Thursday, June 26, 2008

Author Interview with Marlo Schalesky

Good morning, Blog Studio!!! It's a thrill to be back in the studio after a brief hiatus. Been really busy this month with meetings and church events. I've missed being here in the studio. Today, I'd like to introduce a wonderful author.

**Carol Ann holds up a book and the camera pans in**

This is her latest book, "Beyond the Night."

Marlo Schalesky is the award winning author of six books, including her latest novel BEYOND THE NIGHT, which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist to create a new type of story. She has also had over 600 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living. Marlo recently earned her Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and is currently working on more “Love Stories with a Twist!” for Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers, a division of Random House. She owns her own construction consulting firm and lives in Salinas, California with her husband and four young daughters.

Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together and welcome to the stage...Marlo Schalesky!!!!!!

**audience applaudes as Marlo walks on stage and takes a seat in the cream leather chair opposite Carol Ann**

CAROL ANN: Good morning, Marlo. I'm thrilled that you could join me in the studio this morning.

MARLO: It's my pleasure to be here. I've been looking forward to coming to Ohio and being on your show.

CAROL ANN: I love the cover for your latest book, Marlo. Please tell us what this story is about.

MARLO: Great! First, here’s the “teaser blurb”:
They say love is blind. This time, they’re right.
A poignant love story . . .
A shocking twist . . .
Come, experience a love that will not die.

A Nicolas Sparks (The Notebook) type love story meets a M. Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) twist in this moving story of two people trying to find love in the dark. A woman going blind, a man who loves her but can’t tell her so, a car crash, a hospital room, and an ending that has to be experienced to be believed.

And this is from the back cover:

As a woman lies unconscious in a hospital bed, her husband waits beside her, urging her to wake up and come home. Between them lies an ocean of fear and the tenuous grip of memories long past. Memories of wonder. Of love. Memories of a girl named Madison and a boy named Paul…

Madison Foster knew she was going blind. But she didn’t want pity—not from her mother, not from her roommate, and especially not from her best friend Paul—the man she secretly loved.

Paul Tilden knew a good thing when he saw it. And a good thing was his friendship with Maddie Foster. That is, until he started to fall in love.

With the music of the seventies as their soundtrack and its groovy fashions as their scenery, Maddie and Paul were drawn together and driven apart. Then one night changed everything…forever.

And only now, when life tiptoes past the edge of yesterday, along the rim of today, can they glimpse the beauty that awaits them…beyond the night.

And, next, here’s a bit about the heart behind the story:

I discovered, as I wrote Beyond the Night, that it was really, at its heart, all about overcoming fear – fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of getting hurt, fear of letting go – the kinds of fear that regular, not-particularly-fearful people still have to face in their everyday lives.

And I began to see that overcoming fear isn’t really about “getting up the courage” or trying to be brave. Not at all! What truly defeats fear is a glimpse of the breathtaking wonder of a vivid God. It’s about the awe of knowing that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has risen to understand what God has prepared for those who love Him” (my translation from the Greek of 1 Corinthians 2:9). Just as light drives out darkness, so fear is driven out by hope, and hope is found in God’s amazing love.

So, that’s really what I’m hoping people will glimpse after reading Beyond the Night – that hint of God and His breathtaking love, that glimmer of beauty, that “wow” of seeing a bit more of the wondrous love of God – the love that drives out our fears.

CAROL ANN: Sounds great! You have an extensive writing career. Would you share what you believe is the hardest thing about being a writer?

MARLO: For me, the hardest part of the writing itself is the first few chapters, when all the doubts are raging and I’m not sure everything will come together, and I’m feeling just sure it won’t.

The hardest part about the writing life for me is the whole sales and marketing world. So much of sales is completely out of the writer’s control, and yet the next contract depends on those numbers. So, what I’ve been learning in the journey is to let go of the need to write and instead devote myself to the vision of what God is showing me, the unique message He gives me to share, and those things about Him that fire my soul with passion. I want to share those things, through writing stories, through interviews, through speaking – whatever doors God opens. I need to do that, and let God take care of sales, the future, and the way He has for me to share about Him.

CAROL ANN: Your passion shows. How did you realize the God was calling you to write?

