Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Maureen Lang joins us for a BIRTHDAY PARTY to celebrate Whisper on the Wind!


It's always a special thrill to host a birthday party for a new book! Maureen Lang's newest addition Whisper on the Wind is especially appealing to me, because it is set in Europe just prior to WWII. Maureen has graciously taken time out of her busy life to share with us the process of this idea becoming a spectacular look into a very intriguing time in world history.

Maureen also shares some exciting things that God is doing in her life, and she brings a gift to her readers! So please join me in welcoming Maureen Lang to my Window!

As a writer, you understand the power of words. Where was the idea born for the story centered around an underground newspaper? Did you discover stories of actual underground activity as you prepared to write this book?

I’ve been interested in the First World War ever since my grandmother showed me my grandfather’s WWI uniform—everything from his helmet to his puttees. Somewhere along the way of my research of that era, I saw references to a “valiant little newspaper called La Libre Belgique.” That piqued my attention. Learning it was an uncensored, illegal newspaper produced by ordinary citizens during the German occupation of Belgium made me realize they were risking their lives because they believed in the power of words. I knew I had to write a story about it someday, and I did.

What research was required for this story? You certainly capture the sense of living in an occupied country during WWI! Did it affect you emotionally to recount the patriotism that survived even in the face of such personal loss?

If I counted all the hours I spent reading about Belgium during this era, and the expense of traveling there, I might be astonished at the totals. But the truth is, since I was already interested in reading about Belgium during its WWI occupation, I hardly counted the time. When I had the opportunity to travel there…well, it was a dream come true to see the places I’d only read about. Some of the books that were especially helpful were the volumes written by the American Ambassador to Belgium at the time, Brand Whitlock (who puts in a cameo appearance in my book!). He was an ideal ambassador, because he loved America but he also loved Belgium. That’s clear in all of his extensive writing, which made me fall in love with Belgium, too.

Do you think people today consider the fact that God was at work in the lives of people on both side of the war? How do you think this thought process affects our perception of history?

That was one of the most interesting aspects, to me, as I got to know my characters. I knew the Germans were considered the “bad guys” but surely they weren’t all bad. Being German myself, it was important to remember that. J Thinking that way reminded me of how grieved God must have been to see so many young lives cut short, on both sides, for no real reason. As far as perception of history, I suppose history is written by the victors, isn’t it, but we all know the Second World War wouldn’t have happened if not for the first. In the Second World War, the line between good and evil was far more apparent. But even then, I’m convinced God was at work on both sides, in individual lives—because He loves us all individually.

I dearly loved the way Genny’s testimony influenced Isa’s life throughout the story! What was your inspiration for her character? Have you ever had a “Genny” in your life?

I’m glad to say I’ve had many Gennys in my life, and this character is a composite of all of them. Teachers and older relatives, women in my church and women I’ve met in the publishing industry, those marvelous matriarchs of compassion and wisdom who are generous enough to take the time to talk to younger women and help light the paths ahead. It’s my fervent prayer that I might be a Genny in the lives of some of the younger women around me.

Patriotism burns fiercely in the heart of almost every character in this story – on both fronts! Do you think this kind of sacrificial patriotism is alive today in this country? Why or why not?

I like to think of myself as patriotic, but nowadays it seems there is more divisiveness than ever—certainly worse than I can recall in my adult lifetime. Politicians, who should be among the most patriotic, hardly seem to know the definition of personal sacrifice, but then so few people do. I believe the old metaphor of life being like a pendulum, and with tough times people start paying more attention again to what’s going on in our country. So I have high hopes that patriotism is on the rise, because we all want our country to keep prospering and continue to offer the best place on the planet to live.

Folks on both sides of WWI depended on information that could only be retrieved through covert means. You describe Edward’s covert operations in great detail from his disguises to his network of people scattered throughout the town and even to description of rented properties under false names. Where did you find the information to create this network so realistically!? You even describe the German’s attempts to impersonate Allied soldiers believably! Do tell!

I wish I could say I’m just clever and made it all up, but the truth is history wrote the details for me. I read several accounts of spy networks of the time, along with a wonderful volume about how La Libre Belgique an

d other newspapers of its kind worked. Many of the details in my book were either inspired by real actions or actually happened. The hollow cane, for example, that Edward used to roll up content for an upcoming issue of La Libre Belgique was used by one of the operators who risked his life to work on the paper.

This is why I tell people who want to write historicals that history can write the book for them, if they look hard enough.

The ending of this story is rife with possibility! Will there be another story in this saga? Can you tell us what you are working on now?

The next book in the series releases in April of 2011, a book I’m already editing. It’s titled Springtime of the Spirit and has a whole new set of characters. It’s set in Germany just after the war has ended. My heroine, Annaliese, has fled her wealthy family because of the guilt she feels over the profits her father enjoyed because of the war. As a result of that guilt she’s drawn into revolutionary forces of the time, turning her back on everything she once believed. When her mother sends someone after her to bring her home—a soldier just returned from the warfront—Annaliese is torn between the revolutionary she thinks she believes in and this troubled soldier who only wants her to be happy.

But if you want to get to know Charles and Julitte, who are briefly mentioned in the Epilogue of Whisper on the Wind, you can wait for the reissue of Look to the East, which originally released last year. However we pulled the book for a cover redesign, so despite the fact that this year it’s a finalist in ACFW’s Carol Award, and it won in its category for the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, it’s temporary unavailable. That one begins at the start of the First World War, in France, and is the story of Isa’s older brother Charles, and the woman he comes to love who lives in a tiny, feuding village in Northern France—which ultimately also becomes occupied by those would-be-conquering Germans.

