Friday, June 11, 2010

Interview with Author Deanne Blackhurst

When my first book, The Forgotten Warrior, came out, I remember sitting at a signing when Deanne Blackhurst introduced herself and asked if she could post about my book on her blog. What author doesn't want publicity? Of course, I said yes.

Later I learned that Deanne was the sister of best-selling author J. Scott Savage and that she was a writer, too.

AND now her book is in stores.

I ran into Deanne at the LDStorymakers Conference and this time it was my turn to ask if I could post about her new book on my blog. She graciously said yes.


Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved to read and writing often goes hand in hand with that. I use to entertain my kids in high school and college writing funny stories and using my friends as the main characters. It was fun trying to incorporate their mannerisms into fantastical adventures.

When I was a senior, one of my teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I told him a writer, he told me it was so difficult to get into that field that it was pretty much impossible, and I should look in another career direction. That sealed it; I would be a writer for sure now!

Tell us a little bit about how this book came about.

Over twenty-five years ago I served a mission in Asuncion, Paragauy. Before I left, I looked for a book that I could read that would give me a feel for what a mission might be like. I couldn’t really find anything.

After I got home and had been married for a few years, I decided to write a non-fiction book about sister missionaries. I interviewed thirty-five different return missionaries of all ages who’d served throughout the world. My husband and I worked on this book for several months, but it just didn’t seem to be the right format. So we filed the transcripts of these interviews away.

About ten years later I began working on Turning Hearts as a fictional account of a sister missionary. I used many of the stories I’d collected before. It took many years as I wrote and rewrote and then revised and rewrote, but eventually the book was finally finished.

Tell us about Turning Hearts.

The story begins with a young woman who has decided to cancel her wedding and go on a mission. For years she’s had a reoccurring dream about a family that only she can find and unite. With this goal in mind she enters the MTC. But mission is a lot harder than she anticipated, and like all of us, she has her share of personal weaknesses that she must overcome in the process.

Once she gets to the San Jose, California Mission we follow her through four companions, and her struggle with the joys and heartbreaks associated with mission life. At the end of the story, there is a twist that will completely surprise the reader.

I strove to recreate a realistic view of what it’s like to be a sister missionary. My goal was to give readers a true sense of the ups and downs associated with fulltime missionary service, and something of the Spirit that comes with it.

What inspires you and motivates you to write the very most?

I love everything about writing, from the first infatuation of a new story, to the final refining and polishing of a finished manuscript. I don’t like major revisions, but I’m willing to do them if necessary. And I love the idea that I can create a world of living breathing individuals, and then share that world with other people.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your writing? Do you have a writing mentor?
I’ve always loved reading Mary Stewart and Phyllis Whitney, and I set a goal to read every book Agatha Christie ever wrote. There are a lot of LDS writers that I admire and a lot of people who help me when I’m writing a book. My brother, J Scott Savage, and I often talk on the phone or meet for lunch and toss around plot ideas.

Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be?

I was born in Oakland, California and have lived in Northern California most of my growing up years. We moved to New Jersey while I was in high school. I went to BYU and then met and married my husband in San Jose, California. Since we’ve been married we’ve lived in Kentucky, Illinois and now in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Though I’ve always lived in suburban areas, I dream of living in the country on a piece of land big enough to have some animals and maybe a horse.

Bring us into your home and set the scene for us when you are writing. What does it look like? On the couch, laptop, desk? Music? Lighting, handwriting?

Haha. Okay, I’m sitting at the computer desk in my bedroom which is right off the kitchen. Currently my three sons are in the kitchen playing an on-line role playing game on three different computers and talking to each other at the same time about the monsters they are killing and the quests they are perusing. My fourteen year old daughter is playing with my two year old grandson here in the bedroom with me, while Elmo sings about the joy of pets, in the background. My daughter is texting to see how her baby is doing, and I’m sipping pink lemonade and trying to keep my train of thought. This is pretty typical of my writing environment.

Do you watch television or movies? If so, what are your favorites? Do they inspire your writing?

I watch way too much TV. I like mysteries like Castle, the Mentalist and Leverage. I like chick flicks, Disney movies and old black and white thrillers. I think everything a writer is exposed to influences their writing to some degree. My next book is a mystery so evidently there is a correlation.

How has being published changed your life?

I’m not sure that it has. I thought it would, you know like, well once I’m published then it won’t be as hard to write, or people will know who I am, or I’ll suddenly become organized and neat. It hasn’t happened.

But there is a feeling of legitimacy that does come with being published. I’m not sure that it should, because there are lots of great writers who still haven’t published anything yet, and there are published books that aren’t that good. For me, I think it opens doors to service opportunities. I love helping new writers learn the ropes and get up the nerve to try publishing their writing.

Thanks for the interview Deanne. You can learn more about Deanne at her website Dream Big.


  1. Great interview! Congrats Deanne on your book.

  2. Great interview. I always love reading about other writers.
    Thanks for adding another TBR to my list. :)

  3. Thank you for posting this interview. It's always so nice to read published author's thoughts because I am not too far behind in sharing the same goals and philosophies on writing! :)

  4. It's so interesting to learn about other writers. Thanks to you both.

  5. Elizabeth,
    It is nice to know others share the same struggles. I'm glad you liked the interview. :0)

  6. Carol,
    It is interesting to find the different paths other writers have taken to publication. Seems no two are alike. :0)

  7. Sounds like a great read! I like how you portray the ups and the downs. Great interview.

  8. T. Anne,
    Deanne has had some interesting experiences and lots of ups and downs. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. :)

  9. Lovely interview. Thanks for sharing, ladies and congrats to Deanne on her new book.

    I'm definitely getting this one for my SIL on her mission right now! Thanks!

  10. Great interview! Thanks for sharing. :)

  11. Jackee,
    I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Let me know how your SIL likes the book. :)

  12. You're welcome, Kimberly! Thanks for stopping by. :)



Related Posts with Thumbnails