Friday, April 06, 2012

interview about the wings of morning & much more


Why do you write the kind of books you do?
*So far as fiction goes, ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances & times has always been my favorite theme. Perhaps it’s a way of wondering, in print, what I would do in the same situations. And also a way of challenging my readers to to think about how they themselves might react.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
*And you probably need to count out falling in love with the woman who became my wife or the birth of my children as well. Other than that? Probably the day an editor phoned from Toronto to tell me they wanted to publish my first novel and were offering me a contract. I was ten feet off the ground all week!

How has being published changed your life?
*Eventually it led me into full-time writing which has utterly changed my schedule and my focus and how I spend my months and years. Formerly I was a pastor working with local congregations. Now I write books that people read in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, even Israel. I chat back and forth with my readers, sometimes about quite serious matters. Publishing completely opened up my world & my ability to interact with others internationally.

What is your current work in progress?
*A story for Harvest House that takes place overseas in the United Kingdom.

What would be your dream vacation?
*Southern France, italy, Greece with acres of sunlight and old stone houses. Other than that? I’d kind of like to hang out at a monastery in the American desert and write something. I wouldn’t say no to Australia or New Zealand or the US Virgin Islands either. But I need a pen and paper wherever I go.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
*I think the idea for the story comes first. That usually sorts out the locations pretty quickly. You know, if I have a story about the American Civil War, a romance, that narrows down my choice of settings. Or of I want to write something with a snowy winter in it because the story needs a snowy winter, well, it’s not going to happen in Hawaii or Florida or Spain. The story idea comes first.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
*I’d actually like to talk with Toni Morrison about life and faith and writing. If she’s not available, then I’d like to spend the evening with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel and Nomad.

What three things about you would surprise readers?
*I’ve never owned a laptop. I’ve never tasted Amish food – yet! (But I’ve enjoyed lots of Mennonite food, which is close.) And although I use a desktop most of the time I still write some chapters in longhand, using pen and paper.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
*Hiking, wilderness camping, guitar, weight training, star gazing. I want to learn to fly fish this summer as Alberta and Montana are prime fly fishing country.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it
*When I’m exhausted & physically incapable of writing more that day but still have ideas flowing – what do I do with the hot lava of story that’s still erupting within my mind? That’s when I use pen and paper (because I’m weary of the computer screen by that point) and scribble all the ideas down, even snatches of dialogue and portions of scenes. Then it’s there to consult & get the flow going again the next day.

What are you reading?
*An anthology of poetry from Britain, America and Canada. Poetic images enrich my writing as much as anything else. I’m also reading a book by the English pastor John Stott called The Cross of Christ.

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
*Make sure you write what gives you pleasure. You can switch genres for a publisher or change titles or alter locations but you still have to take pleasure in what you create. Once you start writing only for others, and begin to detest going to the keyboard every day due to that, your days are numbered. Don’t let it happen. If you write well enough they will let you be you. So do that.

Tell us about the book.
*It’s 1917 and it’s a turning point for the Amish. The things that will define them in the 20th and 21st centuries are being decided upon – telephones, electricity, mtorcars, airplanes, modern technology. A young Amish man loves flying and, because his bishop has not yet said no to planes, is given freedom to pursue his dream. His girlfriend loves to fly with him but her parents are against it and work to end the relationship between the two. At the same time, America enters World War One and the Amish are persecuted for not enlisting. The young Amish flier has an opportunity to spare his community further persecution and follows through – he joins the American pilots going to France to fight the air war against Germany. Immediately the Amish, who are pacifists, cut him off, further separating the two lovers. The story is about how they fight to keep their love alive in the midst of war and shunning.

What do you want readers to take away from the book?
*Those who fight for their country’s freedoms by refusing to go to war or rely on violence but choose prayer and worship and love instead are as much patriots as those who bear arms. Such a stance takes real courage just like being a soldier does, especially if society turns against you. In the story, a military unit salutes the Amish community because the soldiers have come to realize this truth.

What one question would you like us to ask your readers?
*What one thing would you really enjoy about being Amish? And what is the biggest thing keeping you back from joining the Amish faith? (so two questions joined at the hip)


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