Today I have the pleasure of visiting with Naomi Musch, author of “A Tender Siege,” one of four novellas in The Highlanders collection which releases this week!
Set during Pontiac’s War in August 1763, “A Tender Siege” tells the story of a Scotsman fighting in colonial Pennsylvania.
“I beg Ye to take me.” Wounded in battle in the American wilderness, Lachlan McRea of His Majesty’s 42nd Highlanders pleads with God, yearning to be reunited with his lost wife and child. As death hovers hear, he is discovered by Wenonah, a native widow doing all she can to survive alone while avoiding the attentions of a dangerous Shawnee warrior. In aiding one another, their perils increase. If Lachlan can let go of the woman he once loved, he might find healing for both body and soul.
Jennifer Lamont Leo: First the basics. Where are you from, who’s in your family, and all that good stuff?
Naomi Musch: Hi, everyone. I’m a wife to Jeff (almost 39 years), mom of five, grandma of fourteen, and farm girl from northern Wisconsin, very near Lake Superior.
JLL: Tell us briefly about your writing journey and how you got started as an author.
NM: It’s almost embarrassing to say how long ago I started writing, because I was 10 when I decided that authorship was for me. I didn’t get my first novel published until I was in my 40s. I finally published when the e-book world opened and an independent press took a chance on me (for which I am ever grateful). I did spend a lot of time writing during those earlier years though. I published articles, newsletters, blogs, and more while my husband and I homeschooled our kids (which, in itself, took almost 30 years with their age spread). My first novel, The Green Veil, was published in 2010. I hope to re-release it along with its full 3-book series again next year.
JLL: What inspired you to write “A Tender Siege”?
NM: After my novel Mist O’er the Voyageur released last year, and I started working on a possible sequel, I fell into some really interesting historical tidbits about Pontiac’s War (on the tail of the French and Indian Wars). It got me thinking of some possibilities about a story set during that time. When I was approached about the possibility of joining three other authors in a compilation of Highlander novellas, I was told I could pick any historical era and locale that worked. Right then I knew exactly what I wanted to write about.
JLL: Why did you choose to set your story in the 1763?
NM: Pontiac’s War covered a very brief period of time, from 1763 to 1766, with the heaviest of the action taking place in the first year. Once I knew I wanted to write about the Battle so I didn’t pick the time period as much as the time period was a given, plus that’s when the Battle of Bushy Run took place.
JLL: Tell us about your research process for “A Tender Siege”.
Historical fiction writers loooove research, but it’s easy for us to run too far down bunny trails. Once I picked Pontiac’s War as my period of interest, I knew I had to select a very specific part of it for the sake of the length a novella covers. Truthfully, I usually write full-length novels, and I always find novellas a particular challenge. But I do like a challenge.
I was really drawn to an incident that happened farther north in the war, but no Highlanders fought in that battle, from what I could discover. So I had to accept that there must be a different setting. You see, I was also researching the various Highland regiments that were involved in the wars here on the American continent. The 42nd famed “Black Watch” really appealed to me (though they hadn’t received that moniker yet). Nevertheless, the 42nd were heavily involved in the Battle of Bushy Run, so that battle became my way into the story. After determining my hero would be from that regiment, I then had to learn more about his backstory, and what brought him from Scotland to fighting in the Pennsylvania wilderness. A person can get lost for weeks looking at that kind of history!
JLL: Does the story reflect some aspect of your own life and/or faith journey?
NM: I think the stories I write always reflect my faith journey in some way. Not because of experience, but more because of theme. I haven’t experienced anything similar to what my hero or heroine experience physically in “A Tender Siege,” but I have experienced the deep need to trust God with the future, despite how I feel about it, so in that way I think it resonates with me as well as others.
JLL: Are there any particular challenges you faced while writing this story?
NM: Hm…not sure my memory is good enough to recall. I think for me, time is usually the biggest factor. Writing under a deadline, which I was, kept me on task. But I usually have multiple irons in the fire—the main one being family needs. Did I say I had 14 grandchildren? ? We’re a very groupie bunch.
JLL: How do you stay spiritually grounded as you write?
NM: When I’m writing a book, I’m on high alert to themes the Lord might be pointing out to me. Sometimes he does that directly through my characters, sometimes through a sermon at church or on the radio, and sometimes through my life’s own uncertainties.
