Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Nancy Flinchbaugh about her career, what inspires her, and writing her latest book, Revelation In The Roots: Emerald Isle.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Hi, I’m Nancy Flinchbaugh, a creative Christian contemplative who writes as a spiritual practice. My goals in life and in my writing are to serve God and people, while working for peace, justice and the Earth. I enjoy playing my violin, dancing and photography, gardening as well as participating in my church and an urban farming project. I recently retired from my career as a municipal government fair housing and mediation coordinator, also coordinating intercultural programming. My husband, Steve Schlather, and I have two grown sons, Luke and Jacob, who are software engineers on the west coast. We are empty nesting in Springfield, Ohio with our cat, Emily Rose.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
15 years ago.
When did you take a step to start writing?
15 years ago, I joined a writer’s group and began to write a little every morning before work.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Revelation In The Roots: Emerald Isle?
I’m intrigued with Ireland and Celtic spirituality. My husband and I visited Ireland for our 30th anniversary and I wanted to write about our experiences in some way. I’m concerned about the racial and political divisions in the United States, and I thought perhaps Ireland, also a country divided, could be a place to start. On a second trip to Ireland, I attended a conference at Corrymeela, a peace center in Northern Ireland. My goal was to create a fun novel to encourage people to think of how they can build bridges across racial and political divisions
What were your biggest challenges with writing Revelation In The Roots: Emerald Isle?
The initial writing is fun, but the rewriting and editing were the most challenging parts. Also, writing from different political perspectives was challenging. I had some friends read it over to try to be true to the differing perspectives.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
- My first protagonist is Abigail Wesley, a member of the MAMs Book Club, who have been featured in my other novels. I let one of the MAMs take the lead in each book. Abigail’s still dealing with being a widow and she’s also the main coordinator for the trip to Ireland in the book. Abigail is a progressive environmentalist who wants the US government to address climate change. Like her, I want to see us bridge our political and racial differences and solve the biggest problem in front of us now in our global community.
- My second protagonist is Reagan Smith, a white Republican nurse from a wealthy political family who got hooked on opioids after a car accident and began stealing them from the hospital supply. She was sent to a rehab facility, then to the MAMs halfway house (the FARM). She represents the drug crisis in our country which is destroying lives, and she also represents the Republican political party. I wanted to include the recovery movement, and to show how it plays out differently for white vs. minority members of our society, and also to have the political party conflict in the book.
- The third protagonist is Welby Jones, an African-American truck driver from the South who goes to prison for 5 years for drug possession from a search on a traffic stop. Out of prison, he enters the MAMs halfway house (Sun Power House). I wanted to show how drug convictions come down for African-Americans, as well as have a character on the other side of the political spectrum
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
In this book, the Reagan and Welby are their own antagonists, as they try to get back on the feet after drug addiction. But they are also antagonists with each other, as they fight a growing attraction with a person who represents someone diabolically opposed to their own political views.
In the story, they discover that they both have both Irish and African DNA. We have so much division in the United States along race and political lines. I wanted to suggest in this story that we have more in common than we think, and that there can be bridges, even love across our differences.
Abigail also, is dealing with her grief, so her antagonist is also within herself, as well she struggles to find love again, without her husband.
What is the inciting incident of Revelation In The Roots: Emerald Isle?
The book begins as the MAMs Book Club do a series of reading books on genealogy, having their own DNA tested and then test the members of their group home. One of the MAMs gets the idea of writing a grant to take their group home members on a tour of their root DNA, Ireland, the American South Sea Islands, and West Africa. This first book is their trip to Ireland.
What is the main conflict of Revelation In The Roots: Emerald Isle?
The main conflict is between Reagan and Welby. They fight the attraction between them, given their differences racially and politically. There are also conflicts between the Republicans and Democrats on the trip, and among the group home people within themselves in recovery. Abigail also struggles with taking a new step into love with the tour guide, Seamus.
Did you plot Revelation In The Roots: Emerald Isle in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I fly by the seat of my pants when writing novels, letting the story and characters unfold as they wish. My 30th anniversary trip to Ireland helped guide me in writing with the tourist places we visited. Then I decided I needed to go back to a peace center in Northern Ireland to provide a conclusion for the book, so I attended a reconciliation conference at Corrymeela, a Christian Peace Center in Northern Ireland. The story wrapped itself around the places and experiences I encountered on my two trips to Ireland but also took on a life of its own.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Revelation In The Roots: Emerald Isle need?
I have a writing coach, Kathie Giorgio, the director of AllWriters’ Workshop and Workplace with whom I meet three time sa month. She provides grammatical edits and also coaches me on character and plot development. My new book is being published by All Things That Matter Press, where owner Deb Harris, has been a hands-on editor, doing substantial edits in the publishing process.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
I recommend committing to a time every day to write and getting some support. I myself write first thing every morning after meditation and journaling. Early on, I belonged to a writer’s group, who helped me get my first book written. After my first book, I hired a writing coach. That requires great discipline, because I have to write 20 pages a week. But it also has enabled me to get four books published in the last ten years. And I have another completed that I haven’t submitted yet, and a sixth underway. If you can afford a coach, I think it’s a great way to go.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’ve written a book, Mariah of the Wind, a book about a young woman descended from Native Americans. She is deeply connected with the Earth. She meets Max, a wind scientist, who lost his wife and daughter in an accident. It’s a love story set in the pandemic, with an eye toward efforts to address climate change.
I’m in the process of writing a memoir about my life and also Revelation on the Sea Island, another book in the MAMs Book Club series, in the which the MAMs and their group home residents explore their roots on the Sea Islands and in the American South.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
My writing life has added so much depth to my life. As a spiritual practice, it offers a way to listen to God and create meaningful content. I am proud of my books and my perseverance. My research takes me places I’ve never been and helps me explore many experiences and cultures. I’ve written about things that are very important to me which include topics of peace, social justice, the Earth and contemplative spirituality.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Website: Spiritualseedlings.com: http://www.spiritualseedlings.com/
Website: Nancyflinchbaugh.com: https://www.nancyflinchbaugh.com/
Facebook: Nancy Flinchbaugh Author : https://www.facebook.com/spiritualseedlings
YouTube Channel: Nancy Flinchbaugh https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3toNejszBTb5QeLfIJh15A
Twitter Nancy Flinchbaugh@SpiritSeedsNanc: https://twitter.com/SpiritSeedsNanc
LinkedIn Nancy Flinchbaugh: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nancy-flinchbaugh-788126b/
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