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Writer’s Window: Stephanie Grace Whitson

Monday, August 15, 2011

Joining us today for Writer’s Window is historical romance author Stephanie Grace Whitson.

One lucky commenter* will win a signed copy of Stephanie’s latest novel, A Most Unsuitable Match. Deadline for leaving a comment to enter the drawing is Friday. To enter the drawing, you must answer the question posed by Stephanie at the end of the interview. Only one comment per person will count toward the drawing. Please do not include your e-mail address in the body of your comment—just make sure it’s correct when you sign in to leave your comment. The winning name will be drawn next weekend and the winner will be notified via e-mail.

    *U.S. residents only, void where prohibited. If you win the drawing, you will be ineligible for the next three drawings, though hopefully you will still come back and join in the discussion.


Miss Fannie Rousseau is a young woman of privilege traveling west to uncover the truth behind a family secret. Mr. Samuel Beck is on a mission to atone for past failures that still haunt him. Their meeting aboard a steamboat to Montana sparks an unlikely attraction. They are opposites in every way… except in how neither one can stop thinking about the other. Will the end of the journey bring the end of their relationship, or is it just the beginning?

Welcome, Stephanie!
What do you like best about being a writer?

    The revision and self-editing phase. I love getting my arms around a story and making it better.

What do you like least about being a writer?

    Creating the first draft. Even after more than twenty novels, the same fears rear their hideous heads every single time.

      Steph 1: Can I do this? How did I do that? I’m a fraud. I can’t do this.
      Steph 2: Just put something on the screen, Stephanie. You can’t do anything with a blank screen. Get something up there so you have something to work with.
      Steph 1: OK … but’s it’s going to be so bad.
      Steph 2: That’s all right. You’ll make it better. Here. “Once upon a time …”
      Steph 1: Oh puh-leeze. I can do better than that.
      Steph 2: Prove it.

    You get the idea.

Pop, Soda, or Coke? What do you call it, and what’s your favorite variety?

    I had to learn to call it “pop,” after growing up with “soda” in southern Illinois and marrying a boy from Chicago. It took a while. I don’t have a favorite. I’m an equal-opportunity imbiber, although I don’t drink a lot of pop.

What’s your favorite dessert?

    Dessert is my favorite food. In no particular order I’d say tiramisu, blackberry cobbler, gooseberry pie, strawberry shortcake, coconut cream pie, chocolate cake … well. I should stop.

    Oh! Coconut cake …

What’s the most fun/interesting/crazy/scary/unique hands-on research you’ve done for a book?

    This goes back a bit, but when I was researching the Dakota Moons series, I’d read and read and read prior to going to Minnesota’s historical society to research in the archives. I’d grown to admire missionaries Stephen and Mary Riggs. Handling Dr. Riggs’s private papers was actually emotionally moving to me … especially when one of the letters in his file was a copy of a letter he’d written to President Lincoln. At the History Center I learned that some of the historical sites I’d read about were still accessible, so my hostess and I took a road trip. When I visited the Lac Qui Parle mission, sitting at the pump organ in the place where Dr. Riggs had preached brought tears to my eyes. I’m really looking forward to meeting him and his wife in heaven someday … and the Dakota man who inspired my character named Daniel Two Stars.

What’s your favorite movie from childhood?

    National Velvet

If you were to write a novel about what your life would have been like if you’d become what you wanted to be at eight years old, what kind of character would the story be about?

    The owner of the Triple Crown Ranch in Wyoming. Three herds of horses, three stallions named Red, Midnight, and Starlight. Red looked like Secretariat, by the way. Midnight had a strange resemblance to Black Beauty. Starlight was part Lipizzaner.

What makes you happy?

    Holding my grandchildren, hearing from readers, helping other writers, savoring good coffee, walking around Paris, sitting on the beach watching the ocean, discovering a new story idea, quilting, learning, seeing my girls sing in church, hearing my daughter’s music, riding my motorcycle, spending time brainstorming with writing friends, taking time to walk through a garden, seeing a butterfly, listening to blues music …

What makes you nervous?

    Waiting to hear back from my editor after I’ve submitted a manuscript, public speaking, confronting anyone about anything (even when it’s unavoidable), driving on icy roads, heights … and spiders. Although those last two make me more than just nervous.

What’s your biggest dream for the future?

    To see my grandchildren grow up to be champions for Jesus.