Also, the Lord has taught me that what I do is not about me getting published and selling books, even though I have the obligation to market my material if it does get published. He’s taught me that often its about teaching me something. When it comes to me publishing, I know now that all I need to do is my best, and that the outcome is up to Him. That’s the spiritual battle, because sometimes I forget and stress. I’m getting better though at really letting the projects go.
JLL: What reading material is next to your favorite reading spot?
NM: Oh my! I’m a book stacker! (Thank goodness for e-readers!) For fiction, I’m currently reading Danielle Thorne’s The Privateer of San Madrid. I’ve been acquainted with Danielle in the book world for some years, but this is my first time reading a book by her. She’s good! Her writing is very in-depth and eloquent. Her characters very defined and unique.
I’m also going back and forth between two non-fiction works: Discipleship Counseling by Dr. Neil T. Anderson and Extreme Grandparenting by Dr. Tim & Darcy Kimmel. There are a few different writing craft books I’m meandering through. I tend to hop around in those, from plotting to marketing to grammar.
JLL: What’s on your music playlist?
NM: I don’t really have one. On any given day I might want to hear Mercy Me singing “Happy Dance” or the full soundtrack of Last of the Mohicans. However, when I needed some mood music during the early writing stages of A Tender Siege I listened to Scocha – Scots Wha Hae and The Lonely Grenadier quite a few times. (Thanks, Youtube.)
JLL: Any can’t-miss movies, TV series, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc., that you’d recommend?
Podcasts: Novel Marketing; TV series- I’m currently hooked on Heartland; My favorite movies are mostly historical: Last of the Mohicans, The Count of Monte Cristo, Far and Away, and some are sweet chick flicks: Return to Me; Always. Then there are the real classics (i.e. anything with James Stewart, Gregory Peck, or Cary Grant in it.)
JLL: Interesting about Cary Grant! My husband and I just watched Notorious last night. What do you do for fun?
NM: I love to go camping. We used to rough it when the kids were growing up. Now we have a vintage camper that we repainted this fall so it looks like a Dreamsicle (orange and cream). I also adore spending time with my grandkids and teaching them things around the farm, from gardening to woods lore. Speaking of which…we used to raise beef and goats and pigs—the usual farm critters—but now my sons have taken over and turned the property into a whitetail deer farm and hunting preserve. Seeing little fawns running around every spring? Now that’s fun!
JLL: What’s the next project coming up from Naomi Musch?
NM: My agent is shopping around three possibilities: an historical romance novella set in northern Wisconsin featuring a blacksmith hero and a newly arrived Norwegian immigrant girl, another historical romance novella featuring a lumberjack—but I don’t I’ll tell much about that one yet, also set in Wisconsin. Finally, I’m working to finish a full-length novel called Letters From the Red Arrow, a WWI romance between a non-Native teacher working in a Native American boarding school and a Native widower gone to war, who leaves his daughter behind at the school. There are perils on both fronts.
In the meantime, I’m going to turn my attention to re-issuing my out-of-print Empire in Pine series starting with The Green Veil that I mentioned earlier. I’m excited to look at those books again after a decade.
Here’s something funny. Tonight, as I was writing my answers to this interview, a lady called me and asked me if I still had copies of books one and two to that series, because her sister had just finished book one and she needed them. Good thing I still have some!
JLL: Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers that I haven’t asked?
NM: Yes! I would like to just say how much I appreciate every reader. These days the world is swamped with books. Anyone can pick up a book and put it down again ten minutes later to move onto something else. Every time a reader chooses to read one of my books, cover to cover, they’re giving me their most valuable commodity—their time. I wish every reader knew how much that means to me. <3
JLL: Where can we find you on social media?
NM: I love connecting! And I’m happy to meet with or speak to your group too. Give me a wave at:
Amazon Author Page: Naomi Musch
Monthly Newsletter: News of the Northwoods
That’s it. Thanks, Naomi!
Naomi Musch is an award-winning author who crafts her stories from a deer farm in the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where she and her husband Jeff live as epically as God allows near the families of their five adult children. She enjoys roaming around on the farm, snacking out of the garden, relaxing in her vintage camper, and loving on her passel of grandchildren. Naomi is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Wisconsin Writers’ Association, and the Lake Superior Writers. Though she has written in a variety of venues, her great love is historical fiction. She would love to connect with readers around the web at the sites listed above.