Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer Love: Interview with Yvonne Anderson, author of “First Love”

Interview with Yvonne Anderson, author of “First Love” (short story):

Alexis: What inspired you to write this story, “First Love”?

Yvonne: About a year ago, some of my online writer friends discussed the possibility of doing a novella collection with the theme of tiny houses. Because I write speculative fiction, my initial reaction was to say, “That’s not for me.” But as I followed the discussion, I began to think it sounded like fun, so I asked if I could play too. The others said, “Sure, you can write about finding love in a tiny house on Mars or something.”

Tempting as that was, I thought my contribution would fit the collection better if it were contemporary fiction. Searching for an earthbound topic, I remembered the field at the top of the hill behind the place where my husband and I lived for 29 years. I used to think it would be nice to put a little house up there. This was my opportunity to do just that: in my story, I put a tiny house on the edge of that field, then imagined who might want to live there and why.

Alexis: Tell me about your story’s heroine Minda Miller. Describe her looks, personality, and heart. What is her most major character flaw?

Yvonne: Minda is an ordinary middle aged Christian. With a charming husband, one married daughter, an adorable Norwich terrier, and a nice house in the suburbs, she was content with her life until… well, you bring that up in your next question. Character flaw: she tends to be superficial. She figures if something looks good, it probably is good, so she’s more concerned with appearances than the substance beneath the veneer.

Alexis: Tell us about Minda’s husband. What is his name? Why did he, after 30 years of marriage, leave Minda for a girl who was younger than her daughter?

Yvonne: Minda’s husband—or rather, ex-husband, by the time the story opens—is named Leonard. Not Leonard Miller, because after the divorce, Minda took back her married name. I never actually gave him a last name in the story. He’s just Leonard. He had always been drawn to sweet young things, and the girl he ran off with was not his first affair. The older he grew, the older his wife grew (funny how that happens) and the more he dissatisfied he became with her age. The whole scenario is sad, and the worst part is, he’d been a Christian since he was a teenager. Makes me shudder! But he put his fleshly desires above everything else and fell for the devil’s lies.

Alexis: How does her husband’s cheating and scandal affect Minda’s heart?

Yvonne: Minda is deeply hurt, of course. Savagely betrayed. Having fallen head-over-heels for Leonard when they were young, she’d devoted her life to him ever since—and this is how he repays her? She’s vengeful enough to make sure her attorney got every last penny out of the scoundrel that was legally possible. Once that’s accomplished, she resolves to take the money and make a fresh start, to do what she wants instead of styling her life to suit Leonard. That’s when she decides to go back to the rural community where she lived as a child. She buys a piece of property, puts a tiny house on it, and prepares to make a new life for herself.All the while, she’s aware she needs to forgive Leonard, that she’ll never be whole again until she does. She never used to have any trouble forgiving people, but she’d never been seriously offended before. This is different, though. There’s nothing small about this offense, and nothing easy about forgiving it. The inner struggle causes her to re-evaluate her relationship with the Lord.

Alexis: How does this heartbreak affect her faith in God?

Yvonne: Her relationship with the Lord has been casual up to this point, but real, and she has just enough faith to not blame God for what’s happened—she blames only Leonard. No matter how hard she tries, though, she can’t summon the grace to forgive and doesn’t know how to find that grace in the Lord.

Alexis: Where does Minda move to start over? Why did she choose to build a tiny house and settle in there? Does she have kids from her marriage? If so, where are they at this point?

Yvonne: The rural area where she lived until she was ten years old represents her pre-Leonard years, which in her memory were rosy and unencumbered. So when she learns of ten acres listed at a must-sell price, and at the same time stumbled upon a bargain price on a lightly used tiny house, she pounces on both and puts them together. She and Leonard have a married daughter. The couple is on the mission field in Peru.

Alexis: Who was Minda’s first love? What made her fall in love with him? Do they reunite in this story?

Yvonne: Minda met a boy at Vacation Bible School the summer before kindergarten. Though both were only five years old, they formed a close connection in that short week, and she never forgot about him. 

Alexis: Who are Dan and Becca? What role do they play in this story?

Yvonne: Minda bought the property from them. They live in the big house at the foot of the hill upon which Minda’s tiny house sits. Because they’re neighbors, she sees them now and then, but I don’t want to say too much about their roles lest I spoil the story.

Alexis: Describe Dan. Talk about his looks, personality, and heart. What would you say is his most major character flaw? 

Yvonne: Like Minda, Dan is rather average in the looks department. Average height, weight, and like many men his age, he’s gray and balding. He recently retired from the military, where he served as a chaplain. He has a heart for the lost and the hurting, but he sometimes tends to be a bit impatient. He wants to step in and fix things, but some things can’t be easily fixed.

Alexis: What is it about Dan that makes Minda want to know more?

Yvonne: Nothing, really. He seems like a nice enough neighbor, but she’s had it with men at this point. Besides, isn’t he married to Becca? She doesn’t even want to accept his help with her washed-out driveway after a rainstorm. She’d rather let him and Becca live their lives down in the valley and keep to herself up on the hill.

Alexis: What is it about Minda that draws Dan in?

Yvonne: Her unusual name. He once knew another Minda many years ago and has fond memories of her.

Alexis: How does Minda realize that Jesus Christ is her First Love? Explain how that affects the story arc.

Yvonne: Though she’s been praying about her inability to forgive for a long time, she’s not making any progress. But you know, when we pray, God always hears, even when we don’t see an immediate result. The phrase first came up one Sunday when a pastor quoted Revelation 2:4, “thou hast left thy first love”, and all she could think was that it wasn’t she who’d left her first love; Leonard did. It just fueled her anger. Later on, she runs across the same passage during her personal Bible reading. This time, recent experiences cause her to realize that Jesus was her first love. Not Chris, and not Leonard. She’d come to Christ as a teenager, but after meeting Leonard, she elevated him above the Lord in her affections. Realizing that she left her First Love, but He’s forgiven her, fills her with such amazement and gratitude that she finds in Him the grace to forgive Leonard. This changes everything for her.

Alexis: What’s the moral of this story?

Yvonne: We can’t make ourselves be godly, no matter how hard we try. But when Jesus is truly the Lord of our lives, everything else falls into place.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Yvonne! Do you have any closing comments?

Yvonne: Thank you for allowing me to stop by! Your interview questions were great—definitely not the same old routine. Love it!

Author Bio:

Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world.

Usually, that means out of this world and into outer space, or to another planet, as in her acclaimed Gateway to Gannah series (Book 1, The Story in the Stars, was an ACFW Carol Award finalist in 2012).

In addition to this tiny house collection, she’s preparing to launch a new multi-phase speculative fiction adventure, The Four Lives of J. S. Freeman. As with the Gannah series, the story is set on a fictional planet, but the characters are human. Very human. You probably know some of them. 

Look for the first part of Book 1, Stillwaters, coming soon on ebook.

Book blurb for the Coming Home story collection: Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. Travel with them around the country in this big novella collection. 

Blurb for Yvonne's story, "First Love": Betrayed by her husband and desperate for healing, she can only move forward by going back home.

Buy Yvonne's book on Amazon

Connect with Yvonne:
Website ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Twitter

Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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  1. This sounds like such a great story! However, I can't imagine myself living in a tiny house! I am totally interested in finding out what happens with Minda. 😊

  2. I don't think I could handle a tiny house because I just need more room. a_stonecipher(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. Thank you both for your comments -- and I agree. I don't think I could live in a tiny house either. But it was fun writing about one!


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