Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let's talk about Tricia Goyer

Today I have the honor of hosting Tricia Goyer on the blog. I had the privilege of meeting Tricia at the ACFW conference in Dallas this past September, and to sit in her continuing education class. I gleaned many helpful tips in writing historicals, and better yet, caught some of Tricia's passion for writing accurate, relevant-to-today's-reader, historical fiction.

Her latest book is A SHADOW OF TREASON.

Book 2 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series

Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.

An Interview with Tricia:

Thank you for stopping by On The Write Path.
Thanks for having me!

Tell us a little about yourself and your road to publication.

I first thought about writing in 1993. A friend from church, Cindy Martinusen told me about her aspirations to become a novelist. My first thought was . . . Real people do that? She invited me to attend Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference with her. I was new as new can be. I was also 22-years-old and pregnant with my third child, but I learned enough at that conference to start off on the right track. And I’ve been actively working at my writing ever since.

I never planned on writing historical fiction. I wanted to write contemporary romances. Then in 2000, I was with Cindy and another writer friend, Anne de Graaf in Austria. They were researching books, and I was along for the ride. BUT I was the one who got a novel idea, after talking to an Austrian historian. The historian’s true stories about the liberation of Gusen and Mauthausen concentration camps sparked my novel idea. The idea led to attending two WWII reunions and interviewing veterans. The veterans’ stories led to more novels. The rest, as they say, is history!

Your latest release is A Shadow of Treason. Can you give us a brief overview of the book and the series?

In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie’s heart will deal with it.

A Shadow of Treason is the second in a three book series called The Chronicles of The Spanish Civil War. I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in … and (for a few) out … of Spain. It’s an exciting conclusion to the series!

As a home-school mom, how do you balance your writing with your other responsibilities?

For most of the year I find a nice balance. I homeschool my kids, so daily I help them figure out their schedule and help them on their work. I love having dinner with a family so I shop and cook. I attend a few different Bible studies. I exercise. I walk my dogs. Writing is just one of the things I schedule into my day.

Then, during “deadline” months (which come about twice a year) I’m just not as available. I still spend time with my family, but they can tell my mind is in Spain, or Austria, or Germany … or wherever!

Writing historical fiction calls for a great deal of research. What are some of your favorite research sources, and how do you compile and organize your research so it is of use to you as you write?

I have come up with a “system” if you will. Here are some of the steps:

- I read a general overview of the time in history to discover plot points. Then I put them in a PLOT document
- I color-coded the scenes by character.
- I work with through the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, and the assignments lead to information about character (which I put in the character file) and plot points (plot file).
- THEN I research the information I’ll need for of plot and characters.
- I check important dates/events.
- I research specifics that will be in my scenes.

The details for the scenes that I research are:
- Who does what?
- Who goes where?
- Motivation?
- Conflict?
- Setting?

As you can tell the “factual research” usually happens later in the process. It’s important for me to get a general overview of the time in history, but the more novels I write the more I’ve disciplined myself to focus on exactly what I need for each scene. It helps me to focus where the information is needed the most. It saves time. And it saves me from running away on rabbit trails.

I love:
Used books. (The closer to the time period I’m writing about the better!)
I do look for information on the Internet, but I’d rather have an old, musty book in my hand.

You also write non-fiction books dedicated to helping parents and teens navigate the adolescent years. How is writing non-fiction different from writing fiction? Which do you find the more challenging?

Funny thing, I have an easier time writing non-fiction. I think it’s because non-fiction can be written in smaller chunks. This chapter, that sidebar, etc. Yet, fiction is the weaving of one long sweep-me-away drama and it literally sweeps me away and consumes every brain cell!

Also, I “live” the non-fiction books I write. They stem from things in my life … so I feel as if I’m just sitting now and talking to a friend over coffee.

I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today’s couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we’re doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I’ve also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado’s book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!

Do you have a favorite part of writing novels? A least favorite?

I love when I’m about ¾ into a novel, and I’m totally caught up in it.

My least favorite part is the first ten chapters (or ¼ of the book). It’s a huge challenge to write something interesting, intriguing, with dynamic characters who have clear motivations and goals, yet huge obstacles too.

What book do you most want to write?

The one I’m contracted to write next. Seriously! When I have a book I know I get to work on I get so excited. I just want to sit down and get to work on it! It’s having to do stuff like grocery shop or put laundry away when I have ideas for the next project in my head.

What advice might you have for those still seeking publication?

I tried to get books published unsuccessfully for a number of years. During that time I learned that the preparation for the writing ministry often doesn't simply focus on learning about writing. During those "unsuccessful" years I taught Bible Studies, I homeschooled, I helped to launch a Crisis Pregnancy Center, I mentored ... Yes, I also worked on the writing craft, but these other things transformed my heart ... and the growth I experienced has helped to mold me into the writer I am today.

Thank you for talking with us!
Thank you!

Tricia's Bio: Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan). She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing:

From Dust and Ashes (2003)

Night Song (2004)

Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005)

Arms of Deliverance (2006)

A Valley of Betrayal (2007)

A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007)

A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008)

Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006. Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell , Montana . Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.

Important Links! First ChapterAmazon Link Book 1, A Valley of Betrayal's WebsiteTricia's blogs:

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