Friday, February 18, 2011

with Caron Guillo

Welcome to The Book Loft, Caron.
What started you on your writing journey?

Not knowing any better, I suppose. I journaled a lot as a young mother and believed I had something to say. Don’t we all? But the difference, perhaps, was that I also thought publishing was attainable, so I just kept writing and learning and growing and submitting. I can be determined. Or thick-headed. One of those.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
Ugh! What doesn’t distract me from writing? I need lots of quiet time for my creativity to surface. But when it does, time stands still for me. I can spend twelve straight hours writing and not feel a moment has passed.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I love all sorts of books—most genres of fiction, nonfiction, Christian, mainstream. Right now my reads-in-progress include The Pawn by Steven James and Necessary Heartbreak by my friend Michael J. Sullivan.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
There are three protagonists—main characters—in An Uncommon Crusade. I couldn’t help but find each of them fascinating. Elisabeth is scrappy and wounded and has a great capacity for love. Simon certainly has a pocket protector hidden somewhere in the folds of his tunic, but he’s genuine—and courageous when it counts. Hugo wants so much to be a warrior, but it’s his tenderness toward the innocent that charmed me in the end.

Do you have a day job?
I do, and I love it! I am an International Tour Manager leading small group tours to Italy for QueensLander Tours. I travel with the guests from Venice to Florence to Rome and beyond! I also work on the operations side of the business when I’m not traveling. Italy first stole my heart when I studied there during college. I love being able to share that beautiful country, its charming people and its incredible food with new friends. Last year, I spent a day between tours working on revisions for An Uncommon Crusade while the beauty of Venice surrounded me.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
My son swears I taught him how to make a bodily function sound by wedging one hand under his armpit and pumping his arm. What kind of mother does that? It is true that when he was little I reached to pull him close to me, and when I did, it produced a funny little noise. But I would never have taught him the range of sounds and tones he has achieved since. He gets that from his father.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Laundry—I’d rather scrub toilets than fold and put away clean clothes, paying bills—which is why they’re all set up as automatic payments, and shopping of any kind.

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
Our entire family gets far too excited about food in general. It’s embarrassing, really. We love Italian, but a close second is Middle Eastern cuisine. Two Christmases ago we feasted on roasted lamb with tatziki sauce, tabouli, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and hummus with pita. All homemade. In fact, I make hummus regularly. Here’s the recipe I use from my husband’s Lebanese great aunt:
Caron Guillo Hummus

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Transformation is a big theme in my own life, and so it finds its way into my stories. To me, faith isn’t faith unless it produces a transformed life.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
There are so many, of course, but one in particular became dear to me long ago during my first year of marriage. My husband asked, “What is it about faith in God that makes us any different from every other ‘good’ person in the world?” I didn’t have an answer, really, until I contemplated Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I began to be challenged by the idea that any goodness in me does not have to be limited by the extent of my own (pitiful) goodness. That life isn’t about me; it’s bigger than me and infinitely more exciting—and requires greater sacrifice—than a life outside of Christ. That faith-walking is harder, purer, more doubt-filled and more affirming than any other way to live. Just being “good” wasn’t enough for me anymore. I wanted Christ to become my life, to transform me.

Tell us about your next book.
I’m working on a story right now called Great Zimbabwe. Much of it is based on my experiences in Zimbabwe in recent years, my continued involvement in humanitarian efforts there, and my time spent at a black rhino breeding station and game park.

In Great Zimbabwe, American Sara Jenkins travels to Zimbabwe to meet the father she’s never known, and perhaps scrape together enough courage to deal with the challenges she faces in her life and relationships. Instead, she must solve the mystery of his disappearance more than two decades ago.

The African country--and the game park and rhino breeding project her father’s family manages there--are embroiled in a centuries-old conflict rooted in the ancient kingdom of Great Zimbabwe. Additionally, Sara’s meager courage is threatened by her fear of pythons, poachers, and an apparent curse.

Nevertheless, when hired thugs slaughter four black rhinos in Takunda Game Preserve and her charming cousin is arrested for illegal activities, Sara is determined to help her father’s family stay afloat in a sea of political, economic, cultural, and racial tension.

You can purchase An Uncommon Crusade from Amazon.

Caron is giving away a copy of An Uncommon Crusade. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Yvonne Blake said...

Is "An Uncommon Crusade" about the Children's Crusade? Even if it isn't, this book looks good.
Sign me up for the giveaway, please.

cjajsmommy said...

Wow, what an awesome "day job." I would love to get paid to travel. Please enter me again for a copy of this book. And Happy Birthday Jim!

apple blossom said...

nice interview thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

apple blossom said...

Happy birthday to Jim

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Caron said...

Hi, Yvonne,

Yes, An Uncommon Crusade is rooted in the commoner's--or "children's"--crusade of the thirteenth century. After learning of this event, I couldn't let the story go.

I wondered why unarmed, untrained, unfinanced peasants would think they could accomplish what professional armies had not? Why would someone join such an ill-fated journey? And how did they live with the consequences of their choices?

I began to envision a young woman who would do anything to win freedom from her past. A young man who dreams of rising above his lowly status to change the world. A would-be warrior looking for a fight, and perhaps a bit of fortune.

And so began my exploration into the lives of three young commoners who thought they had nothing left to lose.

Marianne said...

would love to win this book. it sounds intriguing. mitzi_wanham[at]yahoo[dot]com

Caron said...

cjajsmommy . . . yes, I love my job! Thanks for taking time to read the interview.

apple blossom . . . thanks for reading!

Deborah Elliott-Upton said...

Thanks for the recipe for hummus (I can't wait to try it out!) I don't know why it made me so happy to find there's someone else out there who doesn't care for doing laundry. :-) Happy Birthday to Jim and thanks for this interview. Caron is an interesting lady.

Caron said...

Marianne, thanks! I sure found my research into this event and time period intriguing.

Deborah, thanks for reading! Hope you love the hummus. :-) And hope your laundry gets done in spite of everything. Mine seems to. *sigh*

Charity U said...

Please enter me! It sounds like an intriguing book.

Charity U said...

Happy birthday, Jim. :)

Caron said...

Thanks, Charity U!

Travis Erwin said...

I sure would like to hear some of the Zimbabwe story. ;)

Caron said...

I'm working on it, Travis! :-)

Joanne Sher said...

Sounds good - sign me up! :)

Mike said...

Great job. I'm definitely going to get your book, if I don't win the copy! :)

Caron said...

Thank you Joanne and Mike!

lgm52 said...

Sounds interesting..please enter me!

lgm52 said...

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to win this one!

Meredith said...

I love her day job! I'd love a job where I could travel!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

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