Tell us about your newest release and what you’re working on now.

    A Most Unsuitable Match just released with Bethany House. It takes a well-to-do young woman to the end of herself as she heads up the Missouri in 1869 on a steamboat in search of her only surviving relative. On the way she meets a poor roustabout in search of his runaway sister. Sparks fly … not necessarily of the romantic kind at first :-).

    The Key on the Quilt releases next year with Barbour and explains why a quilt maker affixed a brass key to a courthouse steps quilt. I’m working on the re-write now and enjoying seeing my new imaginary friends comes out of their shells. Jane took a while before she’d open up to me, but I think I’ve earned her trust now. She finally told me what the key is all about … but made me promise not to rush Rose when it comes to using it to open the past.

Where can people find out more about you/connect with you online?

Now it’s your turn to ask the question. What question do you want to ask the commenters to answer?

    What is your all-time favorite romance read … and who would play the lead roles if it were made into a movie?


Southern Illinois native Stephanie Grace Whitson’s writing career began in an abandoned pioneer cemetery near where the Whitson family lived in the 1990s. That cemetery provided a hands-on history lesson for Stephanie’s home-schooled children and a topic of personal study. When she first began “playing with imaginary friends,” Stephanie had no idea that the scenes she was writing would become her first novel and the first on a list of nearly two dozen published books to date. Whitson’s books have appeared on bestseller lists and been finalists for the Christy Award. In addition to keeping up with five grown children and several grandchildren, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips (on Kitty, her Honda Magna), volunteering at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, studying pioneer women’s history, Paris, Florence, and the Big Island. She is in graduate school pursuing a Master of Historical Studies degree.

  1. angela nicole chesnut permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 12:40 am

    Gone With The Wind! Richard Geer & Juila Roberts


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:23 am

      That would likely be my favorite, too … and I never would have thought of the actors you suggested! Fascinating!


  2. Monday, August 15, 2011 5:37 am

    Gone With the Wind, and I really don’t think you could better Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in the roles.


  3. Anita Smith permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 6:58 am

    Pride & Prejudice – it has been done, and you can’t top Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle!


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:24 am

      I heard a great story about Colin Firth on the radio the other day … and you’re right. He was wonderful in that role. I watched it with my then high school SON. I told him that someday a woman was going to love his tender heart. And she does … (newlywed)


  4. Monday, August 15, 2011 7:17 am

    Pride and Prejudice. So agree with not being able to top Firth and Ehle! They are the best!


  5. Sylvia M. permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 8:13 am

    My favorite is Pride and Prejudice and I love the 1995 version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, but wouldn’t mind another version. Let’s not speak of the 2005 one. I hardly know who the young English actors are now to choose. I really want a new version of The Scarlett Pimpernel. I would choose Tom Hiddleston to play Sir Percy Blakeney and if I can’t find someone better than Eva Green to be Marguerite, Lady Blakeney. She’s not the best choice, but I don’t really know of any French actresses that are between twenty-five and thirty.


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:25 am

      I SO agree with you about a new version of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Have you read the book? I did long long ago, but after seeing the film.


  6. Kav permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 8:23 am

    Way too many favourite romance reads to answer that question! Which is fine because I have already read An Unsuitable Match and absolutely LOVED it. So many surprising layers to the story! I savored every word! And it was fun to get to know the author. Great interview, Stephanie and Kaye!


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:26 am

      Thanks for your kind words, Kav. It was a challenge for me as a writer to use “only” the two points of view, but I enjoyed doing that and plan to again … after the current wip is finished (four points of view). But it has more than one romance, so it just had to be.


  7. Monday, August 15, 2011 8:48 am

    What a fun interview, Stephanie and Kaye.

    I’m waiting for a book that is optioned right now to be green lighted and cast. Charles Martin’s A MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US. I won’t care too much about the casting as long as they can act. Another book I’d love to see filmed is Laura Frantz’s COURTING MORROW LITTLE.

    Stephanie, your new release sounds intriguing, I feel the same way about revision vs. first draft writing, why didn’t your husband have to start calling it soda, instead of the other way around? 🙂 and you’ve intrigued me most of all by the mention of Daniel Two Stars so I’m off to check out your Dakota Moons series.


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:28 am

      Charles Martin is such an amazing writer. I didn’t know that book had been optioned. I hope it does get made. I’m still waiting/hoping/praying that the director who loved A Garden in Paris will find the backing to make it someday.

