift of the Magpie, throws the heroine and hero together thanks to a snowstorm. Where did your inspiration come from?
Zoe: Seeing several covers of winter scenes, O. Henry’s title “Gift of the Magi” popped into my head. And on it’s heels came Gift of the Magpie. I brainstormed how I could use the title in a plot that didn’t involve a bird. Also, I’d read an interview in which David Baldacci said, “If you can take a little slice of the world and a little piece of dirt and really focus on details, you can drive large, seemingly spectacular movements.” (“Absolute Author” by Jessica Strawser; Writer’s Digest, November/December 2015)
I thought a snowstorm in Richmond, where they don’t have enough snowplows to handle the roads, would limit the world. The area between and including the hero and heroines houses was “a little piece of dirt.” So, on that limited turf, I focused on the details and the relationship between the two opposites.
Toni: Love it! What is the overall theme in Gift of the Magpie and what message do you hope readers will leave with?
Zoe: The theme: Can a woman learn to trust again? Yes, when she realizes how her lack of trust has changed her into someone whose character may be little better than that of the man who loves her. My Scripture is Isaiah 64:6. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Toni: *sigh* This sounds like it will be a wonderful read. Can you share what you are currently working on?
Zoe: Besides the promotion of Gift of the Magpie, like my character, Amanda, I’m working on a deadline for my non-fiction book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. Also, I recently received the cover for my next contemporary romance, The Putting Green Whisperer. I expect work to heat up on that book soon.
Toni: Sounds like you have your hands full! How about some different kinds of questions? What are you currently reading?
Zoe: I’ve read several in succession: The One True Love of Alice-Ann by Eva Marie Everson, Captives by Megan Lee, The Lesson by Suzanne Fisher Woods, and now The Domino Effect by Davis Bunn. That’s the rarity that occurs when I go on vacation.
Toni: Some of those are on my TBR list! What is your favorite romance movie?
Zoe: Since the BBC miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice is so common, I’ll share the unexpected one for me, The Cutting Edge.
Toni: You can’t go wrong with P&P. I’ll have to check out The Cutting Edge. Name two favorite authors and why they’re your favorite.
Zoe: Jenny B. Jones is the writer I aspire to be. Whether it’s her adult or young adult books, I’ve learned I cannot read them in bed while John is sleeping next to me. Her books are laugh-out-loud funny. They’re also poignant. The second is Eva Marie Everson. She writes well, her stories draw me into the characters, and her humor makes me laugh.
Toni: I’ve enjoyed both of their novels. Before you go, care to share if you prefer coffee or tea?
Zoe: I’d love a glass of unsweet tea. Thanks. I’ve lived many years in the south, but I can’t force myself to like sweet tea. It’s even difficult for me to let my characters drink the beverage. But I know I have to let them live their own lives, and if they want to drink (shudder) sweet tea, I type the words fast and move on.
Toni: Zoe, Zoe, Zoe, sweet tea is life. 😉 Thank you so much for joining me today. Praying much success for Gift of the Magpie.
About the Author
A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of Gift of the Magpie and Calculated Risk, writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing that opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her five grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting shawls for a prayer shawl ministry, gardening, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.