Today we're talking with Sue Ann Sellon, author of Secrets of the Porch
FQ: You have an interesting bio and mention the love you share with your husband in your historical home. Could you elaborate further on its history?
SELLON: Nebraska City, Nebraska is the home of the nationally celebrated holiday, Arbor Day. Our home was built in 1880 by Robert Payne, who collaborated with J. Sterling Morton (Founder of Arbor Day) on many business ventures. Mr. Payne’s daughter, Boatie Payne married Carl Morton (Son of J. Sterling Morton) in our home on December 19th, 1888. The Morton name is well known around the world as Carl’s brother Joy was the founder of the Morton Salt Company. My husband and I love the style of our home which is Gothic and Italianate, as well as a love of the history that precludes our time. Our home entertains a large wrap-around porch, which is described in Secrets of the Porch.
FQ: You reference having been born and raised along the Missouri River in Nebraska. How familiar is the setting in Secrets of the Porch to memories of your own childhood home?
SELLON: The setting is very familiar. Nebraska City and many references in Secrets of the Porch are from my own memories of being raised along the Missouri River and the surrounding farming communities. Particularly, the farm setting in Morton Falls which was truly inspired by my grandparent’s farm outside of St. Paul, Nebraska. As a child I remember the farm vividly and I wanted to write a story that reflected the love and healing simply surrounded by nature.
FQ: One last bio question... You were a chef, restaurateur and owned a fashion franchise? Would you mind sharing more about such interesting experiences?
SELLON: I love cooking as much as I love writing. I believe I have been given an incredible gift of artistic creation and that has blossomed into both cooking and writing, as well as an eye for art and fashion. Both my grandmother and mother were incredible cooks. I remember my grandmother telling me, “Nothing goes to waste on a farm.” Leftovers were recycled which took some thought and a taste for good old fashioned home cooking.
FQ: Secrets of the Porch has characters full of life and personality—particularly Sophie. Have you spent time with troubled teens? If so, was it difficult to write about some of the frightening experiences Sophie endured given she was barely sixteen?
SELLON: Sophie’s character was fun to write about. I could see her in my mind as if she were real. She is sassy, but sweet. Hardened by life, yet softened by love. I have spent many years mentoring young teens through school programs. As a teen with challenges myself, I could relate whole-heartedly to Sophie. Although her experiences were far more extreme than anything I had endured, I know that many young girls experience the levels of emotion that Sophie was living. As well, many young girls are not spiritually or emotionally ready for relationships at such a young age. My hope is that “Secrets of the Porch” can give young teens a glimpse of how easily we can be disillusioned. It is not until we are healthy and spiritually minded that we can find just what God has intended for us.
FQ: I commend you for writing a story so beautifully tied to faith and belief. In the world today, it seems there are many who would prefer to discount its meaning. Have you encountered such situation(s) and how do you navigate the encounter?
SELLON: I find myself sometimes wanting to describe Secrets of the Porch without mentioning the value of its origin to God. Younger in my career as a saleswoman, I remember being told not to talk about religion or politics with customers. I didn’t take heed of this advice and I soon learned why. We all have different points of view, different ideals…all which make us different. What saddens me is that is seems we now live in a world where our views and opinions are attacked with such hostility and publically. Hence, we become tight-lipped. I quickly remind myself that my talent is on loan from God and regardless of any back-lash, I will always stand firm in my beliefs and I will continue to share in my writings all that He has taught me.
FQ: I think it is safe to say many humans have secrets. While I am not asking you to divulge specifics, has there ever been a time when you decided to share one of your innermost secrets and if so, what was the outcome?
SELLON: Secrets are painful. We can only hold them for so long before they begin to gnaw away at our soul. Yes, there was a time when I felt my secrets were safe within my heart. I was foolish for thinking that I was safe from my secrets. When I could no longer carry the weight of the guilt that I had consumed, I too was freed by the release, just as Lila and Sophie were in Secrets of the Porch. The freedom from secrets is powerful. When someone asks you to keep a secret...I would advise against.
FQ: I’m always intrigued to talk with fellow writers and hear their story of the moment or moments that led to the decision to share their gift with the world. When did you sit up and take notice of your writer within?
SELLON: I began writing poetry as far back as I can remember. And, I have always had an over-active imagination. I would sit in class and look at people and begin writing a story about them in my mind. If they had a look of sadness, I would create a scenario of their situation. When I was younger, on one particular day, I overheard my dad telling a friend of his that I could explain things in great detail. He said she can not only tell you what a tree looks like, she can tell you how it feels. I thought that was funny, but it was that moment that I knew I had a gift for writing. It wasn’t until later in life, when my son Jonathon informed me that he would be quitting college after semester end to join the Navy. I was disappointed at first, but he wanted to follow his dream and asked me why I wasn’t following mine. He was right. It was at that moment when I decided to pursue my dream. My first book, Carly’s Calling was released in 2004 and ten years later Secrets of the Porch has arrived.
FQ: Thank you for the pleasure of your time and interview opportunity. It was a treat to kick back, relax and immerse myself into your beautiful story. Do you have a new project in the works and if so, would you be willing to share a teaser?
SELLON: I am currently working on my third novel, Blue Skies, Wheat Fields & God. It is the incredible journey of a young man named Jonathon who returns from his duty in Afghanistan to find his wife and two children are gone. It is inspiring as Jonathon sets out on journey to find his family, all the while not knowing what he is about to find. God guides him as well as the incredible people God has placed in his path along this journey. It will be a great read!