MARLO: I knew from when I was 13 years old that I wanted to write. At that time, I told my mother, with all the angst of a newly-turned teen, “I’ll just die if I don’t write!” However, I didn’t know what that would mean until God got a hold of my heart and showed me that He wanted me to write the stories that He would give me to tell. Now, my writing is an act of faithfulness to the One who calls me. I don’t write because I’ll “just die” if I don’t. Hardly! I write because I love Jesus and I want to do the work He has for me, tell the stories he has for me to tell. Because I realize now that I’m not necessarily called to write. I’m called to be faithful. And for now, that means writing those stories that God gives me. So, as long as He’s whispering stories into my heart and telling me to write them, I’ll write, and I’ll pray that readers will get a glimpse of His glory, a peek at His love, through the eyes of the characters.

CAROL ANN: What stumbling blocks have you encountered and how have you overcome them?

MARLO: Early in my writing career my biggest stumbling block was wanting it too badly. Our culture tells us to pursue our dreams, reach for the sky, dream big, nothing’s impossible if only you try hard enough. Sounds good. But for me, that philosophy was deadly. I needed to completely surrender my dreams in order to live God’s. It was like ripping out part of my soul. But it was worth it. Now, when I write, it can be an act of worship and obedience, instead of something that’s all about me and my dreams.

These days, I find that self-doubt is my biggest struggle. Every time I start a new book, I find myself muttering “What was I thinking?!!? I can’t write this book! Why did I ever think I could do this?” Right now I’m at the beginning of a new book, so of course all those doubts are raging. But this time I’m reminding myself that this always happens. I just need to push through, do my best, trust God, and the story will come. He who has whispered to me, “This is the way, walk ye in it,” will be faithful to see the vision of this story accomplished as well. I’m counting on it!

CAROL ANN: Do you mind if I ask you something a little more personal?

MARLO: Well, if it's not too personal!

CAROL ANN: Do you collect anything?

MARLO: Well, we live in log home, so I have a number of BearFoots (that a brand) carved bears around the house. Some are carved from wood, others are resin. I’m saving up for a carved wooden bear toilet paper holder from BearFoots (they’re hand-carved out of Montana). Yeah, yeah, I know that sounds weird, but the tp holder is this big stand-up black bear holding out its arms with the tp between its paws. Hey, it’s cute, and fun!

Other than that, I’ve got some neat Native American things like a huge drum we use for a coffee table, a turtle-shell rattle, a bow-and-arrow set, some tomahawks, a throwing arrow, a horse-hair pot, a horn knife, some flutes, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some other things. I just love the rustic, hand-crafted stuff.

I also collect good books, and moments of peace and quiet (which are exceedingly rare around my house – the peace and quiet, not the books!)

CAROL ANN: Do you believe the pen is mightier than the sword?

MARLO: I do, if we’re talking about the ability to touch, move, and change people’s hearts and minds (if we’re talking about cutting a watermelon, well, then that’s an entirely different thing! ;-))

As a writer, I obviously believe in the power of words, but I believe in the power of story even more. There’s nothing better than a good movie, or a great book. I love characters who show what truth looks like through lives lived and struggles fought. I love to see through another’s eyes, feel what they feel, experience life in a new and different way. I think we all do. That’s why movies and TV dramas are so popular. Fiction is great entertainment.

But it’s also more. It has the power to change lives, make a difference. By seeing through the eyes of another, by living vicariously through the lives of characters, by encountering the true God even in a made-up plot, I am touched, challenged, changed. I see God in new ways. My vision is broadened, deepened. And I discover truth with new clarity. Fiction lays bare the imperfections of my soul, stirs my doubts and questions, and drives me into the throne room of God.

And so I hope that my readers, too, will be changed and challenged through the power of story. I hope they will be encouraged to persevere through difficulties, to press closer to God, to not settle for the easy answers but wrestle with the tough questions of life and faith, to dig deeper with God. And that’s why I think the pen is mighty indeed (unless you’ve got that watermelon.)

CAROL ANN: Which inspires you more? A brisk walk in the autumn with the leaves changing color, or in the spring when the flowers are and trees are budding? Why?

