Category Archives: Interviews

Author Interview: Gail Kittleson

Gail KittlesonToday I’d like to introduce Gail Kittleson, who writes World War Two-era fiction.

Janet: Welcome, Gail, and thanks for taking time to join us. Your novels feature courageous women, who aren’t service personnel but who still find key ways to support their loved ones and to stand for truth. When I think of WWII stories, I think military and battles, but you’ve chosen to work with civilian women. What drew you to these stories?

Gail: It’s probably my tendency to feel more comfortable behind the scenes. A few World War II women made the limelight, but far more held things together back home or unseen on the streets of London at night.

Janet: Are these women similar to your readers today?

Gail: Eleanor Roosevelt, one of those Greatest Generation women in the spotlight during the war, quipped that women, like teabags, find out how strong we are when we’re in hot water. I believe that’s true no matter what the era.

Janet: I love it! Tell us a bit about the Women of the Heartland series.

Gail: Addie stars in the first book, In Times Like These. Her life on the rural Iowa home front certainly provides plenty of challenges, because her husband’s rather nasty. No, he’s just plain nasty. I’ve been told our characters must be multi-dimensional, but Harold’s a skunk through and through. The community, however, does acknowledge his strengths—he was a high school debate champion and football player. And his education rises above the normal farmer.

But he lacks in human kindness and understanding, and that’s where Addie’s challenge comes into play. Readers may get exasperated with Addie, because transforming from a shrinking violet into a woman who finds and uses her voice doesn’t happen overnight. Still, her story begged to be told, and a few readers have thanked me for not giving her an easy way out of her struggles. She’s REAL LIFE, and so are the wonderful friends who build her up. 

Janet: That’s a big transformation, indeed, and I hope Addie’s growth will encourage readers to persevere. Your newest novel, With Each New Dawn, is set in France. Was it a challenge to write a foreign setting?

Gail: My husband and I attended language school in Southern France decades ago and spent as much time as possible exploring the countryside. Little did I know I’d be writing a novel about the French Resistance in the future.

So yes, bringing up memories of the terrain challenged me more than Addie’s flat Iowa farmland, familiar to me from my youth. But it was also more fun, because it required research. Lots of it. And that research, of course, motivated me to pay another visit to the beautiful valleys of the Auvergne – my husband and I are contemplating that.

Janet: That sounds like an amazing trip. How do you do your research? Have you picked up any particularly unusual bits of trivia you can share?

Gail: Oh, where to begin? SO many bits of trivia. It never ceases to amaze me how the “muse” in my head starts searching to see if an idea might be valid, and discovers that yes, something like what I’d imagined actually did occur.

One example: at the outset, I knew only snitches and snatches about the Basque people of Southern France. Largely shepherds and farmers, they settled along the pilgrimage route of St. James. With their intimate knowledge of the back trails to the Pyrenees mountains on the Spanish border, it seemed logical for them to be of great use to the Allies.

They were. I discovered their key role in guiding downed Allied pilots to safety in Spain. From there, the pilots found their way back to England again. It’s impossible to estimate how these strong humble men (and some women) altered the course of the war.

As for your first question, textbooks on the war provide answers to many of my questions.  The wealth of online sources helps, too, as do personal stories of WWII survivors.

Books by Gail Kittleson

Janet: What do you want readers to take away when they’re done?

Gail: In both books, the heroine faces great odds. Addie’s enemy is visible and tangible. For Kate in With Each New Dawn, there’s the added dimension of unseen danger all around her. But she meets people who still maintain faith, even in the midst of the Waffen SS and its horrific atrocities in this area of France.

Both Addie and Kate find times when they feel they must borrow others’ belief that good will conquer evil. I believe we need that capacity today, as well. Sometimes our own personal pit threatens to swallow us whole, and crying out for help is all we can do.

I hope readers will take heart from Addie and Kate’s experiences, and realize, too, that even in the midst of life’s struggles, gifts abound.

Janet: That’s real life: in our darkest moments, we need others to hold us up. What got you started writing?

Gail: The need to express my feelings on paper got me started in the first place, when I was young. Discovering that writing lightened my load was the first impetus, but I wrote sporadically for a long time. I really had no huge desire to create fiction, but while writing a memoir, I led some groups through Julia Cameron’s marvelous book, The Artist’s Way. That led me to fiction.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Gail: I love the song “You Are My All-in-All.” Even writing some of this song’s words brings a sigh of relief and joy. We don’t travel this road alone!

Janet: It’s a beautiful song, and knowing we’re not alone makes all the difference. Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea?

Gail: Tea. And my characters love it, too. I can’t eat sugar or chocolate, so that sort of eliminates the first question—but I love the SMELL of chocolate.

Janet: And the smell of chocolate has no calories! Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Gail: Listen to advice from writers, agents, and editors. But at the same time, keep an ear out for what your heart says.

Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?

