Friday, September 14, 2012

Author Interview: Laura Frantz

I am so thrilled that Laura Frantz agreed to answer a few questions about her latest title, Love's Reckoning.
I have LOVED Laura Frantz's work so far: The Frontiersman's Daughter (which I read when it was shortlisted for the INSPYs), Courting Morrow Little,  and The Colonel's Lady.  Honestly, I cannot pick a favourite thus far because all books are equally strong and unique. 

If you are searching for literary Christian fiction: with scintillating prose, strong evocation of place and time and in-depth characterization, you have come to the right party!

R: One of my favourite parts of the story had Silas writing out Bible verses for Eden: translating them first from Gaelic and hiding them throughout the house so she would find a surprise during her daily chores. This not only spoke to Eden's deep thirst for all things spiritual, but also for the developing relationship between Eden and Silas. Can you speak to your choices of scripture in these moments and what inspired you to weave this delightful aspect into your romance? Subtle and sweet! loved it!

L:Oh, love that the spiritual thread worked for you! That portion of the novel sort of wrote itself - I kept having these mental images of this tall, strapping blacksmith creatively leaving a trail of spiritual nourishment to satisfy Eden's hungry heart. I thought, from the start, that Silas, being a man of honor, would woo a woman a bit differently than the norm. He always hedged his heart, so to speak, and his safety was found in Scripture. He responded to Eden's need by giving her what had satisfied him in his time of want. He wanted to impart that nothing satisfies like the Savior. It was a lesson she would come to realize for herself when things went awry. It's a lesson we could all learn and relearn, myself foremost. The specific Scripture I included are personal favorites. I never tire of them.

R:Eden's friends at Hope Rising ---as well as Leige Lee before he turned from religion---practice the Quaker faith. Can you speak to your choice in including this particular tenet of protestantism as well as the research involved in presenting this history into the novel?

 L:I've always had a particular fascination with Friends or Quakers (actually a derogatory term at one time) - with their dress, their speech, their anti-slavery, pro-women stance. They were way ahead of their time in many respects and were often respected, wealthy leaders. Since they were the backbone of Pennsylvania, I knew I had to include them in the story. Getting their THEES and THOUS right was a bit tricky, though...

R:Eden and Elspeth are about as different as sisters can be --- and yet one can't help but imagine that if they were melded into one person, their strengths and weaknesses might be better counterbalanced. What strengths do you hope readers take away from Eden? What might we learn from the far more difficult Elspeth? 

Sadly, I've known some Elspeths. And I wish I was more like Eden in that I had her reaction to the circumstances of life - a gentle and quiet spirit. I think Eden was truly a product of her time when women were often victimized and considered little more than property. Given her terribly dysfunctional family, could she have been any different than she was? Her strength was in her attitude about it all. She was a survivor and made a better way for herself. As for Elspeth, I hope she wasn't too black and white. I wanted to show how envy and discontent can destroy you. I do understand how Elspeth ticks. You'll see more of her in book 2 when she becomes a bit more human (sort of). But no spoilers!

R: Silas has a very rich history shrouded in enigma! In fact, I often felt like Gretel being tossed a few revelatory breadcrumbs when it came to details about his past. As an author,what tricks did you use to make sure you weren't giving too much away?

L: Oh, love the Gretel analogySmile emoticon! I think every character should have secrets. I have a horror of TMI or backstory dumping so like to keep things trim. I excel at TMI, actually, so always have to be on guard. I thought that Silas - and readers - would benefit more from a diet of breadcrumbs than a hefty steak. Though I longed to give them steak! My editors have kept me to a strict 110k word count on this series so Silas has had to go on rations along with the author! Prior to turning this book into my editors, the story was quite sprawling. I always want to cry when I cut scenes or reduce things to the barest essence. So much richness and detail is stripped out of the story. But you've given me hope that just a few breadcrumbs might well work!

R:The Ballantyne Legacy is going to be a series (HURRAH!) and we are going to find out more about Silas and his family (DOUBLE HURRAH). Did you start by outlining all of the books in the proposed series to have a bit of a roadmap on where to go? Do you have an omniscient perspective on what will happen when, or do your characters still take you by surprise? Can you speak to your writing process ---especially since your previous novels, have been stand-alone stories.

L: I've always been one of those writers who just sits down with a pen and paper (yes, I still write all my novels in longhand first) and work with only the barest story premise. But with The Ballantyne Legacy, my publisher wanted a detailed synopsis for each of the 4 books in the series. This took me about 3 months to think up! I've never thought a story through from beginning to end and am not sure I like that - though my pub does. Strangely enough, a story and its characters have a life all its own and sometimes you just pitch said synopsis out the window. For example, David Greathouse was never in the synopsis but strode on stage in chapter 2 and just about took over. I was a bit shocked and didn't quite know what to do with him though I knew he meant trouble! I will say that writing a series is far more difficult than writing standalones. Aging and maturing characters is a challenge and the tone of each novel changes. I'm on Ballantyne book 3 now and it's an entirely different animal. Silas is by now 90 and Eden is nearly that. Try spanning that many years! Do you give them gout or let them age gracefully? Do you magnify their foibles or keep them quiet? Things become complicated, to say the least. I may go back to writing standalones!

Make sure you visit Laura Frantz at her website
My thanks to Graf-Martin Communications for providing me with a review copy on behalf of Revell Publishers


Kara said...

Fun interview! I too am a huge fan of Laura Frantz, so it was fun to read her thoughts. Thanks! :)

Laura Frantz said...

Rachel, Oh, a wonderful Friday surprise! You must have been up all night doing this;) I've said it before and I'll say it again - you ask THE BEST questions! Looks like I wrote a novel for each but alas...:)

I'm so thankful we've connected through our love of Montgomery, Christy, and more. And our dedication to quality books.

Waving at dear Kara! My day is made!

Michelle said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this interview, ladies! What a joy to get more insight from Laura -- you've definitely asked some awesome questions, Rachel! : )

Thanks so much, ladies. Have a blessed day!

Marissa said...

Great interview Rachel!!

Gabrielle Meyer said...

Oh - loved the questions and the answers! Laura, I've wondered the same about how you craft your stories and especially this four part series. I had no idea you write your stories in long hand first - I'm actually speechless. :)

Thank you, Rachel, for this glimps into Laura's world!

Laura Frantz said...

Oh, it's so fun on this sunny Friday to check back in and see dear Michelle and Marissa, too:) Love you both and your generous comments! Makes me want to "WRITE ON"!

Laura Frantz said...

Gabrielle, You always light up the screen:) Thanks so much for taking time to read this and for commenting. Every interview seems to be unique and insightful. I really never get tired of them. And it helps, of course, when people show up. Like you, my friend:)