by Virginia Smith
Dimensions: 5.25 x 8 inches
Number of Pages: 288
Publication Date: Mar 08
Interview with Virginia Smith
Firstly thanks for agreeing to this interview
Thank you for having me!
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I'm a Kentucky girl - born and raised in the Bluegrass State, so I guess it's natural I would make Mayla a Kentucky girl, too. My husband and I live in central Kentucky part of the year, and out west in Salt Lake City the rest of the year. My kids are grown and on their own, so it's just the two of us. We love to scuba dive, and go skiing, and my husband is a motorcycle enthusiast. (I enjoy riding too, but I'm strictly a passenger.) Besides writing, I also sing and speak in churches and at luncheons and retreats. And I love to read, so when I�m not actively writing a book of my own, I do a lot of reading. I read fiction almost exclusively.
2. How did you know you wanted to be a writer, have you always had the desire or did it come later?
Oh, no. The idea of being a writer never occurred to me until my mid-twenties. I worked in the corporate world for over twenty years, and my professional goals were all associated with that profession. Even after I fell in love with writing in my twenties, I didn't think I'd make a career of it. My goal for a long time was just to publish something. Anything! I experienced a lot of rejection over the years, so I just wanted to have something accepted for a change. Haha! But eventually, when I started writing novels, I realized what an all-encompassing process it was, and I realized I enjoyed that more than my corporate profession. So I started asking the Lord to let me become a full time writer. I think He placed the desire in my heart, and then He helped me hone my craft until it could become a reality.
3. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?
Oh, let's see. Is there such a thing as a highly-paid professional reader? If so, sign me up!
Seriously, writing is my second profession, my dream profession. There really is nothing else I'd rather do. When I was working full-time in an office, I used to dream of writing. And now that my dream has come true, I don't hanker after anything else. I'm enjoying it thoroughly. So if I suddenly couldn't write anymore, I'd have to step back and start praying for the Lord to show me what He has in store for me next.
4. What was you motivation for writing Sincerely Mayla (I have to say i really enjoyed this book even though I haven't read book one but I will be.)?
Mayla herself was my inspiration! Seriously. I fell in love with her while I was writing Just As I Am, and I couldn't stand to stay away from her. I wanted more. Apparently a lot of people felt the same, because I kept getting e-mails asking for more of Mayla. And especially, "What happens between Mayla and Pastor Paul? I have to know!" Well, I wanted to know, too. So I wrote the book that answered that question.
You'll have to let me know what you think of Just As I Am after reading Sincerely, Mayla first. I'll be interested to know!
5. How do you come up with the characters for your books and are they modeled on people you know, also how did you come up with the name Mayla?
I don't actually model characters after any one person, but I do take traits of people (mostly myself) and use them as a starting point in creating a character. The starting point for Mayla's grandmother, for instance, was my own grandmother. The starting point for Pastor Paul was the pastor of the church I attended in high school, the one who baptized me. The staring point for Mayla was a visiting singer at my church several years ago. But Mayla quickly took on many of my personality traits, and those of my daughter who was the same age at the time.
I always say the Lord named Mayla. Really. I had the idea for this really wacky character, and I wanted to come up with a name as unique as she was. So I prayed about it. The name really did just pop into my head. Here's an interesting fact. After Just As I Am came out, I got an e-mail from a girl named Mayla who wanted to know how I happened to pick her name. So I told her, and I even sent her a copy of Just As I Am. She was not a Christian, so I'm afraid she didn't identify with the fictitious Mayla very much. But I appreciated the fact that she read it, and we discussed the book in a couple of follow-up e-mails.
6. What was the Hardest part of writing "Sincerely Mayla"?
The hardest part was the beginning, because I had this fear that the second book wouldn't be as good as the first one. I was so afraid I would disappoint people. Plus, I wanted to portray a realistic development in Mayla's personality without taking away the spiritual innocence that was so appealing in the first book. I really prayed hard about that, and I think it came out okay.
7. I loved Mayla's, Aunt Louise and interaction with Grandma. They felt very real to me as I can relate to Aunt Louise. Did you model them on people you know or from personal experience (apart from the job and car and one other small detail, this could have been Mum and I)?
Mayla's grandmother was definitely modeled on my grandmother. I wanted to show something I've noticed in my own life - how we subconsciously model the behavior of our relatives. I have noticed behaviors and habits in myself that come from my parents and grandparents, and I've noticed them in my children as well. That's what happens to Mayla in Sincerely, Mayla. She comes to the realization that her own personality-both good and not-so-good-comes from her grandmother.