Gail: I don’t do enough in this area, admittedly. But walking often does wonders for me. Bike riding used to do the same, but I’ve shied away from it as I’ve aged.

Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

Gail: I appreciate the quietness. Rural small towns offer decibels less noise, and I’d choose a serene walk in the country over a bustling city scene, hands down.

And I want to say thanks so much for having me visit, Janet.

Janet: It’s been a pleasure to chat with you, Gail, and to get to know you a bit. Blessings!

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For more about Gail Kittleson and her books, visit gailkittleson.com

Viking Historical: Interview and Giveaway

What do Vikings and present-day folk in small-town West Virginia have in common?Heather Day Gilbert

They both thrive in the head of award-winning author Heather Day Gilbert, whose fiction can immerse readers into either world. Heather’s newest Viking historical, Forest Child, released this month, and she’s offering a free ebook copy to a randomly-chosen commenter on this post. [Draw closed Nov. 25, 2016.]

Janet: Welcome, Heather, and congratulations on your newest release. In both of your genres, you create heroines we can relate to, strong yet vulnerable. Except for your novella, Out of Circulation, they’re each married women. How important to you is exploring the relationship dynamics this brings to each story?

Heather: Thank you for those kind words on my characters, Janet! Ever since I started writing novels, I’ve had a burden for writing about married women and their struggles. Married characters have just always been intrinsically interesting to me… all the way back to those Janette Oke books that featured them. I feel that married love is so much deeper and more powerful than dating love. When we’re married, we see each other at our worst, we sacrifice for each other, we grieve together… and yet if we do it right, our love grows even stronger because we are fully committed to each other.

Janet: So true, and since part of the reason we read about others’ struggles is to learn for our own, we should be seeing a lot more of this. Along with the relationship themes, your novels also involve a fair bit of action. Which aspect of the writing comes easier: the characters or the plots?

Heather: Definitely the characters. Then I have to plug them into a rough plot (my plotting is really loose and involves chapter highlights) and then ask myself what would this character really do in this situation?

Of course, with mysteries, you have to stretch it a bit, because if I were off chasing baddies and having showdowns with cold killers like Tess Spencer, I daresay my hubby would force me to stop my sleuthing “hobby.” Although Thomas Spencer tries to do this, he hasn’t quite succeeded.

Often, my characters surprise me with what they say and do. There is this line that Ref says to Freydis in Forest Child that I didn’t see coming, yet when I typed it, I knew it was exactly what he would have said. It was both brutally honest and quite vulnerable, and it made me mad, just as it did Freydis. (if you read it, try to guess which line that is—you might know, Janet! 😉 )

Janet: Forest Child is, what, your fourth novel in print? You’ve said this was the hardest novel to write – why so? And was it worth it in the end?

Heather: Hm. It’s actually my fifth in print (God’s Daughter, Miranda Warning, Trial by Twelve, and Out of Circulation preceded it). Yes, this was definitely the hardest one I’ve ever written, for several reasons. First, I had to build the simple Icelandic saga accounts of Freydis into a fleshed-out story. That involves matching up timelines, events, and even some wording. Vikings of the New World boxed set

Second, what Freydis did in the saga accounts was something so horrific, it took me over two years to really come up with reasons why a woman would be driven to such actions. I honestly prayed God would give me ideas about that, and He did. While the reason shocked me somewhat, I knew it was a perfect catalyst for her actions. Historically, Freydis was domineering, she was wild, she was a warrior, she was rude, and the list goes on and on. The true challenge was drawing this character so readers could empathize with her.

Finally, I had to  fully get into Freydis’ head because I write in first person present tense, which meant I had to be her for a while. I was kind of afraid her way of thinking might trickle into my own thoughts, but as I wrote her, I realized that in some ways, we were already similar. Acknowledging that was rather terrifying, but ultimately it turned into something that was freeing, for me and for her. So yes, I feel the angst of writing Forest Child was worth it and I know the story turned out exactly the way it needed to.

Janet: You did a fantastic job making Freydis both shocking and relatable. I think her inner vulnerability, which she didn’t even see at the start, made a strong connecting point for readers. And for me, even the worst of what she did seemed like a perfectly natural outflow of her character.

As well as vibrant characters who make realistic choices, how important to you is each novel’s setting?

Heather: In the Viking novels, setting is obviously crucial (from describing the Viking voyages to their foods and longhouses), so that requires a lot of research on my part. I wish I could visit the Viking locales in Newfoundland, Iceland, and Greenland, but I haven’t been able to yet. I do the best I can with photos and my imagination.

I have noticed that in every one of my books, there is a forest scene. I think it’s because I spent a lot of time in the woods growing up. My West Virginia mystery/suspense is really what I know, because I grew up in WV and I live here now. The ways of the Appalachian people, the winding mountain roads, the issues this state is having with drug addiction… all these things play into my contemporary stories. I don’t go into paragraphs of descriptive detail, a la Thomas Hardy (whose writing I love, BTW), but I hope I include enough description that my readers can see the books playing out like a movie in their heads, which is what some reviewers have said.

