Author Interview: Carla Stewart

DSC02659_2 copyWe are happy to host Carla Stewart, author of Stardust, one of five novels in the General Fiction Shortlisted books.

Thanks for the opportunity to be here. I’m truly honored that Stardust is on the INSPY short list and thank those of you who spent precious hours reading and choosing the books. You’re my heroes!

   At this point in your writing career, what has been the most memorable experience?

There are many highlights and turning points—getting an agent who believed in my work, being a Genesis winner in the early days, and then holding each of my published books in my hands. But the memories I treasure are those when readers tell me I’ve struck a chord with them or written scenes as though I were in their living rooms. Just a few days ago, an older gentleman came up to me after I’d given a talk about Stardust. Polio is one of the backdrops of the story, and the man’s chin trembled as he told me he had two siblings, age two and four, who died of polio in the 1950s. He thanked me for writing about the topic so that people would remember. I could barely see through the tears to sign the book for him.

12869265   What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological or logistical) in bringing the book to life?

Two things come to mind. The first was an unforeseen crisis. During the time I dedicated to finishing and polishing the manuscript, my dad had quadruple bypass surgery in a city six hours from where I live. For some that might not be a problem, but when I began writing full time, I vowed that my family would always come first. I tried writing while I was gone, and wrote a chapter or two, but still needed 40,000 words when I returned home two and a half weeks later. The upside was that my dad had done well and fortunately, I was able to make the deadline.

Another challenge was a plot element that kept eluding me. I knew how I wanted the story to end, but I needed a bridge or clue of some kind that would get me there. For weeks I thought about it and tried out different scenarios, but it just wasn’t right. When the answer came, it was so obvious that it made me laugh. Not only that but the foundation had been laid in earlier scenes so I had very few tweaks to make to layer in the material. Moments like this are what make writing exciting for me. The subconscious works when I’m not, and I sometimes get in the way of my own story.  

   As book lovers, it interests us: What books or authors have influenced you?

Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible), Rosamund Pilcher (The Shell Seekers), Susan Meissner, Lisa Samson, Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), Leif Enger (Peace Like a River), Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle), Charles Martin

table beside Carla's recliner filled with her materials & resources

table beside Carla’s recliner filled with her materials & resources

   Tell us about a book that epitomizes quality [Christian] faith-driven lit.

Julie Cantrell’s Into The Free was the most recent faith-driven novel I read that pulled all the things I love together into one book—an authentic voice, Southern flavor, a literary bent, and captivating message of hope and forgiveness.

   What do you hope readers take away from Stardust?

At its heart, Stardust is a story of forgiveness and new beginnings. When Georgia’s unfaithful husband drowns on the first page, I set up the premise of the story. What I didn’t expect was that Georgia would act with such integrity on her way to molding a new life. I hope that it encourages readers to push through when they’re struggling and not wallow in their misery. Reaching out to others is a good road to healing, and Georgia does that. It’s a lesson for myself as well as readers.

A child of the 50’s & 60’s, Carla Stewart loves nostalgia…her site is filled with reminisces of by-gone days and the slow summers of yesteryear.  A gifted storyteller, lovely Mimi to 6 grandchildren and wife of over 40 years to her best friend, Carla Stewart is the epitome of faith in action.  To connect with Carla please visit

  • Thanks, INSPY team, for having me here! And I meant what I said about being grateful for your dedication to reading and promoting great fiction! God Bless!

  • I truly enjoyed this peek into your writing process, Carla, and to hear about the readers who touched your heart. Congrats on the INSPY for Stardust. I am loving Sweet Dreams!