Today I’m thrilled to welcome historical fiction author Janet Grunst to the Sparkling Vintage Life blog! Janet’s novels, A Heart Set Free and A Heart for Freedom, are set in 1700s America. Now she’s contributed a heart-melting novella called “The Year Without Summer” to the historical romance collection The Highlanders (coming November 15; now available for preorder). Recently I was blessed to have a conversation with Janet about this intriguing story. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and join us for a chat!
JLL: First the basics. Where are you from, who’s in your family, and all that good stuff?
JG: I was the daughter of a career Naval officer and later married to one, so moving was a way of life. While I was born in CA and resided all over that state at various times, I’ve been blessed to live in numerous other places. Virginia has been home for many years, the last thirteen in Williamsburg. I’m a wife, mom of two sons who serve in the military, and a grandmother of eight including one set of quads.
JLL: Tell us briefly about your writing journey and how you got started as an author.
JG: In the late ’70s, I became a stay-at-home-mom. Before long I had two columns in local papers and I began exploring writing fiction. A history buff my whole life, a pre-Revolutionary War era story was germinating in my head. Writing it was such a learning experience, not just about the craft, but about myself. After a few years of unsuccessfully trying to get it published, I had to return to full-time employment and raise my sons on my own. Dreams of writing were shelved for many years. I eventually remarried and my husband encouraged me to continue writing but the industry had vastly changed including the world of the internet. That first story, A Heart Set Free, was finally published thirty-one years after it was first written. The second book in the series, A Heart For Freedom, was published two years later.
JLL: What inspired you to write “The Year Without Summer”?
JG: I set the story in the villages in the Scottish Highlands and in northern Ireland where some of my ancestors lived.
JLL: Why did you choose to set your story in 1816?
JG: History is fascinating. At times national crises and life-changing, incidents are the result of other seemingly unrelated events. This story came together because of such inciting circumstances.
JLL: Tell us about your research process for your story.
JG: Like most folks who write historical fiction, research is half the fun. Some times the biggest challenge is to halt the research and get back to writing. ;-}
JLL: Are there any particular challenges you’re facing in your writing life?
JG: Since I’m a seat of the pants writer it can be a bit nerve-wracking to wait and see where the characters decide to take me.
JLL: How do you stay spiritually grounded as you write?
JG: I have morning and evening quiet times as well as being involved in Community Bible Study which keeps me in the Word every day.
JLL: What reading material is next to your favorite reading spot?
JG: I usually have another writer’s book to read and review.
JLL: Any can’t-miss movies, TV series, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc., that you’d recommend?
JG: I love British dramas.
JLL: What’s the next project coming up from Janet Grunst?
JG: I’m eager for the editing process of the third and final book in the Revolutionary War series. I’m also in the process of research for another story.
JLL: That’s it! Thanks, Janet!
JG: Thank you so much, Jenny, for the visit.
Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was a Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. A Heart For Freedom was a Christian Indie Award winner. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, and encouragement to the reader. She’s a contributor to Colonial Quills. Learn more about Janet and her books by visiting her website. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Today I’m delighted to welcome Elaine Marie Cooper to A Sparkling Vintage Life. Elaine’s newest novel, Saratoga Letters, set in New York during the Revolutionary War period, releases this week from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
Saratoga Letters tells the story of the Battle of Saratoga, the first great victory of the American Continental Army, through the eyes of Abigail, a patriotic woman forced by her Loyalist uncle to nurse wounded British soldiers. Two centuries later, the anniversary of the battle draws together Abby, an American, and a descendant of a British soldier, and adventure ensues. Bestselling author Laura Frantz says of the story, “Poignant and suspenseful by turns and graced with an uncommon spiritual depth, this novel is historical fiction that truly grabs your heartand feeds your soul. My favorite Elaine Cooper story to date!”
Jennifer Lamont Leo: Welcome, Elaine! When will Saratoga Letters be published?
Elaine Marie Cooper: It releases October 4 and I am so excited! (JLL: That’s tomorrow, folks! Get your Amazon-clicking finger ready…)
JLL: The story is set in Saratoga, New York, in 1777. What has intrigued you about this time and place in history?
EMC: Several things. First, since I grew up in Massachusetts, I have long been enamored with the history of the beginnings of our country. But I was particularly drawn to Saratoga because my own ancestor fought in the battle there in 1777—as a British Redcoat! I had long wanted to visit the site because of that. When I was there, my writer’s muse became intrigued by the possibility of a multigenerational suspense story. This was a first for me and I’m very excited about this story!
JLL: What sparked your imagination for this particular story?
EMC: Believe it or not, it was a lost key to a motel room! Crazy, I know! All the “what-ifs” began to play in my mind and, before you know it, a plot birthed in my writer’s muse. 🙂
JLL: Tell us a bit about your research process for Saratoga Letters. Do you have any favorite resources that you turn to for research?
EMC: My very favorite sources for research are historians. I love picking the brains of those who share my love for history. They never ask why I need a minor detail about something—they just understand. Saratoga Letters took on a whole new challenge however because I was researching two completely separate centuries. It was a huge challenge to get details about 1977 because there was no internet then and many of the real-life details were often hidden in old newspaper stories or files in a historical archive. The great part about this was meeting so many helpful contacts in the Saratoga area. I’m so grateful for their help!
JLL: What do you most hope readers will take away from Saratoga Letters?
EMC: I think the key thought that readers of this book may take away is a truth about good vs. evil.
JLL: Are there any particular triumphs or challenges you’re facing in your
writing life these days?
EMC: My biggest challenge this past year has been my health. I had a total knee replacement a year ago that became infected. The resulting surgeries and course of serious antibiotics really challenged me! I’m so relieved to say that this seems to be behind me now and I am back to writing again.
JLL: How do you stay spiritually grounded during the writing and publishing process?
EMC: If I don’t start my day reading the Bible and praying, I might as well not bother to write that day! I feel so strongly that the message in my words must glorify God and I pray that it always will.
JLL: Are there any particular authors and/or books that have inspired your writing journey?
EMC: Laura Frantz!! She is my historical fiction hero! I cannot tell you what a joy it is to have her endorse Saratoga Letters!
JLL: What’s on your music playlist?
EMC: The soundtrack to “Son of God.”
JLL: Any movies (old or new) that you’d recommend?
EMC: One of my favorite historical movies is Last of the Mohicans. It’s definitely not for children, but it is an amazing look at early America during the French and Indian War. I also love the 1939 movie Drums Along the Mohawk. The Patriot with Mel Gibson, the AMC TV series Turn, and the PBS series Poldark are among my favorite historicals, as well.
JLL: What’s the next book project coming up for you?
EMC: I currently have two children’s books with my agent. It is a series of books that features siblings of children with special needs. I also will be researching a sequel to the 1777 portion of Saratoga Letters. I am VERY excited about that!
JLL: Is there anything you’d like readers to know about you that I haven’t asked? If so, tell us!
EMC: I honestly never imagined that I would become a writer of historical fiction. I spent years working as a nurse, and the fact that I now immerse myself in little-known historical tidbits is quite amusing to me! But I am so grateful to the Lord for allowing me this opportunity to write stories that I love and, I pray, that my readers will love as well.
JLL: Thanks, Elaine!
EMC: Thank you so much, Jenny, for having me as your guest!
Snap up your copy of Saratoga Letters!
Award winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Saratoga Letters, Fields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ, and the history of the American Revolution. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels.
Her upcoming release is Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016)
Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer.