As I schedule this post, most of the country is under quarantine. It may or may not be by the time you read this. Whether or not it is, writers are always writing and readers can always read. And thanks to the internet, we can do so safely from home! Regardless of where you are today, it’s my pleasure to introduce debut novelist Laurie Smith:
Hello, and welcome! What was your favorite picture book as a child?
I had a bright yellow, hardcover copy of a collection of Beatrix Potter stories. Though I loved Peter Rabbit and rooted for him to evade Mr. McGregor every single time I heard the story, I insisted my mom read “The Tale of Two Bad Mice.”
I think I was more captivated by the pictures than the actual story. While I found the dollhouse intriguing, I may have liked the tale so much because, as she read it to me and I later read it on my own, this rule-follower could live vicariously through the rebellious mice. And how can you not love a little mouse named Hunca Munca?
What was the first chapter book you read?
I was a huge fan of The Little House on the Prairie Series in grade school, and I still have all nine books. I remember telling my mom I loved the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder because I could see what she was describing.
What was your favorite chapter book?
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I read this book in fifth grade. The story about Billy, Old Dan, and Little Ann was the first book to ever make me cry. I curled up on the couch during the sad parts, attempting to hide my tears from my younger brother. Unfortunately I failed. He discovered teasing me wasn’t so funny when he read the book two years later.
If you could turn any of your books into a movie, which would you pick? Who would cast as the main characters?
Pockets of Promise is my debut novel. I’ve completed seven manuscripts, but they’re not yet available to readers. Though I would love to see the seventh manuscript on screen, the answer would be irrelevant at this time. That being said, as I was writing Mariah’s story, I created a secret Pinterest board and pinned images of the characters. I pictured the following actors to play the main characters as I wrote the story (listed in order here as they appear in the story):
Mariah Mast (heroine): Eliza Bennett
Lydia Byler (Mariah’s best girl friend): Kristen Stewart
Josiah Weaver (Mariah’s best guy friend and potential love interest in Holmes County): Logan Lerman
Luke Yoder (Mariah’s potential love interest in Pinecraft): Hayden Christensen
Dixie Yoder (Luke’s sister and Mariah’s friend): Emma Watson
What book are you most looking forward to reading next? Why?
I recently started reading Life List by Olivia Gentile. This is a book I discovered while researching canaries for Pockets of Purpose, Book #2 in The Pocket Quilt Series. Life List is a story about Phoebe Snetsinger, a driven woman who had aspired to be a scientist but instead got married in the 1950s and had children. At age 49, she was diagnosed with cancer and given less than a year to live. She traveled the globe and became the first person to see eight thousand species of birds.
In the introduction, Gentile hooked me when she wrote: “This book is about Phoebe, and about birding…But it’s also about the larger questions Phoebe’s life raises. What happens when society pushes you into a role you aren’t meant to play? If you’re told that you only have a short time to live, how should you spend it? Where is the line between dedication and obsession, and when does obsession cross the line into pathology? What does it mean, ultimately, to live, and die, well?”
Who’s your favorite author? Why?
As a reader, books written by Jeanette Walls and Kristin Hannah continue to capture my interest.
As a writer, I have crossed paths with many incredibly talented. I haven’t met anyone yet who has not welcomed my questions and encouraged my progress. As I’ve worked to bring Pockets of Promise to fruition, Vannetta Chapman, Amy Clipston, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Kathleen Fuller, Shelley Shepard Gray, and Kelly Irvin have offered support and wisdom, and I’m truly grateful to God for connecting me with these women.
What’s your favorite genre? Why?
I don’t have a favorite genre. I seem to gravitate toward stories with themes of conviction, injustice, redemption, and forgiveness. I like to read across genres about characters overcoming the odds, the survival and success of the underdog.
Pockets of Promise is Book #1 in The Pocket Quilt Series. A young Amish woman—torn between two worlds and two men—travels to the Amish snowbird community of Pinecraft. It is there where she finds wisdom and guidance through letters tucked in the pockets of a special quilt.
While writing Amish fiction and contemporary romance, Laurie Stroup Smith strives to connect readers with friends and family through her stories while inspiring her audience to serve others. She was named a Finalist in the 2017 ACFW First Impressions Contest and a Semi-Finalist in the 2018 and 2019 ACFW Genesis Contests. She has been interviewed by Loveland Magazine.
Before writing, Laurie earned a bachelor’s degree in both athletic training and exercise science and later obtained her master’s degree in health promotion and education. She now writes full time and lives with her husband and their two daughters in Cincinnati. For a week or two each summer, they enjoy discovering new adventures along the western coast of Michigan. Connect with Laurie on her website (lauriestroupsmith.com), Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.