Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Story Time with Marlo Schalesky - Interview on SHADES OF MORNING

Quick note--I'm a guest today at Strong Women, Brave Stories Blog if you want to swing by and get a peek at my heroine.

Now, the real deal--a special Story Time Tuesday treat for y'all today--a chat with Marlo Schalesky about her book Shades of Morning that releases TODAY!!

Now, I have not yet read this book, but I read Beyond the Night last year and so fell in love with Marlo's writing, so I cannot WAIT to get ahold of this new one!

I'm not running a giveaway with this one, but I don't need to--Marlo has a fantabulous sweepstakes up right now on her website that you HAVE to check out!


About Marlo

Marlo Schalesky is the award winning author of several books, including Shades of Morning, which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist to create a new type of novel that she hopes will impact readers at their deepest levels. Marlo’s other books include the Christy Award winning novel Beyond the Night, and its sequel If Tomorrow Never Comes, as well as her only nonfiction Empty Womb, Aching Heart- Hope and Help for Those Struggling with Infertility.

She’s had nearly 700 articles published in various Christian magazines, including Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, and Decision. She has contributed to Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, Tyndale’s Book of Devotions for Kids #3, and Discipleship Journal’s 101 Small Group Ideas. She is a speaker and a regular columnist for Power for Living.

Marlo is also a California native, a small business owner, and a graduate of Stanford University (with a B.S. in Chemistry!). In addition, she has earned her Masters in Theology, with an emphasis in Biblical Studies, from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Marlo lives with her husband and five young children in a log home in Central California.
When she’s not changing diapers, doing laundry, or writing books, Marlo loves sipping Starbucks white mochas, reading the New Testament in Greek, and talking about finding the deep places of God in the disappointments of life.

Roseanna piping in to say, "The New Testament in Greek! We are obviously kindred spirits, Marlo!!"


About Shades of Morning

Marnie Wittier has life just where she wants it. Quiet. Peaceful. No drama. A long way away from her past. In the privacy of her home, she fills a box with slips of paper, scribbled with her regrets, sins, and sorrows. But that’s nobody else’s business. Her bookstore/coffee shop patrons, her employees, her friends from church - they all think she’s the very model of compassion and kindness.

Then Marnie’s past creeps into her present when her estranged sister dies and makes Marnie guardian of her fifteen-year-old son—a boy Marnie never knew existed. And when Emmit arrives, she discovers he has Down syndrome - and that she’s woefully unprepared to care for him. What’s worse, she has to deal with Taylor Cole, her sister’s attorney, a man Marnie once loved—and abandoned.

As Emmit—and Taylor—work their way into her heart, Marnie begins to heal. But when pieces of her dismal past surface again, she must at last face the scripts of paper in her box, all the regrets and sorrows. Can she do it? Or will she run again?


What's your latest book?

Shades of Morning releases today from Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishing Group.

Oh, cool--we get you on your release date! That's exciting!! What's your favorite part of the story?

I loved writing the scenes with Emmit, the 15-year-old Down syndrome boy. He was so much fun with his frustrating stubbornness, simple worldview, and honest, uncomplicated love. It was a fun, funny, and profound to watch him drive Marnie crazy and yet heal her broken heart. I think readers will fall in love with Emmit, just like I did!

How could we not?? What inspired this story?

This story was a gift from Andy on one ordinary Sunday morning at church. I went not expecting to see anything different, or special, or extraordinary. But God had other plans. And so did Andy. In the middle of the third song, a noise came from the far side of the church. A loud noise. Strange, awkward, and off-key. Then, it grew louder. I furrowed my brow. Was that someone singing . . . badly?

I stood on tiptoes and peeked toward the sound. And there was Andy. His arms were raised, his eyes closed. And he was singing to his God for all he was worth. Andy, in his middle teens, with blond hair, thick glasses, and small ears. Andy, with Down syndrome and a grin on his face big enough for the angels to see. Andy, shout-singing with all his might through that radiant smile.

That moment changed me. It showed me that beauty is found in unexpected places, and that God’s gifts in our lives are often wrapped in awkward, off-key packages. I witnessed something beautiful, something wondrous that day, and it made me see that so often the hard things in life, the things we want to hide away, to forget, to cover up, can be transformed into things of beauty in the hands of God.

And that’s how Shades of Morning was born – in those moments while Andy worshipped and I was left breathless by the wonder of it.

You're leaving me breathless with amazement at God and His workings already. What do you hope your readers will get out of the story?

I hope reader will see that God’s gifts in our lives don’t always come in pretty packages. Often they come wrapped in ways we don’t like and don’t want. But God uses these unwanted gifts to free us from sin, regret, and to transform our lives and make us new.

A big "wow" right there. Very true, and something I've read in a few different sources just today. Hmm, maybe He's trying to tell me something? LOL. Is there a theme to this book?

Always! Because there are things in every person’s life that don’t go as expected or hoped. We all have regrets. We all have those moments when the very thing we’ve been hoping for becomes something difficult and unexpected.

