Today I am delighted to welcome Meg Moseley, who has become one of my favorite authors. Meg's stories capture the essence of the South and there's almost a magical quality to her writing, especially when she sets her story in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southern Appalachia. Meg also has a sincere love for the southern area she writes about, and that's something to which I can totally relate!
As we get to know a little about Meg today, she'll tell us about her current release, A Stillness of Chimes (reviewed here) - a book that I highly recommend. The title itself is compelling and sets a mood, an atmosphere, almost foreshadowing with these words: "There was no sound but the wind in the trees and the chimes. Then the wind stilled. Everything was hushed, as if the whole world waited for something to happen."
Meg is graciously sharing a copy of A Stillness of Chimes with one of you, details at the end of this post. Now enjoy hearing from Meg . . .
Q: Meg, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
As long as I can remember, I have been addicted to books. I especially love good contemporary fiction. Although I didn’t get serious about writing until I was in my forties, now I can’t imagine stopping. As my family knows all too well, I get cranky if I’m away from my computer too long. I’m a coffee drinker, a cat person who loves other people’s dogs, and a wife, mom, and grandmother.
Q: After reading your books, I find it hard to believe that you're a "California girl" at heart and haven't lived in the south all your life. What draws you to write about the south, particularly Southern Appalachia, an area to which I am drawn?
I’ve spent almost a third of my life near Atlanta now, and it’s just a short drive to the mountains. Many of my ancestors were southerners, including a great-grandmother who was born in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, eighty miles from where I live, so there’s that connection, too. But the biggest draw for me is the way the history, culture, and language of the South create an atmosphere that’s ripe with stories to be told.
Q: Describe a "perfect trip" on the back of your husband's motorcycle.
A ride in the mountains always recharges my imagination. My favorite time for a ride is in the fall when the leaves are changing. We would start early and be in the mountains in less than an hour. We might ride alongside the Chestatee River for a while, stop for lunch in some little mountain town, and maybe do some window shopping. We might explore some roads we never noticed before and we might even get lost, but we would be home by suppertime and my head would be full of new ideas for the next day of writing.
Q: Tell us about the novel we are featuring today, A Stillness of Chimes.
This story is near and dear to my heart for a number of reasons, including the way the main character sprang into my imagination years ago with an early version of these opening lines:
Laura Gantt didn’t believe in ghosts, but sometimes she wondered if living across from a graveyard had warped her. Part Irish, all southern, descended from moonshiners and holy rollers, she’d always believed in things she couldn’t see.
Here’s a brief summary of the story:
When her mother dies suddenly, Laura Gantt returns home to rumors that several people think they’ve seen her father Elliott, who has been dead for many years. As Laura’s former beau, Sean, helps her uncover the truth, the secrets seem as vast as the mountains surrounding her Georgia childhood home.
Q: Describe A Stillness of Chimes in five adjectives.
Oh, no! I never know how to describe my own books. I’ll cheat and swipe some flattering words from a few reviews and endorsements: atmospheric, southern, melodic, magical, compelling.
Q: I love how your story takes on the issue of PTSD through the character of Elliott Gantt, Laura's father. How did this theme come about and have you received any feedback from readers who were touched by Elliott?
During the Vietnam era, military personnel often received more abuse than honor when they came home, and the ones who experienced PTSD were especially misunderstood and maligned. When I first imagined Elliott, I pictured him as a gentle musician whose soul never healed from the trauma of war. A number of readers have told me that his story helped them make peace with their own losses, but the response that means the most to me came from a friend who served in Vietnam; he told me I nailed it.
Q: Music has always been important in Appalachia, and you’ve incorporated several kinds in the story. How did you decide which forms of music to include, and do any of the story’s musical elements have special meaning?
Bluegrass came up naturally, given the story’s setting. Laura’s former beau, Sean Halloran, follows in her father’s footsteps as a folk musician and luthier, and the lyrics of a few old folk songs suited the plot perfectly. Because church music is part of the fabric of life in the Appalachians, I also alluded to several hymns with lyrics that hint at the story’s themes. The wind chimes are my special favorite, though. Instead of being played by human hands, they’re played only by the wind, which can symbolize the Holy Spirit.
Q: You did a great job at infusing spiritual themes in a subtle way, Meg. Why this style, and how do you hope readers will be inspired by reading this story?
Thank you, Carole. I don’t think preaching belongs in a novel. I trust my readers to understand that the spiritual themes are the backbone of the story, not the skin, so they’re not obvious at first glance. I hope A Stillness of Chimes will inspire my readers to see that even the most damaged souls among us can be beautiful reflections of divine love and sacrifice.
Q: Why is writing important to you; how is it part of your life?
I’m not a natural-born plotter, but maybe that’s a blessing. Because I can’t just whip up a story in a hurry, I spend months getting to know my characters and their issues. Sometimes I feel as if I’m making no progress, but really I’m sorting out my own questions as well as my characters’ questions. In that sense, writing isn’t just part of my life; it helps me make sense of life.
Q: What story or writing project are you working on now?
I’m muddling my way through a zillion different ideas that are just starting to come together in a viable plot. If I could tell you more than that, I would!
Q: How can we support, encourage, or pray for you?
That is such a kind question. Please pray that I will be true to the calling that God has given me, and that I will find the stories that I’m meant to write. My biggest encouragement comes from interacting with my readers, who can reach me at email@example.com or through the contact form on my website, megmoseley.com. I’m always happy to meet with book groups, either in person or via Skype.
Thank you, Carole, for giving me this opportunity to visit with you and your readers. I appreciate you!
I am so glad to share Meg's writing with all of our readers! Her two previous books were wonderful as well, and here are the links to their reviews:
Review: When Sparrows Fall
Review: Gone South
Meg, I think I speak for all of us when I say how much we've enjoyed having you with us. I pray that God will continue to inspire you with the stories He wants you to write, and please know that you will receive a warm welcome here when you're ready to visit again.
To enter the drawing for A Stillness of Chimes, simply answer ONE of the following questions and leave your e-mail in a safe format. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook.
1) Have you ever visited the Appalachian Mountains? If so, did anything about the area especially appeal to you?
2) If you're familiar with any of the classic hymns, name a favorite or two.
Please "like" my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, if you haven't already. And new followers of this blog are always welcome!
- Contest ends at midnight PST on Sunday, July 20. No purchase necessary.
- Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail by Tuesday, July 22. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
- Eligibility: U.S. and Canadian addresses, 18 or older