Hi Jolyn, I’m excited to have you on my blog.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.
I am the mother of six children, three are heart grown (one from a Romanian orphanage, one through our years doing foster care, and one who fled to China as a teenager)—and three are homegrown. My husband, Earle, is my rock and the godliest and most honorable man I have ever known. We are the grandparents of the three most delightful GrandDarlings on the planet.
Can you share with us a book you have read recently, are currently reading?• What age did you realize you loved books and when did you start writing?
I remember in 3rd grade being sooo excited that I had saved up enough money to order a Scholastic book at school — It was Charlotte’s Web, and from there I became hooked on every horse book I could find from Marguerite Henry, and also Frances Hodgson Burnett.
How long does it normally take you to write your books?
It takes about 2-3 months after I have done the initial research and planning.
Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?
I absolutely need an outline to organize my thoughts and chapters.
Is there a special place you like to write?
I have a big cream-colored comfortable reclining chair in our bedroom that overlooks our babbling Brook and 10 acres of pine trees. It is peaceful and quiet and I find inspiration there.
Tell us about your books.
I have written /illustrated two books,
Her husband—a friend to Mark Twain, mentor to Lewis Carroll, and the man C. S. Lewis called his “master”—was one of the greatest Christian writers of the Victorian era. She was his hidden gem, the bulwark and bastion on which he could lean. Though she was an accomplished musician and singer, an advocate for the poor and neglected, and a published author, she didn’t need the spotlight, but was content to be her husband’s biggest fan and companion. She bore eleven children and adopted and cared for several others. Enduring hardships few of us will ever experience, this petite woman faced them with courage and strength.
Her name was Louisa MacDonald.
Lilia Scott MacDonald (1852-1891) loved children. She wanted to bring delight and wonder into their lives, and especially loved presenting stories to the poorest and neediest who lived in the heart of London. She wanted every child to have access to the best poetry, to hear their lovely rhymes and cadence, and to ponder their themes—the glory of nature and of our Creator.
So Lilia put together her favorite poems, ones she believed every child ought to know, including those by Blake, Shakespeare, the Taylors, Tennyson, and by her own beloved father, George MacDonald. Her book, originally titled Babies’ Classics, was first published in 1904. We are delighted to present this new edition of Lilia’s wonderful compilation with twenty-one original color illustrations by Jolyn Canty, author of Far Above Rubies, the biography of Lilia’s mother, Louisa MacDonald. Also included is a brief biography of Lilia by her great-nephew, Christopher MacDonald.
Louisa and Lilia McDonald were remarkable women whose lives need to be known and understood.
What was your inspiration for starting this book or series?
I have always been a big fan of George McDonald. I begin reading his books when I learned that they were recommended by Elizabeth Elliot and CS Lewis. I have read every single novel he ever wrote, and it occurred to me that I knew nothing about his wife, Louisa. I asked my editor friend if he knew of any books written about her so that I could learn about Louisa herself, and he said, “Jolyn, there is not one book about her and if you write it then I will publish it.”
What do you find to be the most challenging when writing?
I find the most challenging aspect of writing to be accuracy in research and citing correct sources. There is so much information available, but making sure it is accurate information takes time.
What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?
I was surprised by how strong and yet humble Louisa was. It became very clear that George MacDonald became a great writer and apologist in no small part through the love and support of Louisa.
What did you learn about yourself through writing it?
I learned that it truly is better to model my life after women like Louisa MacDonald. She had great humor, altruism, fortitude in poverty and suffering, and a heart that saw and welcomed every child who needed a home.
What’s one thing you wish readers would take away from this book?
I hope that readers will take away from my book a desire to be broken bread and poured out wine — especially for children — because they are so precious to Him.
How do you feel writing has affected your relationship with God?
Writing books these days is an interesting endeavor, and that the only way to sell them is to promote yourself, especially by using social media. I have written these books and designated the proceeds to be given to a Christian nonprofit with which I volunteer, Embrace Washington, that helps bring Christ and tangible help to foster children here in Spokane Washington. It does trouble me that I have to promote myself in order to help the children, because I think we are to only promote Jesus — not ourselves, so this has been quite a challenge for me. It is a challenge, because I am trying to apply
2 Corinthians 10:17,18 to all that I do: “But he that glories let him glory in the Lord. For it is not who commends himself that is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”
So I have been having to trust God to sell these books to help the children, and not by promoting myself, which seems to be the only way that books are sold nowadays.
ღ ღ About Jolyn Canty ღ ღ¸
Jolyn Canty is the wife to her beloved Earle, the mother of six, and the adoring Nana of three grandchildren. She is a talented artist, a passionate quilter, and a long-time devotee of George MacDonald.