Janet: Your forest scenes feel alive to me, likely because the ones of my childhood are similar. Now, my favourite question: What might happen if Tess from your Murder in the Mountains series met the Viking heroines, Gudrid and Freydis?

Heather: Oh my word! I can’t imagine! Tess would probably get along okay with Gudrid, since they both had traumatic childhoods and they might have similar issues. But Freydis and Tess… boy, that would be a clash of the titans! Let’s just hope neither of them would be armed! LOL!

Janet: Could make for an interesting time! Heather, thank you so much for visiting today, and for these fantastic reads. The care you invest in your writing shows in the finished books.

Heather is offering one free ebook copy (epub or mobi format) to a randomly-selected commenter on this post. Entries close at midnight, Nov. 25, EST. To enter, scroll down to the comments field. Just for fun, share something you either know or wonder about the Vikings.

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Forest Child, by Heather Day GilbertViking warrior. Dauntless leader. Protective mother.

Determined to rise above her rank as the illegitimate “forest child” of Eirik the Red, Freydis launches a second voyage to Vinland to solidify her power and to demand the respect she deserves. She will return home with enough plunder to force her brother, Leif, to sell her the family farm in Greenland.

But nothing can prepare her for the horrors she must confront in Vinland… and nothing can stand in her way when her family is threatened.

In her race to outrun the truths that might destroy her, Freydis ultimately collides with the only enemy she cannot silence—her own heart.

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. This immersive tale is Book Two in the bestselling Vikings of the New World Saga.

AUTHOR BIO:

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather is a graduate of Bob Jones University, and she and her husband are raising their children in the same home in which Heather grew up. Heather is represented by Rebeca Seitz and Jonathan Clements of SON Studios in FL.

Heather’s Viking historical novel, God’s Daughter, is an Amazon Norse Bestseller. She is also the author of the bestselling A Murder in the Mountains mystery series and the Hemlock Creek Suspense series. Heather also authored the Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher. Find out more at heatherdaygilbert.com.

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Interview at The Romantic Side of Suspense

Have I ever regretted killing off a character? How do I connect with them, and why do I leave out the swear words?

Find the answers in my interview at The Romantic Side of Suspense: A Conversation withJanet Sketchley.

Guest Post and Interview

I’ve had a couple of recent opportunities to visit other sites recently. If you visit, be sure to check out the other posts. Who knows what you might find that you’ll like?

 

I used to post monthly at InScribe Writers Online, and it was fun to go back for a guest post to talk about what opportunities I see for serving God in my writing. Here’s the link: My Corner of the Vineyard.

Because I have a short story in one of Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lovers Devotionals (in 21 Days of Love), she interviewed me on her website. What are some treasured moments to do with writing? What Bible story do I wish had a different ending? Here’s the link: Treasured Moments.

 

Interview: Romantic Suspense Author Beth Ziarnik

Beth ZiarnikBeth Ziarnik is a writer and speaker, celebrating the release of her first novel, a romantic suspense called Her Deadly Inheritance.

Janet: Welcome, Beth, and thanks for taking time to join us. Congratulations on your debut novel! So many firsts – contract, cover, holding the first copy in your hands… and more. We’ll have the cover art and full description at the end of this interview, but for now, what’s the story about?

Beth: Thank you, Janet, for inviting me. I’m so pleased to be here, and you are so right about those many firsts that go with a debut novel. But to answer your question, Her Deadly Inheritance is about a runaway daughter who returns to end the family lies—including her own—and ends up a killer’s next target.

Janet: Sounds like a gripping read. How about introducing us to Jill?

Beth: I’d be glad to. Jill Shepherd is the only child of a single mother. Shortly after Jill’s high school graduation and against her mother’s wishes, she runs away to find her birth father. Until then, she’d been told he was dead, and she’s desperate to know him. Three years later, she feels compelled by her new-found love for God to return to the house she inherited upon her mother’s death. She’s to make peace with relatives who would just as soon she’d remain “dead” as they believed the past three years.

Janet: Where did the story idea come from?

Beth: I watched one criminal after another become untouchable because of loopholes in the law, and asked myself, “What if someone murdered my loved one, and I found that the killer—for one reason or another—couldn’t be touched by the law and brought to justice?” What would I do? How would being a Christian affect how I went about trying to bring the killer to justice?

Janet: Deep questions, and writing is a great way to explore them. Her Deadly Inheritance is your first novel, but you’re an established writer and speaker. Would you share a bit of your background with us?

