Author Responses, Part 8

Stephanie Grace Whitson is our author this week. She's the mastermind behind Sixteen Brides, A Claim of Her Own, and many more excellent books. (My personal favorite is her captivating "Prairie Winds" series, which was first recommended to me by my mother.)

If you could invent a machine that accomplished one single
housekeeping task in your home, what would the machine do?

Gobble dust bunnies from beneath the furniture, munch on the clods of dried mud that fall off my construction worker son's work shoes inside the back door, slurp up spills before they can dry on the kitchen floor, and creatively and continuously vacuum, clean, and polish every floor in the house whether its hard wood, tile, or carpet. The machine would also maintain itself without my being required to replace filters or tanks full of crud. And it would do stairs.

When you create fictional characters, do you ever deal with their
level of housekeeping ability and/or their tolerance for mess?

I was very tempted to do this in my new release Sixteen Brides, since my characters live in a sod house. I've read some amazing, terrifying, and hilarious stories about what it was like to keep house in a soddy, all of which make me grateful I live in 2010 instead of 1870. Toads, rattlesnakes, bull snakes, mice, dirt floors, and wood-burning stoves just don't have all that much appeal for me.

What's the neatest or messiest character you have ever created?

In A Claim of Her Own, the heroine has to adjust her expectations markedly in this regard. She ends up living in a miner's tent on a gold claim near Deadwood, South Dakota and, as it turns out, the biggest housekeeping disaster she has to face ends up being a turning point in the plot. It has to do with a lot more rain and mud than Mattie would ever willingly cope with.

Thanks, Steph! And if y'all will pardon me for bragging on a friend, I just have to share the news of Steph's incredibly talented daughter, Shannon LaBrie. Shannon is a singer and songwriter, and her song "Calls Me Home" was recently featured on the TV show One Tree Hill. I downloaded the song from iTunes out of curiosity--and loved it so much that it's already worked its way into my "Top 25 Most Played" songs. Congrats Shannon, for a your much-deserved success.

Congrats, too, to Steph, who is no doubt one proud Mama right now!

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