Daphne Woods lives in a small township in beautiful, rural Hunterdon County, New Jersey, with her husband. Woods holds a doctorate in Nineteenth-Century Studies with a concentration in English literature from Drew University. She spent the last ten years home-schooling an award-winning scholar and musician, who is now attending the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Woods is working on her second novel.
Meggie Brooks is the gripping story of a girl growing up in a small rural township in New Jersey, living an almost idyllic life, enjoying the beauty of her country environment, spending time with her sometimes dysfunctional relatives, and uncovering a family mystery.
But that is only one side of the story. Although she is an excellent student, Meggie finds out early on what happens when she confronts the politically correct agenda of the schools. A young Meggie is silenced and traumatized for attempting to speak her views about global warming—views she has developed after watching a video on the subject with her parents. After that incident, she becomes wary of speaking out on issues in the classroom, and it is years before she finds the inner strength to defend her own views.
She ultimately does, however, even becoming a lawyer in order to defend religious freedom and free-speech rights, and in the end, it is a story of triumph. Meggie's search for truth in her family correlates with her search for truth in the world around her. A young girl's journey into adulthood, a poignant search for love, a family saga full of mystery and intrigue, and a passionate romance—this amazingly rich novel is all these and more.
Daphne, welcome to Marilyn's Romance Reviews. Who is Daphne Woods ? What should we know about the Mom, the wife, the friend and the author?
I am someone who loves to read, teach, garden, travel, and take care of my family.
When I earned my doctorate at Drew, I envisioned myself happily ensconced in academia forever—teaching Eng. Lit., which has always been an enduring passion—writing and publishing scholarly papers, and inspiring students to probe and analyze literature in order to enter into a greater understanding of themselves and the world around them. I had, after all, earned the Dissertation Award at Drew, and was told by the Dean I had the highest GPA on campus. I thoroughly expected I’d remain in academia.
For various reasons, life didn’t turn out that way. After I had my daughter, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, and it was the most rewarding decision I’ve ever made. My daughter developed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in 2nd grade. It took months to get her medication adjusted to the point where she could function normally, and it became clear that she could not remain in school that year. So I homeschooled her from March until the end of the school year. Then, even after she could have returned to school, we decided we liked homeschooling so much we stuck with it right through high school. She turned out to be the best student I ever had, and she benefited tremendously from the flexible schedule which enabled her to practice the piano and the harp three hours a day.
As a mom and wife I’m dedicated to fostering home life and to supporting my family’s development. As an author I want to produce literature of substance and interest. As a friend, I believe I am loyal and kind, but those are qualities that are best left to my friends to decide I have—or not.
What inspired you to be an author? Is it something you always wanted to do?
I always wanted to write—to contribute something of value. I love a good love story, and I always wanted to write a passionate romance. But I also wanted to write a book from a Christian and politically conservative perspective that relates to today. I wanted to create a Christian character who shows her human side—who experiences temptations and anger and disbelief—but who ultimately upholds her values. And I wanted to treat her values as normative, not as repressed or defective.
Was it difficult to get published?
It is very difficult to get published. It is very difficult to find a literary agent, which most publishers require an author to have before they will even consider you. I self-published.
What was the inspiration for Meggie Brooks?
As I said, I love a great romance. But every romance needs a story line to hold it together. Meggie Brooks was originally inspired by a family trauma in my own life. The family story at the center of the novel is based on a true life experience. I fictionalized it, turning it into a mystery, and certainly changing the outcome, but the core of that family event is very real and is still very upsetting to me if I let myself think about it. I thought, however, that it would make a fascinating narrative, and I know that many will think it so far-fetched and the characters so weird that it couldn’t possibly be true! That’s why it makes great fiction!
At the same time, I am disturbed by what I perceive to be a hostile environment toward Christians and conservatives in public schools, universities, and the media. I wanted to address the intolerance of political correctness. By taking Meggie from childhood into adulthood, I was able to incorporate some of these issues into the novel and show her learning to fight back. I took a family mystery, united it with Meggie’s development as a politically-minded character, and combined it with a powerful love story. I think I have produced a very unusual love story.
Describe a day in the life of Daphne Woods
I get up early, usually around 6, sometimes earlier. I spend an hour or so most mornings drinking coffee and reading. If it’s summer and at all possible, I read out on my gazebo—the one described in the novel. I love to be outside as much as possible. My days are never predictable. I try to work out with a Denise Austin DVD at least three days a week. I often run errands, work on photos in Photoshop, send out novels to reviewers, write letters, take a bike ride, do a little gardening, throw in laundry, clean a room, and plan dinner, which I sometimes even make! These days I wait eagerly to hear from my daughter, who’s in college. I’m not working on my next novel these days. I put it aside over the summer to spend time with my daughter before she left for college, and I haven’t gotten back to it yet. The plan is to get a few photo projects out of the way, and then devote myself to the book full time. When I seriously return to the novel (I think in about two weeks), I’ll spend 5 or 6 hours day on it, getting to it as soon as possible after my morning reading. But I can’t work evenings. If I work too late into the evening I can’t sleep at night, so at least my husband has my attention once he gets home from work.
Which story to date has been the biggest challenge?
I would have to say my latest novel is the biggest challenge, since it requires me to write of things I know less about. Meggie Brooks is set here, where I live, but The Redemption of Father Drew is set in Laredo, Texas, and though I have gone there, it is not as vivid to me as my own neighborhood.
Do you ever have any moments of insecurity when writing? If so, how do you overcome those moments?
I do wonder if the things I am writing about will resonate with others or if I will have any audience at all. I overcome these feelings by telling myself that all authors, even the best, have such self-doubts. The best books are those that are written from the heart and from conviction, not those written to placate a publisher or to make money.
What have you found to be the best thing about writing? The worse thing?
The best thing about writing is knowing I’ve produced a moment in the story that really reaches people and in hearing from people who have loved my work. The worst thing is not hearing from people—wondering if they’ve liked the work at all!
What are you reading now? Do you have any favorite authors?
I’m currently reading C.S. Lewis’s God in the Dock, which is a series of essays, and Withur We, which is a science fiction work by an unknown author like myself, Matthew Bruce Alexander. (It is very well written, by the way, with a strong libertarian thrust, and I highly recommend it.) My favorite authors are Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged), Michael Novak (The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism), LaVyrle Spencer, and Kathleen Woodiwiss.
Do you find it difficult to balance home/family with your writing?
Yes. My family life generally wins out.
If you were to describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be?
Creative, analytical, and romantic.
What are you presently working on?
A romantic political thriller.
Is there anything else you would like to add Daphne, which we haven’t discussed?
After never having any animals at all, I now have two beautiful orange tabbies. One is wild, and though he frequently comes into the house, even sleeping in his bed in the dining room or upstairs under a bed, he won’t let us touch him. I started feeding him a year-and-a-half ago during a particularly brutal winter, but then I decided I had to have a cat I could pet. I found Oedipuss Wrecks at a shelter. So I recently rescued two cats. After bringing Oedipuss home, we trapped Morris, the wild cat, and had him neutered, and now he absolutely adores Oedipuss. They are like brothers and are a joy to watch. By the way, Morris found the litter boxes and trained himself. Even a wild cat will use a litter box!
Where can readers contact you?
Facebook: Daphne Woods
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