The Forgiving Kind
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Meet Donna Everhart!

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message 1: by Rebecca, Champagne Widows, 2021 (last edited Apr 15, 2019 05:28AM) (new)

Rebecca Rosenberg (rebeccarosenberg) | 270 comments Mod

Rebecca: To start, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your novel?

Donna: I was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and grew up there. For anyone reading my work, it will soon become obvious I was born in the South because I love using the natural dialects of my region. It might also come as no surprise I rarely go anywhere without a book, like most of those out here, I’m sure. I am married, have two children (now adults) and two grandchildren. I’m a member of the North Carolina Writer’s Network, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. My most recent novel is THE FORGIVING KIND, set in Jones County, NC on a 300 acre cotton farm, in 1955. My books so far have been coming-of-age stories. In this one, 12 year old Sonny Creech, and her family must come to terms with the loss of her father (not a spoiler!) and how to keep their cotton farm going. Sonny Creech has the gift of divining water, (a dowser) like her father, an ability that fits her love of the land. She also has a best friend who is her age, Daniel, and he is different from other boys. When Frank Fowler, the rich reclusive neighbor, offers to help out by financing that year’s crop, he insinuates himself into their lives, and his influence on Sonny, her family and Daniel result in tragic events. Be forewarned, my stories are gritty and might be a tough read for some, but they’re also filled with love and hope.

Rebecca: How were you inspired to write THE FORGIVING KIND?

Donna: I saw a movie a long time ago with Sally Field in it – from back in 1984 I think, called Places Of The Heart. I remember how much I loved the courage and determination of Sally Field’s character, as well as THE HARD WORK that was cotton farming. If anyone out here has done it, I stand in awe. Inspiration also came from simply knowing how important cotton was to many southern families, a cash crop that’s a pretty risky venture if you think about it. I love to put my characters into these hard settings, meaning their natural way of living is already difficult. They’re already dealing with various challenges, and with farming, it’s also such a natural occupation for this region. The South has always been associated with agriculture and it still is, although less and less farms are operating than before.

Rebecca: Can you give us insight into your writing process?

Donna: Writing under contract is sometimes nerve-wracking, but the actual truth is, I work better toward a deadline. My goal is to try and get a thousand words a day of new material. Some days it’s five hundred words, some days it’s two thousand, but as long as I get something down, I’m happy. I also edit as I go along. What that means is by the time I finish a book, I have a fairly clean draft. (key word – fairly) I then go back over it and eliminate filter words. Then as I read through it, I’m looking for words I’ve used too much. I try and find better ways to word sentences. This takes multiple passes before I send it off to my agent.

Rebecca: What type of research did you do for writing THE FORGIVING KIND?

Donna: I sometimes land on thesis papers relating to a particular topic on the internet and I Google a lot. Occasionally, I also like to talk to people, but those conversations sort of “happen,” without any intention. For this book, I emailed with a lady who runs a blog on cotton farming – which was really nice. She answered some specific questions that I had, and on another blog I found first-hand accounts of cotton farming back in the timeframe I was writing – which was like striking gold. If you’re lucky and find something like this, it’s the best source of information. Sometimes people are simply doing it as an online diary, but it’s handy for the more realistic information sometimes needed to make a story authentic and accurate.

Rebecca: Did you find anything in your research that was particularly fascinating or that helped shaped the novel?

Donna: The most important one that shaped not only the story, but my character, Sonny, was divining water. I felt it fit her and her love of the land perfectly – as it rooted her physically to it. I have never done this before, but those who have, talk about how know by the way the rod feels, and then BAM! Down it goes. Another huge part of the research was cotton farming I mentioned above, which has such a storied history, not only in our state, but in the South in general. There is something evocative of the South when cotton farming is mentioned. Also, because the book is set in 1955, one year after Brown vs the Board of Education, it was interesting to find out how long it took states to integrate schools – which has nothing to do with this story but was a tidbit I landed on. When I begin to research a particular timeframe, there are always pieces of information I happen upon, that I might vaguely remember, or that I didn’t know about. One I remember others talking about, but that we didn’t have, was a party line. Households were assigned a certain number of rings (like two long and one short) indicating the call is intended for your family. Some of what shaped this novel are my own experiences, remembrances I had (like the food in our school cafeteria!) that I recollect quite vividly.

Rebecca: What was your favorite scene to write?

Donna: The one with Sonny and Daniel at the water tower. I could relate to Sonny and what she was experiencing, but won’t say what it was here – even though it would be only a very tiny spoiler! At the same time, something seemingly miraculous happens at the water tower, and she also comes to terms with something about Daniel.

Rebecca: What was the most difficult scene to write?

Donna: The one at the barn with Sonny, Daniel, Mr. Fowler, her brothers, and Mr. Fowler’s “friends.” I would like to recommend readers to take the time to read my author’s note after finishing this book.

Rebecca: What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Donna: Oh, lots of things! Reading is at the top of the list, of course! I’m like everyone else out here, I’m sure, in that I have more books than I have time. Also, I’ve always been a big runner, but have had to lay off due to some health issues. I hope to get back to it soon. I have a bike and have enjoyed that. I like to do a little traveling in our camper, although I’m on the road so much with events, etc., just staying at home is nice too. I bake, watch movies, work out in the yard, feed birds (and inadvertently the squirrels!), take pictures, and on and on. I am never bored, there’s always something to do.

Thank you for hosting this week on AMERICAN HISTORICAL NOVELS!

message 2: by Kari (new)

Kari (karibovee) | 98 comments Mod
Hi Donna!

Your book sounds like a great read. I love reading books that take place in the South. I lived in Mississippi for about four years and found the culture, landscape, and people fascinating!

message 3: by Donna (new)

Donna Everhart (donnaeverhart) Kari wrote: "Hi Donna!

Your book sounds like a great read. I love reading books that take place in the South. I lived in Mississippi for about four years and found the culture, landscape, and people fascinating!"

Hi Kari! I write nothing but Southern fiction, and if you lived in MS, then I think you'd like my stories. I love it here in NC - been here all my life, (as you read above) and so my stories definitely speak to that very thing, the culture, landscape and people!

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