I am happy to be hosting Tricia Goyer's blog tour today. We will be discussing Tricia's new book, A Valley of Betrayal. Tricia was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. In 2005, her book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion Award and her novel Night Song won ACFW's Book of the Year award for Long Historical Romance. She has written hundreds of articles, Bible study notes, and both fiction and non-fiction books.
A Valley of Betrayal, Book One of the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War Series by Tricia Goyer (Moody Publishers)
For reasons beyond her control, Sophie finds herself alone in the war torn Spanish countryside and pledges to make the plight of the Spanish people known around the world through the power of art.
1. What first interested you in the Spanish Civil War?
When I was researching for my novel, Arms of Deliverance, one of the autobiographies I read was from a man who was a B-17 bomber pilot over Europe--but before that he was an American volunteer for The Spanish Civil War. I had never heard of this war before, which happened right before WWII in Spain. I started researching and I was soon fascinated. Some people call it "the first battle of WWII" because it's where that Nazis first tried their hand at modern warfare.
Once I started researching, I was fascinated with the history. On one side was the fascist dictator, Franco, trying to take over Spain. He had Hitler and Mussolini backing him up. On the other side were the Spanish people backed up by The Soviet Union and International Volunteers. How could I NOT find an interesting story in the middle of that.
2. Can you explain some of the research necessary to tackle such a complex subject?
This book was very challenging because I knew nothing about The Spanish Civil War before I started. Yet, I felt sure that God was leading me to write these books, and God (again) taught me to trust Him. When He gives me an idea for a novel it is so BIG. I mean there is so much to pull together. Yet, God has shown me time and time again that He is faithful. He gives me ideas, leads me to the right research books, and even brings people into my life to help me!
One example with this book is that God brought someone also to help. A man named Norm Goyer contacted me because his was working on his family tree and he wanted to know if we were related. We weren’t related, but Norm ended up being a airplane expert and consultant for movies. Norm ended up helping me with research on my German pilot in Spain. I think it was an awesome gift from God!
This again shows me that what ever God brings before me, He also has the power to help me succeed.
To me stories are painted down color by color, image by image like painting a picture. I research people, places, history . . . I delve into books and interviews, until I have a complete picture in my own mind. Then I share the picture in story form.
3. Did the story come to you first or the characters?
I started by researching this time in history, briefly, then I started thinking of unique characters that had an impact during that time. For example, characters from my other novels have been medics, war correspondents, artists, prisoners, etc. To me it's the people that makes the story (and history) come alive. For this series I dove into the lives of an American artist, a few International volunteers, a Basque priest, and a German pilot. I research the real people first, and then the plot for my novel builds. Soon, I have to make myself stop researching to start writing. Research can be addictive!
All that to say, for me a bit of the story starts the process, then the characters take over.
4. I see you home school your three kids and have an active speaking career. How do you fit writing into an already tight schedule?
Well, they are older now, so homeschooling is much easier. They are pretty independent workers! My oldest son is a high school Junior, and he’s taking part-time college classes. The other two (9th and 7th grade) work on their stuff while I’m working on mine. We have one office with a wrap around desk . . . we all work side-by-side. Yes, sometimes I have to leave my character hanging onto life by a thin thread while I stop to help with a math problem, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I've also REALLY cut back on my speaking schedule. I do local stuff, but so far this year I only have two out-of-town events scheduled. While I love speaking, there's just not enough time to do it all.
5. How long have you been writing?
I first started writing in 1993, when I was pregnant with my third child. A friend at church was writing a novel and something clicked when she told me about it. (Cindy Martinusen now as five novels published!)
Looking back, I realized I had the heart of a writer before that. I LOVED to read. I made up all types of stories in my head. I won a few essay contests in high school, but it took a friend’s encouragement to “click.”
6. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
1. Don’t give up. It took me eight years to hold my first published novel in my hands, and the journey was worth it. Not only did I learn a lot about writing during those years, God used the time for healing and growth in my own life. Remember, His timetable is perfect.
2. Connect with other writers. I have a close group of writing friends who have been both encouraging and helpful. We were all wanna-bes when we started and most of us now have numerous books in print! We started an email prayer group on-line. It's a safe place to bring our concerns for our family, our writing, and our souls.
3. Take advantage of all the wonderful books on writing. I trained myself by taking the advice of others. My goal is to read one writing book a month . . . even now! I highlight as I read, and then I go back to the books later for good reminders.
4. Fake it until you make it. You are a writer even if you’re the only person who reads your words. Call yourself a writer. Take your writing-time seriously and others will too. There are many things I've had to say no to in order to write, but writing has also brought many more yeses into my life then I ever imagined possible!
7. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing or researching your next book? You can’t say reading. All writers say that one.
I like to hang out with my family. We travel A LOT during high school basketball season--on the road nearly every weekend from November to Feb. We watch TV shows together, watch movies, play board games, and DDR (Dance, dance revolution). In between books I try to get up house organized and catch up on what fell behind during deadline, but it doesn't work too well because I get a lot of new ideas when I'm cleaning and organizing, and I end up back at the keyboard! I also go to lunch with friends and take my grandma shopping, which she loves.
8. If you weren’t a writer or speaker, what would be your next career choice?
I would paint. Yes, I'm a very artsy person. I'd have a studio and paint portraits and landscapes. I have a bit of natural talent that I'd love to explore some day.
9. What project are you working on now?
Well, I have three books that are done, but are still being edited. My next novel, A Shadow of Treason, picks off where A Valley of Betrayal leaves off. It starts THE DAY the first book ends. It continues on in Spain in the lives of these characters, and ... well, soon they discover that more is at stake than what any of them originally thought. It's also published by Moody and it will hit store shelves September 1, 2007.
Generation NeXt Marriage will be released in January of 2008 and My Life unScripted, a teen devotional for girls, this summer. And, of course, I've got several other projects in the works, including A Whisper of Freedom, which is the next novel I have to write.
10. What would you hope readers will take away from A Valley of Betrayal?
I hope they take away that idea that all of us are called by God for a purpose. We may think that we're in the wrong place at the wrong time, but there is no such thing. God is a grand designer and it isn't until the end of our lives that we'll be able to see that He led us just where He needed us to be to help others and glorify Him.