Monday, February 28, 2011
When I proposed a Great War series to my publisher, we knew each story would be set in Europe. I thought a logical backdrop for each book would be to start the first story at the beginning of the war, the second in the middle, and the third and final story at the end of the war. Each book is an independent read, with a whole new cast of characters, and the war itself the theme tying it all together.
What could be more dramatic than setting this final book in the series in Germany? Finally, I could create sympathetic German characters! Being German myself, that appealed to me. But the era and setting turned out to be far more challenging than I expected.
So I concentrated on one aspect of the political upheaval going on at the time, what I considered to be the most dramatic. Most people are familiar with the Red/Communist revolution in Russia toward the end of the First World War. I didn’t know it started a Communist revolution in many other parts of the world—including Germany. I whittled away all of the other German political themes of the time, focused on the relationships of my characters and how they would have been impacted by the events they naturally would have been part of. History wrote much of the story. It was extremely educational for me, but the characters made it far more fun than a history lesson!
That's one reason I love historical fiction. If you were planning a party with Christian authors of contemporary fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Oooh, Lena, this is a hard one since I admire so many authors out there today! I sincerely believe we’re part of a Renaissance of Christian fiction, that God is stirring a number of talented authors to write for Him. It’s exciting to be part of this industry these days! Which means, of course, there are literally scores of people I’d love to sit down with and chat. So consider this just a start…and of course I’d start with you, Lena! I know you write more historicals lately, but you’ve also done some contemporary work and you’re also one of my favorite conversationalists. Another top-of-the-list name would be Allie Pleiter, who is local to me so we get together every so often and every time we do I’m reminded why she’s one of my favorite people ever—she’s smart and witty and fun, just like her books. I’d also love to chat with Deb Raney, because she has such a heart for encouraging others. And I know Nancy Moser has been writing historicals lately, too, but she’s another one who’s written some contemporary fiction so I would include her here. I not only admire her work, but she and I have a number of things in common from tastes in books to political leanings. Another author I would include would be Janet Lee Barton – we had the opportunity to get to know one another at a writer’s retreat last year, and I know she’s a kindred spirit. Then there is Harry Kraus, who is an amazing writer and such an interesting guy to talk to about his mission work in Africa. Speaking of the Sudan…I can’t forget DiAnn Mills, who is another one writing both contemporary and historical. DiAnn has such a heart for others, I love talking to her every time I see her. I know that leaves out a bunch of my other friends, so we’ll just have to save those names for a future date, won’t we?
Thank you for including me, and I love the collection you would pull together. Now let’s do that for a party for Christian authors of historical fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Once again I’ll have to leave out so many favorites! But the historical authors I’m closest to are: Siri Mitchell, Jill Eileen Smith, Tammy Alexander, Judy Miller, Ruth Axtell Morren, and I’d love to sit with both Julie Klassen and Julie Lessman, because I keep getting them confused and I’d like to know both of them well enough to never do that again.
That group would be a really fun party. Many times, people (and other authors) think you have it made with so many books published. What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?
I’ve talked to a number of multi-published authors and most (if not all) realize there is little, if any, job security in this business. Even best sellers know that if their sales go on a downward trend and fail to creep back up (for reasons that may or many not have to do with the quality of a book, but might also depend on the popularity of a series, a genre, a trend, etc) then even they might find themselves searching for a new publisher. Most of us realize we have to bring something new and fresh to our audience while also meeting the demands of what’s expected. Basically we must balance new ideas with the knowledge that while we’re not writing to a trend we are likely writing to a specific audience, one that expects us to write the kind of book they’ve enjoyed from us in the past. That can be tricky, especially if you want to write a variety of books. I’ve been blessed to write both historical and contemporary stories, with a romance being the theme my readers look for in my stories. But it’s difficult to know how a book will be accepted if it feels very different from previous books.
Springtime of the Spirit
Four years of fighting have finally come to an end, and though there is little to celebrate in Germany, an undercurrent of hope swells in the bustling streets of Munich. Hope for peace, fairness—the possibility of a new and better tomorrow.
It’s a dream come true for Annaliese Düray. Young and idealistic, she’s fighting on the front lines of Munich’s political scene to give women and working-class citizens a voice in the new government. But she’s caught off guard by the arrival of Christophe Brecht—a family friend, recently returned from the war, who’s been sent to bring her home.
It’s the last place she wants to go.
Christophe admires Annaliese’s passion, unable to remember the last time he believed in something so deeply. Though he knows some things are worth fighting for, he questions the cost to Annaliese and to the faith she once cherished. Especially when her party begins to take its agenda to new extremes.
As the political upheaval ignites in Munich, so does the attraction between Annaliese and Christophe. When an army from Berlin threatens everything Annaliese has worked for, both she and Christophe face choices that may jeopardize their love, their loyalty, and their very lives.
Please give us the first page of the book.
One step, then another. He’d started out with his eyes forward, chin up, but all he could see now were the tips of his boots.
Christophe Brecht was inside German territory, the train having taken them back over the border, away from the trenches that had marred France for the past four years. The ground his boots pounded now belonged to the fatherland.
The only sound was that of his men marching beside him—not that their tread could be called marching. Most looked as tired and worn as he, barely able to take the next step. They were still covered in the mud of no man’s land, thick from boots to knee and in varying layers up to the helmet.
Did any of them remember how it had been when they marched—yes, really marched—in the other direction? Songs and praise echoed from every avenue, and flowers showered them from smiling women, with proud pats on the back from fathers and old men.
The city that had sent them so gloriously off to battle was still beyond sight. Those not wishing to go all the way to Munich had been made to get off the train already, close to but not at their requested destinations. The train lines were in disarray after handing over half of their locomotives to the Allies, too much disarray to answer individual needs.
But Christophe wasn’t far from Braedon, his small hometown some distance west of Munich. He shoved away old thoughts of how this day was supposed to be. No victory parades to greet them, no flowers. No woman to kiss him now that he was home. Just silence.
A very poignant opening. I can't wait to read it. It just came yesterday. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thanks very much for having me, Lena!
My pleasure and great blessing, Maureen.
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