Sunday, August 16, 2015

Interview with Southern Oregon Author: Bonnie Leon

Thank you for visiting The Barn Door Book Loft, Bonnie. Can you tell us a bit about your family, and what it is like where you live?

My husband, Greg, and I will celebrate our 44th anniversary on August 14. We met when I was just 17 and he was 19 and were married two years later. In those early years, we were both a mess and walking far from God, but through God’s grace and mercy we’ve come a long way together.

We live in the foothills of Southern Oregon and have been here since 1980. We raised our three children here in the country and still enjoy seeing deer wander through our yard. On occasion we come across fox, porcupines, raccoons, bears, and cougars. Though I don’t relish a close encounter with a bear or cougar, I love it here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Our children are grown with families of their own. Our two daughters live close by, and our son and his family live in Bend, Oregon which is only three hours away. It’s wonderful to have our children and eight grandchildren close so we can spend time together whenever we like.

Thank you for sharing.
Question: Is there a story behind To Dance With Dolphins?

To Dance With Dolphins was inspired by personal experience. When I was just thirty-nine years old, my van was hit by a loaded log truck and I was left with chronic pain and disability.

It’s been challenging. The first year after my accident I was unable to do even simple tasks, like buy groceries or cook meals. I sank into depression and lost hope of ever accomplishing anything meaningful in my life.

With God’s help I crawled out of the pit of depression and learned to live. Along the way I found others like  me, which included my sister who had been stricken with a severe disability that forced her (as a young woman) to spend her last years in a nursing home. Today, my own daughter lives with a chronic debilitating disease as well.

It’s difficult to hang onto hope when life seems to be all about pain and disability. But I encourage those who suffer to never give up. There is a life to be lived. The Lord has  not tossed away. He has a purpose for each of us. And that is a message I want to get across in my new book.

It’s not just about the struggle, it’s also about fun and friendship and love. It’s about life.

Oh, wow. I want to read this one!
Question: What is unique about the setting? How does it enhance the story?

The uniqueness of the setting is that it changes throughout the book. My group of characters travel together across the country, in hopes of swimming with wild dolphins in Florida.

Each place is tied to the hopes and dreams of the characters and filled with special challenges, fun, and adventure.

Question: Did the writing of this book impact your personal life?

Yes—In so many ways. It seemed that each conflict, challenge, and joy spoke to me personally. I realized I have a long way to travel to become the person God desires me to be. I look forward to “just” reading the story and experiencing the lives of my characters, laughing and crying with them while they find God’s plan for their life.

Question: Do you have favorite spiritual themes?

God has a unique plan for each of his children, and it does not waver even when adversity shakes our life. He walks with us through the good and the bad and offers courage as we reach for strength to achieve God-given dreams.

Jeremiah 29:11-14
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.

John 9:1-3  As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. Rabbi, his disciples asked him, “Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered, “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”

Question: What is the last thing you wrote?

My last book, Where Eagles Soar, was my first memoir. It is the story of a Native American girl who grew up in the Alaskan wilderness of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Here’s a short blurb about the story.

Hidden away in the Alaskan wilderness, Lily Sanders lives under the thumb of a brutal father. Lily may be invisible to the world, but God sees her. Within his perfect plan he leads her out of darkness.

Question: Who is the most annoying character you ever created?

Likely Taylor Reaves. She is one of the characters in my new book. Taylor is moody, fearful, and a full-time backseat driver. Taylor also has bi-polar disorder and she hates to take her medication so her mood swings between highs and lows, keeping her traveling companions guessing what they can expect from her day to day. But part of the group’s excursion is also Taylor’s journey into a place of well-being.

Question: Does music help you write?

Sadly, music is a distraction. I used to listen to music most of every day, but while writing, musical lyrics divert me from my work and the music itself can affect my mood, which may also influence the outcome of a scene, so I write in silence.

I still listen to music when I’m not writing, but I miss the daily company of my favorite musicians.

Interesting. I do like to edit to music, but no words. I have never done any actual drafting with music.
Question: Since writers are word people…what are your five favorite words?

Family
Hope
Peace
Love
Beauty

Question: Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write your first draft?

Yes and no. I want the spelling and grammar to be correct, but I can’t take the time to perfect things like grammar while working on a first draft. Sometimes I do go back and make corrections, but try to keep moving forward with a story rather than get focused editorial work. The book will be reworked many times so there will be plenty of opportunity to make grammatical corrections.

Question: How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I’m presently revising an edition of In the Land of White Nights and I’m working on a new contemporary that takes place in the wine country north of San Francisco with a working title of Morning Glories.

I’m also doing some prep work on a book to follow To Dance With Dolphins.

Sounds like you are a busy lady!
Question: When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I have hopes that Morning Glories will release some time next year.

When Mackenna Tillman, a driven San Francisco advertising executive, inherits her beloved Aunt Jean’s home in the wine country to the north her strategy for the future is shaken, especially after meeting local Jason McGregor.

Jason and Mackenna do not agree on much, except that there is chemistry between them. Even that is lost when Mackenna discovers a terrible secret about Jason’s past—their paths have crossed before.

We will be waiting for that one!

Readers, you may purchase To Dance with Dolphins at:
Amazon

Or have your local library order it in for you!

Bonnie Leon is giving away a copy of To Dance With Dolphins.
The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.

To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)

7 comments:

Deanne said...

The book description has really drawn me in. I would enjoy reading this. I have enjoyed reading a few of Bonnie's other books.
Thank you for the giveaway opportunity.
Deanne
Cnnamongirl at aol dot com

cjajsmommy said...

Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life and the person you are. I would love to win a copy of your book. cjajsmommy /at/ gmail /dot/ com (Deb R.)

dtopliff said...

This is another good interview post and it leaves me eager to read of Bonnie's books. Kudos on living and writing such transformations!

Connie said...

Jeremiah 29:11-14 has always been one of my favorite scriptures. I admire that you have overcome such adversity.
Blessings!
Connie
cps1950 AT gmail DOT com

Caryl Kane said...

To Dance With Dolphins sounds like an amazing book that I would love to read.

psalm103and138[at]gmail[dot]com

Anonymous said...

Your book sounds amazing! Shelia Hall sheliarha64(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

The book does sound amazing. kamundsen44(at)yahoo(dot)com. Kim

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