My debut novel, BURNING HEARTS had been #2 in smaller pond of Amazon’s Christian Historical Fiction, World War II category.
I’m thrilled to announce that BURNING HEARTS has now reached #5 in the much larger pond of Christian Historical Romance.
Erynn Newman’s manuscript Out of Darkness, was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest this
year and the winner of the Novel Rocket Launch Pad Contest in the suspense/crime/mystery category. The story has two Thanksgiving holiday scenes, as its hero CIA operative Andrew Marek is captured by international arms dealers on his wedding day. He has a Thanksgiving scene in captivity, and his new wife Elisabeth has a Thanksgiving scene in the states with her family and husband’s best friend.
Now on to the interview…
Nike: Elisabeth, to say the least, this story starts with a bang. Tell us about your wedding day to Andrew Marek.
Elisabeth: Drew is my best friend. I’ve known that I wanted to marry him since I knew what marriage was. That day was everything I hoped it would be and more, surrounded by our friends and family, promising each other forever. I could really feel it, you know . . . dancing in his arms, I felt like I could touch forever.
And then it was just . . . gone. Lost in fire and smoke. *wipes at her eyes* I’m sorry. It feels like a cliché, but I promised myself I wouldn’t do this.
Nike: This month we’re celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday on CFF. That first Thanksgiving Day without Drew you thought he was dead, killed in the explosion. Were you able to find anything to be thankful for?
Elisabeth: Absolutely. Thanksgiving came six months after losing Drew. My friends and family were amazing during that time. Supporting me, loving me, grieving alongside me. I don’t know what I would have done without them. But even more importantly, my relationship with God grew during that time. I was so tempted to shut Him out for taking my husband away from me, but I couldn’t do that, because I needed Him. I couldn’t bear to lose Him too. Even when I was hurt and angry and railing at Him, I knew He was there, holding me up, counting every tear I cried. And there were a lot.
Nike: The reader finds out that Drew is alive, merely captured in some elaborate ruse. But you don’t know this. During that time did your faith ever waver?
Elisabeth: One of my (and Drew’s) favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 4:7-9. Paul talks about being afflicted but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, struck down, but not destroyed. That was me in every way. I felt all of that. I seriously considered just crawling into the grave with Drew. There were times that I didn’t want to leave my house. I didn’t understand why God would ask me to suffer this way, or how it could possibly be for my good, but I trusted Him. I actually tried to view it as an opportunity prove to the world that He is infinitely better—than anything I’ve lost, or could ever have, or think, or ask, or imagine. Sometimes I failed at that. Sometimes I just felt sorry for myself and missed my husband. So, yes and no. My faith was shaken to its core. But it held. And that’s God’s grace to me.
Nike: Elisabeth, what would you like potential readers to know about this story?
Elisabeth: I guess I would want them to know it’s more than a sobfest, although there are certainly quite a few of those moments. But there’s also plenty of laughter, and some good old-fashioned CIA intrigue (which I try desperately to leave to the boys but somehow keep getting dragged into). Most of all, it’s a story of hope and finding satisfaction in Christ in the good times and the bad times.
Nike: I always like to throw in a question that gets a bit mischievous. During the time it took to write this story, you must have gotten to know author Erynn Newman just about as well as she knew you. Do you have any complaints about her?
Elisabeth: *laughs* Are you kidding me? She’s the one that ripped my whole world apart—more than once. And sometimes she’d leave me in the worst places and just go on vacation. But she’s also responsible for some really great moments, so I guess I have to forgive her (also because if I don’t say nice things about her, she might do more evil things to me).
You can reach Erynn Newman at
And you can read the first two chapters of Out of Darkness here:
I thought I’d do something a bit different and let Erica Brogna, the heroine in my debut novel BURNING HEARTS interview Kristin Taylor, the heroine in Cathy West’s YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW.
Erica, a character from the post WWII period (1946), was intrigued when she learned about career-driven journalist Kristin who hailed from the Viet Nam era in YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW. Erica became impressed with Kristin’s commitment to go to war-torn Viet Nam in 1967. So much so, that Erica had a burning desire to interview Kristin in honor of Veterans Day.
Erica: I’m thrilled that you were able to do this interview. In my time, Kristin, I was considered daring simply because after I married I opened my own dress shop and would occasionally be seen around the village in slacks. Of course, that was 1946. YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW is set in 1967 and you courageously took off for the battleground of Viet Nam hoping to garner a Pulitzer Prize. That’s quite ambitious. Can you tell us what motivated you?
