Thursday, April 8, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Rebecca Duvall Scott!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Rebecca Duvall Scott

Linda: Congratulations on your release When Dignity Came to Harlan. The story is inspired by your great-grandmother’s childhood. What made you decide to write the novel, and what is the significance of the title? 

Rebecca: When I was a little girl, my grandmother told me stories about our ancestors. My favorite was about her mother, who moved with her family in a covered wagon from Missouri to Kentucky in hope of building a better life. When they got to town, however, they were dirt poor, had no food, nor did they have a place to live! Not knowing what else to do, the parents parceled their daughters out to strangers to work for their room and board with the promise they’d be back for them… but they never came back. My great-grandmother was 5 years old at the time, and she grew up in a cruel foster home. Somehow, however, she overcame all the hardship with old-fashioned grit and faith and went on to marry and have 6 children. 

My family often calls me the story-keeper, and my great-grandmother’s story has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. It has been a dream come true to finally publish When Dignity Came to Harlan, but more than that, the truth in the story deserved to come to light so it could help countless other people like my great-grandmother feel less alone with the hardships in their own pasts. Based on true family history, this is a story of heartbreak and hope, challenges and perseverance, good and evil, justice, and merciful redemption. It exemplifies the human experience in all its many facets! 

I chose the title with great care. In the book, the main character is nicknamed Dignity by an old friend who peddles his wisdom along with his wares. He sees something in her that she doesn’t yet see in herself, but by the end of the story she not only understands what it means to have dignity – but she has taught the whole town the important life lesson as well. 

LM: You’ve also written non-fiction. How was the process of writing your novel different from non-fiction? The same? 

Rebecca: Interesting you ask because I often feel like two different authors in one body! My first published book was a self-help memoir about my son’s journey following a sensory processing disorder diagnosis. Sensational Kids, Sensational Families: Hope for Sensory Processing Differences chronicles all the research, interventions, and mindset shifts that helped our family most and is geared toward other struggling parents and professionals. While I blended in anecdotes that let my creative writing side shine – it just wasn’t the same as writing my beloved Christian historical fiction! 

When Dignity Came to Harlan worked within me for a long time. I grew to know these characters, inside and out, and love them as I do my own family. I could see their story unfolding and often holed-up for hours on end honing each scene with careful attention to detail. I wanted the reader to be pulled into the book, to see what they saw and feel what they felt. Where my memoir writing is more about getting the facts on the page, my fiction writing is like sculpting. You start with an idea like a lump of clay and work it, shaving pieces off and adding to, until it is just how you want it. 
LM: Research is an important aspect of writing. How did you go about researching When Dignity Came to Harlan

Rebecca: I wanted the period details throughout the book to be as accurate as possible, so I researched
Harlan, Kentucky to get an idea of the coal mines and landscape for the setting first. Since the story is set in the early 1900s, more specifically 1918-1920, I also researched little things, like when electric lights and indoor plumbing started coming into the homes, when covered wagons and early motorized vehicles could co-exist, and especially the legal system in Kentucky concerning rape and wife-beating. 

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself for writing (e.g. listen to music, set up in a certain place, etc.), and how do you juggle it with your other responsibilities? 

Rebecca: In addition to writing, I am married with two children, one of which has special needs, we homeschool, and I also direct a local homeschool cooperative organization. Busy is an understatement, especially now that I have two books out and am doing blogs, podcasts, news interviews, and marketing! Writing is not a chore to be added to the list, however. Writing is my safe place – a place away from the world where I can go to relax and unwind through endless creativity. 

I do not write every day, though… but you can believe that even if I’m not writing, I’m thinking about my next book. I think deeply about each story and let the details form in my mind and heart before I put pen to paper. Once inspired, however, life must stop. I hole up in a room to eat, sleep, and breathe the story until it is told. It usually takes me 1-2 weeks to draft a book from start to finish, and my family knows that when I’m in one of those writing spurts, they will scavenge and find their own meals, entertainment, and more while the house (dishes, laundry, cleaning) falls in around us. They are patient and kind, though, knowing that once the story is told, I will jump back in full steam as wife and mom. After a book is drafted, the real work begins. It takes anywhere from 3-6 months to go through a hand-picked editorial board and finally on to the publisher. Then I start imagining the next story… 

LM: What is one thing you wish you knew how to do? 

Rebecca: I wish I was more business-minded! I know many people who have great success in self-publishing, but I just can’t handle all the stress that goes with the behind-the-scenes. Writing the book is one thing, but getting it typeset, cover designed, uploaded with all that entails, and watching the backside of whatever distribution platform are skills just not in my wheelhouse. I am very lucky I married a CPA who is running the business portion of my author career, and I really love my publisher who is in my corner 100%. 

LM: What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done? 

Rebecca: When I was 14 years old, I won the Young Authors Contest at the school, county, and state levels. It was a big deal, and a reporter came to my house to photograph a “day in the life” type article. He wanted to know where I did most of my writing, so I put my notebook in my backpack and scaled about thirty feet into a tree in my front yard! There was a perfect fork I sat in when I wrote back then… but little did I know that picture would take up half the page in the local newspaper when the article released! I loved climbing way up there and getting lost in my own world, but I didn’t necessarily want to be known as the girl who wrote in trees for the rest of my adolescence! 

LM: What is your next project? 

Rebecca: I am currently working on the sequel to When Dignity Came to Harlan. It is drafted and beginning the editorial board phase. The Dignity Series will have at least 3 books in it, maybe more, and I also plan to write more in my memoir work, the Sensational Series. After that, who knows? Wherever God leads my heart. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Rebecca: My website is a great place to connect – – and I’m also on social media. Here are a few of my handles: 

About When Dignity Came to Harlan: 

Skillfully written and sure to draw you into its pages, When Dignity Came to Harlan is set in the early 1900s and follows twelve-year-old Anna Beth Atwood as she leaves Missouri with her family dreaming of a better life in the coal-rich mountains of Harlan County, Kentucky. Anna Beth’s parents lose everything on the trip, however, and upon asking strangers to take their girls in until they get on their feet, Anna Beth and her baby sister are dropped into the home of Jack and Grace Grainger – who have plenty of problems of their own. Anna Beth suffers several hardships during her time in Harlan, and if it wasn’t for her humble and wise old friend who peddles his wisdom along with his wares, all would be lost. Take the journey with us and see how, with the unseen hand of God, one girl changed the heart and soul of an entire town.

No comments:

Post a Comment