BIO - Roseanna M. White grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. After attending college at St. John's in Annapolis and studying everything from philosophy to physics, she moved back to the Maryland side of those same mountains. A member of ACFW, a historical group called HisWriters, HEWN Marketing, and the senior reviewer for the Christian Review of Books, Roseanna's days are filled.
When she isn't at her computer, she's focused on being a wife, mommy to two small children, and chasing dusty bunnies back under her couch where they belong. Roseanna has one book out with a small press (A Stray Drop of Blood from WhiteFire Publishing) and is represented by the Benrey Literary Agency.
What was your favorite scene to write in your book, A Stray Drop of Blood? What was the hardest? Why?
My favorite scene was undoubtedly the crucifixion. It's what inspired the book, and I'd already written up a first-person version for a short story when I was 15. I spent a lot of time studying the Gospel accounts of it, a lot of time praying, and was so pleased with the words that came to me for it.
The hardest was a death scene that comes about midway. (I won't say what—don't want to spoil it!) As I was rewriting it this past year in preparation for the release, I knew it was going to be crucial to the character's development, these final moments of life. And because I was so hyped up about it, I had no clue if I pulled it off. As soon as I got a telltale email from my best friend when she was reading (One that said, “Did you really have to do this????” LOL) I asked her if it was okay. Since then, I've gotten so much positive feedback on this character, this scene, and the tears that ensued that I know God helped me out a lot here too. =)
How did you come up with the idea for A Stray Drop of Blood? Was that your original title for this book? If not, what was you working title?
Yep, it was the original title. When I came up with the story idea when I was fifteen, the title just popped into my head. I can't remember now if it was while I was writing the original 6 pages or when I first sat down, but this story has always been A Stray Drop of Blood. When we were gearing up to re-release (a hardback version came out in 2005) I told my publisher, “I want to rewrite it. I want to cut some parts. I want to build this aspect up more. I want a new cover.” He replied, “Do you want a new title?” and I said, “Are you crazy? No way! I'll change every word within it before I change that!” LOL. The joy of a small press is that I have a lot more control than usual over that sort of thing. =)
Can you give us a sneak peek at what you have cooking up next? Can you tell us something about it? Do you have a release date?
I have a lot of projects in the works, but while I'm waiting to hear back on a few requested proposals, I'm focusing on another Biblical Fiction for WhiteFire. It's working title is Jewel of Persia, and it's slated for release in summer 2011. Here's my first attempts at a blurb:
Kasia thought she’d lose herself when she was taken to the palace to wed Xerxes–instead she finds an unexpected love with the king who is regarded as a god by his people. She, of all his wives, is the only one who loves him for the man beneath the crown. She, of all his wives, is the only one to threaten the careful balance of the world’s largest empire. When the king’s advisers realize how much sway this mere Jewish girl has over Xerxes, an intrigue springs up to rival the war with Greece. Kasia knows she will never take the place of the dethroned Amestris, but when she discovers that her best friend from childhood has arrived at the House of Women, she determines to use her influence to work for God’s people. Esther will be crowned–and though Kasia inadvertently turned Persia against the Jews, she knows Esther can save them. In a combination of the familiar story of Esther told in the Bible and the history of Xerxes as told by Herodotus, Jewel of Persia is a story of a love that nearly tears an empire apart, and the friendship that knits it back together.
What made you tackle this time period to write about? What are your hopes for this book?
Well, the inspiration (“What would it have been like to be an everyday woman witnessing the crucifixion?”) kind of dictated the setting on this one. =) But there were quite a few years between inspiration and finished book when the story did nothing but simmer in the back of my mind because I knew I wasn't ready to tackle everything necessary to make it the rich book it wanted to be. In college, however, I spent two years studying the Ancient Greek language, Ancient Greek texts, the Old and New Testaments, Roman texts, and early Christian philosophy. These all combined to give me the depth I needed for the story, and it literally sprang to the forefront of my mind in each class. Which, in turn, helped me absorb all that stuff I was reading for school all the better. =)
My hopes . . . wow. I guess my biggest hope is that it makes people ask the same questions I had to ask as I wrote it. What would I have done? What would I have felt? If I lost it all, would I embrace bitterness or forgiveness? What's my faith really founded on? I get a sting of tears in my eyes each and every time a reader says God spoke to them through my book. He sure spoke to me through it, and it was my prayer as I put it out for others to read that it would do the same for them. Still shocking, though. =) Not that God can do that, but that He's doing it through me.
