Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Five Questions with Rebecca Rasmusssen, author of "The Bird Sisters"

 Today, I'm so pleased to present to you debut author Rebecca Rasmussen, the author of the much-anticipated and highly delightful "The Bird Sisters."

Rebecca was sweet enough to spend a little time to answer some questions about her writing and upcoming projects!

1.  At what age did you know that you wanted to be a writer? 

Rebecca:  I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I got to college. Before that my primary interest was running track and cross country, and hanging out with my friends. I was not a particularly dedicated student in high school, and my teachers would often scold me for daydreaming in class. I suppose that should have been a clue that perhaps I was meant for a different vocation than my friends, who listened attentively and went on to schools such as Harvard and Yale. My mother was a writer, and it turns out I am more like her than I used to think. She taught me to pay attention to the small gestures that people make, and for a long time she was my first reader. College opened up my eyes to the great world of literature, and from then on I knew I wanted to be a writer. Getting there was the hard part.

2.  At what point in your career did it finally sink in – “hey, I’m famous,” and did it make a difference in your writing?

Rebecca:  I don’t think I am at that point quite yet, so this question makes me smile a bit. I think people have this perception that writers who have books are doing better than they are. I am still struggling to pay the heating bill, the air conditioning bill, and the telephone bill. But it is all worth it because I love the written word so much, and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time on this great earth. I teach at a local university here in St. Louis, and it’s quite refreshing that my students only know me as their teacher of composition and literature. I love challenging them and making them smile, too. As for the focus in my writing, somehow I am able to block out all the voices except for the voices of my characters when I sit down to write. They are the people who save me…well, from me.

3. Who are some of your favorite authors? Who inspires you?

Rebecca:  I have been greatly inspired by Alice Munro, Carol Shields, and Marilynne Robinson. They are my holy trinity in the book world. But I also have some wonderful friends writing wonderful books, too. I adore Siobhan Fallon’s collection of stories You Know When the Men Are Gone, as well as Alan Heathcock’s collection Volt. Another wonderful writer is Susan Henderson and her lovely novel Up From the Blue. Claire Cook, Melissa Senate, and Beth Hoffman have been hugely important to me, too. I could write for pages about all of these people and their work. They are also kind and generous human beings, which matters greatly to me.

4. What do you have coming up in the future?

Rebecca:  I just finished my second novel, which is set in the wild and remote landscape of northern Minnesota in a fictional place called Partway. It begins with a pioneering woman named Eveline in the 1930s and ends with her son Hux’s story in the 1970s. This book was a pleasure to write, and I am quite sad to be finished with it. But I’m pressing forward with the third, which is about a small town doctor, his wife May, and a little girl named Lizzie Ogden who drowns in a river on a cool fall morning, mere steps from her back porch.

5. What advice would you have for anyone wanting to break into the writing biz today?

Rebecca:  Keep knocking on doors until one opens for you. The Bird Sisters had a long road to publication – it was rejected my many editors before it was finally accepted by the lovely Kate Kennedy at Crown. The whole time, I had to have faith, which was so hard in the midst of all of that rejection. My best advice is to pick yourself up and keep going. Have faith. If you don’t nobody else will. And hug yourself. A lot. It’s okay to cry, as long as you send out another query when you’re done. Seriously, though, it is so hard to break into the market and I feel for anyone who is in the middle of this process. You need to keep believing that dreams really do come true.

Thank you, Rebecca, for taking time to visit with our readers!  Best of luck on the release of your wonderful book!

"The Bird Sisters" is officially released today! 


Teresa said...

What a great interview. I'm looking forward to reading all of them!

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Great interview! (Congratulations on the release of The Bird Sisters, Rebecca!) :D

Melissa Senate said...

♥ Rebecca, I'm so touched for that very sweet shout out! Thank you so much!!

And thank you, Sharon, for sharing this lovely interview. I'll bet The Bird Sisters are having a grand adventure out there on tour right now!