Welcome back, Rosslyn. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
My first goal is to tell a good story, and that means making the novels compelling and entertaining. But beneath that, I have a passion for preserving history by bringing it to life, by telling it in a way that touches people’s hearts. Much of our American history has never been told. I like to find the undiscovered stories of triumph over adversity that built this country. My dream is that the books I write will encourage people spiritually, and also inspire them to value our past and to see what is worth preserving.
Tell us about one of the happiest days in your life.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, we had a terrible scare at the 16-week ultrasound. The doctor saw three signs that she had a terrible genetic condition that would mean she probably wouldn’t live to see her first birthday. Though I would have carried her to term no matter what, we had an amniocentesis to follow up on the visual diagnosis. Many, many good people were praying for us while we waited for results for an agonizing weekend. The doctor called first thing Monday morning to tell us that the amniocentesis came back showing a normal chromosomal pattern, not the deadly one. The joy of that morning was beyond words.
How has being published changed your life?
Well, it hasn’t changed who I am, nor should it change any writer whose priorities and values are stable. I’m so glad I was published at 39 and not at 25. I needed those years to mature and understand that you can’t find joy by pursuing the world’s definition of success—that life cannot be about feeling validated by others for achievements. Since I’ve been published, I’ve been a lot busier, which is not completely a good thing. When the deadlines really heated up, I had to give up some of my service to friends and neighbors, and that was hard. I have to negotiate a compromise in the future, because I can’t give up serving the people around me—it’s an important part of the spiritual life. I want to be honest about these things, so writers seeking publication have some idea what’s ahead! However, I am very grateful to have realized my publishing dream.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading The Fox in the Cupboard, a memoir about a woman who returns to riding horses after years of urban life. It’s beautifully-written, and I can empathize with the author.
What is your current work in progress?
In about a week, I’ll get the editorial letter for Lovelier than Daylight, the third novel in the Saddler’s Legacy series. I’m excited to hear what my editors have to say. I’ve been blessed with two of the best editors in the business, and they have great insights.
What would be your dream vacation?
I’d love to take a European tour. My interest in European history, landscape and architecture that first developed when I lived in
as a girl with my military family. I would be so excited to take my daughter
back to see some of the things I saw twenty-five years ago. Plus, I never made
it to England Spain or , and I
would love to visit some of the beautiful cities there. Italy
How do you choose your settings for each book?
Because my books are based on real people and events, I don’t really choose the settings. But I do immerse myself in details about each setting. I have to develop an intuitive knowledge of how it feels to walk through those scenes, or I can’t write it well.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
My first choices would be my family members, or my closest friends. But I’ll make it a little more interesting by choosing someone famous. Let’s see… this is really hard… the people I most admire are dead. Ok—I would like to meet one of the foremost intellectual advocates of the Christian faith, so I’ll pick William Lane Craig. Anyone whom Richard Dawkins refused to debate has
to be interesting.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love singing (mostly by myself or with my daughter) and listening to great choirs and classical music. I work with the children at our church, teaching them music, because that’s an important part of Christian life. I also like cooking and wish I had more time for it. And I like making things with my hands---decoupage, for example.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
It’s my self-criticism and the feeling that my work will never be good enough. I overcome it through prayer and reminding myself that even imperfect work can serve a higher purpose.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Before you choose your genre, think very hard about whether that genre represents your calling as a writer. Historical fiction is a natural for me because it ties together several of my passions and my mission. I will never get tired of it. Would I experiment with something else? Sure! But it wouldn’t be as central to who I am as historical fiction.
Tell us about the featured book.
Sweeter than Birdsong is the second novel in my Saddler’s Legacy series about the real Hanby family of
. It’s based on the true love story of
Kate Winter, one of the first female college graduates in Ohio America, and Ben Hanby, a talented composer who
secretly aids fugitive slaves to flee to before the Civil War. Kate
is terribly shy and hiding some family secrets, but Ben finds her fascinating,
with her intelligence and beauty. He casts her in his musicale, unaware that
she is planning to flee town. A frightening accident leads Ben and Kate to a
dangerous mission that will change both of their lives forever. Canada
Please give us the first page of the book.
