Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 3: It's my turn!

Today I get to interview myself, in a way. I'm answering the 12 questions each of the other authors has answered about my novella A Silent Night. You may have read my post about how this novella came into being (which was a surprise), but in today's post I also explain how the story itself surprised me. (Which is going to be tricky because I don't want to throw out any spoilers!) It is a story whose characters I love and even miss at times, now that I'm not "working" with them any more. This author-ing is a strange and funny thing. I think I'll have to do more of it! *grin*  Also, as a side note, yesterday I learned that Amazon is releasing the collection a couple days early because of Labor Day weekend--so if any of you pre-ordered A Pioneer Christmas Collection from Amazon you should be getting it on Friday! How cool is that?! So without further ado I present: myself and my debut novella A Silent Night!

1. What made you write about your period in time?

In light of the fact that we were looking at westward expansion, I wanted to find a focus of heading west that is often overlooked--travel by water. The Erie Canal opened in the 1830s which brought a flood of people into Michigan Territory and beyond. So that time period sparked my initial interest.

2. How is Christmas celebrated in your family and what effect did it have on your writing this story?

Christmas is always about family gathering, coming home from hither-and-yon and collecting in one "home base" to be together. (My mother always says, "I love having all my chicks back in the nest!") However, most of those pioneering out West didn't have that luxury. They had only each other and folks they met along the way, those who essentially become family due to the circumstances.That is what I tried to capture in the Christmas scene of the story--the gathering and celebration of new-found family.

3. What research did you do to authenticate Christmas celebrations in your story?

Loads of research, specifically about Michigan Territory, went into this. As previously mentioned, families were forged on the frontier from more than just blood-ties, and it's curious to me how that seems to happen in times of struggle. Michigan Territory was incredibly wild at the time, with constant threat of weather, Indians, bandits, wild animals, and even trivial accidents that could change a person's life—yet the people still settled there, finding happiness and heartache along the way. I wanted some of that happiness to sidle in alongside my characters' heartaches.

4. When you dreamed up your story idea, what came first, the time period, the story, the location?

Time period, followed by location. I had a vague idea of the story, but it grew out of the setting.

5. What was the "germ" of your story idea and how did you flesh it out?

The germ was putting a woman in the kind of situation most women fear: helplessness. It's an abstract fear, but on the frontier becomes tangible quite quickly.

6. Would you like to have been there?

A part of me itches to see what it would be like on the frontier struggling for survival--something I obviously know absolutely nothing about. I think within each of us is a desire to know what it is that we're made of, to see the exact boundaries of our strength and fortitude. However, my husband assures me that I've not the makings of a frontierswoman, and I do believe he is right. I am quite handy with duct tape and Tacky glue, though.

7. What aspects of your characters are reflected in yours?

I think I have my protagonist's propensity to second-guess herself. Despite that self-doubt, she continues to drive toward self-reliance, a drive I also daily combat. (I gave my protagonist a daughter as well, whom I named after my own daughter--thus my character's struggles, as you can imagine, quickly became personal.)

8. Have you been to the locations in which your story is set?

The story begins in Edinburgh, Scotland, where my husband lived for many years and of which I have a working knowledge. Michigan, however, I visited only long ago--long before I knew I'd be setting a story there.

9. What surprised you the most about your story?

The ending. It turned into a completely different kind of love story than even I had anticipated. It actually came about after my mom made a comment on the original ending (nope, no spoilers here, folks) and it started the cogs turning and the story started to fly in a completely new direction.

10. Would you have made a good pioneer?

Uh, no. Though I'd like to imagine I'd put on a good show while I lasted.

11. Were any of your ancestors pioneers? If so, where and when?

At one time my ancestors pioneered across the Atlantic from Germany and Switzerland, but never made it beyond Pennsylvania.

12. What spiritual themes did you deliberately incorporate into your story? Which ones did you discover later? 

I had no clear spiritual theme as I began the story because I find that often the story itself has its own message it wants to forge. As I wrote, the theme of surrender seemed continually to appear, and it became obvious that the direction the story wanted to take was to look at the age old decision faced by every one of us: to hope that our own strength is enough to sustain us or to surrender to the One who loves us and pursues us beyond all obstacles.

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  1. So kewl, again, to read how this story came about! Blessings, oh fellow debut co-author!! :-D

  2. I'm really looking forward to reading your story, Anna. And everone else's, now, too.
    And way to go with the duct tape and Tacky glue! Our operation is held together by duct tape and silicone :)

    1. Thanks, Danni! So if proficiency with duct tape and silicone is what it takes, then maybe I could survive.... :)

  3. It's so fun to read the history behind it and how you got the idea! I love this and I'm so happy for you!!


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