Interview with Marlo Schalesky

Marlo Schalesky is the award-winning author of eight books, including her latest novel Shades of Morning (my review is HERE), which combines a love story with a surprise ending twist. She has also had over 600 articles published in various magazines, had her work included in compilations such as Dr. Dobson’s Night Light Devotional for Couples, and is a regular columnist for Power for Living.

Marlo holds a Masters degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary (yes, she reads the New Testament in Greek!) and recently completed her third book in her “Love Stories with a Twist!” for Waterbrook-Multnomah Publishers, a division of Random House. She lives in Salinas, California with her husband, son, and four young daughters.

Marlo, thank you for stopping by to chat with us today! I read Shades of Morning and absolutely loved it. You characterization was superb!

I see you enjoy Starbucks white mochas—caffeine and chocolate, my two favorite things J Let’s grab a couple of cups and chat:

1) How did the idea of the Down syndrome character come about?

My friends, Rick & Diane Pate, have a teenage Down syndrome son.  One Sunday while my husband and I were at church singing during the worship time, a noise came from the middle side of the church.  A loud noise.  Strange, awkward, and off-key.  Then, it grew louder.

So, 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.

And I tell you, that moment changed me.  It was as if God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Do you see? Do you see that beauty is found in unexpected places, and that my gifts in your life are often wrapped in awkward, off-key packages?”  It took my breath away and 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.

I went home that day and immediately wrote up the plot outline for Shades of Morning, wanting to capture the feel of those moments when Andy worshipped and I was left breathless by the wonder of it.

2) How do you plot your novels?

Usually, I start with one basic idea.  For Shades of Morning, it was a Down syndrome boy who would change the life of the quirky coffee shop owner from my previous book, If Tomorrow Never Comes.

After that I start in with writing chapter one because I have to get started before I can start seeing the plot.  I am a “headlights” writer, which means I can see the chapter I’m writing and a few chapters ahead.  I may also glimpse a few “signposts” in the distance.  The funny thing about Shades of Morning is that I didn’t know how I was going to reveal the big surprise twist at the end until I got there!  And then I changed my mind again.

And truly, while I may complain that it would be easier to write a book if it were all mapped out (it certainly would be quicker!), this sense of surprise and delight is one of things that I love about the writing process.  I love when the story and characters take on a life of their own.  I love to discover what God has been planning for a story all along.  And I love to be surprised by a sudden turn of events.  And I know if I’m surprised and delighted, my readers will be too.

So, how do I plot?  As I go, with a hope and prayer, and a bucket full of trust that God will show me His vision for the story as I’m faithful to just keep writing, thinking, pondering, and seeking.

3) You enjoy reading the New Testament in Greek. What’s your favorite book and why?

My very favorite book of the Bible is Job, because it’s about learning that the right question in life is not “why” but “who.”  And the answer is not found in explanation, but in encountering God in ways we’d never dreamed.

However, that’s not in Greek!  J  So, my favorite New Testament book (for the moment, anyway) is Philippians because there are a lot of insight nuances that you can see in the Greek in Philippians.  Just one example is Philippians 4:13, a sometimes familiar passage which usually reads, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  But in the Greek, the word for “strengthen” is actually the preposition “in” connected to the word for “power” (dunamis, where we get our word “dynamite”).  That little insight has been so encouraging to me because it says that God doesn’t just take what I already have and give it a boost (which is how I’d been reading “strengthen”), but he puts his own power (his own dynamite!) in me.  And that’s why I can do all things – because I am in-powered, not just strengthened.  I love that!

4) For fun :: Say you knew you’d be stranded on a desert island for 60 days. Alone. No modern conveniences. What THREE things would you bring with you?

Oh, first a nice stack of books, including my Bible in Greek, and then some of my favorite fantasy novels (the ones I like to read over and over and over again – Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Dragonriders of Pern…).  Then, a nice big stack of paper and pencils/pens for some peaceful, uninterrupted time for my own writing (ooo, that’d be nice).  And lastly, a big, fuzzy blanket to snuggle up at night.

5) Give us a glimpse into your next release after Shades of Morning.

Well, I’d love to, but I’m not sure what the next one will be … will it be another love story with a twist, featuring Daisy from Shades of Morning, who isn’t at all who we think her to be?  Or will it be a fun romantic suspense (I’ve got two ideas brewing!)? Or maybe something completely different, like the story of a little paint horse who heals a family and makes them whole (that story idea warms my heart!).  So, we’ll see . . .

Thanks for stopping by my blog to chat. I’ve enjoyed our time together!One last picture of your beautiful children =>>

Readers, check out a lengthy interview on Marlo’s site here.


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