Great Summer Reads Countdown with @lovingthebook
Day 10 – Hermana by Becca McCulloch
Becca McCulloch is a wife, mother, professor, and writer but rarely in that order (if in any order at all). At night, she transitions from mild-mannered educator into mild-mannered artist, writing about LDS (Mormon) issues in a modern and complex world. In 2016, she won the Storymakers’ First Chapter Contest/General Fiction category. In 2019, her novel, Hermana, was named the General Fiction category winner for the LDS Publishers Media Association.
Becca resides in Utah with her husband, 2 children, Great Dane, two cats, and a pesky, yet friendly raccoon that won’t leave the outdoor shed.
WINNER! 2019 general fiction book of the year from the LDS Publishers Media Association.
Bookish and street-smart Lannie Lewis wants to be more than the child of a broken home who flunked out of music school. Full-time mission service will carry her away from the problems with her dad and immerse her hands in the work of God, or, it would if she’d stop hiding in the bathroom and wishing the island had better bug spray. When a disaster transforms her mission into a world of peril and overwhelming need, she will have to learn to hear the Lord’s voice for herself, even if it means she stands against the crowd.
~ Universal Amazon Link ~
Q&A With the Author:
1. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I have 4 children that range from 11 years to 6 months of age. When I’m not writing (or working the day job), I’m cleaning up after someone or trying to settle an argument.
2. What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?
I had a lot to learn about story structure. I wanted the book to be very honest about the missionary experience, but wise editors told me it also had to work as a novel. I spent almost an entire year reading books on story structure, watching webinars and working with editors and other writers to create the book. There are still moments where I decided to sacrifice structure to achieve my artistic vision, but overall the novel is stronger for having been put through the pain of fitting into a more traditional format.
3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I have always wanted to explore Italy. I love music and food, so Italy is a natural heart-home for me.
4. Where do you get information and ideas for your books?
I’m curious about the human experience, so most of my ideas come from the world around me. I love to explore experiences that have an assumed truth – like the experiences of missionaries. I find beauty in the peeled-back layers. The hidden story behind the standard story fascinates me.
5. Tell us a bit about a future project you are working on? Do you have any little sneak peeks you can share?
I am working on a co-authored novel right as part of the Liv Bartlet Kat & Bea series. Off Script, the second book in the series, ended with a main character running away from her troubles. It seems like a joyful choice for her, but I wanted to explore the idea that the experiences we bury deep inside still stink over time. Bea reunites with her friend, Kat, who is re-evaluating her own choices. This book has very much grown out of my own maturity. As I’ve entered my 40s, my priorities for relationships, career, and success have shifted significantly. I’m excited to write about middle-aged, successful women who reexamine their priorities. We also wanted to present really healthy romantic relationships (and the kinds of men who create them).
6. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, tell us a story of a favorite childhood activity you used to do during the summer. It can be long or short. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it’s yours. Tell us a story?
When I was 13, my mom decided that my 12-year-old brother and I were old enough to care for our 6 year old brother over the summer while Mom worked. My youngest brother was a lovely child but exceedingly gullible and annoying. Neither of us really wanted to care for him. So we decided that we would trade off days being stuck with him. At first, we were quite good at it. We watched his awful cartoons and fed him cereal and macaroni. But as the summer went on, we had better things to do. I preferred the library while my brother liked to explore the Snake River. We drug our brother along on whatever we did with often-false promises that “tomorrow” would be his day. For a while, this arrangement worked, but then my brother got a loose tongue. He told about the day he got leeches while on a float down the river (my brother insisted he wouldn’t have gotten leeches if he’d not overreacted to the rapids and jumped off the inner tube). He blabbed about the day I left him alone at story time so that I could go shopping with my friends (honestly, why couldn’t the librarians watch him for an hour or so?). And then he told my mom that we’d used his allowance to rent videos and not paid him back OR purchased the promised ice cream (we did buy it – we just ate it without him).
My mom didn’t say much. We knew we were caught. We spent August being stellar babysitters (well, except for that day we lost him at the swimming hole…). But the next summer, my brother and I were enrolled in a summer-long computer programming course and my brother had a nanny. We were well into adulthood before we realized why.