MARLO: Oh, I just love the beauty of trees changing colors, of all the shades of gold and red shimmering in the trees and laying like a blanket over the ground. There’s something so gorgeous and yet peaceful about it. Of course, where I live in California, we have very few trees changing colors (mostly just oaks and some pines around here!), so there is no golden blanket and there are hardly any swaying golden leaves. My husband and I lived in Ohio for just nine months after we were married, and that was my favorite thing, and what I most miss, about my time there – the beauty and glory of the changing leaves. All that color, and yet it was soft and quiet too. Just beautiful!

CAROL ANN: I didn't realize you had lived here. What a coincidence! Okay, now for a question a little differen. You are sitting in a restaurant with several friends when someone walks up to you and thrusts a microphone in your hand. You have one minute to tell the world something....what will it be?

MARLO: Beyond this darkness, beyond whatever night you’re facing, there is a glorious and breathtaking light to be found in Jesus. Just as He transformed the image of the cross from a symbol of death and execution to a symbol of hope and reconciliation for millions, so He can transform the dark times in your life to beauty and light. He loves you. He yearns for you. And He has a vision for your life that is more wondrous that anything you could have dreamed. Take a chance. Trust in the Light. And glimpse the beauty and wonder of God.

CAROL ANN: How do you balance your "real" life with your "writing" life?

MARLO: Ah, good question! The answer: Not as well as I’d like! With a business to run, four little girls, and ministry responsibilities, it’s tough! But mostly, I try to do interruptible work (like my construction consulting job, book marketing, email, etc.) in the mornings and intersperse that with reading to the girls, doing workbooks with them, quick house clean-up jobs – stuff like that. I’ve done away with my desktop computer and use only a small laptop now, so I can take it with me around the house. That way I can be with the girls while they play and still get a bit done work-wise too. Then, for a couple hours in the afternoons, the twins have their nap (and Joelle used to have preschool at that time) while the oldest is (was … now it’s summer and my schedule is shot!) at school. That’s when I try to do my novel writing. On good days, my hubby used to put the monitor in the twins’ room, then work from our office on our property, while I went for almost 2 hours to Starbucks to write (heaven!!). Now, I’m trying to figure out a new schedule for the summer . . . still working on that! Then, evenings are for catch up stuff, some consulting job last minute work, maybe some email, laundry, and playing in the basement with hubby and the girls (or church activities, once-a-week-hopefully date night, or whatever). What this leaves is not enough time for anything, but at least some time for everything!  So, what I’m finding is that I can do the things that God has put on my plate, I just need a little more time to do them!

One thing that I’ve found is that because we struggled with infertility for so many years before having children (and that only with great difficulty and lots of medical help), there’s no way I want to miss any of the “good stuff” with my kids, especially while they’re young. So, I’m wanting to make sure that I’m there with them and doing the things together that we want to do. (I would, however, be happy to miss the tantrums and dirty diapers part, but alas those seem to come with the package. )

Anyway, bottom line is that what I’ve come to strongly believe is that God will give me the time and ability to do whatever those things are that He’s asking of me. My job is to be faithful and believe those things can be done . . . and to make sure I’m not taking on a bunch of things that He hasn’t asked me to do. (This, at least, is what I’m reminding myself of this week, as I look at the ol’ to-do list, which seems to be getting out of control! ;-))

CAROL ANN: I can't believe how fast the time has flown. Marlo, before they throw us off the stage, where can readers learn more about you and your books?

MARLO: I hope readers will visit my website at And while you’re there, check out the cool video trailer for Beyond the Night, a fun video tour of Stanford, and an audio message from me. There’s lots of fun info on the website, too, so I hope people will browse around and see what’s available! There’s even a CONTEST I’m running right now for readers of Beyond the Night (check that out under the “contest” tab for more info!). And, on the front page, readers can also sign up for my e-newsletter, which I put out a few times a year (or whenever there’s exciting news like a book release!). There’s also a contact page for emailing me directly.

Readers can also visit (and subscribe!) to my blog at News shows up first there, and I also post helpful info about once a week on rekindling the wonder in our walks with God.

So, reader friends, come on by my website and blog for a visit! Check it out, sign up for my newsletter, drop me an email message. I’d love to hear from you!

CAROL ANN: Thank you so much, Marlo! Audience, please buy Marlo's book!!

MARLO: You're welcome and I've enjoyed being here in Ohio again!

**Audience gives a standing ovation as the curtain drops on another issue of The Blog Studio**

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