|Joanne Bischof and her adorable baby in front of the Waterbrook/Multnomah headquarters
Joanne’s Appalachian-set romance, Be Still My Soul, releases October 2nd, which happens to fall on her eighth wedding anniversary! How romantic is that? (The anniversary gift every author wants, eh?)
Before we plunge into this helpful and heartfelt interview with Joanne, let it be said that she’s planning to give away an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Be Still My Soul to one lucky commenter
! So please comment below for a chance to win. And hey, if you like this interview, go ahead and sign up to follow Joanne’s blog: http://www.joannebischof.com/blog/
, and hopefully mine, too!
I loved interviewing Joanne and getting the inside scoop on getting published. Here’s a little more info on Joanne:
Married to her first sweetheart, Joanne lives in the mountains of Southern California where she keeps busy making messes with their home schooled children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life.
Here we go!
HG: Joanne, you write Appalachian fiction. Why was the mountain setting important to the story in Be Still My Soul?
JB: When I first began writing historical fiction I started out with a prairie setting. It’s a wonderful place for a story to occur, but I think I had chosen it because that’s what I had often read. I wrote an entire manuscript and started a few others here. Nothing seemed to sink into my soul, though. It wasn’t until I had moved to the mountains, that it became the only place I could imagine Lonnie and Gideon’s story taking place. I chose Appalachia and it just stuck. There is something about the mountains that fits me like a glove. One of my favorite quotes is from Annie Dillard:
“Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain, and the mountain will keep it, folded…”
It’s a special bond. I know you share this same fondness. 🙂
HG: Was there a specific inspiration for your main characters, Lonnie and Gideon, both of whom had dysfunctional families to some degree? And by the way, is Lonnie a nickname? I kept wondering about that!
JB: Haha, Lonnie is actually her real name. For historical fiction, I always strive to find a name that would have been around in a particular time or place. For this series, I took it one step further and researched names specific to the Appalachian region. When I stumbled upon the name, Lonnie, I knew it was the perfect name for my heroine.
And this is a great question, Heather. I really wanted to bring forward a love story between two very mismatched people. I wanted to see if a love story could blossom from a relationship where all hope seemed lost. My favorite thing to write about is redemption. I love to take people like Gideon who are unlikely heroes and show their growth throughout the story. I hope readers will be reminded that hope is never lost, change can always happen, and that happy endings aren’t just for fairy tales.
HG: I love how candid you are about your writing journey. How did you land your agent (Sandra Bishop of McGregor Literary), querying or conference?
JB: I actually sent Sandra a dry query and it was a really funny story on how everything came about. At the time, I didn’t think it would be possible to get an agent. Here I had this story that was a little bit different from your usual inspirational romances (that’s code for saying I was just downright crazy to write a book about a scoundrel and hope that he could be redeemed) ;). I doubted that anyone would want to take a risk on a project like mine. Sandra showed interest and it was a doubly exciting thing because at the time, she was the ACFW agent of the year, so I was stunned. Pleasantly stunned! A while later, we were both looking at a three book contract from WaterBrook Multnomah. It was an absolute dream come true.
HG: Your publisher (Waterbrook/Multnomah) seems stellar. In fact, they just had a writers retreat for their authors! Here’s a pic of their staff:
What can authors do to maintain a great relationship with their publisher?
JB: Ooh, this is a good question. I hope I have a good relationship with my publisher! Shannon? Amy? Crickets chirping? Just kidding.
Honestly, it’s a unique feeling when a writer gets to this point–the point when a publishing house picks up their story–essentially their baby–and is ready to publish it. There is a lot of input at this point and the project becomes a bit of a collaboration. I absolutely love it. Whether it’s during edits, cover design, or marketing, I’m constantly floored by their attention to detail and how considerate they are of my vision and passion for this story. They send me a very detailed questionnaire so they can have a really thorough grasp of what I’ve put into this story and hope to accomplish. When I got to visit WaterBrook Multnomah last month, talking to the folks who work behind the scenes and hearing them talk about Be Still My Soul and these characters and how it impacted them and excites them, was so surreal. They really have their hearts in the fiction they publish. It’s a huge blessing.
The best thing I could say is to know your book and your story so that you can get it across to your publishing team-who REALLY want to know your story too! And at the same time, be fluid and open about aspects of the story that can be flexible. I’ve made changes during the editing process thanks to the advice of my fabulous editors and those ideas became some of my favorite moments in Be Still My Soul. Being open and realizing that it’s a collaboration has really made this a great experience.
HG: How long was the process of getting Be Still My Soul published, from rough draft to the final product?
JB: It was a loooong process. I’ve been working on this story for about 7 years now. The funny thing is that I pitched this same story to my editor at WaterBrook Multnomah about 5 or 6 years ago. The story wasn’t ready and I most definitely wasn’t ready. So while the “no” was a disappointment, it was also an opportunity to regroup, learn all I could about the craft and keep taking baby steps forward. It’s easy to get discouraged in this business when there are a lot of no’s. But stick with it. Learn and write like crazy. I never would have guessed that even though the door seemed closed at that conference, that all these years later it would end up being a wide open “yes”!
HG: I know you have small children. How do you make time for writing/editing and blogging?
JB: It’s not always easy. I have 3 kids which I homeschool so life is busy, busy. I write during nap time and my five year old sits on the floor playing quietly with legos. I get a lot done then and also I write when my family is asleep. Whether it’s midnight or four in the morning, I can be found on my couch, with my laptop, Pandora, and a cup of tea. It sounds rough but I actually love it. I would so much rather be up in the wee hours of the night working on a novel that I’m passionate about and that my publishing house is excited about, than doing just about anything else.
HG: Is there a book two coming out soon? If so, will Lonnie and Gideon still be our main characters?
JB: Yes! I am so excited to say that the second book in the Cadence of Grace series will be coming out in the spring of 2013. It’s called Though My Heart is Torn and follows Lonnie and Gideon on the next stage of their journey…which includes a surprise twist that’s going to have readers flipping back to the first pages of Be Still My Soul.
Thanks so much, Joanne! So glad we’ll get to know Lonnie and Gideon more! And thanks for the ARC giveaway! Here’s a little about BE STILL MY SOUL.
Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith. But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate.
Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.
Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life. What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?
****This interview was such an encouraging blessing to me, just like Joanne! Please comment below with any questions or comments for Joanne for a chance to win the ARC of BE STILL MY SOUL!****
AND once again, I forgot to say when I’ll pick the winner! This coming Monday, Sept. 25th! So tune in then. Thanks, all!