So, I wrote Shades of Morning to explore those moments in life – when hopes are dashed, expectations crushed, and everything seems as it should not be. The story delves into those experiences to discover how the very things that we regret, that we dread, can be transformed into the things that bring exquisite beauty and wonder into our lives.

In the very places where our hopes are dashed, we can find hope. Where our expectations are crushed, we can learn to expect insights and wonder. Where we first see ugliness, we can find beauty unlike anything we’ve ever encountered before.

A gorgeous theme! Now--when I read Beyond the Night last year, you totally blew me away with that last chapter. It made me cry, which is an achievement few books can boast, and that rocketed you to the top of my Favorites list. But inquiring minds want to know--why do you write stories with surprise endings?

My hope is that readers will catch their breath in wonder and say, “Ooo, that’s cool. That changes everything!” Personally, I love stories with surprise twists that tie into the overall theme of the book. So, for my books, my goal is to have a twist that reveals a deeper meaning in the story. I want to surprise and delight readers not just with something they didn’t see coming, but with something that allows them to see and experience the characters’ journeys in deep ways.

In the end, my real prayer is that when readers catch their breath at the ending, they’ll also catch their breath in wonder at the mystery and beauty of our vivid God. I hope the vision of Him will take their breath away. At its heart, that’s what the surprise twist is all about. That’s what Shades of Morning is all about.

You pulled it off perfectly before! I can't wait to read this one and see what you do with it. (Picture Roseanna rubbing her hands together.) What lessons have you learned through the publication process that you wouldn't have guessed as a pre-published writer?

This is going to sound strange, but the most important lesson for me was learning to finally let go of the desire to be published. God had to pry my fingers off my dream born when I was 13-years-old, but when He did, everything changed. I had bought in to mindset of “pursue our dreams, reach for the sky, dream big, nothing’s impossible if only you try hard enough.” It sounded good. But for me, that philosophy was deadly. I needed to completely surrender my dreams in order to live God’s. It was like ripping out part of my soul. But it was worth it. Now, when I write, it can be an act of worship and obedience, instead of something that’s all about me and my dreams. And I tell you, that’s made all the difference in my writing, and has became a good part of the theme in all my books.

I've heard that from several sources--it's all about making His dreams our dreams . . . then finding how He leads us to places we couldn't have imagined. Are there any people (family, writing group, editors) who you rely on when writing?

Absolutely! My husband has been wonderful with support and encouragement. He’s my first reader for everything I write, watches the kids regularly to give me writing time, and continues to believe that God has asked me to do this writing thing, even when everything doesn’t go as I hope.

Other than that, my editor, Julee Schwarzburg, has been wonderful. And my agent, Steve Laube, has been a great source of encouragement and support as well.

In addition, I relied heavily on my friends, Diane and Rick Pate, the parents of Andy, the Down syndrome boy on whom I based my character, Emmit. They were a wonderful source of details, funny stories, anecdotes, and everything I needed to bring Emmit to life.

Sounds like you have an awesome support system! Aside from writing, what takes up most of your time?

I have five children – ages 1, 4, 4, 7, and 10. Need I say more?

No--that says it all. =) Mine are 2 and 4, and they keep me plenty busy. Good thing your hubby watches them to give you writing time! Finally, tell us why you love Christian fiction.

I love Christian fiction because I love a powerfully told story with deep meaning. I love characters who show what truth looks like through lives lived and struggles fought. I love to see through another’s eyes, feel what they feel, experience life in a new and different way. I think we all do. That’s why movies and TV dramas are so popular. Fiction is great entertainment.

But it’s also more. It has the power to change lives, make a difference. By seeing through the eyes of another, by living vicariously through the lives of characters, by encountering the true God even in a made-up plot, I am touched, challenged, changed. I see God in new ways. My vision is broadened, deepened. And I discover truth with new clarity. Fiction lays bare the imperfections of my soul, stirs my doubts and questions, and drives me into the throne room of God.


Thanks so much for visiting, Marlo! It's a true honor and pleasure.

Readers, be sure and check out Marlo's site at www.marloschalesky.com. You can purchase Shades of Morning at Amazon or CrossPurposes.


  1. What a great interview! Just reading it made me feel spiritually challenged. Can't wait to get my hands on one of Marlo's books!

  2. Thank you so much for this interview. What fantastic answers! Can't wait to read it:)

  3. Oh Marlo, I love your writing. I must MUST grab this one soon.
    Thanks for hosting, Roseanna!

  4. I am so excited to read this! As the mom who is blessed enough to parent a child with Down syndrome, I am so happy to read some Christian fiction that includes one of these incredible people!

  5. This was a super interview. I've been hearing so much about Marlo's book. I love Andy praising the Lord. Only if we all were like that. Not caring what anyone else, but God thought. Marlo I have 7 children so I know how busy you are. Thanks to both Marlo and Roseanna.
    Trinity Rose