The House Guest, a novel by Deborah L. Norris, opens in 1935 in Tilden, Nebraska. Readers are introduced to a young girl named Maggie who is eagerly greeting company. Homemade strawberry ice cream will be served later and she is excited. Sadly, the day ends with a tragedy. The story then jumps ahead to 1959 and Maggie is now a middle-aged widow living in a large manor with her young daughter. The heart of the Victorian home is the kitchen and it is around the kitchen table where Maggie, her friends and guests gravitate to eat and converse. No subject is forbidden and everyone participates. Opinions are expressed (some more strongly than others), memories are shared and a great deal of coffee and cookies are consumed.
Maggie has made peace with her life. She has known sadness and loss. She is surrounded by those she loves and those who love her and she takes comfort in this. She is understandably shocked when the son of a close friend challenges her ownership of her beloved property. Unexpected guests appear at her door, each with their own history. There is suspicion a murder may have occurred and the appearance of a mysterious stranger adds a new dimension to her life. Does Maggie have the strength to face what comes next?
The power of this novel comes from well-crafted and wonderful characters and their dialogues. The reader is carefully immersed into Maggie’s world and we feel as though we are sitting at the kitchen table with her and her friends. Ordinary life is turned into something special at every turn in this beautifully written story. I found this to be a moving and complex novel. Highly recommended. ~ Evie, Amazon Reviewer
About The House Guest, Marichus Real says, “It’s a book that makes you think about life and death and about giving thanks for all the people you love and the joyful times you’ve had with them. Easy to read, The House Guest by Deborah Norris is one of those books you want to finish in order to know what happens next, but at the same time, you feel sad finishing it because you’ve so enjoyed reading it. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time. I would highly recommend to all readers. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC.”
About The House Guest, Tony Parsons writes: “A very well-written historical fiction novel. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start to finish with never a dull moment. There were lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns and a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This would also make another great historical family fiction movie, or mini TV series. A very easy rating of 5 stars.”
REVIEW OF THE HOUSE GUEST
The House Guest by Deborah Norris is a relaxing novel with Maggie Davis as the protagonist; owner of a grand Victorian Manor turned to a bed and breakfast. Her daughter Jenna and her outspoken neighbour Lee are her two lifelines which keep her moving; along with a few newcomers who frequent this manor bringing with them tales of their own.
The quaint Tilden town, the conversations and discussions of the house guests around the kitchen table, and the screen door shutting at the back porch of Maggie’s home and the kitchen door swinging open; perfectly reflects old time grace. The story connects the readers to the importance of culture and to value family ties.
The author’s colorful writing style reflects actual events which occur in our lives someday or the other, engaging me till the end and I would highly recommend this book to all who enjoy nostalgia with a tint of humor and a bit of mystery as well. ~ Pervin Bharucha, Amazon Reviewer
There are no fairer days than April’s lot, of colors bright and flowers fragrant. ~ Deborah L. Norris
Spring is the season of new beginnings, a time when nature is in synchronicity with the heart. ~ Deborah L. Norris
Where have all the days gone? My babies grew up, and my parents grew old. Seasons have come and gone many times over, like a spinning carousel. Everything seems as though it occurred just yesterday, but the mirror tells me otherwise. ~ Deborah L. Norris
“I’m like an old house, run-down and falling apart,” she said, smiling at me from across the table. We had a good laugh at her analogy of aging – she’s a young 88-year-old at heart, but the mind and body are not cooperating so well these days. She struggles with balance and failing eyesight. She loses her train of thought in mid-sentence, and often forgets the simple things. In spite of it all, she maintains a sweet, positive outlook that is nothing short of amazing. Oh, how I love my Mama!
Recently, our conversation took a turn for the serious and left me feeling like I needed to hold onto her a little tighter – for fear that she might leave me sooner than later. “This old house is going to be traded for a mansion in Heaven one of these days,” she said, matter-of-factly.
Today, my grip is firm and my reluctance to let her go is immense. I’ve bargained shamelessly with God, reminding him that I need her more than he does. At the end of the day, I know I’ll have to relinquish my hold and let her have her mansion. But, for now, I’ll cherish every moment that God will allow me to have on this side of Heaven. ~ Deborah L. Norris
Deborah L. Norris is the author of the biographical fiction novel:
The House Guest
Deborah Norris was born in Northern California but spent the majority of her growing up years in Boise, Idaho. She has written hundreds of short stories and articles on health, emotional wellness, family, and cultural history. Norris’s novel, The House Guest, captures in colorful fashion the actual events, cultural mindsets and obvious proclivities surrounding her own Scandinavian family and personal life experiences. Deborah’s expressive writing style quickly engages her readers and encourages them to sit back and enjoy an often nostalgic, magical journey. She and her husband Quincy have grown children and several delightful grandchildren. They are happily retired in beautiful Boise, Idaho where Deborah continues a passion for writing.
Interview Q & A
What inspired you to write your first book? I consider myself most fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend so much time with my Scandinavian family throughout the years – especially the older generation. I would listen for hours to their beautifully told tales of life in Norway and then how they slowly transitioned to life in America once they emigrated. By the time I was twelve, I knew that I would someday write a book about their colorful and spirited lives. They were my true inspiration.
How did you come up with the title? My family’s big, two-story Victorian house in Nebraska was the inspiration for not only the book title, but also the setting. They always had house guests, and everyone was welcome.
How much of the book is realistic? The events which occurred in The House Guest are primarily factual, derived from the written and oral recollections of family members. Names were changed, but the general account is a fairly accurate compilation of their respective stories.
What books have most influenced your life? Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup, just to name a few.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Maya Angelou, of course. I love her many works, but most of all, I love her unique, overall perspective on life.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? Absolutely. When it happens, I put my hands up slowly and step away from the computer. Creativity requires inspiration. If my writing has hit a plateau then I need to refuel my inspiration. The most inspiration-building activities I can engage in are conversing with positive, faith-filled people and going for a walk to take in the awesomeness of nature and my surroundings. Most importantly, I don’t stress over so-called writer’s block. Creativity and inspiration always return, and sometimes a break is exactly what is most needed.
Do you write an outline before every book you write? Yes, and along with a fairly extensive outline, I pre-determine chapter titles and the ending before beginning the actual content writing of the novel.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special? Maggie Davis is a gentle soul, but also has a determined side, as well. She has endured tragic circumstances, yet remains true to herself and to her love of life. Maggie is not the most notable character in the book, but she certainly is the one who creates the atmosphere for life to happen.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? My best time of day is early morning, after a cup of coffee, and following a little quiet time. I write when I’m inspired, generally a few pages per day.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand? I usually keep a notebook handy for jotting down thoughts and ideas when I’m away from my computer. It’s easy to transfer those writings into my book outline on the computer when I’m ready to formulate a chapter.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews? Of course my favorite reviews are good ones. But, I certainly don’t lose sleep over a mediocre review. It’s going to happen. I will say that I don’t care for one-liner reviews, whether they’re good or bad. My thought is, if you’ve taken the time to read a book and intend to do an honest review, then put some thought into why you like or dislike the read.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview. ~ EBReviews