      Hope you enjoy Dakota Moons!


  8. Sarah permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 10:09 am

    One of my favorite books is Daughter of Silk by Linda Lee Chaikin. I would choose Perdita Weeks and Tom Hiddleston to play the main roles.


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:29 am

      Linda’s books about the silk road (do I have that right?) are some of my daughter’s favorite reads. I’ll have to ask her who she would like to see play those roles and see what she says ….


  9. Audry permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 11:30 am

    You know, I think I might have to go with the Anne of Green Gables series – all 8 books, or at least the first 7. I love how Anne’s and Gilbert’s romance doesn’t end with their engagement or even wedding bells like so many fictional romances, but follows their entire life together, through all the ups and downs. I love the actors who them in the original movie and sequel, and even love most of the actors who played the rest of the parts, but hate how Lucy Maud Mongomery’s vision was completely thrown out the window to create a third movie that is nothing like the books even in spirit. I might have to pull those books off the shelf now and re-read the whole series for the umpteenth time while I wait for all the books I have on hold at the library 🙂 thanks!


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:31 am

      Ditto on Anne of Green Gables. And, like you, I loved the idea that the “romance” doesn’t end. I wish our current world could realize that so that we could write more “married romance.” I’m doing that as a sub-plot in my work-in-progress at least. I don’t remember that third movie you mention … but, like you, I agree that the series is worth re-reading often. I do that with Bess Streeter Aldrich’s books.


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:34 am

      Thank you for the reminder of those wonderful books … I need to re-read. I loved the way they cast Matthew. That actor was perfect in the role IMHO.


  10. Monday, August 15, 2011 12:01 pm

    Wow, that is a hard question, there are so many good romances out there.
    This time I will go with A Cowboy’s Touch by Denise Hunter. The hero, Wade Ryan, would be played by Hugh Jackman and the heroine, Abigail Jones, would be played by Julia Stiles. I guess. 🙂 Really hard!


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:34 am

      I don’t know if I could answer my own question. I’d have to check back to my reading diary and see what I thought/when … aging memory and all that.


  11. Kelly permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 12:11 pm

    I actually love Siri Mitchell’s ‘Kissing Adrien’. I have no talent for picking actors or actresses though. I don’t know any French actors that could pull Adrien off, at least not off the top of my head. Suggestions?


    • Monday, August 15, 2011 12:24 pm

      Other than Gerard Depardieu (ewww . . .), the only French actor I know who’s young and good looking is Emmanuel Leconte, who played King Francis in The Tudors:


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:33 am

      I’ve been asked about French actors to play Jean-Marc in A Garden in Paris and I’m terrible at being “up” on who’s “out there.” I try to go to any film set in Paris, but I still don’t remember the actor’s names.


  12. Monday, August 15, 2011 1:36 pm

    Oooh, since I’m a quilter, I can’t wait to read The Key on the Quilt. It sounds great. Looking forward to A Most Unsuitable Match, too.

    My favorite romance? I think it’s A Tale of Two Cities. It’s been filmed a lot of times, but I think my favorite is the 1930s version with Ronald Colman.

    I don’t know who I’d have play the main roles now. I tend to prefer relatively unknown actors to the famous ones, especially in filming classic books. I feel more like the actor IS the role rather then the role “as played by famous actor.”


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:35 am

      I’ll have to look for that 1930s version. I didn’t read that book until I was a high school French teacher but I loved it so much.


  13. Monday, August 15, 2011 2:09 pm

    Don’t think I can answer that question, way too many historical romance books I enjoy reading, and I’m not great with thinking of actors/actresses. Enjoyed the interview and would love the opportunity to win the book.

    Jodie Wolfe


  14. Judy Burgi permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 2:48 pm

    I don’t want to sound like a broken record but it is “Gone With The Wind”. A remake with lead roles played by, Richard Gere and Diane Lane. They were great together in Nights in Rodanthe.


    • Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:36 am

      Whenever I see Gone with the Wind, especially the scene with the burning of Atlanta, I am amazed that it was made in the 1930s. What an amazing accomplishment.


  15. Monday, August 15, 2011 3:02 pm

    I would have to say “Gone With The Wind” as well. But I have loved Mark of The Lion series by Francine Rivers as well.
    I would love to win the book. Thank you for the interview.