Are historicals’ a favorite genre to write in for you? What do you try to include in your historical fiction books?
I've put my hand to a lot of genres—historicals, historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic comedy, even one that may or may not end up being classified as romantic suspense. (Yes, romance is a definite theme, ha ha.) I had a blast writing the lighter contemporary stuff, but my heart lies with the stories that dig deep—and then dig deeper. Most of them are historical, but I do have a few contemporaries that fit the same bill.
It's kind of funny. Back when I first started writing novels in middle school (I finished my first at 13. Don't ask me how abysmal it was, LOL), everything was historical. In college, everything (other than Stray Drop) was contemporary. Now I always have one of each under construction, but the majority of my ideas are for historicals. If I had to pick just one genre, that would be it, I think. I love the challenge of bringing history to life, but doing it trhough the fictional eyes of unchanging humanity.
My goal is to live up to my hubby's expectations—he has said various times in various ways that my strong point is getting so deep into a character, who would be so shaped by their setting, that I don't have to tell my readers about the history—they're living it. He's biased, but it's my goal. =)
You had a hand out that you gave me that was most helpful. How did you get the idea to write that? What fascinated you most about this time period? What was something you learned?
Credit for that goes to my husband/publisher. The discussion went something like this:
Him: “You need more stuff to go with the book.”
Me: “Like discussion questions?”
Him: “No, like all your research. Issues that come up. Things the readers wouldn't know.”
Me: “Um . . .”
Him: “The Mosaic Law that plays into it. Stoicism. All the Greek stuff you reference.”
Me: “Um . . .”
Him: “You know—an Encyclopedia Roseann-ica.”
[Insert me laughing here.] “Do you have any idea how long that would take?”
Him, patting my shoulder. “You can handle it. Have fun.”
Which I did, actually. =)
What fascinates me most about the period is the collision of the cultures. Ancient Greek texts were in the common vernacular, Rome was ruling the world, and Judaism was morphing into something that was asking questions about motive and eternity that led into Christianity. All this was tossed into one big melting pot that created the perfect scene for Jesus. I mean, this shouldn't have surprised me—God obviously knew all this, LOL—but I was still so impressed when I realized how perfectly the stage had been set for His arrival.
Something new I learned . . . hmm. Given how many years went into research, it was pretty much all new at some point, ha ha. But in rewrite-research this last year, I learned a lot about housing in Israel at the time. Like the fact that the rooftop was a happening place to be!
What part of the story comes first for you? Plot, characters, setting, subject matter? Is this how it usually works for you in your writing?
My critique partner/best friend and I like to joke that our stories start this way: “So there's this girl, and she has this history. And then this happens, which makes her do this. And she runs into this guy, who has this going on . . . and then, you know, stuff. Romance ensues. Plot things happen.”
So I guess that translates into my characters coming first, generally with a setting in mind. When I get an idea, I usually know within a day if it's going to flesh out into a full book or if I need to shelve it and wait for it to combine with some other idea. Generally a new story will so consume me that within a few hours or days that initial “stuff happens” turns into a full outline. Other times, the characters are just fully developed, and I have to start writing and see where they lead me. =)
I was intrigued by the book cover for A Stray Drop of Blood, did you have any say in picking out the cover? How does that process work for you? Are you happy with the cover?
I had lots of say. When we began discussing cover options, we at first wanted to get an artist to do a painting. I happen to have an artist for a sister, and another for a BIL, so I thought this would be a breeze. Until I realized that they're both also teachers and school was starting back up. That didn't work out, but then I met a lovely young lady at the ACFW conference whose husband is a designer. She gave me their card, and within a few weeks we'd contracted with Tekeme Studios for the cover design. I filled out a survey and told him what I had in mind, and he immediately got back to me with, “I have this image . . .”
