New York Times bestselling author Donna VanLiere is soon to release her highly-anticipated first full-length novel, The Good Dream. She sits down with SheKnows to chat about her book, how she balances her family and career and her advice for moms who want to adopt (she’s an adoptive mother of three).
SheKnows: You’re active on Twitter (@donnavanliere). Tweet us about your novel, The Good Dream, (in 140 characters or fewer, of course!)
Donna VanLiere: A woman battles ignorance & hatred in 1950 TN to save a child she doesn’t know. A time & place where most would let secrets stay that way.
SheKnows: The Good Dream is your first full-length novel. Why now? And what inspired you to write this book?
Donna VanLiere: I had written a novel called The Angels of Morgan Hill a few years that was also set in this same location and era. I love the geography of east Tennessee. My parents grew up there in a time where people made little money but had everything they needed because they were self-sufficient as gardeners and farmers and relied on their neighbors and family. My grandmother’s house faced the hills I write about in The Good Dream, and when I was little my cousins and I would walk down earthen stairs to the railroad tracks and head to the creek or to the center of the community where we could still go to the general store and buy a soda or candy bar (it’s now a video store). That backdrop inspired both The Angels of Morgan Hill and The Good Dream and I hope many other future novels!
SheKnows: The cover is beautiful — what’s the story behind it?
Donna VanLiere: There’s a long-held superstition that if you hung bottles from tree branches that as evil spirits passed through the trees on the wind that they’d be trapped inside the bottle. There’s a part in the book where the mother of “The Boy” asks if he believes that. He doesn’t answer and she tells him that evil is too big to fit inside a bottle.
All the pretty bottles in the world can’t hold it back. I absolutely love the cover because the main character, Ivorie, uses everything she has in her personal arsenal to fight against the effects of evil, and she never once turns to a bottle in a tree for help!
SheKnows: We always ask about balance — you’re a NYT bestselling author of 10+ books, you’re an active conference speaker and you’re a mother of three (just to mention a few things). What does balance mean to you and how do you achieve it?
Donna VanLiere: I only write when my kids are in school. If they have a week off for Christmas or spring break, so do I! I take the summer off with them so we can camp, travel, swim or visit some local attractions that we never have time for during the school year. If I travel to speak during the school year, I’m usually able to take at least one of the children with me. My 11-year-old recently traveled to Alaska with me for an event there. It’s a great way for me to combine work and fun because we’ll play games on the airplane or in the hotel, and then they help me at each event.
SheKnows: You have three adopted children and are an adoption advocate. What’s the #1 piece of advice you give to women who want to adopt?
Donna VanLiere: Don’t let the financial piece scare you. There are many organizations who provide assistance in this area, and so many people are always willing to help with fundraisers. I always tell people that if God wants that child in your home, then that child will be in your home.
When we adopted our first daughter, I worked as a freelance writer and my salary wasn’t even part-time wages, but the year we adopted Gracie I got more freelance work than I had ever had, and we paid off every single bill on our own. The money piece always comes together, so don’t let it scare you from bringing your child into your home!
SheKnows: Describe your writing space. What are five things that would give us some insight about you?
Donna VanLiere: I have to have a window and a view but no buildings! Buildings out my window doesn’t inspire or motivate me. I need skies, trees, grass, water, pastures… anything but buildings. I must have pictures of my kids, instrumental music, a really good chair and something to drink (oh yeah, a bathroom must be nearby)! That’s six. Sorry.
SheKnows: What are you doing for fun this summer?
Donna VanLiere: Every summer we get together with the adoption groups we met in China when we adopted both of our girls. The reunions are in different parts of the country (depending on where the host family lives), and we’re headed to Michigan for one reunion and to east Tennessee for the other this summer. We plan everything else around those reunions! We love to camp with our kids and do lots of swimming and bike riding.
Now do you see why I can’t write during the summer?!
SheKnows: Are you working on your next book? If so, can you give us any hints?
Donna VanLiere: I’m working on a novel inspired by true events that happened here in the Nashville area. My husband and I have been supporters and volunteers for The Nashville Rescue Mission for many years and love what they do. There are rescue missions all over the U.S. that provide meals and shelter for a city’s homeless population, but they also provide recovery programs for substance abuse for men and women, domestic abuse whether it be physical, mental or emotional, women coming out of prostitution, etc. These programs are life changing for many of these men and women who have spent years physically and figuratively behind bars. I’m bringing two of those stories to life because their lives prove that addiction can be overcome and that everyone deserves a chance at life. Not everyone comes away from a rescue mission with a healthy approach to life, but each one knows that the people of the mission care for them and want to see them get healthy. Sometimes that’s just what it takes to help someone believe that his/her life can be different.