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Interview with Kathy Maresca

What message do you hope readers take away from this story?
God’s love extends to us in a personal way, regardless of our age, backstory, skin color, or economic status. Although each of us is only one, we carry the light of Jesus, and it brightens a room darkened by unbelief. Just as an ember can spark a forest fire, the faith of one person can change the lives of many.

You spent several years in the Air Force. Thank you for your service. You’ve also lived in Florida and now the Carolinas. What literary pilgrimages have you taken for research? What was your favorite and what did you discover or learn?
I was born in Florida and lived there until five years ago, with the exception of a few years away during active duty. My travels have taken me as far as the Holy Land, but my inspiration has come from my home front, Florida. Like the family I created for Porch Music, my family has Seminole heritage. The local spots, especially the museum at the University of Florida, provided me with greater insight into the Tribe’s culture. Even some of my time in the Air Force was spent in Florida. I served at a time when women were new to the Air Force Academy, and some of my experiences are included in my second novel, Sky Kiss. It is scheduled for release in 2023.

This is your debut novel. Congratulations! What have you learned from writing full-length fiction, and what adaptations will you make moving forward with future books?
I wrote Porch Music in the order the story appears in the book, bouncing from narrator to narrator. To keep the voices individuated, I referred to each character’s dialect and lingo by using a chart I had made. As I write the prequel, I am composing the narrative from one character at a time. It keeps me in the head of that “person.” I’ll weave the plot when each character is finished telling his or her part of the story.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I entered Porch Music in the Genesis award a couple of years ago. It was a semi-finalist. At the time of the contest, my mailbox was full of rejection emails. It was disheartening, but recognition from the ACFW judges encouraged me to continue to query process.

What kind of research do you do, and how long have you spent researching before beginning a book?
My shelves are lined with books about the Seminole Tribe, which I purchased more than ten years ago. I have read six printed books, and recently I have picked them up again. Last month, I added a seventh book. Reading historical information is the easy part. A trip several years ago to Ft. Myers allowed me to see more artifacts and to learn more about the Seminole culture. Much more challenging than finding information or touring a historical site, though, is locating interpreters who will translate a word from English to Mikasauki, Miscogee, or Creek languages.

As writers, we often must be careful of our word count. Sometimes, that means snipping bits of what we write during the revision process. That being said, what did you edit OUT of this book?
My journalism studies trained me to be concise. I edited some technical information about music from the book. One tidbit mentioned a Gibson guitar. This is a character-driven book, I thought, so why get so technical about an instrument? Readers aren’t going to care about the brand of guitar. I’ll bore them. Wrong. Several musicians have commented about the Gibson guitar on the book’s cover, and I would love to go back and leave the details in. Most important, I deleted a song I didn’t have permission to use. I replaced it with a “song” I wrote for the prologue, “Broken-Carted Mule.”

You have had a diverse teaching career and now serve as a counselor. What experiences from those careers have impacted your storytelling the most and why?
As a teacher, I had to entertain a classroom of students, coaxing them to listen. I learned quickly what would bore my students and what would get and keep their attention. No lesson was complete without humor, which I try to include in my writing. As a counselor, I am aware of how important it is to get to the heart of a matter, to hone in on unfiltered, raw emotion that can spring from suffering, regret, and loss.

If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
That was a long time ago. I took creative writing and literature electives in school. In college, I minored in journalism and earned an English education degree. I’m certain I could have grown as a young writer by submitting my poetry and prose to magazines and competitions. A teacher’s red pen isn’t always an accurate measure of talent. They look to see if objectives of an assignment are met, and that isn’t always an accurate assessment of creative skill.

You have been on quite the rollercoaster ride through many highs and lows in your spiritual and physical life. How do your faith and spiritual walk play out in your novels?
When I was ill with trigeminal neuralgia, I was often helpless. I became desperate for a miracle, and the Lord gave me one. But first, through my suffering and disability, I began to know God in a more intimate way. He became much more real to me. When I write, I try to reveal a character’s highs and lows in an intimate way. In an effort to make them more authentic, I like to include their self-doubt and secret desires. We humans experience trials as well as triumphs. We don’t forget these situations from our own lives, and the mountaintops and valleys can make fictional characters memorable, too.

Finish this statement: In the future, I will…
Attend an ACFW conference in person. For the past two in-person conferences, we have been abroad. How wonderful it will be to meet the lovely people with whom I have been corresponding.

Any parting words?
This is an exciting time to be an author of Christian fiction: more genres, quality writers, and vibrant support.
Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having an active imagination and a flair for the dramatic. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning author and speaker who works as a homeschool mom and independent contractor, helping others become their best from the inside out. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Kentucky. They have a daughter and son, and 2 cats. She has sold over 25 books so far, three of which have won annual reader's choice awards. She is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. (

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