Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am pleased to bring you Lynne Basham Tagawa, because it means that get to know her a little bit more, too! I LOVE the sound of her book! And I very much enjoyed the approach she took with her answers. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Lynne is also giving away a copy of her latest release, The Shenandoah Road. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy!
Tell us a little about yourself. I’m a schoolteacher, actually—science and math. The math got added on when a small school lost its math teacher and I was squeezed into the role. But my interests shifted over the years, and now I prefer history to chemistry.
Tell us a little about your current release. The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening was released last summer, and now it’s currently in audiobook production. My narrator lives in Virginia, and loves that the story is set in some of his favorite areas.
It’s a romance, but the novel isn’t just about that. It’s classified as historical fiction, not romance, for that reason. And because the characters marry at about the 25% mark—okay, a bit of a spoiler there!
I wanted to write about the great revival in the 1730s and 40s—what would it be like to live back then? There are very few who have written stories set in that time period, and one of those is juvenile.
As I did research I realized that there was a lot of diversity in the colonies during that time, even among English-speakers. New Englanders had different backgrounds, different customs, from those in Virginia. Everyone knows about the Quakers—Philadelphia was the cosmopolitan metropolis of the day, with religious freedom not found elsewhere. So that’s another group.
Then enter in a huge wave of Scots-Irish immigration. Several hundred thousand came to these shores during the 18th century, and their customs were different still. I begin to imagine . . . what if a Scots-Irish Presbyterian married a New England Congregationalist . . . it was fun to write.
If you knew ahead of time that your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Wow, what a challenging question. I would say yes, but with this explanation: my focus on motivation always has to be on what the Lord would have me to do rather than the results. We are called to “witness,” which brings to mind a courtroom setting. We give our testimony or speak gospel truth, but in the end, the fruit is up to God.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher (or agent or audience if you self-publish)? Great question. I self-publish (I have my own imprint) but I still deal with that. I know my writing is not exceptional. Some things have helped me—first, I’ve learned, that in every endeavor, to use what God has given me. It may not be as much as what God gave someone else, but it’s what He gave me. Second, writing is a craft that is learned. I can improve.
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? I’ve never suffered from a major case of it. Periodically, though, my output slows down. I begin to have doubts about the chapter I’m writing. Step one is just to write—even if it’s a paragraph. Another tactic is to quit and pick up a novel. Weirdly, reading someone else’s prose starts my brain churning. After a while my eyes have drifted from the page and I’m constructing a scene in my head.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? A couple of things led me to self-publish. The first was my content. My stories are “preachy”—not in the bad, copy/pasted way I see on occasion. But my characters have a spiritual journey as well as an emotional one, and that necessitates using Scripture or even bits of sermons. The Shenandoah Road has a lot of that—first, my hero wants to make sure his potential wife understands justification by faith, and later, he teaches her using a sermon by George Whitefield.
The only publisher I knew of that might go for it is rather small. I communicated with one of their authors, who explained his decision to create his own imprint. It’s partly economic, partly a question of signing away your rights.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I have a backbone—important, crucial scenes jotted down before I type the first word. What is this story about and where is it going? I know there are some writers who invent characters, plop them in a setting, and see what happens. Not me. I have to envision the climax so I know where I’m driving. I wouldn’t call it an outline, exactly—that word gives me mental hives. It’s more like the rail to hang on to or at least glance at while I go up the stairs. It reduces my anxiety so I can enjoy my characters and let things happen along the way. A couple of incidents in The Shenandoah Road were spontaneous. I love that.
Here is where you can find Lynne online:
Lynne is giving away a copy of The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening to a reader! See below how you can enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway
This book sounds amazing! I’d really like to read it. Christian historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.
I’ve never read anything set during the great awakening. This book sounds very interesting!
I love that your characters have a spiritual journey!
Hey Hallee and Lynne! Wonderful interview. Lynne, what do you most enjoy about writing this genre?