Kristin: Thanks, Erica! I think my driving ambition to become a foreign correspondent was due in large part to my father. He was one of the best. He died in Vietnam on assignment, when I was twelve. I always knew I wanted to write stories like him, but after his death it was more like something I had to do. After my brother enlisted, I didn’t see any reason to stick around. I went to Vietnam to discover the truth and try to form my own understanding of a war that seemed confusing to everyone I talked to back home.
Erica: You must have seen many injured and dead US soldiers in Viet Nam. I recall that in my era, by the end of Word War II, I was heartsick because we’d lost so many boys in the war. How did you handle your emotions witnessing many horrific scenes?
Kristin: At first I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stomach it. Nothing could have prepared me for the things I saw in Vietnam. When you’re sitting at home watching the news, it doesn’t really sink in. But when it’s right there in front of you, death, that’s when you know you’ve woken up in hell. Over there people had different ways of coping. They partied. Talked sports. Anything to get their minds off what was going on around them. I tried to ignore it, tell myself it didn’t matter, but of course it did. After a while I kind of got numb, you know? Once I came home I knew I had to deal with those feelings. But it was hard.
Erica: In my time, US military personnel were held in the highest esteem in America. I always carried a special honor and respect in my heart for GIs and veterans. I married one. It was quite different during the Viet Nam War. Boys going to battle then weren’t given the respect they deserved. How did you feel about that when you knew so well what they suffered in the war?
Kristin: It made me sick to see how our boys were treated when they came home. Almost like second-class citizens. Like they’d
done something wrong, committed a great sin by going to Vietnam and fighting for their country. I was even treated with disdain because I wrote stories about the war. Most people at home just didn’t get it. There was little to no support for our GIs once they hit American soil. After everything they went through, all they gave up, its just tragic, really.
Erica: By the end of WWII, II was in a pretty serious spiritual crisis. Our tiny village had lost so many of the boys I’d grown up with. How did the things you witnessed affect your spiritual life? Did it totally alter your worldview?
Kristin: Absolutely. Nothing was the same for me after Vietnam. For a long time though, I was very angry with God. I couldn’t understand how he could allow such devastation, so many lives were being lost, and there seemed no end to the horror. Even when I came home, I still wasn’t ready to fully acknowledge who God was or that I needed him in my life. I was in crisis, I just didn’t know it. I think when you witness so much tragedy, it changes you. Hardens you and sows seeds of bitterness if you let it. But God didn’t give up on me, and eventually I came to realize my need for Him and that sometimes there just aren’t answers to the hard questions. God’s grace is sufficient.
Erica: Let’s talk a little out of school. Do you think there will be a sequel to YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW? You know author Cathy West better than most. What other projects is she working on?
Kristin: Well, I suppose there should be more to this story, shouldn’t there? I have a feeling between Luke and I, we can convince her to continue our story at some point. At the moment though I think she’s working on a few other projects, but none of them have bombs going off or anything. Not very exciting if you ask me.
Author Bio: Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel YESTERDAY’S TOMORROW, released through OakTara Publishers. Catherine’s next novel, Hidden in the Heart is coming soon, also through OakTara.
Purchase Links: a
Oak Tara Publishers. http://www.oaktara.com
Cathy’s Website: http://www.catherinejwest.com
This is the new home of “Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista”
Writing literature that reads like pulp fiction. I love good crime fiction with an equal measure of suspense, action and romance, where the bad guys are really bad, but the good guys are smarter and better.
Reading, writing, and shooting the breeze about Christian crime fiction, murder mysteries, thrillers, police procedurals, detective stories,and life.
I’m so happy to have Michelle Sutton’s heroine of DANGER AT THE DOOR, Laney Cooper, here with Thanksgiving approaching. I understand this holiday has quite a few memories for you, Laney — some of them bittersweet. After your fiancé’s death in a car accident, you became quite reclusive and fearful, but then you met a very charming man who you befriended and tried to help speak correct English. As it turned out Bojan (who you begin to call Bob) wound up helping you. Since I want to get to know all about you, let’s get on to the interview.
LETTING GO (HEARLIN HEARTS) ~
Barnes & Noble. http://tinyurl.com/3u3e7rb
Michelle’s Website. http://michellesutton.net/