Welcome, Joanne. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I share a lot of similarities with my character, Lonnie. She’s shy and enjoys the simple things in life so she was like listening to a kindred spirit. At the same time, writing Gideon was completely new. He’s cocky and confident and keeps God at arm’s length, certain redemption wasn’t meant for him. People tell me how surprised they are that I wrote his character which is always fun to hear. We are so different and working through his sins and struggles to his hopes and fears was quite an adventure. I’ve received letters and emails from readers and hearing them talk about the characters has been such a delight. A lot of them related to Lonnie and her faith, while on the other hand, Gideon has developed quite a reputation as being the lady’s man and the bad boy of Appalachia. Readers have expressed such joy over witnessing his transformation from the beginning of the book to the end.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’m about to reveal what a nerd I am…I’m a big “Lord of the Rings” fan and once dressed up for Halloween as a hobbit. A girl hobbit. I even had the funny little ears and the “ring” on a necklace. I worked at a candy store at the time and everyone who came in got a laugh out of seeing a hobbit behind the counter.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had my nose in a book and my head in the clouds. Growing up, I was one part Jo March, one part Beatrix Potter, and one part Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was always writing, drawing, and living with my imagination in the past. Being a writer was always my normal. I can never remember ever wanting to be anything else. I am SO thankful that God made that dream come true!
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Surprisingly, I don’t really have a favorite genre. I read mostly Christian fiction and while I love Historical Romance, I’m pretty much drawn to any really good book. I love to have a broad mix on my bookshelf and when I look back at some of the books that moved me deeply, it’s a variety of genres and settings.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I try really hard to balance my time. Just recently I turned in my edits for the second book in the Cadence of Grace Series. The editing process is always tough and time consuming. I made a schedule to block out not only writing nights, but family nights as well. It made it so nice to put my work on the back burner when it was a family night and just enjoy being with my husband and kids. We’d pop popcorn, drink cider and watch a movie or go for walks. It was really nice.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
For historical fiction, I always strive to find a name that would have been around in a particular time or place. For this series, I researched names specific to the Appalachian region through books and census records. I fell in love with the name Lonnie. It’s such a simple, humble name that it’s just the sort of name her parent’s would have chosen. I also loved the name Gideon and knew right away that everyone would end up calling him “Gid.” It’s fun because even the folks at my publishing house call him that.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
The first thing that comes to mind is my three kids. They are absolutely amazing. I love spending my days with them. They are some of my best friends and greatest joys.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I think I would love to be a bird for the sheer pleasure of flying!
What is your favorite food?
My favorite food is probably Mexican food. We live in southern
just a few hours from the Mexican border so there are a ton of amazing little
Mexican restaurants around here with homemade tortillas and the best salsas.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Probably my greatest problem is simply time. I have three kids five and under, and we homeschool. Simply finding the time to write is a challenge. I usually write while they are sleeping which means I really have to make myself focus during nap time. I grab my laptop, a cup of tea and put on a little music which helps me get into the story. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.
Tell us about the featured book.
Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith. But when handsome lady’s man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate.
Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.
Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life. What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?
Gideon only ever cared about himself.
Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?
Please give us the first page of the book.
The night air brushed her arms, and Lonnie prayed autumn’s cool breath could whisper her off—carry her into another life. Lord, help me. She looked up at her pa and forced a tight smile. With his broad back to the moonlit sky, his scruffy face was hidden beneath the shadow of a floppy hat. Chestnut hair swirled against her cheeks, and she blinked, willing the breeze to calm her nerves.
Joel Sawyer arched a bushy eyebrow. "Don’t see what’s gotten ya so shaken up all a sudden."
She lifted her chin. "I ain’t shaken." Her eyes dared him to say otherwise. "I just don’t see why…" She bit her tongue at the tremble in her voice. Her thumb traced the fresh bruises on her wrist—each small dent the same size as her pa’s fingers.
"Because your ma’s got a headache." Her pa’s growl was for her ears alone. His eyes bored into hers, even through the lie. "Can’t go lettin’ Samson down." Sour breath hit her face. "Now get on up there and sing for these people."
Lonnie swallowed and eyed the crowd that had gathered for an evening of dancing. With the first autumn leaves blanketing the forest floor, it was sure to be the last of the summer. She’d never sung for a crowd before and, at seventeen, felt foolish when her heart pounded in her ears and her skin tingled with fear. If only Samson hadn’t asked that her ma sing this night.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My pleasure. My readers will enjoy your interesting interview.
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Be Still My Soul: The Cadence of Grace, Book 1 - paperback
Be Still My Soul: The Cadence of Grace, Book 1 - Kindle
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