Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Last summer I was at a Civil War show in GA. The following week I received a facebook message from a woman who had been at the show with her son. They bought my book Avery’s Battlefield, a YA historical fiction. She said, “My son is a reluctant reader. I have to fight him to get him to read anything. He read every word of your book, staying up late two nights because he wanted to read. He can’t wait for Avery’s Crossroad to come out. We went to Walmart and he asked me if I could buy him another book he could read while waiting for book 2 of Avery. You’ve turned him into a reader. Thank you.”
This fall I was in
at a Civil War reenactment. A Union soldier came to my table with two boys,
about 11 and 12, one was his son, the other his nephew, both in uniforms. He
wanted to buy the two Avery books for
them. I could tell the boys were less than thrilled with the idea, but he
bought them on Saturday. Sunday morning after the camp church service the man
said, “Well, ma’am, the young soldiers were a little sluggish at reveille this
morning. I saw the light in their tent pretty late last night and I looked in.
There they were on their bellies, chins in their hands, reading the book
together. The discussion this morning is who gets to take book 2 home first.
They don’t normally like to read too much.” Murfreesboro, NC
This is why I write these kinds of books. It just doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Bread Upon the Water, is a story that needs to be told to the 3rd generation of Vietnamese who don’t know what it was like for their parents and grandparents when communism took over
They need to know, and so do all our other young people, the courage and faith
it took to endure, and the miserable truth of communism. We need to tell their
stories so no one forgets. South Vietnam
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Probably every day I’m alive becomes the happiest. Today is our blessing, our gift. We can’t have tomorrow back, and we don’t know if there is a tomorrow. We can only rejoice in the moment. My dogs have taught me how to do that, live and be happiest in this very moment.
How has being published changed your life?
The marketing of my books has been so much fun. I’ve gone places and met people that I otherwise would have missed out on. I don’t know that it’s changed my life much, but since I’m innately shy, I guess it’s changed me somewhat for the better.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Real All Americans by Sally Jenkins, Blind Hope by Kim Meeder, and Shadowed in Silk by Christine Lindsay.
I was privileged to write an endorsement for Christine's book. I loved it. What is your current work in progress?
I’m writing another nonfiction hero story. This one is about two Lithuanian children in the 30’s and 40’s and their narrow escapes to freedom. The working title is Rock and a Hard Place. I have a couple others I’ve submitted, waiting to hear. They’re all YA.
What would be your dream vacation?
My husband and I visited
a few years ago. The
crystal clear blue-green water, the lush tropical plants, huge blue
butterflies, colorful birds, whispering trees, I thought the Garden of Eden
might have looked like this. Thinking about it slows my breathing; picturing it
relaxes me. I’ve been to a lot of places in the world, but Costa Rica is
the only place that has that effect on me. So, probably a return visit there
with my husband Dave, would be a dream vacation. Costa Rica
How do you choose your settings for each book?
In all my books the setting is an integral part of the story and is the only place the story could be told. So I don’t choose them, they’re built in, so to speak. Bread Upon the Water could only be told in
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Hmm. There aren’t too many well-known people alive today that I admire enough to want to spend an evening with them. Maybe my sister-in-law Barb. God gave her to me in place of a sister, but she lives a long way now. I would like to meet the Pope, and I admire Billy Graham.
What are your hobbies, besides reading and writing?
I like to do a lot of things: dance and play with my dog, make therapy dog visits, knit, sew, write letters, make and send greeting cards, scrap book, garden, travel. But, all I really have time to do is read and write. I used to make several therapy dog trips a week to hospitals and nursing homes, but my dog has a health issue. When it’s resolved we’ll be doing that again.
I need quiet. We live in a log house with high ceilings, the sound echoes. The loft where I write is open overlooking the TV where my husband spends his time at home. It was very frustrating for me. We closed in the loft a year ago with French doors. It’s great. Now I can write while he’s watching TV, and we have an extra room besides. (Oh goody, more book shelves.)
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Don’t be in a hurry. Take your time. Write what is in your heart. Then read it as a reader instead of a writer. Rewrite it. Make it better. Be open to changes. Don’t rush it; step back now and then and let it rise.
Tell us about the featured book.
Bread Upon the Water is nonfiction. It’s set in the “
era.” It’s the story of a boy, Tien, who has a calling to the priesthood. His
happy life with his large family is challenged as the North Vietnamese
communists begin encroaching on Vietnam . Eventually, the all-out invasion
and the fall of South
Vietnam Saigon, the communist takeover
of his homeland, lead Tien, and thousands of others, to an escape route across
the water. For Tien to become a Catholic priest there wasn’t an alternative,
even though his chances of survival were slight.