Beth: When I set out to write the novel, I had so much to learn. I studied books on writing and subscribed to writer’s magazines, went to conferences, and started a local Christian writers’ club.  I facilitated a couple of local seminars and taught at other conferences and seminars around Wisconsin. That led to speaking to women’s groups, which I also love to do. The conferences led to articles published in devotional and other Christian magazines. On my way to novel land, I wound up writing two columns and about 450 published pieces. It’s been a long but rewarding process. And, yes, perseverance does pay!

Janet: Writers need huge amounts of perseverance! What do you like best about the writing life?

Beth: The opportunity to make a difference in the lives of women—through my stories, through writers’ and women’s events, and online. Other authors made a difference in my life. Even as a child, I dreamed that one day, I would write stories that would give readers the happiness the books I read had given me.

Janet: May the Lord continue to touch others through your words. Still thinking about writing, what do you like least?

Beth: Okay, now you’re asking me to tell on myself. What I like least … that would be those times when I have to dig myself out of the writer’s “doubt and despair” pit. I’m currently writing the follow–up to Her Deadly Inheritance, and sure enough, as I’m working, along come those doubts. “What makes you think you can pull this off again?” “No one will want to read anything you write!” “See, you’re stuck again! You’ll never be able to finish this story. And if you do, it won’t be anywhere near as good as the first one—much less better.” I hear this scenario is “normal” for writers. So, at times like that, it helps to remember what those who are enthused about Her Deadly Inheritance say. Besides, my characters insist on having their stories told!

Janet: I hear those “voices” too. Good thing our characters won’t let us quit! Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Beth: Yes! I’m so glad you asked. It arrived written on an Easter card when I was twelve years old and has remained my life verse: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7. Both my heroines and I often remind ourselves of this as we face life’s challenges—good or bad.

Janet: What’s the novel’s theme? Or what do you want readers to take away when they’re done?

Beth: That no matter what happens in life and no matter how bad things might look, we can trust God to make it come out all right, at the right time, and in the right way—if we love him, pray, and give him time to work out all things for good.

Janet: “And give Him time” – that’s such a good point! Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Beth: First of all, be patient. Building your writing skill is a process. Keep working at it—reading and practising. If you’re willing to learn, receive critiques on your writing, and refuse to quit growing, you’ll be surprised at your progress from year to year.

Go to writers’ conferences and seminars where you can learn, network with others in the industry, encourage and be encouraged.

Bring to the Lord everything you do or intend to do on your writing journey. He knows his good plans for you and your talent. If you give him the chance, he will take you to the land of published works. It might not be in the way or the timing you envision, but you will be delighted when it comes to pass.

Janet: Thanks for these wise words, Beth. Now, onto lighter things: Cake or Pie? And what’s your favourite season?

Beth: Please excuse me, devoted cake fans, but for me, almost any kind of pie has an edge over cake. Though, come to think of it … my favorite cake is Boston crème pie. My favorite season? The one I’m experiencing. In Wisconsin, we have four vivid seasons, and I love them all. The crisp air and sparkling snow of winter. The soft breezes and gentle greening of spring. The vivid blooms and water sports and brat fries of summer. And the bountiful harvests and brightly colored leaves of fall.

Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?

Beth: Each year, I recharge with writer friends at the Green Lake Conference Center’s Christian Writers Center. We’re a small group of regulars who pray together, write, brainstorm, take walks on the gorgeous 1000-acre grounds, and enjoy five days of blessed fellowship and writing progress.

At home, I recharge during my morning’s prayer and Bible reading time with the Lord, by walking outdoors in the beauty of our country neighborhood, and while visiting with family or friends.

Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

Beth: Wisconsin is beautiful—a feast for the eyes whatever the season. But what I love most is my neighborhood where we know each other, take time to get together, and look out for one another as needed. I often say I’ll never move because I couldn’t take my neighbors with me.

Janet: A neighbourhood like that is definitely worth staying in! I’ve never been to Wisconsin, but it sounds wonderful. Maybe someday… Thanks again for visiting, Beth, and all the best with Her Deadly Inheritance and your wider ministry.

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Her Deadly Inheritance, by Beth Ziarnik

Her Deadly Inheritance, by Beth Ziarnik

First a runaway. Now running for her life. Won’t Jill Shepherd’s family be surprised when she returns to Grand Island, Michigan to end their lies and scheme to have her declared legally dead? But when Jill exposes the mastermind behind her intended death, her family’s deception may kill any chance she has of remaining alive.

Clay Merrick may seem to be little more than a handyman restoring homes, but when the former Special Forces operative tracks a brutal killer to Jill’s historic house under renovation, he has most of the evidence he needs to bring the killer to justice … until Jill gets in the way.

When the killer sets sights on Jill as the next victim, it’s not just Clay’s mission on the line, but his heart.

A long-time and avid reader of romantic suspense, Beth Ann Ziarnik offers her first novel with all the twists and turns, cliff hangers and romantic tension she and readers have come to love. She is a co-founder of Word & Pen Christian Writers in northeast Wisconsin, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. In addition to 450 published pieces (several included in anthologies), she is the author of Love With Shoes On, her ten-year devotional column about love in action and based on 1 Corinthians 13.

