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The Story Behind “Stars in the Grass” by Ann Marie Stewart

January 8, 2019 by

Ann Marie Stewart is our guest today.

She wrote a book called Stars in the Grass. 

Today, she’s here to share the story behind her story.

Nine-year-old Abby McAndrews has just experienced her greatest loss, and in its wake, her family is unraveling with guilt, grief, and anger.

Her father, Reverend McAndrews, cannot return to the pulpit because he has more questions than answers. Her older brother Matt’s actions speak louder than the words he needs to confess, as he acts out in dangerous ways. Her mother tries to hold her grieving family together, but when Abby’s dad refuses to move on, the family is at a crossroads.

Stars in the Grass, set in a small Midwestern town in 1970, is an uplifting novel that explores a family’s relationships and resiliency. Abby’s heartbreaking remembrances are balanced by humor and nostalgia as her family struggles with—and ultimately celebrates—life after loss.

What inspired you to write this book?

Stars in the Grass was inspired by real fears and questions. Before I was married or had children, my greatest fear was losing a child. I wrote “Seeing from the Balcony,” a short story about losing a child, as if that would keep it from happening to me. Now that I have two daughters, like so many parents, losing a child is still my greatest fear.

“Seeing from the Balcony” grew into the novel Stars in the Grass which explored the real questions. What if through no fault of your own, your child died in your arms? Whose fault would it be? What would that do to your faith? What if the person holding the child, was a man of great faith and he began doubting? What would that do to his family? To find answers, sometimes authors write questions and let the people in our stories wrestle with and explore potential scenarios and solutions.

Some of my characters are real. One of the most beloved is Patti, whom the ten-year-old narrator, Abby, accidentally calls “Fatty Patti.” She’s one of my best friends. The little boy in the story is my youngest brother when he was very little. The oldest brother, Matt, is my other brother. (Except my brother rarely got into trouble). Some people assume I am Abby, and that the novel is actually a memoir, but though I think like Abby, these things did not happen to me.

One setting is very real:  It’s the magical place of my childhood where the tragic event occurs. The McAndrews family takes their first family vacation at Birch Bay, Washington and experiences their greatest loss. Bethel Springs, Ohio is fictional. It’s every person’s hometown so that every person can relate to coming home to find healing and hope.

Sounds like a thought-provoking tale! Thanks for sharing your story.

Ann Stewart, Christy Award Winner for Debut Novel 2017, and her husband Will raise two daughters and a flock of sheep on their Virginia farm where fireflies light up the sky on warm summer nights.

Ann originated three of AMG’s Preparing My Heart books and writes a column “Ann’s Lovin’ Ewe” for the Country Register, contributes to Mentoring Moments and has written for Proverbs 31. Her background in drama and film bring her characters to life. When she’s not directing music or writing, she loves Madam Secretary, This is Us, and UVA Basketball.

Follow Ann on social media: Website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter



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