I first read Paula’s work about three years ago, and absolutely fell in love with her honest, lyrical writing and heartfelt stories. Since we became social media friends, I look forward each day to the daily update from West Butte Orchards, where Paula and her family have farmed for decades. When I asked Paula to visit me on Author Chats, she kindly agreed. Meet Paula, and her fabulous new release, Leaving Lonesome.
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Paula, what can you tell us about yourself, your writing and the road that has led to your success?
I have a number of dear writer friends who help me. I’ve worked with the same critique partner, Michelle Shocklee for over a decade now. I don’t know what I would do without critique partners. They make me a better writer that’s for sure. And the bestselling historical romance writer Laura Frantz read and endorsed my first novel. I am forever grateful for Laura’s support and encouragement when I first stepped into becoming a published author.
My first body of work was my California Rising series, a trilogy, but each story in the series can stand on its own. My last few books have been stand-alone novels.
Any advice for first-time writers? I would tell my younger self to write free. Don’t try to make your writing fit somewhere it doesn’t fit. Trust your muse even if you don’t know where that muse comes from and it scares you. Follow it. After publishing my first book I learned to write faster. I worked on my first published book for years. My second published book I wrote in six months.
What made you realize the impact of story-telling? An early experience that taught me language had power was when I was ten years old and wrote my first book. My fifth-grade teacher told me I had a gift. I believed her. My book was titled: The Puppy Without a Tail and I drew and colored all the pictures too. The puppy didn’t fit in with the other puppies because it was missing its tail. I was the new kid at school and this story was born out of my struggle to fit in. Some kids weren’t nice to me. My young heart was wounded. I’d been popular at my old school, but it took two years for me to settle into this new, much larger school. I learned I could heal my heart by writing stories. This changed my life.
My favorite under-appreciated novel is The Proud Breed, a historical romance set in old California. Maybe it isn’t underappreciated but nobody I talk to in the industry has heard of this book. It was my favorite in high school.
About my new release:
I owe several real men, my father-in-law and another Vietnam veteran who didn’t want to be named but graciously allowed me to use his war story in this book. One of the Vietnam battle scenes actually happened to my father-in-law when he was 19 years old and a door gunner in Vietnam. Another Vietnam scene happened to the man who wanted to remain anonymous. Vietnam was a hard war, especially for the young soldiers who fought over there and then came home to civil unrest and people spitting on them because they served in that war.
The suicide scene was the hardest to write. My beloved uncle committed suicide after spending his last hours with me when I was a young woman. This shattered my heart. Two years later, I wrote my first draft of Leaving Lonesome trying to forgive my uncle and myself for his death. The first draft of this novel won a contest and I got my first literary agent but the book ended up not selling to publishers and I tucked it away for 20 years before resurrecting the story this year.
When readers reach “the end” of Leaving Lonesome I want them to think about the power of forgiveness. Both the giving and receiving of forgiveness. I was on a quest for forgiveness when I first wrote this story.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee with lots of cream and sugar
Favourite Chocolate? Milk Chocolate
When were you happiest? I was the happiest when I knew I was forgiven by God
Favourite Children’s Book? My favorite children’s book is Where the Red Fern Grows but I loved the Little House on the Prairie books too.
Favourite Adult Novel? That’s a hard one. So many good books! Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers broke something open in me years ago. I cried and cried. It’s the story of a prostitute in the California gold rush. Love redeems her. That story made me want to write redemption stories too.
Paula Scott began her writing career in newspaper. A fifth-generation Californian, Paula’s great, great grandmother came to California in a covered wagon and married a California farmer. Paula’s family has been farming ever since in the Sacramento Valley. Paula works on her family’s fruit and nut farm in the summertime and writes redemption stories all winter long. With seven children, she’s also a busy mom and loves quiet dates on the back porch swing with her husband. Stories have always been a part of her life. She comes from a long line of storytellers and listened well when she was young beside the campfire surrounded by whispering pines. We must go through many battles here on earth, but stories help us find our way home. In telling stories, Paula is hoping to find her way home and invites readers into the journey. We are all searching. Stories help us find our way.
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