Connect with Beth Ziarnik:

Interview: Kathy Ide: Fiction Lover’s Devotionals

Kathy IdeStory — true and fiction — has great power to touch hearts. That’s why I was intrigued by the premise of Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lovers DevotionalsKathy Ide is a writer, editor, mentor and teacher, and she joins us today to talk about the second volume in the series.

Janet: Tell us about your newest book.

Kathy: 21 Days of Christmas: Stories that Celebrate God’s Greatest Gift is the second in a series of Fiction Lover’s Devotionals, published by BroadStreet Publishing. It’s a collection of short fiction stories, all written by different authors. Each story is followed by a brief Life Application, written by the author of the story, that suggests how the messages in the tale can be applied to daily life.

Janet: What’s unique about this series?

Kathy: A lot of readers today love Christian fiction. But in their quiet times with the Lord, they want something with a little more depth. There are lots of compilations with short true stories out there. The Fiction Lover’s Devotionals are for readers who enjoy fiction.

Janet: Do you have a chapter in 21 Days of Christmas too?

Kathy: I do. It’s a story of what might have gone through Joseph’s mind in the moments after Mary gave birth to Jesus. I loved imagining what it must have been like to realize that you’ve been called to teach God’s Son about God. Based on what Joseph was raised to believe about the Messiah, that experience must have been mind-blowing!

Janet: What’s one of your most cherished Christmas memories?

Kathy: When I was maybe ten years old, my mom asked my dad to build dollhouses for me and my two younger sisters for Christmas. He collected scrap lumber, carpet samples, strips of wallpaper, paint, and miniature furniture pieces. After working all day, then waiting for his daughters to go to bed, he stayed up late several nights in the garage, constructing a two-story house with five rooms, glued to a board that was painted green and had little trees and bushes in the wooden yard. The night before Christmas Eve, the dollhouse was finally finished. And my mom asked, “Where are the other two?” What? “You have three daughters, Wayne. You can’t expect them to all share one dollhouse.” After a last-minute shopping trip, Dad stayed up all night and built two more houses—identical in size, shape, and floor plan, but each with different wallpaper and paint and furnishings. When my sisters and I woke up on Christmas morning to three beautiful dollhouses, mine was the only one we could play with right away because the paint hadn’t yet dried on the other two! I still have a picture of those houses, with me and my sisters grinning from ear to ear, on my china cabinet.

Janet: How do you see people using these devotionals?

Kathy: The books are being published as beautiful hardcover gift books—small enough to take with you, and with chapters short enough to read anywhere. You can enjoy these stories over breakfast, at lunch break, before bed, or curled up in your favorite chair with a cup of coffee or tea. These books could also be used in group settings—for your book club, Bible study, life group, Sunday school class, or just getting together with friends. They make terrific gifts too—especially 21 Days of Christmas! A Study Guide is available for free at www.FictionDevo.com or as a 99-cent e-book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Janet: Where can people purchase the book? 21 Days of Christmas

Kathy: The print version of 21 Days of Christmas can be ordered online at Amazon, BN.com, ChristianBook.com, Cokesbury.com, and GoHastings.com. The e-book is available from Amazon, BN.com, iBooks, and Google Play.

Janet: What can readers do after they read the books?

Kathy: There’s a forum on FictionDevo.com where people can post responses to the books and the stories in them. They can also do that on Facebook.com/FictionDevo. I’m very excited to read about how God is using these stories in people’s lives.

Win a Print Copy of Without Proof

This week there are two chances to win a print copy of Without Proof:

At Thinking Thoughts: New Novel News (ends Nov 23)

and at A Christian Writer’s World (ends Nov. 28)

Don’t need a copy of the book? Stop by and check out the interviews. Some of the questions made me think!

Without Proof available for print and in multiple ebook formats.

Without Proof: Meet Aunt Bay

"Make the most of every day. Sabotage or not, the plane crash taught us how quickly life can end." ~Aunt Bay, in Without Proof

My editorial assistant (and son), Matthew Sketchley, joins us again today for a conversation with Beatrice Rockland (Aunt Bay) from Without Proof. Matthew blogs at Probably Nothing Interesting.

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew: We’ve got Beatrice Rockland here, from Without Proof. Beatrice, would you mind telling us a little about yourself?

Aunt Bay: To get us off to a better start, my name is pronounced BAY-a-triss, not the conventional BE-a-triss. If that’s too much of a challenge, you may call me Miss Rockland. I’m Michael’s great aunt, a retired teacher, and active in a variety of volunteer roles. Michael’s parents moved frequently in his youth, so he came to live with me for his high school and college years. When I bought a condo in Halifax, he turned my old house into his art gallery and studio area.

Matthew: And you recently moved back to live with him and Amy, right? What’s it like living in an art gallery?

