ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 26, 2013
Thanks to my friend June Gillam for “tagging” me to promote The Next Big Thing! In June’s latest blog post she wrote about her upcoming thriller, House of Dads.
Now it’s my turn to tell you all about my novel.
What is the title of your book?
Where did the idea for the book come from?
Years ago (or maybe I should say Once Upon a Time) while on a field trip with my special education class, one of my students–a Hmong boy born in a refugee camp in Thailand—struck up a conversation with a homeless man sitting at the Regional Transit bus stop on L Street near Downtown Plaza. I was so touched by the man’s patience and humor as he spoke with this child and me that I began writing about him as soon as I got home that night. The episode became a poem, then a short story, and now a novel.
What genre does your book fall under?
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Amy Adams has the range to play a woman who is intelligent yet naïve, so she’d be my first choice for protagonist Cassandra Apple. Cassandra’s love, Harvey Random, is a combination of Eli Stone’s sweetness and Sherlock Holmes’ quirky intensity, so Jonny Lee Miller (who’s played both characters in recent TV dramas) would do well as my novel’s male lead.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Shy special education teacher Cassandra Apple falls in love with the gregarious, ivy-league educated yet homeless Harvey Random. (Not your typical Rom-Com!)
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m currently shopping Welcome Stranger, seeking representation.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Since this was my first novel, and I wasn’t sure what I was doing, the first draft took approximately 24 years and 5 months. Subsequently, I’ve learned to whip out 50,000- word first drafts in 30 days or less every November during National Novel Writing Month, i.e. Nanowrimo.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I would humbly liken my work to the novels of Sue Monk Kidd and Anne Lamott, who both write stories featuring strong female protagonists and spiritual (though not necessarily religious) themes.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
It has been a dream of mine since high school to write novels, and I am very grateful to see my first book manifest. I must give credit to my late mother who was always my biggest supporter. I have a wonderful circle of friends and fellow writers who have also encouraged me. The insights of my friend and spiritual guide, Craig, have also offered me amazing inspirations for my writing. Finally I would be remiss if I did not mention HC, who has been the perfect muse—elusive and enchanting—lo, these many seasons.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Welcome Stranger explores issues such as homelessness, mental illness, emotional abuse, and the state of our public education system. But at its core, it is the story of Cassandra’s spiritual journey. Harvey becomes Cassandra lover, but he is also the holy fool who leads her to a greater understanding of her own soul.
And now it’s time for me to tag a wonderful writer, friend and mentor, John Crandall. You can find John at