Dear Readers, I read this novel soon after my copy arrived. I loved the depth of the characters and the story line. I’m eager for book two in the series to come out. I think you will be, too.
Welcome, Rosanne. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
In A Gentile in Deseret, my main character is a young man named Alex. His feelings are mine but are universally felt, those of not belonging; a gentile outside an unfamiliar religious culture, in this case, Mormonism. To get a male perspective on subjects like polygamy, I asked my husband for his input; I sensed I couldn’t think male enough. Jennalee, whom Alex falls for, is part of me, too, with her impossible quandary: will she please her parents and live up to family tradition or break out of a religious mold to follow her heart? There’s a smattering of me in Jennalee’s brother Brent, who developed into one of my favorite characters, but mainly, he’s based on extensive research about Mormon missionaries. Although I didn’t grow up Latter Day Saint, I do know what it’s like to be raised in a strict religious environment.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Being quirky is my life. I’m a fashion disaster with clothes and hair and quote random dead people to my grandchildren, but the quirkiest thing I’ve ever done was during an evening church teaching from a beloved pastor. The small church filled as I sat next to my husband halfway up the center aisle at the sound booth. Pastor spoke about how we can’t bring anything to heaven with us, and how truthfully, nothing is ours on this earth. A thought popped into my brain, and I must’ve looked perplexed. Pastor spotted me from the pulpit. “What are you thinking about, Rosanne?” he asked. Uh-oh. I couldn’t tell the whole church what I was really thinking, but I wasn’t fast enough to make up anything else, so honest to the point of being a nerd, I blurted the truth. “Well, isn’t your underwear really yours?”
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
The desire to be a writer was born when I was nine through encouragement from my fourth grade teacher. From then on, I loved to pen flowery adjectives in my paragraphs. Thankfully, readers will find my style morphed into a spare one with more conversation than elaborate description. Although A Gentile in Deseret is my fourth book, I felt more inspired, more in the zone, and more compelled to write for God’s purposes than ever before.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m varied in my reading true to my education, and I like Economics and History (especially World War II) along with cozy mysteries. The way Jane Austen juxtaposed men and women in clever conversation feeds my brain. I love Dickens (oh, his plots!), Thomas Hardy (oh, his characters!), Leo Tolstoy (master of the short story), and Charlotte Bronte (the suffering involved in love). Young Adult fantasy novels like The Hunger Games, City of
, and the Percy Jackson series
fascinate and inspire me. (My own story is a YA Contemporary Romance.) Ember
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Funny you should ask. Yesterday I bought Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic lozenge for stress. It helps, but to keep sane I have to start every day with the Word of God and prayer. It sets my foundation; nothing goes well if I miss it. After that, stress can be interrupted by savoring moments of joy when God gives me an apple blossom to smell or a songbird is near. Living in the moment helps me hear the whisper from Matthew 6, “Take no thought for your life ... I know what you need ... trust in me.”
How do you choose your characters’ names?
The names get changed once or twice in their development ... it’s like naming a child only when you finally see them and look into their eyes. Each area of the country has a definitive culture, and since my book is set in
known as Deseret
to Mormon pioneers, I researched Utah-born names. I also pluck random names
from classmates, neighbors, phonebooks, cemeteries, and my family.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
What I’m most proud of is that along with my husband, we forever changed the life of a two-year old Bulgarian orphan who became our daughter. She’s now a young adult, and an incredible blessing to us.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
An elephant. They’re intelligent, gracious and melancholy ... you can see it in their eyes. Years ago in a small town we lived in, I walked out of the library and saw a small circus parked nearby in the shade. The elephant keeper washed his charge right there in the street, and I spent a delightful half hour watching, feeling akin to that elephant.
Plus, I’d have a better memory. Then there’s the fact elephants mourn the dead, not only their own kind, but humans, too. They’re majestically made and best of all, wouldn’t it be fun to have a trunk?
What is your favorite food?
I like Thai red curry. Now I know what kicking it up a notch means.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Definitely fear, which worked stagnation into my writing. I had good ideas, but was terrified of what others would think, of their criticism, and that I would fail even my own expectations. Strangely, I feared success as well, because with it comes greater responsibility and little privacy. I was desperate to get out of my brackish pool of negativity.
My Master, who alone knows my deepest self, shook my world in such a way that forced me to grow. I’ve moved into a place of security in Him alone. I can be a failure or a success in my work, but ultimately all that matters is God. My work is not ME; it’s only my tiny creation. God loves me whether I achieve anything for Him or not. However, I know He has called me to write and I take the call seriously enough to push myself through sleepless nights, tight schedules, little social life, and the sacrifices of my family. Christian writing is my utmost for His highest.
