Submitted by Susanne Bacon.
Author Connie Connally from Tacoma, Washington, is a former English teacher and music teacher. Now she spends her time writing and occasionally teaching workshops at writing conferences. Through the course of her life, Connie has done many kinds of writing, but she enjoys fiction most. Her first published novel, “The Songs We Hide,” published in 2018 by Coffeetown Press, was a finalist for the Nancy Pearl Book Award in 2019. Last summer, her then in-progress second novel, “Fire Music,” won the Scriptoria Award for literary fiction. “Fire Music” will be published in 2024. Connie is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and also belongs to a critiquing group with a few other writers. When Connie isn’t writing, she enjoys playing guitar and spending time with family and friends. She and her husband travel for pleasure and to see their sons and their children in Hawaii, Peru, and Washington, DC.
Which genres do you cover?
Connie Hampton Connally: “The Songs We Hide” is historical fiction, and my new book, “Fire Music,” is a dual-timeline novel, partly historical and partly contemporary. I’ve also written non-fiction articles and blog posts.
Which is the latest book you had published, and what is it about?
Connie Hampton Connally: “The Songs We Hide” is about two singers in Hungary in 1951, during the height of Stalinist communism. Here’s a one-sentence summary: “In communist Hungary, a peasant loses his land, a young mother loses her baby’s father, and both are scared into silence—until music brings them together to face the agonizing tests ahead.”
At which book events can readers find you?
Connie Hampton Connally: Lately I’ve participated in some of the bookselling events of the Greater Gig Harbor Literary Society. Those are wonderful. In the past I’ve also done readings in bookstores, libraries, and museums, and I hope to do more of those when my new book comes out. Also, I often lead a workshop at “Write in the Harbor,” a Gig Harbor writing event that takes place each November, and I love interacting with writers and readers there.
Which book event connecting you with readers is your favorite and why?
Connie Hampton Connally: I love giving book talks in which there’s plenty of discussion. In many of my presentations of “The Songs We Hide,” I talked with people about Hungarian history and culture, and also about the effects of communism. Sometimes people in the audience were Hungarian, and some had lived through the difficult events in my book. It was really meaningful to hear their comments and memories. I’ve had Hungarians thank me for writing the book.
Do you have any specific messages to your readers and, if so, what are they?
Connie Hampton Connally: My stories emphasize that we as people really need each other and that creativity and redemption are possible even in great hardship.
Which writer(s) keep(s) inspiring you and why?
Connie Hampton Connally: I’d have to say that the writer who’s inspired me the most, decade after decade, is the anonymous author of the book of Job (in the Bible). The book of Job is a tremendous poetic work exploring the meaning of suffering, of faith, and of integrity. I’ve returned to it again and again, and it deepens with each reading.
Do you have specific writing habits?
Connie Hampton Connally: Normally, I try to write for several hours a day. I work at my desk with my notes and research materials nearby. I plot out my stories as best as I can, as a kind of road map, but I make a lot of changes along the way. I revise everything I write, often many times.
What are you currently working on?
Connie Hampton Connally: I just finished writing a multigenerational novel, “Fire Music.” It will be published next year. “Fire Music” is also set in Hungary and portrays the siege of Budapest at the end of World War II. As for my next project, I’m currently doing some journaling to plan another novel.
Which book are you currently reading simply for entertainment?
Connie Hampton Connally: I’m reading Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” and enjoying it. I don’t know that I can call it entertainment, though, because I’m reading it in Spanish. Not easy!
What advice would you give any aspiring writer?
Connie Hampton Connally: Commit yourself to writing regularly. Learn all you can about the craft of writing. Get used to revising your work, because revision makes the difference between mediocrity and excellence. Choose topics that truly matter to you and characters you can come to love. This is especially important if you’re writing a book-length project because you’ll need endurance. If your heart is in the work, you can keep going.
You can find Connie Hampton Connally’s books on Amazon.