    • Monday, August 15, 2011 4:35 pm

      Mark of the Lion would be a GREAT series to see filmed.


  16. karenk permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 4:06 pm

    i agree w/ lori b…i loved the book ‘a mountain between us’ by charles martin…i don’t know who i would cast in the lead roles, though. has anyone else read this fabulous novel?


  17. Pam K. permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 5:00 pm

    This is really difficult; there are so many great romance books! One that hasn’t been mentioned is “I’ll Never Forget You” by Renee Shann, 1945. This is a war time romance between Judy, an English woman and American Lt. Bob Hewitt. To portray them in a movie? Perhaps Charlotte Riley and Ryan Gosling? I had to do some Google searches to come up with these; I don’t watch many current movies. It’s been awhile since I read this book but I remember it being super romantic!
    I really enjoy Stephanie’s books; thanks for the interview and the opportunity to win a copy of “A Most Unsuitable Match.” “The Key on the Quilt” sounds like it will be really good too.


  18. Misty permalink
    Monday, August 15, 2011 9:44 pm

    I LOVE the Cheney Duvall, M.D. by Gilbert Morris and have read it at least a half dozen times. Wow would I love to see this come to life on screen. Cheney would be played by Jennifer Garner because she isn’t overly skinny and Cheney is described as strong and healthy. Shiloh could be played by Alexander Skarsgard, (this is a tough call though because Shiloh is so perfect). 😉 Dev, Colin Egglesfield and Victoria, Gwyneth Paltrow. Actually all these actors are too old to play the characters at the beginning of the series, but…..


  19. Tuesday, August 16, 2011 1:45 pm

    Wow! Nothing like a tough question, and now all these other answers have me confused… Courting Morrow Little, Anne of Green Gables, Mark of the Lion are all on my “tops” list. Could I also add Bodie Thoene’s Zion books and Angie Hunt’s historicals? Oh my. And a little remembered book by Bette M. Ross — Journey of No Return — the forbidden love story of Hannah Roebuck and the fearless Shawnee war chief Tecumseh. Yeah. Eeny-meeny-miney-mo…

    And of course, I LOVE Stephanie’s books! I’ve only ever written 3 fan letters. One was to Stephanie after Walks the Fire. Great interview.


  20. Tuesday, August 16, 2011 3:17 pm

    II did not mention historicals by Liz Curtiz Higgs.


  21. Lady DragonKeeper permalink
    Friday, August 19, 2011 6:01 pm

    Sounds like a great book –I really enjoy historical novels. I have to say, I’m so “jealous” of the nearly floor-to-wall high bookshelves lining your office, Mrs. Whitson. I wish I had something like that in my room!

    I don’t have a favorite romance read (there are SO many good ones)! But one that hasn’t been mentioned is “Rose in Bloom” by Louisa May Alcott –I’d almost die if they made that book into a movie instead of “Little Women” for the “upteenth” time. =) It’s not really a “romance novel” per se, but it’s one book I remember fondly from high school … almost everyone around the heroine thinks that she should marry (in particular, one of her cousins –to keep her inheritance “in the family”) but Rose wants to show that she’s not “just a spoiled, rich girl” and make something of herself first. I loved that Rose was independent but at the same time, always a lady … something that’s not always easy to find with female characters today …

    When Rose does fall in love, it’s not all physical attraction, but for who he is –their friendship deepens into something more. I sort of wish it was written as a romance instead of a coming of age story, because I would have loved to see that aspect of the story fleshed out more … =) The only thing that could keep this from the silver screen is our 21st century sensibilities, as people marrying or considering marrying first cousins is … well, kind of unusual today (that’s the only thing I didn’t like, but I just tried to forget about that whenever I re-read the book). =)

    I’d pick some good, unknown actors in their twenties for the main characters and maybe some more distinguished, experienced actors for Uncle Alec and the other aunts and uncles.


  22. Sunday, August 21, 2011 10:39 am

    I just want to thank everyone for joining in the conversation and apologize for not answering in a more timely fashion. I had to leave town the week this was new, and in spite of my “best laid plans” to be available and engaged daily, I was unable to access the internet. That is a very long story that I won’t bore you with. All is well and I am back home, but feeling sad that I missed the “newness” of the conversation as it was ongoing. Thank you all and especially Kaye. Thank you SO much for inviting me to visit.


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