Aunt Bay: After the plane crash that killed Gilles, Amy needed a place to live while her injuries healed. Gilles’ parents, for reasons known only to themselves, cancelled the lease on his condo while she was still in the hospital. The poor girl had nowhere to go, and she needed to commute to her appointments. Michael has a caring heart and a huge house, so inviting Amy to stay with him was natural. I moved in as well to help.

I wondered about customer traffic in the house, but our bedrooms are upstairs with Michael’s studio. The gallery’s on one end of the main floor, with a separate entrance, and it’s only active during tourist season. It’s actually quite convenient. We can be in the main part of the house, and if a customer comes, we hear the door chime. Nobody has to stay on duty all day if there are no visitors. Of course it’s Michael’s work, and Amy is his assistant, so I’m rarely involved in the business end of things. He does beautiful work, though, if you’d like to buy a painting.

Matthew: I may have to take a look later. My first concern about living in a gallery would have been customer traffic too, but that actually sounds quite nice. How do you feel about having moved in to help take care of Amy? Has it affected your daily life much?

Aunt Bay: We’re on St. Margaret’s Bay, near Peggy’s Cove, and I always loved living here, but truthfully, I do miss living in the city. Especially now that I’m becoming less confident driving after dark. I’m in my seventies, you know. But I do like to drive, so during the day it’s not an issue. I’m on the go a lot.

Of course, Amy doesn’t need care anymore. She’s fully recovered physically, and she seems to be healing from her loss. She’s a fine young woman. Now that she’s working with Michael, it makes sense for her to keep living at the gallery. I’ve only stayed to keep people from talking. Michael and I are Christians, and it’s important not to give the wrong idea about our behaviour.

Matthew: Okay, so you’ve given us a decent picture of your normal life, and I think it’s time for some abnormal talk. Michael and Amy are a bit concerned by this talk about sabotage, albeit for very different reasons. What’s your take on the idea?

Aunt Bay: You’re a direct young man, aren’t you? Much like the reporter who brought up the sabotage notion. I was shocked to think the accident could have been deliberate, and I have to say it’s unlikely. Gilles’ parents would have jumped on any hint of a crime. His mother, especially, wouldn’t have let up on the investigators until they found the truth. I’d like to dismiss the idea, but the reporter, Troy, challenged me to pray about it. After all, God saw what happened that day. I haven’t had any clear answer, but it does seem odd to me that the matter keeps coming up. That may mean something. Do you think it could have been sabotage? And if so, why?

Matthew: I’m direct when it suits me, and in this case being straightforward is the best way to get proper answers. As far as what I think, I’m an outsider to the situation so I don’t know any of the technical details and I never knew Gilles. Even so, I suppose it’s theoretically possible. I think that to be convinced I would have to see a reason for the sabotage. People don’t kill like that for no reason. If there was a logical reason behind sabotaging that plane, I would consider sabotage an option. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, do you think this whole business could be bad for Amy or Michael?

Aunt Bay: It’s definitely affecting them both. Amy’s upset, not knowing what to think, and emotionally on edge, as if it’s thrown her back into grief. Michael says there’s no motive, and he sees it as a waste of time that’s needlessly upsetting Amy. That’s triggering his protective impulses, which of course makes Amy feel closed-in and could cause her to make some less-than-wise choices. What worries me most is, if someone did cause that crash and Amy stirs the pot, will she be putting herself in danger?

Matthew: It almost seems like you understand their relationship better than they do. And I don’t think the question is so much, “will she put herself in danger,” as it is, “if there is danger, what kind is she going to get involved in?” You are in a suspense novel.

Aunt Bay: Child, that is not a comforting thought.

Matthew: No. But if we spent all our time thinking comfortable things we would never accomplish anything. I’m just suggesting care. And besides, no one can be sure about this. There may not even be a problem.

Aunt Bay: My heart says you’re right, though. After all Amy’s been through, and Michael and I have grieved for Gilles too, I’ve been hoping for a happy-ever-after.

Matthew: Well, I think that’s still possible. And happy endings are so much more interesting when they’re preceded by unpleasantness. However, I think we’ve got all we need for this interview. Any parting words you’d like to leave us with, Miss Rockland?

Aunt Bay: Make the most of every day. Sabotage or not, the plane crash taught us how quickly life can end.

Matthew: A good sentiment. Thanks for being here.

[Other Without Proof interviews: Amy SilverMichael Stratton, and the supporting cast.]

Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3]“Asking questions could cost your life.”

Two years after the plane crash that killed her fiancé, Amy Silver has fallen for his best friend, artist Michael Stratton. When a local reporter claims the small aircraft may have been sabotaged, it reopens Amy’s grief.

Anonymous warnings and threats are Amy’s only proof that the tragedy was deliberate, and she has nowhere to turn. The authorities don’t believe her, God is not an option, and Michael’s protection is starting to feel like a cage.

