Mattie was a really interesting read. It's a novel, but is based on a true story (which I didn't realize until I saw footnotes). This made for a unique style, but Mattie's life is quite fascinating. A novel about my life would be so boring, so once I learned that the events depicted actually happened, I found the story to be even more compelling.
I won't go into details and spoil the story, but there is adventure, romance, and love and loss, surrounded by some great historical details from the early 1900's. I appreciated the Facts section at the end of the book that separates fact from fiction, and if you are looking for a book for book club, there are even discussion questions at the end.
About the Book
With Mattie’s opportunity for a new life comes the chance of new love. Faced with the choice between two men, Mattie must sift through the remains of her broken heart and decipher its depths. Will she choose Alonzo, her tall, good-natured, childhood sweetheart, or Enos, the rough, gun-packing nemesis of her youth? Relying on her rediscovered faith, Mattie learns that trusting God is not without heartbreak, especially when the hardships of the Mexican Revolution threaten her fragile faith and wedded bliss.
*Tell us about your relation to Mattie, and how you decided to write a novel about her life.
Mattie (Martha Ann Sevey) is my grandmother. I am named for her. When I was fifteen, she gave me a silver medallion necklace with a gold M inset that was made for her by one of her children. The year I went to high school in Colonia Juarez, I ate lunch often at grandma’s house. Her home was the gathering place for our big summer reunions. Famous for her cooking, breakfast being my favorite, she made pancakes so large they barely fit on our plates. At Grandma’s house I experienced the outhouse, chamber pots, the wood-cooking stove, the wringer washer, green apples, large gardens, irrigation ditches, canning produce, milk buckets, churning butter, and gathering eggs. Grandma had a great sense of humor and a matter-of-fact approach to life. She and I share a similar experience from our courting days. Grandma was not a journal keeper. I wanted to tell her story.
*How did you go about collecting information about Mattie's life?
I grew up listening to grandma and grandpa tell their stories. With each telling, the details shifted a little. Each cousin has their own version. Haha. The fiction in the novel is the emotion my grandparents might have experienced beyond, “I’ve never been more frightened in my life.” What is fact and what is fiction is footnoted.
*Is there a message in Mattie that you want readers to come away with?
When we meet with disappointment, heartache, or tragedy, we tend to blame God, shake our fist a little and ask why. The message in Mattie is that trial and tribulation come by virtue of living in this world, or sometimes a result of our own choices. Life happens. God’s role is to make us equal to the challenge, helping us through it, not saving us from it. By so doing we become stronger individuals, cultivate more compassion, develop deeper insight, and in some cases are led to better opportunities.
*What are your hopes/goals as an author, and what other projects do you have in mind?
My odyssey as a writer began after my children were grown. It was more of an adventure, not sure where it might lead. I saw myself as a Robert Fulghum, Dave Berry humorist. Being a novelist took me by surprise. Presently, I am working on a second novel—not a sequel, although a sequel is not out of the question. Undergoing a final revision, the second book should be ready to submit for publication in a few months. Who knows, I might even try to publish a collection of my essays.
*Do you have any unusual habits while you write?
Hahaha. I had to ask my husband about this one. He says I talk to myself when I write, and I sit crooked. Instead of working at a desk, I prefer a recliner and a laptop. Once into my work, it takes a two by four to get my attention, unless you’re offering chocolate.
*What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Read! Hahaha. With great discipline I make time for life.
*What is your favorite book, and why?
This is a hard question. I have many favorites. I don’t often read a book more than once, but I have read most of Jane Austen three or four times. Of her works, Pride and Prejudice tops the list. I enjoy her humor and satire. I admire how she develops sexual tension without even a kiss beyond a hand being “pressed to the lips.”
About the Author
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