Friday, October 14, 2005

Q&A with Britta Coleman

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1) Can you give us a blurb about your current book?

POTTER SPRINGS, my debut mainstream novel, is about the loves and losses of a young minister and his wife as they rebuild their lives in small town Texas. Through laughter and tears, Mark and Amanda Reynolds fall in love, fall apart, and try to find one another again.

Full of quirky characters and twists of nature, POTTER SPRINGS celebrates faith, hope and love, and the healing power of friendship.

(click here to read an excerpt)

2) Potter Springs won the Barnes & Nobles Lone Star Scribe Award. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little bit about the award and what impact it has had on your career or promo opportunities?

The award is based on quality of writing, sales, author reputation, reviews and book presentation. It was voted on by area Barnes & Noble stores...and I won! It was incredibly exciting, since I didn't even know my book had been submitted. I actually received the news while at a writer's conference in Reno, so I was able to share the news with my agent, Marcy Posner, in person.

Since receiving the award, I've been author of the month in several Barnes & Noble stores, with celebratory book signings. Very fun.

3) Potter Springs is your first novel. What was it like getting the call that you sold your book? How about when you saw it in the store for the first time?

Getting the call was incredible. It was actually my birthday (how cool is that?), and we had more than one house putting bids in on the book. We finalized a deal with Time Warner for their new imprint, Center Street, and my agent called me with that news as I was shopping with my mother at Old Navy. So, writers, it pays to go shopping. My mom and I jumped up and down and hugged each other, wept a little, then raided the sales racks. A truly great day.

The first time I saw POTTER SPRINGS in a book store was in Austin, Texas. I was at another conference and it was before the official pub date, so I didn't have my hopes up. We stopped off at BookPeople, a wonderful independent bookstore, and there it was, on the C shelf in the fiction section. I laughed, I cried, I made a spectacle of myself. The sales guy, Dan, even let me take a picture with him. Thank goodness Austin's slogan is "keep Austin weird." I suppose that helps them deal with public displays of author insanity.

4) What is your favorite thing about being an author?

The flexible hours! I love writing in my pajamas, drinking coffee as late as I want, and getting to count movie marathons as "research." As far as the nuts and bolts of writing, my favorite is when the words flow and it all comes together and starts singing on the page. Oh, there's nothing like it!

I also love talking to readers who've read the book and experienced it through their perspective. Finding out what connects, how they interpret certain characters. It's wonderful to see your ideas, crafted as best as you can on the page, impact another person. That's probably the most humbling thing as know what power our stories can have and to constantly try to strive to do your best.

5) In Potter Springs, the main couple is a minister and his wife. Can you talk about the role that faith and religion plays in your novels?

I come from a background of faith, as I writer I enjoy exploring those themes with my characters. I'm enamored of the idea of grace in unexpected moments, and I love stories that focus on journeys of redemption. Broken people making mistakes and trying again.

In POTTER SPRINGS the main characters have to struggle through some deep issues, and I liked the juxtaposition of a person in a leadership role, with certain expectations, and how that would play out as far as authenticity. That's what interests me. Not so much religion, but the ins and outs of dealing with life in a way that's loving and real. My hope for POTTER SPRINGS is that the themes would be authentic and approachable, that anyone from any type of background would pick up the story and enjoy it.

6) Potter Springs is based in Texas, which is where you live. How much of the settings in your story are real life places, versus fictional places you made up? How do you balance these two aspects, and how do you choose what to fictionalize and when to draw on real-life settings?

Potter Springs, the town, is totally fictional. Although there is a Potter County in west Texas. I wanted to do a play on Potter with Springs...because the town has no spring, but it is the place where Mark and Amanda start over and find new life.

I've lived all over Texas, and some of the settings in the book are based in reality. The town square resembles Denton where my husband and I lived when we first got married. The landscape around Potter Springs is true to West Texas and is based on the nine years we lived in Amarillo. Potter Springs is small town, and there are so many sprinkled through the Panhandle I didn't want to choose just one. Plus, this way I don't have to worry about somebody's Aunt Maeble who just *knows* that waitress is based on her 'cause she used to work at Babe's Fried Chicken and she wears her hair exactly that way!

When the art department sent me the cover for POTTER SPRINGS, I nearly fell over. It was like they peeked inside my head, my heart, and saw what I was seeing.

I visited with a bookseller the other day who read the book and she said it "reeks" of Texas. It was the first time someone had said that in that colorful a way, and I find it a wonderful compliment. When those images translate, as a writer, that's magic.

Buy Potter Springs

Read an excerpt


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