Do you like clean reads with a Christian thread? Grab your copy today at the Without Proof book page.

Without Proof: Meet Michael Stratton

"Just because there are ways to crash a plane like his without leaving clues doesn't mean it happened. For a crime, you need a motive.

My editorial assistant (and son), Matthew Sketchley, joins us again today for a conversation with Michael Stratton from Without Proof. Matthew blogs at Probably Nothing Interesting.

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew: We’ve got Michael Stratton here today, he’s one of the main characters in Without Proof. How are you doing, Michael?

Michael: I’m a bit frustrated today, actually. One of my friends is a journalist, and he just reopened an accident I’d like to leave in the past… and suggested to my assistant, Amy, that it could have been sabotage. Just when I’d hoped we were moving beyond this.

Matthew: That accident is the reason you have Amy as an assistant, right? Would you mind elaborating a little on your business and how it’s been affected?

Michael: Amy had just moved here to Nova Scotia to marry my best friend, Gilles. When he was killed in the plane crash, she needed a place to recover from her injuries, so I invited her to stay with me. My aunt moved in, too to help. Amy started helping with my accounts, to take her mind off her loss. I think she felt she needed to pay me back, too, although I never would have asked for it. Helping her was helping Gilles, and I’d have done whatever I could.

Anyway, Amy worked herself into a job. Now she handles the books, promotions, and even some of the framing. I’m a painter – nature scenes, mostly. Anything to do with water, although I’ll do the occasional portrait as well. I’m hopeless with numbers, so gaining Amy as an assistant has been a definite plus.

I’m based in Nova Scotia, which is a bit far from the larger markets. Two years ago, when the crash happened, I was in the process of moving my business to central Canada. When Gilles died, and Amy needed me, I scrapped those plans and came home. It might not have been the smartest thing, business-wise, but I have no regrets.

Matthew: It sounds like you and Gilles were quite close. I’ve heard a bit about him already, but could you tell me about your friendship?

Michael: For our non-French-speaking readers, here’s how to say his name: the “g” makes a zh sound like in “treasure,” and the name rhymes with “hill,” so say “zhil.”

Gilles was everything I’m not. Outgoing, adventurous, athletic, charming. From a wealthy French family. We were paired in an exchange program one summer in our teens. He came here first, and let’s just say some of the antics we got up to – at his instigation – bonded us closer than brothers. I still can’t believe he’s gone.

Matthew: I guess I should ask you this, although you’ve sort of already given an answer. What do you think about this sabotage theory?

Michael: Just because there are apparently ways to crash a plane like his without leaving clues doesn’t mean it happened. For a crime, you need motive. Everyone loved Gilles, and there’s not even a hint of evidence of sabotage. What makes me so angry about this coming up is that Amy’s finally starting to heal. We’re coming up to the second anniversary of the crash, and she doesn’t need anything to stir up her grief.

Matthew: I can understand that. You’re pretty protective of her, right?

Michael: More protective than she likes, sometimes. Amy carries a lot of hurt, from losing Gilles, the way his family treated her afterward, and from something else, something she thinks disqualifies her from a relationship with God. I’d give anything to see her whole again.

Matthew: So how does your business operate? Do you find sales tricky as an introvert, or do you let Amy handle that for you?

Michael: I run a small gallery from my home, conveniently situated for tourists, and I’m building a network of consignment sales through independent gift shops. I also take part in the major craft and gift fairs, and do exhibits in other galleries when I can get them. I let Amy handle as much of the people and paper as possible. She seems to like it. For the public venue events, people really like to meet the artist. I do my best, but schmoozing drains me.

Matthew: Yeah, people are the worst. Well, that’s all the questions I have for you today. Any parting words you want to leave us with?

Michael: Hey, people are fine… the right people, and in small numbers. But crowds? Definitely stressful. I’m getting ready for a major show in Toronto. Amy’s agreed to go with me, which will help. Here’s hoping some time away helps her forget that sabotage nonsense. Thanks for taking time to chat, Matthew.

Matthew: No problem, Michael, it’s been good talking to you. Good luck in your Toronto show.

[Other Without Proof interviews: Amy SilverAunt Bay, and the supporting cast.]

Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3]“Asking questions could cost your life.”

Two years after the plane crash that killed her fiancé, Amy Silver has fallen for his best friend, artist Michael Stratton. When a local reporter claims the small aircraft may have been sabotaged, it reopens Amy’s grief.

Anonymous warnings and threats are Amy’s only proof that the tragedy was deliberate, and she has nowhere to turn. The authorities don’t believe her, God is not an option, and Michael’s protection is starting to feel like a cage.

Do you like clean reads with a Christian thread? Grab your copy today at the Without Proof book page.

Without Proof: Meet Amy Silver

"Let's just say God doesn't want me in His house. I wish I could be part of His family. The need to belong... Maybe it's because my mom died in my teens, and my father threatened legal action if I contacted him again."