Aunt Louise was introduced in the first book as nothing more than Grandmother's caretaker. A funny thing happened. People e-mailed to ask me about her. They wanted to know more of her story. Well, the only thing I knew after the first book was that she loved her mother and cared for her even though her mother had some pretty deep bitterness. As I worked on the book, I tried to picture what kind of personality would end up dedicating her life to the care of her mother, even to the point of denying her own heart's desires. I developed a huge amount of respect for Louise. There is a little of me in her, but she really did develop a personality all her own.
One reader wrote recently to tell me she cried at the end, when Louise... well, I don't want to give anything away. But you know what I mean.
I can understand why it really affected me also.
8. Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
I am really excited about my new Sister-to-Sister Series. Book one, Stuck in the Middle, came out in February, and the second book, Age before Beauty, comes out February 2009. That book is finished, and I'm working on the third, Last but Not Least.
I'm also working on the third in a mystery series about a classical music trio who play at weddings. Everywhere these girls go, somebody dies and they get sucked into the situation. The series tagline is "When Murder Comes to Town." The first, A Taste of Murder, comes out in October. Then Murder at Eagle Summit is April 2009 and Scent of Murder will be released in June 2009.
9. How can readers find you on the web?
I'm at http://www.virginiasmith.org/ , and I encourage people to surf over and check out my site. I am always holding contests and giveaways which I talk about on the "Fun Stuff" page. I have a bi-monthly eNewsletter that they can sign up for, and they can read previous issues on my site.
10. Do you have any final thoughts for us?
If you read Sincerely, Mayla, I hope you'll let me know what you think. I love to hear from readers. You can send me a comment through my website.
Finally thank you so much for agreeing to this interview and sharing your time with us. I loved this book so much its on my list for best reads of the year so far.
Thank you, Jenny, for hosting me on your blog! It's been fun chatting with you.
What others are already saying about Sincerely, Mayla:
“Sincerely, Mayla is an honest book touching many issues
young adults face today. Smith writes vibrant characters and tackles taboo
subjects with grace and intelligence. She helps readers understand the beauty
and complexity of every human being.”
—Mary E. DeMuthAuthor, Watching the
Tree Limbs“If Mayla stole your heart in Just As I Am, she’ll own it in
Sincerely, Mayla. Juggling unemployment, unrequited love, and shepherding a
runaway teen takes hilarious and poignant turns in Mayla’s quirky hands. Throw
in a visit to the grandmother she hasn’t seen in thirteen years, and readers
will savor a rich dish of laughter, tears, and life-lessons sure to leave a
—Jill Elizabeth NelsonAuthor of the To Catch a Thief
series“Virginia Smith has crafted another winning story with
Sincerely, Mayla. Once again, Mayla Strong leads a cast of characters who will
live in your heart long after the last page has been turned. Anyone who doubts
that the Lord can use even the most unique among us will have a change of heart
after reading this endearing novel.”
—Kathleen Y'BarboAuthor of Beloved
Castaway and Louisiana Brides“In Sincerely, Mayla, Virginia Smith gives a graphic
depiction of hating the sin but loving the sinner, just the way Jesus would. In
the process, Mayla develops a greater spiritual awareness of her own
shortcomings. This is a book that all Christians should read.”
DooleyAward-winning, best-selling author of Minnesota Brothers, Carolina
Carpenter Brides, and Montana Mistletoe.“Becoming part of Mayla’s challenges, frustration, and
resolutions totally grabbed my heart. . . Mayla’s character is developed very
realistically, as we experience her mind being transformed into a new
—Jacqui MarkowskiClient Services, Pregnancy Resource Center of
From the Back Cover:
Mayla Strong's life is finally starting to seem normal. She has been working
at the same job for four years, living with a good friend, and enjoying a deep
relationship with God. But when Mayla is suddenly laid off, the placid surface
of her life is shattered. In this touching sequel to Just As I Am, Mayla comes
face-to-face with the
responsibilities and joys of friends and family. As
Mayla tries to help her friends, she realizes that God has all the answers..the
trick is letting go long enough to let Him prove it.
This is an excellent book. Its number two in a series but I followed quite well not having
read the first book. Mayla is a strong charactor who ends up visiting with her
grandmother and aunt Lousie in florida. I really love how Mayla reacts with the
different personalities she comes in contact. I also love see her grew as the
book progresses. I love Aunt Louise. I can relate to Aunt Lousie cos apart for
the job that could be my story Virginia is writing. How Mayla deals with
different situations and problems is really good to see and I do recommend this
book. If you haven't read the first book you will still know whats happening.
This book is on my top 10 reads of the year and I give it 5 out of 5.
During the week of May 12th, Ginny's getting in on
the giveaways, too. In fact, she's giving an autographed copy of Just
As I Am and Sincerely,
Mayla! Check out Ginny's "Fun Stuff" page for