Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog Tour & Author Interview: Charlie's Girl by Mary-Helen and Daniel Foxx

Welcome to the Charlie's Girl Blog Tour. I'm excited to share my interviews with co-authors Mary-Helen and Daniel Foxx.

About the Book

Fourteen-year-old Rosalind has always been a foster girl without a past, until she’s sent to live with a long-lost grandmother in a house full of memories—and secrets. Soon Rosalind discovers that there’s more to her family history than she ever dreamed. Set in 1960s South Carolina, this unforgettable story of family, friendship, and faith is perfect for readers of all ages.

About the Authors

Mary-Helen Foxx retired in 2009 after a long career in public education with the Peoria Unified School District where she worked primarily in library services and IT. She has written widely on genealogical topics and has authored four books on the histories of prominent Southern families. Mary-Helen was also a contributing editor for three years with “Georgia Genealogical Magazine” and has won awards for her writing.

Daniel is Professor Emeritus of History at Ottawa University in Phoenix and has been published in various academic and historical journals. He is the author ofI Only Laugh When It Hurts (Reissued by Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, LA, 2009). His latest book, Nathan Bedford Forrest: In Search of the Enigmawith Eddy W. Davison (Pelican, 2007) was a National Book Awards nominee, received the 2008 Arizona Book Award for biography, and was finalist for the 2008 Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Award.

Author Interview
Mary-Helen Foxx

*What inspired you to write Charlie's Girl?

I first wrote the story about thirty years ago on a typewriter, and the characters just seemed to "come to me."  My husband and I dug it out and decided to polish it up last year.

*Is there a message in Charlie's Girl that you want readers to come away with?

A message of tolerance toward those with different beliefs from yours and for patience and kindness toward those who may be hurt by your choices.

*Who is your favorite character in your book, and why?

Rosalind.  She is vulnerable and lacking in self-esteem and self-confidence when she is thrust into a totally new social environment.

*It seems like it might be difficult to co-write a novel. What is the process you used to get the novel to come together?

We started with the original manuscript and broke it up into chapters to work on individually, then compared and combined for the first draft.

*What are your hopes/goals as an author, and what other projects do you have in mind?

I would like to see Charlie's Girl reach more readers with its message. We are writing the sequel with the working title Rosalind's Roots in which she seeks out her mother's family in Florida. I am also working on a children's book about an ancestor, a surgeon under General Greene in the Revolutionary War, who brings his little daughter with him to meet George Washington in Augusta, Georgia during his tour of the South.

*Do you have any unusual habits while you write?

Nothing special except that when the words really flow, I don't like to be interrupted.

*What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love to do counted cross-stitch. Each year I design and stitch a 4x6 page on perforated paper for each of our four sons and their families with events of that year.  Our own 4 x 6 album has pages going back to our first Christmas in 1964.  Our grandchildren enjoy looking through these little keepsake albums each year to remember family events. I have a software that allows me to scan photos and create patterns from which I have stitched keepsake portraits of my parents and a grandfather, a childhood home of a brother-in-law, and a departed but beloved pet dog. if I'm not in my stitching mode, I'm working on a jigsaw puzzle.

*What is your favorite book, and why?

With my ancestry being from Georgia from the period after the American Revolution, I really like Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. I admire her dogged determination to check out her facts and to assure she didn't use any names of living persons.  She did extensive research on the area, and having grown up around veterans of the conflict, she had a special insight that flavors her writing.

Author Interview
Daniel Foxx

*What inspired you to write Charlie’s Girl?

Mary-Helen wrote the heart of this story many years ago. She recently asked me to get involved with rewriting and expanding it. Once I began to read I was hooked and on board 100%. Her inspiration has been contagious. These characters drew me in and as their story continued to grow in our minds and on the page I couldn’t put it aside until it was finished.

*Is there a message in Charlie’s Girl that you want readers to come away with?

An important message of this book is the power and eternal nature of love and our yearning for family connections.

*Who is your favorite character in your book, and why?

Rosalind is the main character and I found myself wanting to love and protect her. But I also like Emily for her cheerfulness and loyalty to her friend, Rosalind.

*It seems like it might be difficult to co-write a novel. What is the process you used to get the novel to come together?

My previous book was co-authored with a former student so I was aware of stresses of co-writing. It was a successful venture. Charlie’s Girl offered me a different experience, as I had never written fiction. Mary-Helen has been a delightful co-author. We had no real disagreements and our relationship as husband and wife has grown stronger.
At the outset we agreed upon complete honesty with each other as the work progressed. That we live in the same house together gave us an advantage most co-authors don’t have. We continually conferred on new material and the removal of material that didn’t work as we continued to write and polish the story.

*What are your hopes/goals as an author, and what other projects do you have in mind?

Well, high on my list of hopes is that I get to keep writing for a long time to come. I want my readers to find something of worth in the stories I write and in the characters that populate my stories.

My, I should say our, immediate next project is the completion of a sequel to Charlie’s Girl. By the end of Charlie’s Girl we were already asking ourselves questions about what happens next with Rosalind and Grace and Mark William Dobson and the rest of the characters. We hope that our readers have the same questions and will be receptive to the sequel.

I am a historian and have another manuscript looking for a home. I call it Rebel Refugees: The Confederate Colonization of Mexico. It deals with the exodus of thousands of Southerners who left the United States at the end of the Civil War to find refuge and hopefully avoid the military occupation and reconstruction of their former homeland.

Another book on my plate has the working title The Carwash That Ate the Green Wrinkle, a collection of essays.

*Do you have any unusual habits while you write?

Sometimes I play music that I think is appropriate to a scene I’m writing.

*What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to watch old movies. As far as I’m concerned TV was invented to show old movies and the History Channel.

*What is your favorite book, and why?

Tough question. I’ve been contemplating this question for a while as I’ve thought of book after book that I really love and reread often. But you ask for one, so here it is: To Kill a Mockingbird. Each time I read it I always reflect on the quite dignity of justice and the ugliness of mindless prejudice. I also love the children and their world that Harper Lee creates. I grew up in a world like this. Perhaps the familiarity I feel for her world brings me back so often.

Thanks to Mary-Helen and Daniel for taking the time to answer my questions. 

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