I’ve had several shakings that forced me to grow. One was when my publisher went national in partnership with Barbour Books. I was compelled to write to my full potential, work harder, and learn what I could to achieve the best outcome. For me, rewriting was the key. Like the motorcycle racer in the movie The World’s Fastest Indian, sometimes you have to “burn a leg” to break out of stagnation.
Tell us about the featured book.
The story is about a born-again Christian named Alex, a new high school senior in
, who moves there unaware that his life
could change forever when he falls for a Mormon girl, Jennalee. Her world, too,
is extremely challenged by this stranger, this gentile, but God is in the
The ideas for the story in A Gentile in Deseret floated around in my mind while we were living in
. I questioned: What
would happen if a born-again Christ-follower fell in love with a Mormon? I met
some of these couples in Utah ,
got to know their stories and was hooked on exploring the topic. Utah
Like my character, Alex, I was a stranger in a foreign religious culture. Only when I returned to the
Pacific Northwest was I able to articulate those feelings
and use my observations and years of research to write the book. I was
compelled to bridge a gap between the two groups, as well as lovingly write
God’s truth for my LDS friends, who are some of the most solid and
best people I’ve ever known.
The theme throughout the Believe in Love series is that in the end, our lives are about knowing and having a relationship with God rather than following any man-created religion. I’ve been a Christ-follower for a long time but was stretched spiritually throughout the writing of this book.
Please give us the first page of the book for my readers.
Alex leaned hard on his jammed locker door and shut it with a screech. Senior year with a loser locker was just his luck. He kicked it for the embarrassment it caused in a new high school in a new state. Heads turned and eyes lasered through his back. No way did
like home. Outside the window, he could see the promise of a powder ski season
when he gazed at the mountains that girded the valley. He still felt betrayed
by his mother for moving here from Utah .
One more class and I’m out of here, he thought. Oregon
He had to admit most of the girls were drop-dead gorgeous, their hair and makeup perfect as models. A group of boys in starched white shirts and ties passed him, like geeks from the 60’s. Who wears white shirts to school? One of them scrutinized him, scowling. Alex wore what he’d worn in
a Nike t-shirt and faded jeans. Was it his two day stubble and wild dark curly
hair that led to such open disapproval? Kids here were preppy and clean-cut. Oregon
Alex brightened at the thought of going to his favorite class, AP Chemistry. His confidence back, he decided it may be an advantage to have no social life. He could study hard and graduate with honors. A free four-year ride in college would put him on the way to his ultimate goal:
Preoccupied with his hopes, he turned the corner leading to the stairway so fast that he bumped a thick book from the hands of a girl coming down the stairs.
“Sorry,” Alex said, bending down to pick up the leather bound book, “here’s your Bible.”
“It’s not a Bible, it’s my Book of Mormon,” she answered in a sharp voice. The way she pronounced Bible carried a lot of scorn.
“Oh, okay. Sorry.” He glanced at the book; it looked exactly like a Bible.
The girl stepped back and took a long look at him, swooping her blonde hair away from her face with one hand. “It’s a Quad and I need it for Seminary,” she said.
“Is that a Religion class? In public school?” He hadn’t seen it in the curriculum.
She rolled her eyes. “It’s not in the school. It’s over in the building across from the parking lot.” Her voice was unemotional. “And I’m late.”
His mouth went dry when he noticed how blue her eyes were. “Oh, so you got excused from school, huh?” Even as he said it, he thought it sounded stupid but he’d never heard of anything like this.
The girl sighed. “It’s an elective, and it’s always been this way. You picked electives, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. I picked what I had back in
“Did the Registrar ask you about Seminary?”
He shrugged. “Nope. Hey . . . uh, I gotta catch my AP Chem class. It’s up these stairs.” His mouth was so dry he could barely get the words out. He didn’t want to leave without knowing her name. Trying to look cool despite his confusion, he blurted, “So . . what’s your. .”
At that moment, a cluster of girls carrying the same thick books squeezed past them. One of them whispered into the cute girl’s ear. As she bent her head, Alex sneaked a closer look through her long blonde hair. Her right ear was creamy pink, and she wore a tiny gold and blue earring. Long eyelashes swept her cheek, resting on it like soft feathers. Even without makeup, he thought she’d be the prettiest girl he’d ever seen.
How can readers find you on the Internet?Thanks for the interview,
Thank you, Rosanne, for sharing this new book with us.
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A Gentile in Deseret (Believe in Love) - paperback
A Gentile in Deseret (Believe in Love Book 1) - Kindle
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