"Give Me a Story to Tell"

For our 200th post in almost four years of blogging, it seems appropriate to hear the thoughts of another fellow author in her journey of writing! I had the great pleasure of interviewing Lena Donellan this week, who is the author of Paint Everything Blue and West of Yesterday. You can also check out her blog here where she shares her beautiful stories! Enjoy the inspiring interview below :-)

1. What inspired you to become an author?

I always wanted to do what my older sister was doing, so when she started writing stories, of course I followed suit. I guess I was around eleven years old then, and it’s been something I’ve loved to do ever since!

2. What is your favorite book that you have written and why?

Of course you love every story you’ve come up with, but my favorite book I’ve written would have to be my most recent, West of Yesterday. I always considered it my dream story to write someday: a triumph of human brokenness finding healing and wholeness, of very strong darkness being overcome by even stronger love and light. I’d call it my favorite because the central character of the book and his theme always felt the most dear to my heart of any of my ideas.

3. Who is your favorite character from your novels and why?

This is a really hard question…but again, I’d have to say my favorite would be the main character of West of Yesterday, Alan Bledsoe. Alan is a man who has both suffered tremendous injustice and has committed his own share of wrongs, and I’ve always loved the contrast of violence and gentleness that comes to a head in his character. In spite of his flaws he can’t resist his own goodness when he encounters someone who really needs him. He’s a victim, an antagonist, and a hero all rolled into one. His character has always enchanted me.

4. What is your favorite book that you have read and why?

The Fool of New York City by Michael D. O’Brien was among the finest novels I’ve ever read. I think I loved it so much mainly for the excellent telling of the main character’s journey through his own broken manhood to wholeness, mainly through the friendship of the story’s unexpected hero. Also, in the romance department, I think it did a great job of contrasting real love with infatuation and purely emotional attachment. It was a wonderful read and I’d highly recommend it!

5. Who has been the most influential author in your writing?

Wow, what a question! I feel like so many have contributed to how I hope to write: Tolkien, O’Brien, Rumer Godden, Mitch Albom, among many others. But I think the people who have the most direct influence on my writing are probably my sisters, who are way better writers than I am! They’re always the first to read and give me feedback on my writing.

6. How does your Catholic Faith contribute to your writing?

My Faith provides me with the main reason I write anything: namely, in the hopes of glorifying God. Whether what I write is specifically Catholic fiction or not, the morals and truths of the Faith always seem to find a way into the heart of the stories as honest themes of light, love, mercy, and hope. Of course my faith also keeps me striving to always please God in what I write and avoid anything offensive to Him.

7. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an author?

If you have a story to tell, tell it firstly out of love for God, and then out of love for the story itself. Write so that even if you’re the only person to ever read the outcome, you will be satisfied because you have brought that story from a vision in your heart to something real, and have made yourself happy doing so! If you try to write with that attitude, you’re far more likely to create something genuine that will please readers more than something you wrote just trying to please other people’s taste! I’m not sure why art works that way, but in my experience it does!

Thank you, Lena, for your wonderful thoughts! Order a copy of West of Yesterday here!