I’m trying something different today: instead of introducing Amy Silver myself, I’ve asked my editorial assistant (and son), Matthew Sketchley, to do the honours.

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew Sketchley

Matthew writes… I’ll call it dark fantasy, but I’m not sure that’s quite right. Some is dark speculative. He’s just started a blog called Probably Nothing Interesting, which often makes me laugh but which is definitely not for everyone.

Matthew: Alrighty then. We’ve got Amy Silver here today. Amy’s the protagonist in Without Proof, a Christian romantic suspense novel. It’s great to have you here Amy, how are you doing?

Amy:  I’m fine, thanks, Matthew. This is the second time someone’s wanted to interview me today. I’m not sure what’s up with that.

Matthew: Your last name is Silver… any connection to Harry Silver, the dangerous offender? Reporters are always looking for new angles.

Amy: He’s my cousin, but thankfully we’ve never met. He wouldn’t even know I exist.

Matthew: Well, I guess a lot of people think you’re interesting. What was your other interview about? Anything exciting?

Amy:  I’m just an ordinary person. My claim to fame is surviving the plane crash that killed my fiancé. That was almost two years ago now, and a local reporter came looking for a human interest story for the paper. It’s really not my thing, but I thought it could give some free advertising for the art gallery where I work. Then at the end, this guy asks if I have any suspicions about the crash. Apparently there are ways to sabotage a small plane that may not be noticed. Honestly, I don’t know what to think about that. Wouldn’t you know, if someone hated you enough to want to kill you?

Matthew: I’d think you would, although some people do extreme things for reasons that don’t necessarily make sense outside of their own heads. You were banged up pretty badly yourself in the crash – how have you dealt with what happened? Did you get much support from family and friends in the aftermath?

Amy:  My fiancé’s parents deserted me in the hospital, and I have no family of my own. His best friend, Michael, offered me a place to stay. Michael’s great-aunt moved in to help drive me to appointments. They’re good people. As I healed, I worked myself into a job in Michael’s art gallery. The crash was tragic, but I’m finding a new life, and I like it here.

Matthew: It’s horrible that they would just walk out on you like that, but it’s nice to see that Michael and his aunt are good enough to take care of you. Can you tell us a little bit about your relationship with the two of them?

Amy:  We all live in this huge house, with Michael’s studio and gallery. Aunt Bay is what you might call “feisty.” She’s a good buffer when Michael tries to overprotect me. I’m ready to move forward with my life, but I don’t think he sees that.

Matthew: Sometimes it’s hard to really see when someone else is ready to move on. Now, I know Michael and Aunt Bay are very Christian people. How do you feel, living with them when you’re not exactly someone of faith yourself?

Amy:  It’s usually not an issue. They respect that I don’t want to attend church with them. Sometimes Michael plays Christian music while he’s painting, and that can make me… almost homesick. With this sabotage idea? The reporter asked Aunt Bay to pray for the truth to come out. I still hope there’s nothing to it, but if there is, maybe God will listen to her.

Matthew: What do you mean by “homesick?” Have you considered going out to church with them if you feel that way?

Amy:  Let’s just say God doesn’t want me in His house. I wish I could be part of His family. The need to belong is strong for me. Maybe it’s because my mom died in my teens, and my father threatened legal action if I contacted him again.

Matthew: Wow, Amy, that’s a lot to deal with. I think we have time for one last question, and I’m sure this is the one everyone wants to hear. You’re in a romantic suspense novel. We talked a little bit about the plane crash, so we’ve heard about the suspense, but where does the romance come in?

Amy:  From my perspective, romance is almost as unlikely as that sabotage theory. Michael doesn’t have a clue how I feel about him. It’s like he thinks I still belong to Gilles.

Matthew: Do you think that’s why he’s so protective? What does he think of this whole sabotage theory?

Amy:  You may be right, but I don’t know how to make him see the truth. The sabotage? He doesn’t believe it, and he’s angry with the reporter for bringing it up.

Matthew: Well, that sounds tense and complicated. I’m sure you’ll all have a great time working this one out! This has been an interview with Amy Silver, protagonist of Without Proof.

[Other Without Proof interviews: Michael Stratton, Aunt Bay, and the supporting cast.]

Without Proof [Redemption's Edge 3]“Asking questions could cost your life.”

Two years after the plane crash that killed her fiancé, Amy Silver has fallen for his best friend, artist Michael Stratton. When a local reporter claims the small aircraft may have been sabotaged, it reopens Amy’s grief.

Anonymous warnings and threats are Amy’s only proof that the tragedy was deliberate, and she has nowhere to turn. The authorities don’t believe her, God is not an option, and Michael’s protection is starting to feel like a cage.

Do you like clean reads with a Christian thread? Grab your copy today at the Without Proof book page.