Readers want to know . . . What is your favorite Bible verse? “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). I receive such reassurance from this Bible verse. In When Valleys Bloom Again, my heroine, Abby, frequently reminds herself of this promise in God’s Word after she is uprooted from London in 1939, due to the impending war and forced to return to a country far from her family and the life she’s become accustomed to. How do you choose your characters’ names? At times from a book I read, a film or documentary I watched, or maybe someone I’ve known. In my debut novel for a character, I used my great-grandfather’s full name, but added an “e” on the end of his surname. He immigrated to the United States, as had Uncle Will, the loveable secondary character in my novel. A cousin of mine said she nearly fell out of her chair when she saw our great-grandfather’s name in my novel, but was delighted to see him in the story. Would you rather research, write, or revise? More than writing or revising my story I enjoyed doing research for When Valleys Bloom Again. I talked with some who lived through the WWII era and also had the opportunity to ask questions of veterans in the U.S. and U.K., then in their mid-90’s, who were willing to share their experiences and their photographs. I enjoyed traveling to distant and unfamiliar places. I visited “living” museums in England where people went about their tasks in clothing that would’ve been worn during the 1940’s. The guides were always helpful and eager to share what they had learned. I’m happy when I uncover an extra special tidbit of information that will enhance my story. On one research trip, I went into the largest purpose-built civilian air raid shelter in England that was extended to accommodate 6,500 people during the Second World War. The Stockport Air Raid Shelter is a network of underground tunnels, a mile long, carved out of the sandstone hills on which the city stands. These refuges offered not only protection but a way of life for whole families. This underground world is still intact today as it was during the war years, and provided me an opportunity to understand the raw realities of life during the Blitz. I came away with a deep admiration for my husband’s family and for numerous others who struggled to live with only the basic amenities in such depressing and stressful surroundings. Tea with favorite literary character? Atticus Finch, from To Kill a Mockingbird. The integrity of Atticus is shown in the way he raises his children to respect all people and his willingness to talk with them about the injustices they see around them. Atticus shows courage when he agrees to defend a black man charged with a heinous crime. This lawyer stands tall against the abuse and threats against him and his family from his racist community and eventually proves in court that his client is innocent. In When Valleys Bloom Again, one of my characters is a lawyer. However, unlike Atticus Finch, my Henri entertains deep prejudices, he’s shrewd and a manipulator.
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