His is a story of intense faith as he endures a hurricane at sea, pirates, debilitating disease, dehydration, malnutrition, imprisonment, refugee camp, and finally comes face to face with yet another nemesis, the English language. Tien follows God’s command, and clings to his faith, which is all he has. I wanted to tell this story for a lot of reasons. These stories need to be told; the quiet, humble Vietnamese don’t talk about these experiences. Just the other day there was an article in the paper by a local man who just visited the beautiful country of
. He talks about how “fine”
everything is. He says the people aren’t communists, “only the government is.”
He says there aren’t many old people there. Does this surprise him? Does he not
remember how many fled their country and how many died? No one seems to know much about the American
War, he wrote. The headline of his story said, “In Vietnam, ‘American War’ A
Distant Memory.” Vietnam
Well, here’s the problem. The government IS communist. And no, they aren’t going to teach the children what really happened. Why would they? The schools are run by the communist government. He says churches are open and everyone is “free.” No they’re not.
Their freedom to go to church or anywhere else is only what is allotted to them. A church can be boarded up or taken over with a nod of a head. There are spies everywhere, just as there were in Tien’s life. Communism is so subtle, so insidious, that even this American tourist believes “everything is fine.” He saw exactly what the communist government wanted him to see. We cannot excuse communism. We need to tell these stories truthfully. And who can tell it best, if not those who lived through it, like Tien. Young people in
today are short of heroes. Tien’s story is an adventure story, but it’s also a
true hero story of incredible faith that I hope my young readers will grasp and
try to emulate. Though humble Tien doesn’t think of himself as a role model, he
most certainly is. The book is published by Rafka Publishing in America ,
and should be released in December or early January. Phoenix, AZ
Please give us the first page of the book.
Dương Tiến squatted in the market place in front of his home with his younger brothers playing a game with smooth pebbles he made up to entertain them. The little boys flicked the pebbles happily toward the target Tien had drawn in the sandy dirt. But Tien squinted his eye, bit his tongue, took careful aim, and landed the pebbles with precision in the center of the target.
“Yesterday I had five bull’s eyes. Today then, I must have six,” he explained. “We should always try to do things better than we know how,” he instructed the little boys.
“Because you are twelve, Tien, you can instruct us?” The little boys carelessly tossed the pebbles. “We don’t care,” they said.
He was watching after his younger brothers, Trí and Thanh, and hoping for customers to come to his mother’s market stand. He glanced about as neighbors moved among the market stands shopping for their families’ daily needs. He scowled into the sunlight that glanced off the heavy tile roofs of their homes. He was pleased that his mother’s stand was as fine as any in the market place. He had helped place the fruit and vegetables in neat rows for display this morning.
The Dương family lived in the district of Thanh Mỹ Tây in the
of South Vietnam, south of Saigon. The village known as Hang Xanh, which means “the
market,” was made up of adjoined brick houses built in neat rows. The rows of
houses faced each other. The space
between the houses was the marketplace where women sold things on display
tables in front of their doors, and Tiến and his brothers, and other boys,
chased their soccer balls.
Every morning at 3 A.M. Tiến’s mother, Pham Toá, left the house in darkness, waved down a xelem, a three-wheeled, gas-propelled taxi, and rode to the main market to buy the fresh fruits and vegetables she sold on her market table. When she returned home at day break, Tien got up to help her make the display on her table. Now the boys played quietly on the ground while their mother was in the kitchen preparing còm trùa, the mid-day meal.
“I’m hungry,” said Tri.
“Me, too, my stomach is grumbling,” Thanh said.
“Soon the morning students will come home from school and father from work, and then we’ll eat,” Tiến promised the little ones.
“Then you will go to school,” Tri answered.
“You’re right, and you’ll take a nap. Here come the others, now.” The morning students came running across the market. Behind them Tiến’s father, Dương Sách, dressed in his army uniform, waved to his family.
“So, it must be time to eat,” Tiến said, lifting up his small brothers. He kicked the pebbles and they scattered under the display table.
Well, you can google my name and get about umpteen places. That’s kind of embarrassing. You can just as easily go to my website www.BooksByDeanna.com.
Thank you, Deanna, for this interesting interview.
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