Her customary walk across the college quadrangle had become an executioner’s march.
Kate’s heeled shoes clunked over the flagstones. Her full skirt and horsehair crinoline dragged from her waist, too warm even for this mild May morning.
She climbed the stone steps of the whitewashed college building and laid hold of the black iron door handle with a clammy palm. The dim foyer led to the lecture hall. Her breath came faster and her corset squeezed her lungs. It had not felt so tight when the maid laced it an hour ago. Up ahead loomed the dark rectangle of the hall’s oaken door, which stood ajar.
At the threshold, she paused. Inside the hall, a baritone voice lifted in clear, well-balanced phrases. The speaker’s persuasive power carried even here. Ben Hanby. He was the best orator in the class. She laid a hand to her midsection to quell the pulsing nausea there. If she did not go in now, she would not go at all.
At her push, the door swung open to reveal rows of masculine shoulders in dark coats, all heads turned toward the speaker. Each gentleman’s neat coattails fell open over his knees, black against the polished wood floor. Each white collar rose to the sweep of hair worn according to the current vogue, longer than a Roman’s but never past the collar.
On the raised platform beyond them, Ben Hanby stood, as natural and poised as if he were alone in the room, his dark hair thick over his brow. His eyes were intent, his face alive with interest in his subject, but his words floated past Kate in a wash of sounds her jumping nerves could not interpret. Of course speaking came easily for him—his father was a minister.
He finished with a question to the audience, and even her disrupted attention caught the subtle humor in the lift of his eyebrow as he delivered his line straight-faced. A chuckle rose from the young men, echoed in the lighter laughter of the small party of young lady scholars seated with their chaperone on the end of the front row.
Ben Hanby descended the stairs, the barest smile appearing as he exchanged glances with his friends.
“Miss Winter.” Professor Hayworth’s bass rumbled across the hall.
She froze on the threshold. Heads turned toward her. Her skin tingled in waves of heat, her heart kicked in an uneven cadence. Could it stop from such fright?—the thought made it worsen, like a stutter in her chest that could not move on to the next beat.
“I am glad you choose to join us today.” Professor Hayworth spoke to her from the dais, beside the podium, full bearded in his formal black robe. “You have arrived just in time to give the first of our ladies’ speeches.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?I love to have readers stop by my hangouts on the internet. I have a website and blog at www.RosslynElliott.com. There’s a contact form on the site plus a comments section on the blog if you want to chat or ask a question. Then I’m always glad to see new people at my author page on Facebook, and I’m on Twitter @RosslynElliott. Come say hello!
In this second in the award-winning Saddler's Legacy series, Rosslyn Elliott has written a stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real historical people and events. With Ben Hanby, a genius composer, Kate Winter, one of the first female college graduates in America, and John Parker, an ex-slave who risked his life time and again to help fugitive slaves, Sweeter than Birdsong is full of real heroes to inspire us. "I hope readers will find a renewed sense of strength in their own lives," says Elliott, "knowing that change is possible, and our efforts matter. I want them to remember these unique, brave people in history who left us a shining example of what it means to live out one's beliefs with passion and commitment."
So to celebrate the music in all of us, Rosslyn and Thomas Nelson are hosting this "sweet giveaway".
- A Brand new iPod Nano (Winner's choice of color!)
- Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott
- Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott
So grab your copy of Sweeter than Birdsong and join Rosslyn and friends on the evening of the 28th for an evening of fun.
Thank you, Rosslyn, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Sweeter than Birdsong (A Saddler's Legacy Novel) - paperback
Sweeter than Birdsong (A Saddler's Legacy Novel) - Kindle
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