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RB: Hi, Rebecca, welcome to the Coffee Corner. I’m so glad you could make it, even if I am absent-minded and this interview almost didn’t happen. Thanks for answering my questions so fast! I hear you have a book to share with us. What can you tell us about it?
RD: A Place in His Heart is a love story set in the seventeenth century about a widower- Barnabas Horton - who is a Puritan and a baker with two young sons. He grieves the loss of his beloved wife, but knows he must marry to provide a mother for his little boys. He meets a young Anglican woman – Mary Langton - who is passionate and believes in love, but has given up on finding it. It is the story of love lost and found, of learning to live in God’s grace and goodness during good times and bad, for better or for worse.
RB: What a powerful message…how did you pick such a wonderful story to write about?
RD: I grew up listening to my mom’s stories about Barnabas Horton, my ninth great-grandfather and how he came across the pond from England on a ship called The Swallow. When my brother became interested in genealogy, we discovered there was a lighthouse named after Barnabas, located on Long Island. I asked my mom if she’d like to go there, and off we went. There was a lot of interesting information about Barnabas. He was a baker and a widower with two young sons when he met my ninth great-grandmother. But I could find very little about her, and I began to wonder about what dreams and motivation she had, and courage she must have possessed, when she married and then left her family behind for the wilds of Long Island. The story just tumbled about in my head, and a few years later, I began writing my first novel with a desire to give Mary a voice.
RB: This is quite the story, isn’t it? The characters aren’t just anybody floating around in your head.
RD: My story is based on my real life ancestors, and I wrote it using their real names. It made the story unique in a way, and my publisher liked that aspect. There are some fictitious characters in the book, of course – there’s a brief mention of a young lady named Emma, and I took the name from eldest granddaughter.
RB: Some people say they could never write a novel. While I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s an “easy” task, what would you consider the easiest aspect about writing for you?
RD: I guess I would have to say the inspiration for my stories. Right now I’m writing stories about my ancestors, and God has blessed me with a deep well of material in them!
RB: Do you have any advice for the new writer?
RD: Write your passion – not what you think is the hottest trend. Read at least twenty books in the genre in which you’re writing (What did you like about them? What didn’t you like?) Join a community of writers: locally or online (ACFW). Study the craft – read craft books, attend conferences, take classes online or at community college. ACFW is like a university for Christian writers both online and at the annual national conference!
RB: I’ve heard of writers at the practice for years and years before publication, although with self-publishing that could be a thing of the past. How long have you been writing and why did you start?
RD: A Place in His Heart is my first novel and I began writing it the fall of 2008 and finished it in 2010. I’d always wanted to write a novel, but the time wasn’t right until I took my mom back to Long Island. After that, it seemed I could not write the story!
RB: I understand that! When a story or character grabs you, it’s like you can’t rest until you get it on the page. I’ll even dream about my books until they’re done. LOL I know this is a strange question, but how do your pick your titles?
RD: My working title for my debut novel was The Blue Slate, and I loved that title. The blue slate was pivotal to the story. But I write historical romance, and it didn’t reflect the romance part. I was involved with the selection of the new title, A Place in His Heart, but I give all credit to the team at Revell for coming up with the one that was perfect. I love the title, and can’t really imagine any other one. It fits the story on so many levels – the romance, the physical location, and on a spiritual level. When the title committee asked me for suggestions for book two, I told them I didn’t think I could do better than what they would. And I love the title for my next release – To Capture Her Heart, book #2 of The Southold Chronicles! It couldn’t suit the story more.
RB: That’s a cool working title. I’ll have to read the book to find out what the blue slate’s about. Still, I really like what Revell came up with though. It does capture the romance. To tease the readers a bit, what’s the favorite part of your novel and why?
RD: That’s really hard to narrow down, but two of my favorite scenes are when Mary and Barnabas say goodbye to their families on the London dock and board the ship. They left the family they loved very much, and set sail for the wilds of New England. The other scene would be when Mary received word that her beloved Papa had died. It tore her heart, because she clung to the hope that he would someday join her in the New World.
RB: How sad…I can see why those would be favorites. Did you have any hard sections or issues while writing the book?
RD: Possibly writing from Barnabas’s point of view. He was a Puritan and lived in the seventeenth century. It was a harsh time. So I wanted to step outside of the stereotype and still be true to what we know about that time period. Also, from my research I knew he was well-loved, and a devout, pious man. But I had to remember he wasn’t perfect. No one is, and of course we don’t want a perfect hero either!
RB: I don’t know much about your book, but I know it’s family related. Other than that, how did you decide on a setting for your story?
RD: My setting was built in, beginning in England and following my Puritan family over to Massachusetts. The last half of A Place in His Heart brings them down to Southold, Long Island – the setting for the next two books. Barnabas was one of the town’s thirteen founding fathers, and I have fallen in love with the North Fork of Long Island!
RB: My last question’s about you, Rebecca DeMarino. What do you like to read the most? Do you have a favorite book?
RD: I love to read many genres, and many authors. Some longtime favorite authors are Jane Kirkpatrick, Julie Lessman, Lori Benton and Karen Barnett. The last book I read became a favorite book of mine, Under the Wide and Starry Sky, by Nancy Horan. Her prose is beautiful and the story a compelling tale about Fanny Osborne Stevenson – the woman who captured Robert Louis Stevenson’s heart.
RB: Thanks for stopping by the Coffee Corner, even if it was by the skin of our teeth! You’ve been a great guest.
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PRIZE: A SIGNED COPY OF A Place in His Heart, AND an advance copy of To Capture Her Heart (to be mailed by Revell directly to the winner sometime in late May/early June).
WINNER will be chosen by drawing on 2/22/15.
About the Book:
Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Left at the altar and disgraced in her small hamlet, she is being pressured to marry the eligible son of the London milliner. Puritan Barnabas Horton still grieves the loss of his beloved wife, but he knows his two young sons need a mother. With tender hearts, Mary and Barnabas take a leap of faith and wed. But when Barnabas’s secret plans to move his family to the New World to escape persecution come to light, Mary’s world is upended. How could she possibly leave her Papa and her dear sister? And will she ever reach the secret places of her husband’s broken heart?
About the Author:
Rebecca DeMarino is a historical romance author who lives in the Pacific Northwest. She inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mother, a love of horses, reading and writing from her dad, and the wanderlust gene from both parents. A Place in His Heart is Rebecca’s debut novel in The Southold Chronicles, a series inspired by her ninth great-grandparents, Barnabas and Mary Horton. Her second novel in the series, To Capture Her Heart, releases from Revell on July 7th. You can find her at www.rebeccademarino.com, @RebeccaDeMarino, on Facebook and Pinterest, or in the kitchen baking apple pie!