Saturday, July 13, 2013

Snow Fence Road by Phyllis Edgerly Ring: Interview


Welcome! Thanks for stopping by and agreeing to answer a few questions.  I'm excited to find out a little about you.  What part does travel play in the writing of your books?


I’m a former Army brat who lived overseas, so writing and travel became inseparable for me. I travel a lot, have lived in Europe and Asia as well as the U.S., and though I may seem rootless, I find sense of place a vital aspect of story. I spent part of childhood in Germany, as my husband did, so it has a special place in our hearts. My current novel-in-progress immerses me in research there. I visit for weeks at a time, in every season.


Tell us about your current release.


Snow Fence Road is a love story about how hearts are healed. Now that even “sweet” romance can lean heavily toward physical attraction and arousal, this book might seem like a vegetarian at the barbecue in terms of how it’s categorized.  It aims at more emotional and spiritual themes because in the thousands of lives I’ve encountered, so many wounded -- hardened-off -- hearts seem determined to believe they’ll never love, or trust love, again. No amount of physical love or attraction heals that, but real love of heart and soul can, and does. The story began when I dreamt the accident experience that shatters its hero’s life as if I were a witness at the scene. I needed the intensity of such an emotional impact to shift into the commitment and focus it takes to write books after 25 years of freelancing for magazines and other publications. Snow Fence Road also explores the weight of secrets – why we keep them, when they drain our life away; when there isn’t even truly need to, though shame and guilt often won’t let us recognize that.


Tell us about your current novel-in-progress.


A story of three women in two generations, Ordinary Girl is set in wartime Nazi Germany as well as contemporary settings and has plunged me into a span of history when things got very scary and dangerous, very quickly, in ways people didn’t see coming.  Many who lived in Germany didn’t support what was happening but had no way to escape it. So they had to focus on finding a way to outlast it.  This is a theme still resonating loudly in our world, in lots of lives and situations. This women’s fiction also explores the effects of secrets, courageous action -- even when it might seem like the opposite -- and the importance of believing enough in the vision of goodness to find the will and fortitude to outlast injustice, and horror.


Where do you research for your books?


I happily imbibe huge amounts of reading, when books involve history, conduct interviews, since I always love learning from others, and visit the places that inspire settings in a story to spend time there writing and be close to the world taking shape on the page. The coastal Maine town in Snow Fence Road blends what is real and imagined, full of qualities I love about New-England, small communities, and those who make a life there.


What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?


That whole themes often come through to you long after the book is written, published, even. And that this happens through the responses and recognitions of readers. This is a real grace, for a writer, when readers reflect back to you such themes as: the feelings that pain convinces us must stay hidden will reveal hope in the light of love, and the compassion we come to feel for another can melt what has frozen around our own hearts.


How do you describe your writing style? Plotter or Pantser? Why?


Pantser, at least until both theme and characters establish themselves unmistakably. Then I have to remain willing enough to write whatever part of a story comes, regardless of what order it will eventually take. They arrive all over the map but if I trust the sequence in which they arrive, everything comes together, and best of all, what’s already captured down points the way to what else will bring the whole thing together. This isn’t everyone’s process, and I certainly wouldn’t try to suggest that it should be unless it’s what comes naturally. But it’s unquestionably my way and as time passes, I enjoy and appreciate it more and more. It holds elements of something that feels sort of mystical, I suppose, which means a lot to me as I feel myself being nudged and “helped.”


Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?


During publication of my first (nonfiction) book, I worked with an editor, Terry Cassiday, a remarkable writer’s companion for whom my book was one of the last projects before she died from cancer much too young. On one doubt-filled day, she offered me an eternal gift when she pointed out that everything we do is accomplished in increments, one at a time. Any undertaking seems overwhelming when we try to encompass it in awareness. “But really, what we’re usually doing is simply discovering the next piece, and the next, until it all comes together – and often, the pieces find you, if you let them,” she told me. The freedom in recognizing and accepting this, aligning my approach with it, has made all the difference, in every part of life.


Do you have a Website or Blog?


My blog, Leaf of the Tree, is at

A village on the coast of Maine holds painful secrets—
the kind only the miracle of new love can heal.

Tormented by her fianc√©’s death, Tess Johansen escapes to the only place that can still comfort her—the Spinnaker Inn in coastal Maine. Here in this place by the sea she feels close enough to the man she lost to numb the pain, if not the guilt.

For local craftsman, Evan Marston, the ramshackle inn serves only as a grim reminder of the accident that shattered his life and killed the woman he once loved. But while the Spinnaker’s walls may hold guilt and grief and suspicion, they might also house a bright new spark.

Drawn together by a love they never expected, Tess and Evan begin to unravel the mysteries of their pasts and question the miracle at work in their wounded hearts—until one fateful evening along a snow fence road. …


Phyllis Edgerly Ring left part of her heart in her childhood home of Germany, which she visits as often as she can. She loves writing, travel, and the noblest possibilities in the human heart. She is always curious to discover how history, culture, relationship, spirituality, and the natural world influence us and point the way for the human family on its shared journey.
She has worked as writer, editor, nurse, tour guide, program director at a Baha’i conference center, taught English to kindergartners in China, and served as instructor for the Long Ridge Writer’s Group. She has written for such publications as Christian Science Monitor, Ms., Writer’s Digest, and Yankee, worked as editor for several publications, and published two nonfiction books about creating balance between the spiritual and material requirements of life. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, happy to be near their grown children - some of the most thoughtful people they know.
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