Please, join us for Guest Male Authors Month! We had so many responses that we will have two Guest Male Authors each week—on Tuesday and Friday.
Title: The Stone in the Crick
Genre: Christian Romance
Synopsis: Rebecca Zook feels as stuck as a stone in her family farm’s crick. On the surface, the twenty-two-year-old Amish woman seems happy enough. A talented quilt-maker, Rebecca is engaged to Jacob, an honest, God-fearing man with a successful farm of his own. Jacob would make most young women proud to be his fiancée, but Rebecca remains restless and unsure. Whether she’s performing her chores or working at Mrs. Ansbacher’s quilt shop, Rebecca finds herself resisting the Amish way of life despite her love for her family and her culture. Even her quilting seems at odds with her heritage. Rebecca yearns to be an artist and knows self-expression is vital for true art, but the Amish feel any act that draws attention to the individual can lead to the sin of pride, so artistic expression is viewed with suspicion. Matters come to a head when Englisher Gregory Pinckney comes to Lancaster County with his horse, Bojangles. Despite their many differences, Rebecca and Gregory grow closer through their mutual love of horses. Rebecca has competition though, when Wanda, the beautiful daughter of local horse-farm owner Ivan Heminger, sets her sights on Gregory. Then Rebecca’s old boyfriend reappears, and her heart is torn in many directions. When an insurance scam almost kills Bojangles, events are set in motion that will test Rebecca’s faith and her family’s future. Is Gregory’s life in danger? Must the farm be sold? And does Rebecca dare follow her heart, or is she destined to remain a Stone in the Crick?
Author: Granville Wyche Burgess
CH: Granville is a playwright, lyricist, novelist, director, actor, producer, and teacher. Welcome to my blog, Granville.
CH: Please tell us, in one sentence, why we should read your book?
GWB: You should read my book if you like Christian-based romance (Amish), suspense, uniquely-memorable characters, and a plot with lots of surprises and complications.
CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?
GWB: I do not have a formula. Stories come to me slowly and in pieces. I try to figure out what the protagonist wants and what is keeping her or him from getting it, which is how I find conflict. Then I play “what if” games: what if X did Y, then what would happen? For instance, I had no idea when I started what was going to happen to Ivan and Gregory in the climax or how it was going to happen.
CH: Readers seem to love the setting, the plot, and the memorable characters. What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your unique writing?
GWB: I grew up in South Carolina. Southerners are wonderful storytellers. I think I am very strong on story/plot: in everything I write, be it plays, musicals, or novels, a lot happens. Also, because of my many years of writing plays, I think I write exceptionally strong dialogue that is centered in character and uses vivid, action-oriented language that is both fun to read and advances the plot. As for setting, I try as much as possible to put my characters in unique places, because the setting can enrich the action. For instance, in “Crick,” why have the love scene happen in a parlor or another expected place when it could happen on a horseback ride?!
CH: Since your wife is an Amish-Mennonite, did this part of your background have an influence on this book?
GWB: Every influence! I was inspired by sitting around listening to my wife’s mother and other relatives tell stories about their Amish life. I spent many weeks on the family’s beautiful farm in Lancaster County, PA, which frames the settings for the story. I shamelessly would scribble dialogue that I heard around the table, I walked among the cornstalks to get the feel of the land, I canoed down the crick, spending a good deal of time looking at the crick and spying there a beautifully-sculpted stone!
CH: Since you are the author of teleplays, plays, and musicals, what inspired you to write a book?
GWB: I loved the challenge of it. I had always told myself I could never write a novel, since I had never studied creative writing or any kind of narrative writing. I was afraid to try. The plotting didn’t scare me, nor the creation of characters, since I had done that in plays. But finding my voice, and—as I put it to myself—writing all those words! Happily, I found that when I had finally convinced myself to try to overcome my fear, by focusing on the characters and what they wanted and what they felt, the words came. I also found that, in contrast to plays and musicals, which have to be so economical with words and so focused on structure, I really enjoyed just letting lots of words pour onto the page.
CH: The book seemed full of suspense. Where did your ideas come from?
GWB: Once I knew Gregory had a horse and that it would be the means by which he and Rebecca came together, I knew I had to find some complication with his horse, some danger. That led me to the creation of Ivan and the whole subplot of the horse insurance scam and to putting not only the horse, Bojangles, in danger, but Gregory himself. I had such fun creating my villain, Ivan, and giving him all kinds of dastardly things to do. I started out to write simply an Amish romance, but by making it, essentially, a murder mystery, I brought a whole other level of complexity to the Amish romance genre. I am proud that my novel is not a “typical’ Amish romance.
CH: Why did you decide to write this book?
GWB: I wanted to honor and celebrate my wife’s Amish heritage. I admire the Amish greatly for their sense of community and their solid, Christian faith.
CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?
GWB: My message is for each of us to ‘play with all the talents God gave you,’ as I put it in my first play. Rebecca is an artist; yet, she is afraid to commit to being one. I hope readers will follow whatever passion God has put in their hearts and souls, and not let ‘the way things are always done’ frighten them away from pursuing their dream.
CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life?
GWB: The characters of Mabel and Hannah are based on real people, and I peppered my wife about how they would say certain things and how they would react with each other. The story of an Englisher falling in love with an Amish woman reflects my own situation with my wife, as well as the issue of whether her family would accept that she wanted to marry an Englisher. The horse insurance scam happened years ago in our hometown. The other situations, yes, were hard to create: lots of time lying on a couch with eyes closed (my favorite position for pure imagining!) to answer ‘what happens next?’ interrupted with quick jottings, then back to eyes closed.
CH: Who was your favorite character to write?
GWB: This is a hard one, because authors fall in love with all their characters, even—or maybe especially—the evil ones. If I had to choose, I would say Hannah.
CH: Which character was hardest to write?
GWB: Ivan! I know nothing about criminal activity or the criminal mind or mobsters or how they think and talk.
CH: With an Emmy nomination and other outstanding awards, as far as accolades or achievements, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?
GWB: My greatest achievement is my two daughters, Loring and Clara, both wonderful young women. As far as career goes, I am very proud that my second play, Dusky Sally, about Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, won an award for best new play in New York City, where, as you can imagine, the competition was fierce.
CH: You are such an accomplished individual, so what’s next for you as an author?
GWB: That’s easy: the sequel to Stone in the Crick. After all, at the end Gregory still doesn’t know who his birth mother is and Rebecca is still not committed to being an artist. It’s called Fork In The Crick, and will be followed by the third and final book, Home On The Crick.
I have also written a novel about Shoeless Joe Jackson, yet to be published, called The Last At-Bat of Shoeless Joe, and a musical about Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass which, fingers crossed, will make it to Broadway some day.
CH: Do you have a website?
GWB: Yes: www.granvilleburgess.com
CH: Where is your book sold?
GWB: Through my website and through Amazon.com
CH: Any closing remarks?
GWB: I want to let readers know that ALL—not just a percentage—of my author proceeds are being donated to the Lancaster Farmland Trust, a nonprofit engaged in preserving the beautiful Amish farmland in Lancaster County, PA. I believe deeply that the Amish, having created a kind of paradise of healthy, Christian-based living right here in America’s heartland, should not lose their farms to development. So if you buy my novel, know that you are contributing to preserving a special place in America and to supporting the continuation of the Amish lifestyle.
CH: Thank you Granville for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your book and writing experience with my audience.
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