Normandie Fischer’s pursuit of art took her to the Corcoran School in D.C. in her early teens, and then on to Italy, where she studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Perugia before returning “home” to complete a degree in English.
She eventually took a proofreader’s job, which parlayed into a copy editor’s position and finally to that of senior editor. Although her career was thriving, Normandie left the organized workforce to raise her babies on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There, she sculpted, taught sculpture, wrote, edited, and raised her family.
In 2003, Normandie and her husband, Michael, along with Normandie’s aunt, began the cruising life with the purchase of Sea Venture, a boat large enough for the three of them—and any children who wanted to visit. By 2008, Normandie and Michael left California to cruise Mexico, and Normandie polished three manuscripts. Becalmed was released in July to rave reviews. Sailing out of Darkness releases November 1.
It’s obvious you’re an adventurer at heart. What sparked your writing adventure?
Boredom. I’d been sculpting for years, mostly taking portrait commissions after my children came along. I enjoyed working with clients and teaching sculpture, selling my work. And then I had several commissions that stretched my niceness quotient, and I thought: Hey, I’m a big girl now. I don’t have to continue something just because I’m good at it or to fear something just because I may not be brilliant at it. Fear of failure should never dictate our choices, should it?
I’d written technical manuals and books, essays, poems, work for hire. I’d been an editor. Fiction felt like a stretch, an entirely different species of writing, but the challenge appealed to me. I wanted to become the best writer of stories I could be.
How does your faith play into your work?
My husband and I practice friendship evangelism, especially when we are cruising. With my writing, I long to touch the heart of the unbeliever, the me of years ago, before I met the Lord. So, I write fiction that fits my worldview, where faith permeates the stories, but rarely overtly.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
The biggest detour and the one that ultimately brought healing into my life came when my children’s father decamped, and I became a single mother. His departure opened the door for me to take care of my auntie (whose life prompted the what-if for my novel Becalmed), which also gave me time to write. Eventually, it freed me to meet my darling Michael, who is absolutely God’s gift to me.
Let’s talk about your second book, Sailing out of Darkness (Whitefire Publishing, September 2013). Please tell us about it.
In Sailing out of Darkness, the female protagonist longs for something, anything that will validate her after her husband leaves. She’s propelled into such an emotional wasteland that she becomes vulnerable to what seems a safe friendship.
It isn’t. And so she flees to Italy, but the repercussions of her actions continue to affect her and others—as consequences are wont to do.
After my divorce, hurting women seemed to flock to my vicinity. (Either that, or suddenly husbands in the church were leaving in droves.) These were abandoned women, angry women, women searching for love in the wrong places. I wasn’t in any shape to minister to them as I too was struggling at the cross, but that period helped me understand how woefully ignorant and unprepared many church goers are when it comes to hearing the cries of the hurting. I know of two women (to whom I dedicated the book) who actually killed themselves because no one listened or reached out a hand when they needed it.
God often uses our stories to teach us when we’re writing them. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book?
The process of divorce and healing taught me about grace in a way that I’d never fully internalized. I’d ministered and counseled for years about the Love of God. I’d preached and written about it, but part of me, the part that needed healing, still held on to the idea that I had to be perfect to be loved by God and by man. I knew better, but the heart and the head weren’t working well together, especially during my years of living with an alcoholic husband and during divorce recovery. As I wrote about Sam’s guilt and helped her find peace, I think new pieces slid into place for me as well. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God. And that’s probably the most powerful message we have to share with this hurting world.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Oh, chocolate. Definitely, but I’m a very disciplined chocolate eater, so each bite lasts. The darker the chocolate, the better, and a chocolate truffle or a flourless dark chocolate torte that slides over the tongue with all its rich sweetness awakens my pleasure senses better than any other food.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
Oh, honey, don’t I wish. I can’t carry a tune to save my life. But I still sing when I’m alone—and to babies and the dying. I look forward to having a voice that pleases the ear when I reach eternity!
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
A worship song. Without a doubt, a melody lifted to the Lord.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
What a great question. At various times I’ve been all (except the little girl in the high heels—I was always tall enough without them—or the super heroine, unless you count rescuing the hurting in that definition. I’m definitely a rescuer.) In my teen years, I was the mystery woman/teen/iconoclast. As a mother, I had to be the strong female lead. But you left out the observer, the one who watches from a distance, the one who finds the world a fascinating place to study. My children often told me, “Mama, you’re staring again,” because it embarrassed them. As a sculptor, faces and figures fascinated me. I studied and memorized expressions, planes and angles, features, the positive and negative space around a person. As a writer, I stare and study because the world is populated with so many interesting folk, so many different attitudes, responses, ideas, reactions. I can’t help it!
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
My first dog (I was six) was killed by a car, and I never really had another pet until my ex-husband and I rescued various cats.
Thank you, Normandie! It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
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For more information about Normandie, visit her website or her blog.
To purchase Sailing out of Darkness and Becalmed, logon to:
Kathy, thank you so much for hosting me here on your beautiful blog. Please forgive me for not alerting you to the fact that we postponed release of Sailing out of Darkness until November 1. Instead of a release party, this can serve as a teaser for the soon-coming book!
Also, in about thirty minutes we lease Aberdeen Creek (off the South River and Chesapeake Bay) to sail south to Solomon’s Island and will be at sea most of the day. I’ll check in when I can because I do so love interacting with readers!
Checking in from the middle of the Chesapeake. Isn’t it amazing what technology can do!
I know MANY readers are looking forward to the new book, Normandie! Wishes for smooth sailing.
Normandie, I’m glad for you that you haven’t allowed Life 101 to stop you from pursuing your writing. Blessings.
Elaine, thank you. Dreams are gifts, aren’t they? And all those life issues are just fodder for the dreams we’re given, especially when they turn into stories.
Kathy, thank you so much for the opportunity to be here today!