I became acquainted with Bonnie Leon through American Christian Fiction Writers. It gives me great pleasure to introduce her to you, my readers.
Bonnie, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
When I was offered a contract for my first book I considered not signing. I wasn’t sure how I felt about exposing myself to readers. My love for writing and a belief that God has asked me to write persuaded me to go ahead and sign, thank the Lord.
How I see the world is influenced by my life experiences and my own perceptions, therefore who I am has an impact on my characters and it effects what ends up on the pages of my books. I haven’t purposely created a character fashioned after me, but pieces of me show up in lots of characters.
So what is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
It was years ago, back in the day when being a hippy and partaking of drugs were part of my life. I lived in Washington State and in the country there were thousands of slugs. One night after taking some speed I went outside with my flashlight and a salt shaker and salted hundreds of slugs.
The next day, my mother was stunned to find dead slugs everywhere and wanted to know what in the world had gotten into me. Of course I didn’t tell her, but I’ve never forgotten my outrageous way of using up excess energy.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I think my first inkling came in 1979. My father had died of cancer five years previously and I was having some quiet time while my one-year-old son slept. My dad came to mind; he often did. I missed him terribly and still do. I decided to write about him—the kind of man he was and how his life had impacted mine. He was a truly a special person.
When I’d finished writing I read what I’d put down on paper and was stunned. It was good (for a beginner). I remember thinking I didn’t know I could do that.
I was busy being a homemaker and raising a family so several years went by before I tried again.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love all kinds of books. I do have favorites, however and historical fiction is on the top of my list. The mingling of story and history captivates me. I always learn so much while I’m enjoying a story. Two of my favorite historical novels, are Hawaii and The Last Sin Eater. In historical romance, Redeeming Love is number one.
One of the things I find intriguing about history is that people are people no matter what time or place they live. Certainly some of the challenges are different, but the way people relate to one another and their strengths and weaknesses seem to be a constant through time.
After historical fiction, I adore true life stories, such as The Hiding Place by Corrie Te Boom and You’ve Got to Keep on Dancing by Tim Hansel. I am inspired and encouraged by those who stand up to the worst life can throw their way and still live faith-filled lives.
Third on my list of favorite genres is Women’s Fiction(literary), such as The Girl With the Pearl Earring. That was such a great book. And I loved The Secret Life of Bees. Sue Monk Kidd is a simile genius.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’ll list them for you in the order of release date, beginning with my first series.
The Northern Lights Series
The Journey of Eleven Moons
In the Land of White Nights
Return to the Misty Shore
The Sowers Trilogy
Where Freedom Grows
In Fields of Freedom
Harvest of Truth
A Sacred Place
The Matanuska Series
Valley of Promises
Worthy of Riches
Home at Last
The Queensland Chronicles
The Heart or Thornton Creek
For the Love of the Land
When the Storm Breaks
I love books set in Australia. I'm going to have to get copies of The Queensland Chronicles series. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Good question. Sometimes I don’t manage very well. My life is busy, as are most peoples’ these days. Being a writer brings its own special challenges. I have to be creative whether I feel like it or not. :-) There are always deadlines and other tasks waiting to be done.
My life can’t be just about writing books. I have family and friends, and they’re important to me. So I do my best to spend time with those I love, especially now that three of my grandchildren live with me. Still, I have to cut out a lot of time to write, plus create and present writing workshops and inspirational speeches. And I dare not avoid the promotional roller coaster, which can be a wild and time-consuming ride.
My sanctuary is Christ. I meet with him every morning for prayer and Bible study. And I do my best to remember that He is with me wherever I go. He is my strength.
I know what you mean. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Names matter a lot. When writing historical fiction I have to be careful that the name fits the time and place. So that’s something I look for right off. I always want to consider the type of character and make sure it fits that person. For primary characters I usually consider the meaning behind a name as well. It helps me connect more completely with the person and I love to use the info in a story when I can.
I use a character naming book, an online sites, and a baby naming book as references. I also make lists of names while doing research, especially when there’s an ethnic background, such as in the Northern Lights Series. I want to use names that would actually have been used for a certain culture.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’d have to say being a mom. In my fifty-five years I’ve done a great many things, but there’s never been anything I loved more than raising my three kids. It’s the best thing God ever let me do. Don’t misunderstand, it wasn’t and isn’t all wine and roses. There have been moments when I’ve wondered, “What was I thinking?”
Most days it was a blessing. I loved the time with my children—blackberry picking, baking together, hunting for tadpoles—I enjoyed all of it, but mostly the laughter. When my husband and I decided to start a family one of the things we never counted on was the laughter. Our kids made us laugh every day. Now my grandchildren do.
And that laughter is a special blessing from God. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
What a great question. I think a horse would suit me. They’re beautiful, powerful animals. When they raise their tails and prance or run across a field leaping and shaking their heads I can feel the joy and pleasure they take in just being strong and free. I think they are noble and confident, qualities I admire.
What is your favorite food?
Does chocolate count as a food group? I am a chocoholic. I love it any way I can get it.
Probably 80% of the authors respond with chocolate. I'm right there with you, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Time. I crave more time to create, to allow ideas to percolate and grow naturally. I would love to have enough time to allow a story to evolve at its pace rather than mine. And as to how did I overcome it? I haven’t. Perhaps when I retire and create stories just for myself, with no expectations or deadlines, then it will happen.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Enjoy writing. There is such pleasure in the creative process. Certainly learn the craft and don’t throw out the rules, but don’t let them dominate you either. There is joy in creating and storytelling so experience that to its fullest. Writing is a gift so accept it and take pleasure in it.
Bonnie, I love the cover. What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
This is the toughest question you’ve asked me. There is so much I’d like to say about
To Love Anew but there isn’t time or space here. All I can say is that it opens in 1804 London and carries the reader to New South Wales, Australia. When I started writing the story of Hannah Talbot and John Bradshaw I had no idea of the adventure I’d be taking. It’s been a remarkable journey. One I hope my readers will enjoy as much as I have.
So, a little about the story—
Everything Hannah loves is taken from her and she finds herself on a prison ship sailing for New South Wales. Having committed what she sees as an unforgivable sin, she struggles to forgive herself and has no hope of ever knowing joy.
John has been betrayed by those closest to him and has lost everything he holds dear. His future holds no hope.
This is a story about two people whose hearts are filled with pain and how they discover a Love greater than their sorrow.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m easy to find. Just go to www.bonnieleon.com. Make sure to say hello.
Thank you for spending this time with us, Bonnie.
Readers check out Bonnie's web site and her other books. If you want a chance to win a copy of this book, leave a comment on the interview. In a couple of weeks, we'll draw a winner.
If you don't want to chance missing a single interview or winner post, sign up for FeedBlitz, under my profile in the right hand column.
There's still time to leave a comment on these interviews, too:
Brian Fleming - A Life Worth Living
Tricia Goyer - A Shadow of Treason
Pamela Kay Tracy - The Price of Redemption
Denise Hunter - Surrender Bay
Toni V. Lee - Expectations
This weekend, we'll choose a winner for the three at the bottom of the list.