Welcome back, Bonnie. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
I’ve worked hard to get my books “out there” and my efforts have been rewarded. I hear from people all over the globe. My last two series have been published in Dutch and so I receive these lovely letters from Dutch readers. One came through written in Dutch so I wrote back explaining that I couldn’t speak or read the language. She graciously responded in English.
As with many writers I’m perpetually living a balancing act of family, writing, church, friends and everything else. Recently I’ve been feeling called by the Lord to reevaluate where I put my energy. I’m certain part of that process is sharpening my writing skills. I’m praying for better health and the funds to attend more conferences where I can soak in the teaching of others. Truly, the learning never ends.
I’ve always enjoyed teaching and speaking and I hope to do more of that. I love meeting people and when teaching at writing conferences it’s always exciting to see young writers grab hold of new concepts and move forward. I adore speaking to women’s groups. I believe the Lord’s given me something to say, and through the process He always has something to teach me.
Tell us a little about your family.
My husband and I will have been married thirty-eight years this August. We met when I was just seventeen. I was just a baby.
We have three adult children. Our son and his wife live in Central Oregon, our oldest daughter and her son, Gabe, live in Washington and our youngest daughter, her husband and three children are off on a new adventure. Her husband, Fernest, joined the army this year and in June they’ll be moving to their new post. We’re waiting with anticipation to find out where that will be.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
Absolutely. I used to spend hours reading just for pleasure. Now adays, life is too full to read all the books I’d like, but I manage to work in pleasure reading nearly every day. I read more non-fiction than ever before, mostly because my stories require a lot of research. However, I thoroughly enjoy history and research feels like a treasure hunt.
A sad change is that I have difficulty reading without editing. Not until I’m well into a story do I set that aside. And I’m pickier about what books I read.
What are you working on right now?
I’m the midst of an Alaskan adventure, and I’m having a lot of fun. The story opens in 1935 with Kate who has long desired to work as a bush pilot in Alaska. The shadows of her past, however, push her to prove herself and that desire may cost her more than she imagined.
There is also Paul, who lives in the bush. He has a past, but no one knows what it is. He’s hiding from something and Kate’s determined to find out what.
The series is full of fun, adventure and drama.
I can hardly wait to feature that series. What outside interests do you have?
I have lots of interests, just not enough time to do them all. :-) I’m a family sort of gal so any time I can get out with my family it’s a good day. This spring I’ll be making a couple of special trips with my grandchildren, one to a science center and another one to a butterfly farm. And we’ll definitely get out and pick some of the stunning wildflowers that grow here in our forests.
I’m also determined to take some time with my husband to do some boating and fishing. I especially enjoy mountain lake fishing.
In my church, I oversee the women’s ministry. I’ve always had a heart for women so I stay involved teaching Bible studies and working with the women in my church and community.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I have no formula. The settings often find me. My first Alaska tales came from my heritage. My ancestors are Aleut and my mother grew up in Alaska.
Other story locations often come through research I’m doing. While researching one project I often discover a piece of history that entices me to take a closer look. The stories in Australia (six in all) came out of a request from my editor. I’m glad she asked because the country is extremely interesting and its people are top notch. I love their history. I’m truly sorry to say farewell to my Australian tales. Enduring Love is the last one scheduled. However, one never knows. There may yet be other stories to tell about that incredible place across the pond.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person who would it be and why?
This is a tough question. There are so many people I’d love to spend time with. I have a long list. However, if I have to choose just one, I guess it would be Corrie Ten Boom. She lived her faith in an amazing way. It astounds me how God can take one life, even a life that seems inconsequential, and use that person to change the world. With Corrie Ten Boom it happened because she trusted, believed and ultimately obeyed God’s call for her.
I love her story. Actually, God used part of her story to tell me to become a professional writer. What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I was an absolute babe when I stepped into the writing world. The first book I’d ever written sold to the first publishing house that looked at it. I was unprepared for what was to come, in every way. Still, doing my best to trust God, I stepped through the door He’d opened.
So, when you ask what I wish I’d known, my answer has to be everything, since I knew nothing. At the top of that list is how much work is involved—it’s a job. A writer has to plant themselves in front of their computer whether they want to or not. We can’t wait to feel inspired because there is a deadline waiting.
I was unprepared for the way the business works—the time schedule feels like waiting for a snail to make its way across town. And I had expected a more touchy-feely sort of business. Although I’ve met and worked with outstanding Christian people, the bottom line is this is a business—quality and numbers count.
Sorry that’s three answers.
That's okay. What new lesson is the Lord teaching you right now?
God is always teaching me something new. The difficulty is that I’m not always a quick learner. He often has to drag me along.
Recently I spoke at a women’s retreat. My topic was “Daring to Live Without Masks.” I looked forward to a weekend of fellowship, worship and teaching. And it was a great time. But God had more planned for me. He revealed a mask that I’ve been wearing. I had no idea. Now God and I are working on this together, and it has the possibility of changing my life dramatically.
As I walk through this lesson with the Lord, I’ll be sharing more about it on my blog at http://www.bonnieleon.com/. I will say that I’m hanging on for the ride of my life.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
If I’m speaking to Christian authors, number one is to spend time with God. He’s the author of our story. He is our inspiration. How can we step forward without Him?
Secondly, write from the heart. What is the story you want to tell? If you’re creating something that comes from within you the story will be genuine with real people who can touch lives and carry readers beyond the last page of your book.
And lastly, don’t forget to have fun and be thankful for the gift of writing. What a privilege it is.
Tell us about the featured book.
Enduring Love is book three in the Sydney Cove Series, which began in London in 1804 with book one, To Love Anew. Hannah Talbot and John Bradshaw were both imprisoned unfairly and then transported to New South Wales. The two met on a prison ship and both were living a life without hope. By the time we get to book three in the series, John and Hannah’s lives look ideal, and they are filled with optimism.
However, life often brings the unexpected. When John’s first wife, whom he believed to be deceased, shows up in Sydney Town all seems lost for the couple who has endured so much. John and Hannah’s faith is tested. Will their lives be destroyed by circumstances or will they trust in a God who is greater than all our troubles?
I love this story and think readers will too. I’m hoping it will have them on the edge of their seats as they try to figure out how even God can solve the terrible mess John and Hannah find themselves. Does He answer our prayers or create new hearts that desire His will above our own?
Please give us the first page of the book?
Love can overcome anything, thought Hannah Bradshaw as she stepped out of the modest theater and looked down the street toward the center of Sydney Town. It had only been three years since that terrible winter in 1804 when she’d first set foot in this community as a prisoner. It felt like a lifetime ago.
Sydney Town was growing up. The town bustled with activity. There were clothing shops, apothecaries, bakeries, a bank, and even a fine restaurant. A carriage moved past, its inhabitants hidden inside. Glancing up at her husband, Hannah thought, Life is perfect.
“What a splendid day,” John said. “Even if it is unseasonably cool for autumn.”
“I’m almost afraid to feel this happy.” Hannah rested a hand on his arm, liking the feel of his wool coat.
She leaned against him; thankfulness for his enduring devotion enveloped her in warmth. Although they’d begun their journey together under dire circumstances, they’d managed to find love and, together, had stood resiliently against the world’s storms.
He smiled down at her and Hannah felt her heart quicken—John still had
the power to take her breath away.
I can hardly wait to read the book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
The best place to find me is at my website at http://www.bonnieleon.com/. I blog every week, keep readers up on my most recent books, and even have tips for new writers. Stop by and say hello.
Thank you, Bonnie, for spending this time with us.
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