Friday, May 15, 2009

Interview with Donna Lee Schillinger, Author of "On My Own Now"

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing On My Own Now by Donna Lee Schillinger. Now, I am pleased to present the following interview.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
A born and bred Texan, I have a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Drew University and a master’s in cultural anthropology from Texas Tech University. I served in the Peace Corps in Quito, Ecuador, and continued to work in social services for 10 years with special populations including adults with developmental disabilities, children with autism, abused and neglected children and the elderly. I served several years as executive director of a homeless shelter for single, young mothers.

In 2000, I “retired” from social work to take care of my elderly grandparents and homeschool my daughter. I soon began freelance writing and editing, doing business as The Quilldriver. Today, The Quilldriver produces several periodical publications for non-profit organizations, including Hearing Health magazine. In 2006, I added publishing inspirational nonfiction books to The Quilldriver’s services.

And now I’m making my writing debut with On My Own Now: Straight Talk from the Proverbs for Young Christian Women who Want to Remain Pure, Debt-free and Regret-free.


Can you tell us a little about your book?

On My Own Now is about strengthening young women’s faith and preventing the screw-ups that can brand us for life. I draw on my eclectic past and use gender-reversed Proverbs with real-life applications to wave the red flag of caution for young women, warning against the pitfalls of a post-modern, sexually casual, consumer-is-king society that is indelibly scarring youth with cynicism, sexually transmitted diseases and bad credit.

What kind of research did you have to conduct to write your book?

This is actually a very interesting question for my book. I did have some light research, fact checking, finding sources for things I had remembered from my psychology classes in college, etc., but the most important source I used was divine. Before selecting Proverbs to be included in the book and then before beginning to write commentary on each one, I prayed a simple prayer that the Holy Spirit would take over and use me as a scribe of sorts to convey spiritual truths in spiritual words. I know this prayer was effective because I often would sit down and read the proverb and say, “Hmm. I’ve got nothing!” So in faith I would just put my fingers on the home keys and just listen. Then an hour later, I would sit back and say, “Wow! That’s good.” If I found myself laboring to write a commentary, it ended up being cut from the manuscript.


What’s next for you?
My next project is editing an anthology called Purity’s Big Payoff/Premarital Sex is a Big Ripoff. The format will be a two-faced book (my new Quilldriver imprint!): on one side, the cover will read Purity’s Big Payoff. When turned over and flipped upside down, the cover will read Premarital Sex is s Big Rip-off. Think in terms of an instruction manual written in both English and Spanish, where one side is English and then the book flips upside down and other side is written in Spanish. Thus the last page of the purity book is immediately followed by the last page of the premarital sex book, but upside down, and vice versa.

Each half of the book will begin with an introduction by me. The intro to the purity book will include discussion of scriptural references to abstaining from sex outside of marriage, as well as the practical benefits of overcoming the strong cultural norm of premarital sex. Then up to 10 selected essays will follow, telling personal stories about how the essayists were victorious in this spiritual battle and have reaped practical benefits in their lives as a result. In the introduction of the premarital sex half of the book, I will tell my motivation for this project, and how important I believe it is for people who have suffered the results of secret sin to share their heartaches with young adults so that they can understand who is harmed in sex outside of marriage and what the very real ramifications of disobedience to God’s will in this area are. There will also be some discussion of the concept of recapturing one’s purity despite past sexual experience. Then up to 10 selected essays will follow, telling personal stories about how the essayists have experienced negative consequences from sex before marriage, and hopefully how God has restored the writer and even given them beauty for ashes.

I still need about three more essays on purity, so if that white on your wedding day was symbolizing something, ring me!

Do you have any final words you’d like to share with my readers?
I was thinking the other day about the vanity and futility of writing a book. It’s sort of a narcissistic activity – like blogging and Facebook – it has the underlying assumption that people care what I think. I thought of 12,000 new Christian titles each year and 300,000 new books in all genres annually and just got discouraged. I think it’s easy to get bowled over by that big weight and those depressing facts – by contemplating the Library of Congress! On the other hand, a book is an expression of creativity – even nonfiction, even boring nonfiction! And as such, it’s worthy to be written. We would love for our book to be appreciated in the way we think it deserves, but the process of creative expression is worthwhile. It is enough. It is an accomplishment.

Thank you Donna for sharing with us!

1 comment:

Donna Lee Schillinger said...

Thanks, Patrice, for hosting me on your blog! And as far as I'm concerned, pass the book around until the pages fall out. The point is to reach young women with this message. I've already resigned myself to going in the hole!