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Interview with Sassie Reviews June 2024

 

Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

 

A1. I’m Peggy Ann Shumway, a mystery and historical fiction author. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area until my twenties. If anybody asks why I write, I blame it on my eighth-grade English teacher. Mrs. Osborn wore a ponytail draped over her shoulder and sat with one leg folded under her at the desk in the front of the room. She possessed a rather drab personality, yet something caught fire inside me when she taught us how to place words on a page in unique ways. I wanted to know more. She encouraged our class to enter the district creative writing contest, so I created a fictional story and submitted my work. Imagine my surprise when the principal announced over the loudspeaker a few weeks later that I had won first place. That was the beginning. 

 

I have a degree in multimedia, and when not writing or creating graphics, I dabble in family history. When a Stranger Knocks allowed me to explore my roots and, combined with my love of history, instilled a greater appreciation for my ancestors. I live in Arizona with my interminable library and a precarious tower of crafts. You can find out more information about my books at https://www.peggyannshumway.com/

 

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing your book “When a Stranger Knocks”?

 

A2. While writing this book, one of the main challenges I faced was knowing where to find the necessary research for an unfamiliar time and place. Additionally, I labored to improve dull and unclear passages, as I do in all my manuscripts. This craft takes work, and I sometimes believe other authors find it more effortless, though I've heard that my colleagues also face similar struggles with their writing.

 

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

 

A3. My favorite authors are Kate Morton, Kristina McMorris, Patti Callahan Henry, Delia Owens, Anya Seton, and Daphne Du Maurier. These authors are masterful wordsmiths. They inspire me to up my writing game.

 

Q4. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

 

A4. I went on a genealogy trip to the Deep South in 1980 and to Arkansas for a family reunion. I fondly remember the bountiful greenery there, and I was impressed with the unique architecture and hospitality. I’ve also loved visiting Utah and witnessing the beautiful snow-capped mountains, especially after taking a wrong turn and ending up on a scenic trip to Wyoming. The scenery was stunning. My ultimate goal is to travel to the Great Lakes area to see the Hopewell and Adena mounds since my first book takes place in that historic area. 

 

Q5. What inspired you to write the book ‘When a Stranger Knocks’?

 

A5.My great-grandmother was the inspiration behind When a Stranger Knocks. Mary Souza always fed the hobos who came to their farm from the train. One vagrant, in particular, finished his meal and then headed across the field toward the irrigation ditch. In front of eleven of the children, he vanished without a trace. The family searched for the man's body for a long time without success. My grandmother and her siblings believed they had entertained an angel.

 

Q6. How long did it take you to write your book ‘When a Stranger Knocks’?

 

A6. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you how long I worked on this book. I fiddled with the story on and off while I wrote my first book, Vestiges. When I got frustrated with one, I’d work on the other. I finished the first draft of the manuscript in 2021 and put it out of my mind until a few months ago.

 

Q7. On what platforms can readers buy your books?

 

A7. When a Stranger Knocks and Vestiges are available on Amazon.

 

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘When a Stranger Knocks’.

 

A8. I originally called this story The Soft Season. After I allowed the title to rattle around in my brain for a couple of years, I decided the name was too vague and started brainstorming for another. When a Stranger Knocks hits more to the message and purpose of my book. The title sounds more intriguing. 

 

The book cover is just another facet of my inventive nature. I love creativity in all its forms. I was a graphic designer for 19 years, so working in Photoshop and Illustrator is second nature to me. I don’t always have the best ideas, but I keep plugging away until I produce something I can live with. The cover I’m using now is version number ten.

 

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

 

A9. Keeping things fresh takes time and effort. As I often edit, I realize I’ve used an expression or word repeatedly throughout the manuscript. I force myself to comb through my words and replace the offending language until satisfied. I also keep reading to feel the words of other authors. If I can see, feel, hear, and taste my writing, my audience will do the same. I’m a stickler for description and dialogue.

 

Q10. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

 

A10. Don’t give up. Writing is one of the loneliest professions on the planet. After a long day at the computer, when you feel like you can’t write another word or look at your story again, step away and reconnect with family and friends. Find ways to get inspired before you re-enter your office. I put in an Italian garden in my backyard a couple of years ago, which is my way of connecting to the earth and finding my center. Digging in the dirt and eating what I produce inspires me. 

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