She is a reader who figured out at a very young age how to write what she wants to read. She penned her first novel at age ten, and has been writing ever since. In fact, she’d rather be writing or reading than doing just about anything else—but with a family and a dog depending on her for breakfast, lunch and dinner, she feels like she’s in the kitchen more often than at her desk or in her favorite chair with a book. Maureen is the author of a dozen books and has been nominated for a Christy, Rita and Carol. She’s won a Holt Medallion and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, but none of that compare to the day her daughter told her she was a good writer. Ah, recognition at home is rare indeed. Visit Maureen on the web at www.maureenlang.com
I asked her a few questions, starting with "Why do you write what you do?"
About why I write my books…
All of my books were inspired by something specific. My war books go back to my childhood, hearing my dad and uncles “discuss” the war (although that was World War Two and I wrote about the First World War). I was too young to follow most of that, but I knew all that war-talk came with great emotion. With my “disability” books—i.e., a book that includes a child with a disability—those came from my everyday life, being the mom and an aunt to handicapped children. Bees in the Butterfly Garden is the first book that came out of a title. Usually I’m title-challenged, but one day I was looking out at my garden, one I’d planted with the hope of attracting butterflies. All I saw were two huge bees. Feeling sorry for myself, I said “I don’t get butterflies; all I get are bees. Bees in the butterfly garden.” But hey! I stopped what I was doing immediately (writing another book, actually) and wrote that down, because I recognized that it would make a great title. All I needed to do was write a book to go with it. And I did.
1. What’s been a favorite work experience you’ve had so far in life?
Every time I write a book, no matter which one—and some have undoubtedly been easier to write than others—at some point the characters begin to take over. It’s all I can do to keep up with them, recording what would be a natural progression of events as designed by the kind of people populating the story. That, without a doubt, is the best moment I’ve ever had as a writer. I feel like a storyteller then, when I’m as caught up in the story as any reader would be. It’s hard for my typing fingers to keep up!
2. I love that, Maureen. If you could do anything you want, what would it be?
I’m sure I’m not the only writer who’s answered this question by saying I’d write! I guess if I could write anywhere, it would be with mountains in the background, perhaps a lake or ocean not far off . . . a garden full of flowers that never grows a weed, maybe a horse to ride (with a barn taken care of by someone else, of course . . . ).
3. One man's weeds are another man's flowers, you know. I'd like to be fed. What’s the most exotic place you’ve traveled?
I’m not sure it’s exactly exotic, but I went to Belgium to research my Great War Series, and it was absolutely wonderful. I walked the same streets my characters walked, saw the same historic buildings they would have seen. I loved every minute of it, and felt so affirmed by God that I was doing what He’d wired me to do: I’m supposed to make up stories He approved of. That’s my job.
4. I think that's pretty exotic - especially in the name of work. What do you see outside the closest window right now?
While I live in a very nice neighborhood, the scene out my window isn’t very scenic. I see other houses similar to mine, green grass, flourishing trees and bushes. My mailbox. It’s a neat, orderly scene, but not especially inspiring. It’s a good thing I have a vivid imagination, because most of the time I’m not seeing what’s around me anyway. I’m living in another century altogether.
5. A mailbox has so many possibilities! What do you tell people when they ask “and what do you do?”
I actually hope this doesn’t come up, for a variety of reasons. If it does, I say I’m a writer. They always seem both interested and skeptical—maybe a little impressed when I say I’ve had a dozen books published. But then they assume I make a lot of money, which isn’t the case (they sometimes ask how many books I’ve sold, which is the same as asking how much money I’ve made). Many times people admit they’d like to write a book, too, which I encourage, but then they sometimes expect that I can introduce them to an easy track to publication. Unfortunately, there isn’t one.
6. LOL - I hear you on that one. Where’s your favorite place to grocery shop?
Super Target, without a doubt.
7. My youngest daughter in law takes advantage of that store! I'd have to drive an hour, but I think I'd learn to love it too. How about a new tack: What, to you, is worship?
I love two forms of worship. Although I don’t sing very well, I love my church and I love participating in the worship time. I love the words of worship songs, and they remind me of so many aspects of God’s presence in my life.
But I also feel very close to God when I’m in the revision phase of writing my books. I often don’t remember certain scenes or lines and sometimes when something seems just right, I think it must be a gift to have the right words fit into a story. I believe anyone who is following the way God wired them to be—musicians with a gift for singing or playing, or an accountant with a flair for numbers, or a teacher with the ability to convey knowledge—must feel that same approval from God. An affirmation that we’re doing what God designed for us to do. A connection to something that seems so right and fitting, accompanied by thankfulness to be able to do what God wants me to do. It’s a form of worship that I absolutely love to experience.
Thank you, Maureen. It's been a joy getting to know you better. Maureen's latest book, Bees in the Butterfly Garden, a light-hearted romance which releases June 13, is available for pre-order from several online book sellers.