For years I was a teacher and principal in the public schools, but I had a dream to write a book. Even if I never did have a book published, I knew I couldn’t write anything that I would be ashamed for my children and grandchildren to read. When I found American Christian Romance Writers, I knew I had discovered the organization that would help me learn the craft of writing. That organization today is American Christian Fiction Writers, and it’s not only helped me learn to tell the stories God lays on my heart but it has also presented me the opportunity to meet my wonderful agent and have my books edited by Christian editors. God continues to bless me as I write stories in historical romance and romantic suspense.
Are there any other Christian Historical Fiction authors that you think your readers would enjoy?
There are so many I enjoy that I’m afraid to list them for fear I’ll leave someone out, but I’ll give you the names of a few. I have a special place in my heart for Elizabeth Ludwig, Janelle Mowery, and Marcia Gruver because we started out writing historical romance together in a critique group, and now we’re all multi-published authors. They are awesome writers as well as other favorites of mine such as Dorothy Love, Susan Page Davis, Julie Lessman, Aaron McCarver, and Diane Ashley. I know I’ve left someone out, but those I’ve named are wonderful authors I would recommend.
Are there bits and pieces that were cut in editing that you might ever share with your readers?
Nothing that was cut comes to mind, so there’s really nothing to share with readers. I have had a good working relationship with all my editors and enjoyed working with Kathleen Kerr on Angel of the Cove. To my way of thinking an editor has the responsibility for making my work the best that it can be, and I appreciate the partnership that we have in bringing the best product to the reader.
Is the Smoky Mountain Series for those who loved romantic comedy?
The books in this series tell the story of the people who live in a remote valley in the Smoky Mountains. Although there is some laughter as the reader gets a glimpse into life in the valley, the series really focuses on the residents of Cades Cove who face a difficult life in a society that is more like a family than a community. They work and worship together, and they take care of each other’s needs. The three books comprise a generational series of one family that begins in 1894 when a young woman comes to spend the summer in Cades Cove and ends up staying to work with the mountain midwife. The second book deals the young woman’s daughter and relates the threat that the lumber companies present to the mountains as they begin to buy up the land and clear cut the trees from the area. The third book tells the story of the granddaughter who along with the Cades Cove residents must face being forced to sell their farms and leave the only life they’d ever known when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is established.
My favorite scene is toward the end of the book. When mountain midwife Granny Lawson is unable to get out of bed because of an accident, Anna who has spent the summer studying with Granny, must go alone to deliver Martha Martin’s baby. When she gets to the Martin farm, she finds the baby is breech, and she fears she will have to choose whether to save the baby or the mother. Her problem is intensified by the fact that Martha is the sister-in-law of Simon Martin, the man Anna has fallen in love with. Simon promises to stay with Anna and help her do whatever she decides.
This scene proved very emotional for me to write. Women today in childbirth have all the advantages of modern medicine to assist them. In 1894 that wasn’t true in a remote cabin in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. I hope that scene makes readers who have given birth thankful for living in the 21st century.
How would you relate your writing experience and research to some Creative Madness?
My advice to anyone who wants to write historical romance is to be sure that you enjoy research before you begin to write. Sometimes I spend hours looking for one small fact that will lend authenticity and credibility to my story. Not being able to find something can certainly lead to madness, but I find I feel a sense of accomplishment when I can prove a point in my book that I discovered through research. I am so thankful for the internet and the ease with which it has enabled writers to find what they need.
For instance, in the third book of the Smoky Mountain Series I have a group of hikers climbing to the summit of Gregory’s Bald, a mountain in Cades Cove. Since I’m not a hiker, I knew I didn’t want to have the experience firsthand, but I’m thankful for those people who’ve done it and posted their videos on YouTube. As I watched them hike, I felt like I was right there with them, and then I knew how to write the adventure.
What is something that you have never told anyone in an author interview?
I suppose I could tell you about my most embarrassing moment even though I have tried to forget it. My husband and I were traveling in France with our daughter and her family. We went to dinner at a restaurant in Nice, and we had to wait a long time to be seated. We were finally seated at a table already set with plates, silverware, goblets, and napkins. I was upset because of the long wait and tucked my napkin into the waistband of my slacks just as the waiter came and asked if we would move to another table. This irritated me even more, and I jumped to my feet and started to walk toward the other table. What I didn’t realize was that when I had put the napkin in my lap, I had also gotten the tablecloth caught in the waistband of my slacks. As I moved away from the table, I took the cloth with me and left a trail of broken dishes and scattered silverware behind me.
The moral of that story is: Try to make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in and you won’t run the risk of wishing you could wiggle your nose and disappear.
What is the one thing that you want to leave readers of Angel of the Cove pondering over?
Both the hero and heroine in Angel of the Cove have set their sights on what they want to do with their lives. They have given little thought to how God’s plans for them may differ from their own. It isn’t until they put aside their own desires and listen to what God wants them to do that they find true happiness. I hope readers will search their hearts for what God wants them to do. As Anna and Simon discover, God wants to take away our stony heart and replace it with one focused on His will in our lives.
Please please tell us about your next planned project…
My next project is a historical romance that is set in the early 20th century. It relates the story of fictional characters involved in true events in American history. Sarah Whittaker turns her back on the man she loves to go to Washington D.C. and demonstrate with suffragists outside the gates of the White House. There she is arrested, placed in Occoquan Workhouse, and subjected to all kinds of abuse. The story ends with the ratification of the 19th amendment in the Tennessee House of Representatives. With only a few states left to ratify the amendment, Tennessee was the only state where victory was considered possible. However, the representatives were evenly divided on the issue. On the day of the vote one representative changed his vote from no to aye at the last minute. Women today have the right to vote because one brave representative had the courage to do what he believed to be right.
The title of the book is A Lady’s Choice.
Tell us about your blog and participation in other blogs… (web presence, social networking)
I enjoy hearing from readers and they can connect with me on my website at http://sandrarobbins.net. My blog is on the website, but I also contribute to two other blogs. On Thursdays I do author interviews on www.theborrowedbook.blogspot.com , and I also blog periodically about my Love Inspired Suspense books on www.loveinspiredauthors.blogspot.com
On my website readers can also find links to my social networking pages of Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. I also welcome emails at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click back over to this morning – and feel free to get a sneak preview of the first chapter of Angel of the Cove through a FIRST tour.