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September 16, 2005   Email to Friend 

Where Hearts Live
Dianne Gaines

"Where Love Grows" is the second book in DuBose's trilogy about the life of Mary Lynn Mitchell.
"Your room looks like a tornado hit it!"

"What, Mother?" Mama repeated the words, only louder this time. I dried off and hurried to my bedroom door. Mama was standing over a stack of books, game boxes and toys piled in front of my closet. Her hair was pulled back from her forehead with a comb so I could see the lines where she tucked her worries...

So begins the novel Where Hearts Live, the first in a trilogy by Montgomery author Sara A. "Candy" DuBose. Mary Lynn Mitchell is a child trapped by criticism, insecurity and longing. Although she cannot escape her dilemma, she discovers ways to cope by bonding with others such as the fun-loving role models Aunt Molly and Uncle Jimmy and her steadfast Grandmother Lil. The setting is the early 1950s village of Chantilly, Ala., modeled after the town of Verbena in Chilton County, where Mrs. DuBose's husband, Dr. William DuBose, spent the first 10 years of his life.

"My husband's fondest memories, when he looks back, are of those days in Verbena. From the time we married, we'd get in the car, and on our way to Birmingham, if we had time, we'd pull off the interstate and take a little tour through Verbena," DuBose recalled. "Well, about eight or 10 years ago it suddenly hit me that there are more stories, not only in this little town, but about my husband's life and my own life as a child that I could weave together someday and maybe write a novel."

Although Where Hearts Live is DuBose's first novel, it was not her first writing experience. "I've been writing since I was in my mid-20s, when my daughters were small. I began with short stories and articles, and I just tried to do a little bit as I could," she said. "I'd run in and write at the kitchen table while the coffee was perking or the dishwasher was running. I'd try to dash off a couple hundred words, polish it up and send it into a magazine."

Those articles eventually made their way into such publications as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Today's Christian Woman, Family Life Today, Power for Living, The Quiet Hour and others. Her short stories appear in the anthologies, Stories For A Woman's Heart, Stories For A Faithful Heart and Stories For The Teen Heart by Alice Gray and Multnomah Publishers. Her writing also appears in two 2005 Barbour books, Journeys of Hope, and Journeys of Friendship. Victor published two of DuBose's stories in their Winner Book series and one of her pieces is included in God Allows U-Turns.

"As a young mother, I didn't have time to get involved in any long projects, but I took advantage of everything around me: my little girls growing up and things I was learning as a mother," DuBose said. "Most of my work back then was non-fiction, things I was actually experiencing, maybe advice to other young mothers."

Her first book, Conquering Anxiety, was written on assignment with her church. "Someone in the department of education and publications knew that I had been writing for Christian magazines, and he asked me if I'd like to do a Bible study for the ladies of our Presbyterian denomination. I said 'I'd love to try,'" DuBose said. She spent the next nine months working on a book that could be used either as an individual or small group Bible study.

"So much of my early work was all non-fiction. But I came to a point in my life where I needed a new challenge and I decided, 'Why not give fiction a try?'" said Dubose.

And as Mary Lynn says in the book, while she's talking to her friend Joel D. Lanier, who writes for the Chilton County News, "I think I'd like to be a writer when I grow up."

"What kind of writing would you like to do?" Joel asks. "I think I want to make up stories," Mary Lynn replies.

"Then you want to write fiction. Fiction is what a writer does with his or her imagination. Much of it can be make-believe. But newspaper or journalism work is fact or non-fiction," says Joel.

"I see," says Mary Lynn. "You get paid for telling the truth, and I'll get paid for telling lies!"

Though DuBose doesn't want to be thought of as a liar, she would love to be remembered as a storyteller. The second book in the trilogy, Where Love Grows, carries the reader further along in the life of Mary Lynn Mitchell.

"In each of the novels, I've tried to develop the character in such a way, that hopefully the reader will care what happens to her," she said. "When I finished the first novel, right away I wanted to pick it up again and show what happened to the child next, as she began to mature and realize how God helped her grow and to see that life did, indeed, have value and meaning. And she saw that even though there were problems, there was a God who was always there."

Each of the first two books chronicles a year in the life of the young girl. But at the end of book two, the author jumps ahead and gives a very brief epilogue of Mary Lynn's adult years.

"I did book three because several people were kind enough to ask if I would consider going back and writing on to show the in-between years," said DuBose. The third and final installment, Where Memories Linger, is due out in late fall or early winter.

DuBose has recently been the featured speaker at the Troy University Authors Day, The Officers Wives' Club at Maxwell Air Force Base and the Newcomers Club of Montgomery. She's had book signings at Barnes and Noble and Family Christian Book Store. Area readers also had the pleasure of hearing her share the adventures of Mary Lynn Mitchell at libraries throughout central Alabama. When asked what she found most satisfying about writing she replied with a laugh, "Being finished!"

DuBose's books are available through bookstores, online bookstores or directly from the author at saradubose@msn.com.


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