It was exactly what I was thinking too! There was a bit of a bump as we tried to find a model who would work for cheap, but I eventually asked if his wife would do it, and she graciously agreed, LOL. So in addition to having a gorgeous cover that I absolutely adore, I also have a story and can say, “The model? That's Ashley. Yes, she was pregnant when the photo was taken, but not that pregnant, ha ha. And the mob in the background? That's Ashley, her hubby the designer, the photographer, and even their toddler, just dressed up in different outfits.” Cool, huh?
I couldn't possibly be more pleased with how it turned out. I maintained complete control so could have requested changes, but there were none that needed made. =) (This is yet another benefit of a small press owned by one's husband, LOL.)
Roseanna I wanted to share the beautiful drawings you have on your site with my readers. You are a woman of many talents. Thanks for sharing the pictures you've drawn of your characters and the library you have in your house!!
QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK!
What are your THREE Favorite books of all time?
Oh, dear. I always have such a terrible time with this question! Three?? Of the thousands of books I've read, you want me to pick three?? Well, first I'm going to have to name one of the yet-unpublished books by my critique partner, Stephanie Morrill, whose first YA series is out now—I love the Skylar books that are published, but my favorite is one tentatively titled Out of Reach.
Then I'd have to say something by Francine Rivers. Hard time deciding which I love best, but it might be Atonement Child. Wow, that was a frantic read. And though the third one is a serious toss-up between about twenty others that I would love to just name, I feel obliged to name a classic. I'm wavering between an Austen novel or something else, but I give Jane a few shout-outs below, so here I'll go with Bronte and Jane Eyre.
What THREE things would you not want to live without?
My family (I'm cheating and calling them a unit)
my laptop (with a continual power source, of course)
coffee (complete with flavored creamer, naturally).
What THREE movies could you watch over and over again?
Pride & Prejudice (either version)
Beauty and the Beast (have watched it innumerable times in my childhood and now get to with my daughter, LOL)
The Simpsons Movie (just to show my vast, eclectic taste, ha ha).
If you had the opportunity to hang out with any two people in the history of the world—alive or dead; who would you pick and what would you do? (someone other than Jesus)
Okay, my first thoughts were fictional characters, LOL. But since I can't meet Elizabeth Bennet, I'd meet her creator. I'd love to have a cup of tea with Jane Austen. I'd also like to spend some time with Da Vinci . . . with a universal translator. =) Oh, to look over his shoulder for a day!
A friend of yours has a time machine that they are letting you use. But you can only witness two events in this history of the world. What two events would you experience? Why?
Hey, what's up with the greediness of the friend? Only two?? Sheesh. ;-) Anyway. Um . . . wow, this is tough. The crucifixion, I'd have to say, since I put so much thought into it for A Stray Drop of Blood. I'd love to see firsthand how creation reacted! And next I'm going to say (just to choose something patriotic, LOL)
George Washington's resignation of his army commission. Not only is that a pivotal moment in our nation's history, but I'm about to put it in a novel I'm working on, so seeing that firsthand would be cool too.
What T.V. shows were you most passionate as a kid? (You know the ones you couldn’t miss each week)
Gummy Bears (if we're talking when I was a wee little kid, LOL)
Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (yes, I was one of those)
JAG if we get into the high school years. =)
Name Three places you go on the web every day?
CrossPurposesBooks.com (to check for orders that I fill personally. ;-)
ANY FINAL COMMENTS--THOUGHTS FOR MY READERS?
I think I've rambled enough, thank you. =) Don't want to bore everyone to tears.
Thanks so much Roseanna for stopping by and letting us get to know you and your book. I have enjoyed and learned so much from your books. REMEMBER if you are ever in the Atlanta area you’ll most definitely have to stop by.
Blessings to you and your future adventures!
LEAVE A COMMENT ABOUT THE INTERVIEW For your name to be put in the hat for the drawing. Entry must be on my blog at Finding Hope Through Fiction www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Drawing will be MAY 15th -
A STRAY DROP OF BLOOD is the ACFW Book Club Selection for this month. If you'd like to join the discussion you can become a member of ACFW book club by going to http://www.acfw.com/ and joining the BOOK CLUB. It's Free!! Discussion starts the 21th.
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