Woof! Let me introduce you to a very special guest... her name is Susie and she's the proud owner of Christian author Maureen Lang. Maureen's latest novel, Look to the East (Book I of her Great War series) , has just been released by Tyndale House last month. Visit Maureen and learn all about her work and her love for Belgian waffles (I don't blame her one bit!) at www.maureenlang.com and www.maureenlang.blogspot.com. She can also be found on Facebook!
In Susie's own words...
I was born in Michigan, about five hours away from my home with Maureen. After I was born, I remember hearing the nice lady who took care of me tell Maureen on the phone that all her puppies have great dispositions - whatever that means. She had her eye on me and one of my sister's when she told Maureen about me. So one day Maureen's son came to visit me, and my sister, too. He could only choose one of us, although I do remember him asking his dad if he could take both of us, and him getting no for an answer - but it was reluctant no, let me tell you.
My sister kept wanting to chew on their shoes, so I think that's why they chose me, because I've always been so well behaved. I'm not bragging, it's just a fact. Maureen tells me all the time what a GOOD DOG I am, so it has to be true.
So they picked me from the bunch and I came home. And guess what? My sister lives next door, and my brother across the street. We get together sometimes to run around and tire each other out.
I'd love to tell you a little about Maureen. First of all, she loves God and dogs. That's important. Next, she loves her family: three kids, her husband. And me, of course! She pretty much takes care of all of us as far as eating goes, and cleaning up after us. She's also always been a writer. And I don't mean just since I came to live with her! She tells people all the time about how she's always liked to write and tell stories. In the past few years she's had several books published: The Oak Leaves is a big favorite with people, and her newest book is called Look to the East. She loves the First World War setting, and this is the first of three books set back then. I know she loves all her book covers, but so far there aren't any dogs on them, which is a drawback I'm working on with her...
That's quite an intro, Suzie. Thanks! So tell us, what's it really like living with Maureen?
I don’t know how it is for some of my four-legged-counterparts, but living here is really the life! Maureen likes to get up early (I’m sure the jingly tags around my neck don’t wake her when I answer a scratch at 5 a.m., she just naturally wakes up around then anyway). I very gently place just my nose right next to her on the edge of the bed, to make sure she knows it’s time for our walk. The creative mind works best in the morning, you know! She truly loves our walks; she listens to music that I can only barely hear from her headphones. Sometimes we come across other dogs in the neighborhood and she doesn’t like to stop, even though I would certainly be a little more friendly than that, but still, it’s nice to get home quickly because I know breakfast awaits!
But of course! Breakfast is the best thing about mornings. What do you do after breakfast while Maureen writes her novels?
There are four kinds of floors on the main level of our house; plush carpeting, flat carpeting (I think she calls it Berber), tile and wood. She works above the wood floor, and that’s my second choice. Sometimes I lay right behind her chair while she sits at the computer. But most of the time I’m right outside the double doors to her study. That’s where the floor is tile, and I’m telling you, winter or summer, that’s the best place to be. I can hear everything from any where in the house, look out the windows beside the front door (I like to see who might be passing by, and greet them with a little woof), all the while enjoying that cool tile. There’s just nothing better—well, except on a really warm day, cool air floats up to comfort me from one of those slats in the floor. In the winter it’s warm air, but even that is a comfort to me.
I myself like the hardwood floor. Keeps my back in good shape. Between you and me, does Maureen cry when she reaches 'The End'?
My Maureen just isn’t a crier. More often, she laughs. She doesn’t write funny books, mind you, but she just gets so tickled when stories start writing themselves that she sits there and smiles, sometimes laughs right out loud. I like that. I’m a wiggler myself, which is the canine laugh. It’s more than a tail wag, it’s a wiggle.
My mom gets scared when she writes her horror. She's like a kid. Thank God she has me to protect her. So, tell us about your author's latest novel, Look to the East, and where it's available!
Her new book is the first of a three book series, which means she’s too busy to take me on more than one walk per day. Sigh. However, it also means she’s happy, because she’s always happiest when she’s working (everyone in the house knows that!). This first book in the Great War Series is called Look To The East, and it’s about a girl who lives in a little village in Northern France. It starts in 1914, when everyone in France is looking to the east to see what Germany will do next. Just as the First World War starts, there is a man who gets caught behind the fighting lines, and the girl in France helps him. They fall in love, of course, but I know there are a lot of dangerous things that happen because one day Maureen was laughing right out loud, saying to me: “If I didn’t know better, Sooz, I’d think every last character in this book was doomed, absolutely doomed! But don’t worry, there’s a happy ending ahead.”
I never worry about happy endings; we’re all living one here.
Hmm... Being the tough macho golden that I am, I like tough war stories, not softy love tales... How influential were you in the plot's development?
I like to think I’m the inspiration behind every book Maureen writes. In all modestly, really, where would she be if she didn’t have my unconditional love, my constant faith in her? Sure, her husband and kids give her some of that, but to tell you the truth nobody in the whole world looks at her the way I do. And without my absolute adoration, I just don’t think she’d have the confidence to write a word, not a single word.
On Maureen's website there's a photo of her eating waffles in Brussels. What's that about and why didn't she stop over and pay me a visit? I could have used those waffles (even though everybody at home insists I'm on a diet)!
Last year, Maureen took a research trip to Northern France (the setting for Book One, Look To The East) and Brussels, Belgium (the setting for Book Two, as yet untitled). She came home with lots of pictures, all excited about getting the “feel” for the new books. I’m sure she would have loved stopping by to see a fellow book lover, but Brussels is so far away from home I’m glad she came back as soon as she could. I was left behind, you know. And I’ve heard Europe is so dog-friendly, too! I would have like to go, because those Belgian waffles really DO look scrumptious!
Is Maureen as stable as she looks in that photo?
If you don’t count how she worries about things, I’d say Maureen is pretty stable. She knows she shouldn’t worry (about her books, her kids, the future) because our Creator is right there in the past, present and future, and has it all under control. But still, she frets. More so when she’s not working, so we’re all happier when she’s deeply involved in one of her stories.
Tell us something about Maureen nobody knows. Come on--you're here to spill the beans!
Okay, I’ll tell you something nobody else knows, except me. I hesitate to say anything because it’s not a happy secret, but it might give you a clue about why Maureen’s a writer. Remember I said Maureen just isn’t a crier? Well, that’s not always true. Sometimes when we take a walk and there are kids playing football, or riding by on bikes, or if we’re driving and we happen to pass the local school with a bunch of kids out on the playground, I see some tears on her cheeks. Not every time, of course, but sometimes when there are kids the same age as our Grant. He has Fragile X Syndrome, you see, which means his brain doesn’t work like everybody else’s. He can’t talk or run like other kids. But I have a special place in my heart for him because not only does he love to play “Go Fetch” but he’s the best one in the house for slipping food my way. (I actually don’t think Maureen knows just how many goodies Grant sends my way, so I won’t tell her about that.) Anyway, we all love Grant but sometimes when Maureen sees kids who are Grant’s age who can do a lot of the things Grant can’t do — like going to a regular school, or playing football, or riding a bike with friends — well, Maureen cries. I think she wants all that for him, even though both of us know when we all get to Heaven he’ll be able to do that and more. Sometimes it must seem like a long wait until then, I guess.
And that’s why I think Maureen is a writer. Because even though she might not show all of the emotions she feels to anyone else but me, she feels them all right and likes to write about them.
Thanks for sharing that, Susie (sniff, sniff). Did I say I'm a tough macho golden?