Stephenia H. McGee is a wife, mother of two very active little boys, author, and lover of all things historical. Stephenia currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and sons where she writes stories of faith, redemption and life steeped in the South.
(I'm not going to try and pretend I didn't send these questions a couple weeks ago)
To start off, some questions about yourself:
Your bio says you have two little boys, who I’m sure keep you on your toes! What is something you enjoy doing in your undoubtedly rare moments of spare time?
I do, and they are very active! Whenever I find a spare moment, I like to sneak out onto the screened in back porch with a book and read while lounging on the outdoor couch. That’s my quiet and relax time. I also have a beautiful claw-foot tub that I like to soak in while reading.
That sounds lovely! I love reading outside every chance I get in the summer!
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Tenacious, creative, dreamer.
Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m highly introverted. Myers Briggs personality test said 89%. Maybe that’s why I spend so much time with the people on the page… =)
Haha! I can't say much, seeing as how I spend so much time with fictional people. :)
How do you juggle writing with two little ones demanding your attention?
It’s a lot easier now that I do this full time and they are in school. When they were younger, writing really only happened whenever they were down for a nap or playing with their daddy. Now that they are both in school, I am able to work from about 8 – 3 (except for the two hours a day I teach a fiction class at a local academy).
Wow! That's actually a lot more time than I expected you would have! So writing is basically a full time job for you!
When did you first discover a love for writing?
I wrote my first story from a first grade spelling list. It was from the perspective of a pig on the Mayflower.
That sounds like a great read! Maybe you'll have to rewrite it some day. ;)
What is your favorite genre to read?
That’s actually a really hard one. I read everything. The only genre that doesn’t grab me too much is science fiction. Obviously, I love historical fiction and read a lot of that. But I also read suspense, fantasy, contemporary, speculative, and anything else that snagged my attention.
I'm glad I'm not the only one with eclectic reading tastes! I do have to agree about Sci-Fi - maybe we're just not finding the right books?
Do you have any go-to authors that you just have to read their books?
I read everything by Tamara Leigh and Brandon Sanderson as soon as it hits the shelf.
I LOVE Tamara Leigh's books! I've not heard of Brandon Sanderson, though . . . another name to add to the list. :)
Being that we’re chocolate people around here, I have to ask - what is your favorite kind of chocolate/way to eat chocolate?
I adore chocolate covered strawberries. My boys know that for my birthday, Mother’s Day (or anything else I can convince them of) that Momma’s favorite treat is chocolate covered strawberries.
I bummed this picture from Google - don't they look yummy?! Now I want some! This is obviously a terrible question. ;)
Now to switch gears a little bit, some questions about your books/writing:
As someone who hasn’t had the pleasure of reading any of your books yet, (they’re in my ever-teetering TBR pile!) is there one you’d recommend I start with?
I have to be honest, In His Eyes is my favorite. It’s a stand-alone so it’s a good place to start if you are new to my books. But if you are looking for a series, then I’d go for The Whistle Walk, which has been my most popular.
This book is on my Kindle, waiting for me to find a few spare moments! I can't wait to dive in! Look for a review to come!
In His Eyes back cover copy:
Her heart sought shelter. Her soul found home.
Ella Whitaker rescues a newborn from the dying arms of a woman of ill repute and at long last she has someone to love. In need of a wet nurse, she arrives at Belmont Plantation just as Federal soldiers demand to speak to the owner. Thinking quickly, Ella masquerades as a Yankee officer's widow in order to have a roof over her head and a home for the child.
Major Westley Remington has dedicated his life to serving his country. The Civil War has divided his family, torn his thoughts of glory, and left him with a wound that may never heal. Westley returns home on medical furlough to settle his father's estate at Belmont Plantation, only to find his home is being run by a fiery and independent woman--one many believe to be his wife. Now he is faced with a conflict he's never been trained to fight, and one she has yet to conquer.
If you were just meeting me and I’d never heard of your books, what would you tell me about them?
My books are stories of faith, love, and life in the Deep South. They all currently take place in actual Mississippi plantation homes, all of which you could visit.
I'm intrigued! Oh, Work, why must you cut into my reading time?
Your books all appear to have a strong Civil War theme - what drew you to this particular time period?
This was a very tumultuous time in our history as a nation. There were (and still are) strong feelings associated with the war. It is during this time of hardship that a lot of women had to discover their inner strength, rely on God and sharpen their faith, and fight for love and the things they held dear. All of these elements made fertile ground for growing stories.
(I can't add anything to this)
I love the tagline for your new book, In His Eyes! “Her heart sought shelter. Her soul found home. Sometimes it’s the deception that leads to the truth.” It just makes me want to dive in and learn more! Can you tell me about the inspiration for this story?
I prayed over the book for several months before I began to write it. I felt like I had a pretty clear theme for the story. This book was going to look at who we are. Who are we in our own eyes? In the eyes of others? Who are we really to God? Ella emerged first with her personality and struggles, and the rest of the story came quickly after.
Okay, I love this! I personally don't know anyone who hasn't considered this question at one point or another in their lives! I can't wait to find out where these questions (and their answers) take your characters! Are we positive I have to go to work tomorrow?
Do you have inspiration photos for Ella and Westley? (if so, can I borrow them?)
I do have some for Westley. For Ella, I have something even better. I have behind the scenes pictures from the cover shoot with Taylor, the lovely model who plays Ella.
Okay, Westley is very nice to look at . . .(rummages for a fan) ;)
And I love the photos of you and "Ella"! That's so cool, that you got to meet her! And she makes wearing that dress look so effortless! :)
What do you hope readers with take away from In His Eyes?
I think we all struggle with feelings of inadequacy at times. Sometimes we forget who we are and whose we are, and it can lead to all manner of insecurities. In In His Eyes, Ella struggles with these things as well. Writing this book was a journey for me, one where God gently led me to discover some important truths along with Ella, and He encouraged me to never forget that no matter what else goes on in life—good or bad—my identity is always grounded in Him. It’s my hope that there is a reader out there somewhere that He has the same message for and that this story can help point them toward Him.
What is one of the most unique/odd questions someone has asked you about being an author or your books?
I once had a man at a big literary event tell me that he didn’t read “pablum” (a soft baby food) and asked me if I thought there was really a market for such stuff. Since he was referring to a group of female authors’ fiction (mostly romance, which we all know there is a rather large market for), none of us were really sure what to say to him.
Haha! Well, that was rather awkward . . . and he sounds like a bit of a snob! I hope he picks up one of your books one day and realizes how wrong he was!
What are some ways your readers can support and encourage you, both personally and as an author?
It really means a lot when readers will leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long, just a line or two will do, but it really makes a difference. One of the biggest highlights of my career, though, is when readers will email me and tell me that one of my books touched, encouraged, or ministered to them in some way. That’s such a huge blessing, and I can’t even express how much it means to me. Things like that really encourage me on the days when writing is hard. I also have a faithful readers team on Facebook that will pray for me and encourage me throughout the journey of each book, and I’m very thankful for them.
I want everyone to take note that Stephenia just gave us all permission to bombard our favorite authors with fan mail! Go forth and share your enjoyment of their stories with others through reviews and with them through emails, Facebook, or "snail mail"!
Is there a question you would’ve liked me to ask that I didn’t?
Nope. These are great questions! =) I would like to share a few links, though, if that’s ok.
Of course! I love links and their helpfulness! :)
For In His Eyes, here are the Amazon and Goodreads links:
And my website is www.StepheniaMcGee.com
Any closing comments?
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today! These were some great questions and I had a lot of fun.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my slew of questions, Stephenia! I'm so glad you were free for an interview and I can wait to start your books!