What is your favorite era in history? Why?

I firmly, utterly, believe that every era in history is fascinating. If you dig deep enough you can find a great number of stories in each and every time period. Early 1900s have been a favorite, though, mainly because it feels like it’s on the brink of our modern age, and yet is so quaintly historical, too. But I also love the Victorian age, Regency, even the Viking age! I’m considering my next setting to be the American Gilded Age, which should be a lot of fun to research.

Have you always had a love for history or is that something that developed along with your writing?

My love for history began when I was very little and used to listen to my father and his uncle have all kinds of discussions about history. I would sit by silently, not understanding much, but in their voices I heard passion and interest, and it made me want to learn. When I started reading romances, I began with contemporaries but once I read a historical romance I was hooked. Even though I still read a mix of contemporaries and historicals, combining history with romance…well, in my opinion there’s just no better blend.

What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Something that excites or amazes you about His love for you personally?

Thanks so much for asking this question! I’m afraid my answer has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but it’s so exciting to me that I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share. As some people know, one of my sons has Fragile X Syndrome, a form of genetic intellectual disability. He’s fifteen years old now, but developmentally still functions like a two year old. In the past year or so, I was starting to feel a bit depressed about his lack of cognitive growth. Have I done enough for him? Is it my fault he’s so low-functioning? I was also growing frustrated by the many demands that come with being the main caregiver, after so many years of continuous care. Basically I was feeling sorry for myself, which is never very attractive, is it? In the past few months, God has been gently whispering in my heart that being a caregiver to my son is a blessing. It’s not a role I should chafe against, it’s one I was put here to fulfill. Just as I was put here to write. And wouldn’t you know it? My son is starting to understand more and more language, he’s almost entirely feeding himself now (if you don’t mind cleaning up a mess!) and even though he isn’t potty trained I’m seeing this as a possibility for future for the first time in my life. Puberty, for him, has somehow improved his brain function a bit, and it’s been exciting to watch. There have been other challenges of course, but part of my easing of emotion came when God rested on my heart just how worthy and important it is to be a caregiver. It’s part of my identity that I never embraced, but it’s getting easier thanks to God’s patience with me.

Any closing words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

I’d like to send out a sincere thank you for reading my books! There is no greater compliment to a writer than knowing someone is giving up precious time to read their book. It doesn’t matter how many stories I have in print, I still feel a tad guilty that I’m actually paid to write. It makes me want to remind my publisher –“Hey, you do know I’m just making this stuff up, right?” I’m so very grateful there are people out there who want to read my books, who ask for them, order them or borrow them from the library, allowing me to keep doing what I love to do…tell a story.

Thanks for having me, Kim!

Maureen is offering an autographed copy of Whisper on the Wind as a gift to her readers! Please leave a comment and your contact information on this post to be entered to win!!


Linda Henderson said...

I really like the sound of this book. I've read a few books that are set around WW II but never any with this subject. I'd love to read it.

seriousreader at live dot com

Helga Marie Bee said...

I would love to be considered in this giveaway, I love historical fiction.

QallieQ at gmail dot com

Kym McNabney said...

I love Maureen's books, and can't wait to read these two as well.


Sandee61 said...

I would love to read this book, it looks and sounds really good. I enjoy anything set in the WWII era, and would love to be entered in your giveaway. Thank you!



Wendy said...

I am glad you are paid to write - I love your books!

Mocha with Linda said...

Whisper on the Wind is in my TBR stack. I'm looking forward to it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chance to enter - I'd love to win a copy (since I can't afford to buy ALL of the books I want to read!)


Merry said...

Maureen sounds like an awesome lady and mother. Whisper on the Wind sounds like a book I will love and learn from. Please include me, thanks!

Esther Wysong said...

I would love to read Whisper on the Wind! It sounds like an excellent read, and I'd love to be entered in the giveaway. Thank you! =)


Patty Wysong said...

I loved Look to the East! It's one of my favorite reads. =]

patterly at gmail dot com

Ann Lee Miller said...

I'd love to win!

Anne Payne said...

I would love to read this book! Sounds delightful :)


Jo said...

I would love to read this book. Please enter me


A J Hawke said...

So many stories yet to be told of that time period. It is fascinating how learning one bit of history can lead to a novel.

Would love to win a copy.

A J Hawke
ajhawkeauthor at aol dot com

Sheri said...

I love the storyline of this book and the cover is beautiful. I love historical fiction especially with the addition of the underground newspaper. Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!


hspruitt {at} juno {dot} com

Mozi Esme said...

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings:

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Katie Marie said...

This book catches my eye every time!! I'd love to be entered into the giveaway!!



Bakersdozen said...

This books sounds so interesting. Thanks for the great info. vidomich(at)yahoo(dot)com

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love this time period...early 1900s. All the research Maureen has done sounds fascinating.


apple blossom said...

a have another book or two of Maureen's I'd love to win this one. thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Jblanton said...

sounds like a wonderful book- I would love to read it.

ChristyJan said...

I really enjoyed reading this interview with Maureen.
Please enter me in this giveaway.


Kim said...

CONGRATULATIONS Sandee 61! You are the winner of this drawing! Be watching for my email!

Thanks to all who came by to celebrate this fabulous book!

Sandee61 said...

Thanks so much, Kim! I'm thrilled to beable to read Maureen's book.
I enjoy your blog so much, and all the great reviews and interviews you do. Have a wonderful day.


wmmahaney said...

I love the story line for this book. It sounds so interesting. I have read several books lately set in WWII, but this one has really gotten my interest.