I met Stacy Monson through our local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. In fact, Stacy helped start Minnesota N.I.C.E. and I’m glad she did. The monthly meetings in St. Paul and the writers who come together there have been a big encouragement to me. Award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series and Open Circle, Stacy has become a critique partner and friend. She describes her stories as “an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life.” Unlike the typical Christian romance, Stacy’s books are always about something so much more significant than boy meets girl.
Her newest book, When Mountains Sing, releases today, August 7!
When the truth cost her everything, she thought there was nothing left to lose.
Everything Mikayla thought she knew about herself and her family has been turned upside down. She sets off on a road trip to find her biological father and tell him exactly what she thinks of him. Along the way she meets challenges and unexpected acts of kindness. Her career goals as a writer and avid outdoorswoman come into question when she discovers the beauty of Colorado and meets the God who created it and a young man who respects the skills her beloved Dad taught her and isn’t threatened by them.
In my opinion this is Monson’s best yet, but maybe that’s because I love road trips and Colorado landscapes and hiking and everything else she brings to life with such skill in this book. I wanted to follow Mikayla right down the highway and experience it all with her.
Stacy, you do such a fabulous job of portraying Mikayla’s love of outdoor life and the Colorado wilderness. Is that you? If not, how did you prepare to write such a convincing character?
Stacy Monson: I love the outdoors but I am so not Mikayla. I think she’s who I’d like to be! Imagination is a wonderful thing. I spent time considering ways people enjoy being outdoors and then decided on a few of them that she would excel at, with the help and guidance of her dad. She took shape as I wrote and eventually became a woman I admired and identified with even though we’re so different.
LeAnne Hardy: Mikayla is a writer like you. Her love for the outdoors compels her to write for women. What compels you?
SM: I’ve always been a writer, from elementary school on. As I focused on writing professionally, the world around me narrowed that focus to addressing issues around identity and faith. We are bombarded with messages from all types of media telling us who to be, how to look, what to buy, and how to think. I write to provide a story that hopefully helps women decide for themselves who they are, who they want to be despite their past or what society tries to force on them.
LH: What compelled you to write THIS book?
SM: I’m not sure! Usually for me, the character comes first and then the story builds around them. So I had a question in my head about what if the identity we grew up with has a major flaw through no fault of our own. How would we deal with discovering the people we loved and respected had secrets that could change everything? From there, Mikayla and her sisters emerged. All have different backgrounds, unbeknownst to them until Mikayla’s discovery, and will have different journeys to answer those questions surrounding their identity.
LH: How does your faith affect your writing?
SM: Without my faith, I wouldn’t be a writer. My faith defines me, so I don’t believe I could write a story that doesn’t have a faith element in it. Most of my books have believers and non-believers in them, people who have grown up with their faith and others who are angry with God, or know nothing about Him. All of us are on a journey, regardless of where we are in our various degrees of faith. God has made Himself known in creation so even those who profess to have no faith, or those who fight vigorously against faith and God, know deep within that He exists. I hope my stories awaken that knowledge, and shine a light through the darkness of life to illuminate who they truly are despite what they’ve been through.
LH: Mikayla wrestles with being a competent woman in what has been traditionally seen as a man’s world of outdoor activity. Why do you think that’s important? Have you experienced any of her struggles?
SM: I’m not a fan of #metoo because to me it paints too broad of a stroke across both women and men. But I believe it has illuminated issues that women have dealt with throughout time. Many stigmas, behaviors, and beliefs have downplayed the value and capabilities of women, while providing an excuse for that culture to continue. I enjoyed writing Mikayla’s story because I could highlight both her strengths and weaknesses not as a female but as a person. She’s a woman who can hold her own in the male-dominated world of wilderness activities, but also needs help just as men do because there’s always more to learn. Personally, I’ve experienced some of the same biases, like most women, but not to the extent Mikayla does.
LH: The book is about finding out you and your family members are not who you thought they were. How do you think that can happen without a shocking DNA discovery?
SM: As I wrote this book, I heard similar stories from many people: after a parent died, they discovered they were adopted, or upon doing genealogy work they uncovered surprising branches to the family tree. But we also learn things about family in everyday interactions. Discussions around hot button topics like politics, religion, and immigration now pit family members against each other in ways they didn’t before. Societal norms are changing which is fracturing families as people choose to change or hold fast to traditional norms.
LH: What do you most want readers to take away from When Mountains Sing?
SM: That first and foremost our DNA comes from God since we were made in His image. That truth can never change even when other aspects of our life and family do. God fashioned each of us into unique individuals who have gifts and talents necessary to this ever-changing world. We don’t need to be like everyone else; we were made to blaze our own paths and make a difference in our families, communities, and world with our unique traits. Don’t try to fit into someone else’s mold. Embrace with abandon what makes you different. The world will be better for it.
LH: I love this description of Mikayla and her sisters from chapter 1: “Lindy was the pretty one guys wanted to date while Maggie was the smart one they were afraid to date. And [Mikayla] was the one it didn’t occur to them to date, the one they hung out with and talked about girlfriend problems with. She wasn’t sure they even thought of her as an actual girl.” So when can we expect to hear more about Lindy and Maggie?
SM: In the Mosaic Collection Christmas Anthology, we’ll wrap up Mikayla’s story and launch Lindy’s as she makes her own decision about what to do with the news she’s learned about where she came from. Book 2, coming out August 2020, will follow Lindy, the fashionista, on her journey. Then Book 3 will follow Maggie, the eldest sister and by then a renown pediatric surgeon in her own right, as she deals with her newborn niece’s health issues while uncovering her own identity and place in the family. Maggie’s story will release August 2021.
LH: The Mosaic Collection. That’s the creative marketing you and some friends are doing, isn’t it? Tell us more.
SM: The Mosaic Collection was developed a year ago when several indie-published authors gathered to discuss the difficulties of marketing and publicity. A year later we are a group of 11 amazing authors from Canada and the US releasing one book each month along with a Christmas Anthology. All of our books are Contemporary Christian fiction based on the theme of family by God’s design, in a variety of genres. Our hope is to introduce readers to genres they might not otherwise have chosen to read, all with an uplifting and encouraging message of faith in the midst of life’s messiness. We are dedicated to helping market each other’s work through exposure to new readers, promotions, and prayer. The Mosaic Collection Readers Group on Facebookallows us to interact with readers. We’d love to have you join us.
LH: That sounds so exciting, Stacy. Too bad I don’t write contemporary!
You don’t have to wait until August 2020 to read another book by Stacy. Check out these titles on Amazon.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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