Please Welcome Adina Senft to RADIANT LIGHT . .

Sunday, September 25, 2011




If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?
Ha! When I was little I wanted so badly to be Veronica (I read a lot of Archie comic books). I even asked my mother to call me that—and you can imagine the response THAT got. But when I was in Greece (doing the backpacking-through-Europe thing at 21) I found out Adina derives from Athena—in Greek they’re pronounced the same way—and then I decided I loved my name.

Your first pet’s name?
Snowball. She was a black cat with white socks.

Your best friend’s name in elementary school?
I had two—Cathy and Janet. We went everywhere together. Needless to say, when my family moved when I was in seventh grade, it took me nearly a year to get over the trauma.

Did you have a special toy that went everywhere with you when you were young? Please describe.
I was never much on toys because in our neighborhood, those were for rainy days. On every other kind of day, we were outside having adventures in the forest behind our houses, usually scripted by me since I was the oldest. I can’t tell you the number of cruel orphanages we escaped from, how many tree cities we built, or how many pirate ships we crewed—but the roots of my love of storytelling are deep in that forest.

What's your favorite movie?
Hands down, the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Moviemaking just isn’t going to get better than that.

What's the bravest thing you've ever done?
Wow. Bravery means different things to different people. As a child, I was crippled by shyness. When we’d go over to someone’s house, and I didn’t know them, I’d hide behind the couch and spend the whole evening there with a book. I struggled with it for years, right into adulthood. So I suppose that first major public speaking experience (I was the commencement speaker for my M.A. graduating class) was brave—for me. After I got done throwing up in the bathroom beforehand, that is.

If you could meet a famous person, who would it be?
I would love to have met Princess Diana. On the aforementioned backpacking trip through Europe, I was in London for the royal wedding and saw her go by in the coach on the way to Buckingham Palace from St. Paul’s.

Please describe your writing environment.
I have an office that contains a desk for my MacBook Pro and also a stand-up workstation for my iMac. The office has bookshelves and a huge armoire that holds supplies. But I don’t actually write in there—it’s for doing email and promotional things and accounting. On sunny days I take my AlphaSmart Neo out into the garden, let the chickens out, and while they hunt for bugs and seeds, I write. I have a plastic garden chair that I move around as the chickens make their rounds, and in some places my husband has cut chunks of wood to form a bench for me. In the winter, I write in the living room by the fire. So basically the whole property is my office!

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite right now is Kristin Hannah. She told me once that she has an awful time plotting, so her books go deep instead of wide. Every time I read one, it’s a graduate course in characterization and emotion.

What’s been the most challenging part of writing for you?
Getting to page 100. With every book, it seems to take forever to get there as I struggle with my characters and their motivations and plot events. But once I pass that magic number, something clicks in my head and after that, it’s smooth sailing. Maybe it’s because all the heavy lifting is done in the first third of the book, and the last two thirds are just watching the story threads tangle, untangle, and play out as they should for what I hope is a satisfying read.

Who has been your best supporter? How have they been there for you?
My husband is my biggest fan. He reads my manuscripts for technical and logistical detail. He walks around with my bookmarks in his pocket. He hands out postcards in the grocery checkout line. He loves to tell people about my books—and I love him for that and many other reasons. Plus, he’s a great cook!

What gift have you received that you will always treasure?
I grew up in a plain church where jewelry (including engagement rings), makeup, and some clothing for women (anything red, or trousers) were forbidden. So were open-toed shoes (and heaven help you if you bought red open-toed shoes!). So the first Christmas after I came out of that church and was struggling to figure out how to dress and do my hair (which before had to be uncut and then pinned up), my Christmas present from my husband was a pearl necklace. Classic, elegant, and unassuming—the perfect jewelry to start a new life with. Every time I wear it I’m reminded of how perceptive and thoughtful he is.

What book are you reading now? What are your thoughts on it?
Right now I’m reading the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire cycle by George R.R. Martin. I haven’t read much fantasy other than J.R.R. Tolkien and my students’ work (I’m a graduate writing teacher), but this series is mind-bending. It’s horrendously violent and there’s much hewing and slaying and cruelty, but the characterization and the sheer scope and detail of the world Martin builds are giving me lots to study. Plus I like the dragons.

What inspires your writing?
My books begin with a “flash” of an opening scene, like a trailer for a movie. I see people and places and maybe an event, but I don’t really know the plot that leads to and from that point. The story ideas come from places like People magazine, the newspaper, YouTube, overheard conversations, a show on the Discovery Channel, you name it. Everything goes into a pot boiling away in the back of my brain, and before long a story comes out. For The Wounded Heart, I knew I wanted to write about something that had happened to a friend—she was misdiagnosed with a chronic disease, but found out much later that what she had was mercury poisoning from the fillings in her teeth—but it wasn’t until I got a “flash” of a young Amish woman struggling to get two little boys into a buggy with one arm that wouldn’t work, that the story really gelled and I knew exactly where it was going to go.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was bitten by the writing bug when I was 8, when I turned in a short story about a ghost in a graveyard, and my teacher wrote on it that I’d scared her. Of course she was just being kind, but it opened my eyes to the fact that a writer could affect the emotions of her readers with words. That set me on a track that led to my first completed novel at the tender age of 13, a BA in Literature, an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and over 20 published novels.

What inspired you to write the genre that you write?
I’ve learned to be sensitive to that breeze on the back of my neck that tells me a window has opened behind me while I was staring at the closed door in front. This series was a breeze like that. An idea. A shivery feeling on the back of my neck. A pitch over a salad. A sale. I’d been writing romances and women’s fiction and YA, but had never thought to write about the Amish. And then that breeze came—the one that said, “You grew up in similar circumstances. You could do this.” The research curve was very steep, but equally rewarding. I’ve met some really amazing Amish women who have taught me a thing or two about the meaning of work and sacrifice. Not to mention how to make tiny pleats in a prayer covering and whip up a really great pie.

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Enjoyed the interview, ladies! Thanks for sharing. =)

Adina...loved the story about your name...and your husband sounds like a real gem! Is the pearl necklace he gave you the one you're wearing in the photo? Lovely!

Blessings!

 
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