Once again, we're talking with my special friend, DiAnn Mills. I've known her for many years, and I love all of her books. I believe you will, too. Her newest book is Lightning and Lace, book three in the Texas Legacy series. I've read all three books, and they are marvelous.
DiAnn Mills has sold over a million copies of her combined seventeen novels, fourteen novellas, and non-fiction book. Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents, and two of her books have won short historical of the year by American Christian Romance Writers 2003 and 2004. She is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice award for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella category. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Chi Libris, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.
DiAnn Mills concludes her Texas Legacy series with Lightning and Lace, a gritty novel that is part thriller and part romance. The year is 1898 when Travis Whitworth steps onto the train platform in Kahlerville, Texas. As he has a good look at the small, dusty town, he is determined to face life again and return to preaching. Having lost his last church because of a scandal involving a brothel, he is equally determined to avoid women altogether. But within an hour of his arrival, he finds himself caught in the affairs of Bonnie Kahler, an attractive, young widow whose unruly son is headed for a future of crime unless someone can reach him.
Like Travis, Bonnie also intends to face life again by rising from her grief and returning to her responsibilities. Staring over is proving hard though. Her oldest son has already been arrested once and is now living with the new preacher, and the married banker who supplied her with wine during her mourning 'to help her sleep at night,' is now threatening to reveal that she's been drinking if she crosses him. When she refuses the banker's advances, she ignites a storm of wrath that engulfs her and her family in rumors that threaten to destroy them. Her strongest ally becomes the new preacher who is hiding secrets of his own.
Are the characters from Lightning and Lace taken from real-life people?
No. They are simply characters that jumped into my mind.
Are they compilations of people you know, and if so, will those people recognize themselves? If your characters are purely make-believe, how do you develop them?
Developing characters takes more time than any other aspect of writing--for me. I live with them. I give them personality tests. I interview them. I question their motivations. I put them in uncomfortable situations to see how they respond.
Which character is most like you, and why?
None of them and all of them. I strive to make sure that every character does not resemble me, but that is impossible. I believe all of my characters have a little of "me" simmering inside.
Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?
This began while I was in Sudan, and it's all about forgiveness. We all have people who have hurt our feelings, wronged us in some way. But I met people in Africa who had watched their families and friends murdered, and still many of them have been able to forgive. God not only instilled in my heart to forgive but to push for reconciliation with anyone who has wronged me or I have wronged them. I don't want to stand before God and have Him ask me why I didn't help someone through the forgiveness process. Besides, He'll have lots of other things to ask me about. :-)
How do you deal with your other obligations (family, church, etc.) when it's crunch time near deadlines?
I list everything that has to be done with a due date and the approximate amount of time that the obligation will take to complete. For my writing project, I divide the number of words by the days left to complete it and make sure I don't go to bed until the word count is completed.
What's your favorite worship song, and why?
"These are the Days of Elijah." I guess because it speaks of hope, the hope since the Old Testament times when those who loved God looked for the Messiah and on to current times when we look for Christ's second coming.
What book are you currently reading?
The Count of Monte Cristo. I also went back to school for a Biblical Studies degree, so I'm knee-deep in several books. :-)
What book project are you working on now? Can you give us a sneak-peak of the storyline?
I'm working on a novella set during the Depression in Missouri. The hero and heroine were married just before he left for the Great War. But he lost his leg and could not forgive himself for the horrors of what he'd done as a soldier. He couldn't bring himself to return home. Now it's the Depression, and he has to see her one more time. She doesn't recognize him, but there is something familiar. . .
If Lightning and Lace was turned into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
LOL I have to think about that a moment. I suppose Reese Witherspoon for Bonnie and Matt Damon for Travis.
Do you plan the plot of your story in advance, or does it develop as the story plays out?
I do both. I have some major scenes in my mind and then I fill in the blanks, according to character, as I go along.
What did you do to ensure the authentic feel of Lightning and Lace? What sort of research was necessary?
Texas research. Historical culture: dress, food, speech, politics, church life, school, and visit the places where I want the story to unfold.
How long did it take you to write Lightning and Lace?
Three months, start to finish.
What would most surprise us about you?
This is a tough question! Perhaps that I would one day like to teach creative writing on a college level.
Give readers one good reason why they should read Lightning and Lace.
It's real life today with issues of alcohol, single parenting, and deceit in a historical setting. It's also an unlikely romance and a story of God's redeeming love.
Readers, I urge you to read all three of these books. Remember, if you leave a comment, you'll have a chance to win a copy of Lightning and Lace. Also there's still time to leave a comment on Deanne Gist's and Amy Wallace's interviews.