Lone Falcon by Merrijoy Wennerlind Buist: Interview
About the Book
Book: Lone Falcon
Author: Merrijoy Wennerlind Buist
Genre: Christian Romance/Coming of Age
Release Date: October 2, 2018
What if you had to choose between your friends and your faith?
It is 1971. Eighteen year-old Carrie Falconer goes to college and joins the rowing team, where she receives praise and popularity for the first time. She also finds her first boyfriend. Not just anyone, but the heart-throb men’s crew captain! As coxswain of the varsity squad, she leads her team to four gold medals, allowing them to qualify for Nationals. However, while pursuing her collegiate dreams, she has left behind most of her traditional religious beliefs. While preparing for the National tournament, she is hit by a life changing consequence and is forced to decide between pleasing her team or letting them down by following what she believes to be the right path.
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What about writing do you love?
I regard writing as a ministry. I love when people say my writing really made them think, since I strive to have my readers learn something or see another point of view. I love creating stories and characters with situations the reader can wrestle along with – where they can decide what solution they would choose, yet also understand the character’s decision. In this way I aim to bring a greater openness and acceptance to my readers.
When I started writing Lone Falcon in college, I wanted to write a book about standing up for your own convictions, and not conform to what your friends and society tell you to do. In Lone Choices, I loved exploring all the choices women make, the consequences they may face, but the redemption the Lord can bring. Presently, I feel called to write about the plight of women in Africa. So my third book in the Lone series will bring light to the global suffering of women.
Do you end up doing research for every book?
I did a lot of research for the crew team parts of Lone Falcon. I read The Idiots Guide to Rowing and other rowing books. I interviewed coaches and women who rowed around that time. I even took a rowing class on the water and survived!
I worked hard to verify historical dates such as Billy Jean King’s victory over Bobby Riggs and the Roe Vs Wade decision, to make sure they meshed with Carrie’s college years. It was important for me to discuss the new choices women were offered in the 70s because of these events.
I would love to write a book where no research was required!
What is your process for coming up with a title?
The title for Lone Falcon came to me out of the blue. I wanted Carrie to be a lone bird since she would make her own unpopular decision at the end. Shortening her name Falconer also worked nicely. I had no title for the sequel until one day it broke through. I was not only writing about Carrie’s decision, but about the girls she worked with. Since most of the choices we make as adults are made by ourselves alone, I explored what sets aside the choices women make. Thus the word ‘choice’ was added to the continuing Lone theme with Lone Choices.
How do you develop your characters? Do you use character charts?
I began Lone Falcon by writing up motivations for each of my characters. On my very first draft I would write: “a teammate asked.” My friend editing at the time wrote: “Name?” It was then I realized that I had to come up with eight names with distinct personalities.
Carrie’s best friend Jan was easy, but the rest I came up with by having the coach give each of them nicknames. For example, “Boston” is a girl from back East who wants to show the elite from her hometown that the West Coast can do just as well, if not better, in crew. When the coach didn’t come up with a nickname for Carrie at first, it was quite dramatic when he then bursts out to the men’s coach, “That my dear man is my Lone Falcon.”
Do you think you have any writing quirks?
I still do a lot of the old school writing in longhand, believing it accesses a more creative part of the brain.
Since I am writing in the 70s’ time frame, I confess, I listen to a lot of music from that decade as I write. It took me so back to my high school and college days that when one of my students made a sly comment about what I was wearing, all my “uncool girl” insecurities hit me again. I’m sure these feelings found their way into my character Carrie.
About the Author
The first four chapters of Lone Falcon and the general plot were written when Merrijoy Wennerlind, was a student at the University of Washington. The rest was finished up years later by Merrijoy (MJ.) Buist who worked hard to keep her 24-year-old spirit alive.
MJ. is currently a Diaconal Minister at the Anaheim United Methodist Church. A native of Seattle and a UW graduate, she lives in Santa Ana, California with her husband and two sons. She is currently working on the sequel, Lone Choices, which tells how Carrie lives out her decision. You can reach MJ. at her facebook page: Merrijoy Wennerlind Buist@mjwb
More from MJ
How far would you go to research your book? Would you sit on a narrow crew boat with eight other women and learn to row? That’s what I did to get a feel for what my main character, Carrie Falconer, in Lone Falcon experiences as she joins and excels in the college crew team.
Why did I choose rowing over another sport? I couldn’t resist the metaphor of steering your own boat, which led me to the sport of rowing and its navigator, the coxswain. I fell in love with the idea of choosing your own path and what happens when one goes off course.
You, the reader, will follow Carrie from her strict Christian upbringing to attending a secular college, experiencing her joys and victories as she rises to popularity, and of her first love, the hunky Lenny, men’s team captain. You will struggle along with her as she makes a life decision of whether to turn back to her faith or do what her friends ask.
I originally wrote Lone Falcon in response to all the Young Adult (YA) books and T.V. shows of the times which said, “Your parents and their beliefs are all wrong, do what your friends and the times say.” In the wisdom I’ve acquired in my years of mothering, earning my master’s degree, and becoming a Minister, I adjusted my theme to making your own choices, not what others and society may tell you to do.
I hope this book will encourage other brave young women to live up to what they believe within and not be influenced by what others without tell them to do.