Congratulations on your newest book, Cracks in the Ice. Please tell us what it’s about.
Cracks in the Ice is Christian fiction about the niece of a mafia don who has the dream of Olympic gold in figure skating. She’s close to her goal when tragedy happens. Without the support of friends, family, or faith, she loses her identity, spirals into despair and alcoholism. The two people who never give up on her are able to help her crawl out of the abyss and back to the church of her childhood, and the arms of Forgiveness. It’s the story of second chances.
Tell us what motivated you to write Bread Upon the Water, also out last year.
Bread Upon the Water is a true story of a modern day hero of faith. Father Tien Duong was the pastor of our church for a couple years and I got to know him. I pestered him for his story of miraculous escape from Vietnam, and convinced him people would want to know it. He’s a very humble man and being famous was never on his agenda. I struggled to convince him. I wanted to tell his story as a model of faith. I also wanted the younger generations of Vietnamese and Americans to learn the story of Vietnam from a point of view other than Hollywood. I wanted everyone to learn what it’s like to be an immigrant today.
Please share with us concerning Avery. I quite enjoyed Avery’s Battlefield and see that you also have Avery’s Crossroad. Will we be able to find Avery in any upcoming stories?
The Avery and Gunner books were a lot of fun to research and write, and I’m having a ball marketing them. I’m nearly every weekend at a Civil War reenactment, dressed in period clothing, meeting the middle schoolers and signing books for them. Both the books have received bronze medals from National Stars and Flags Book Award. Kids are loving them, and so are adults. I’d love to continue their story, but I sort of boxed myself in by writing an epilogue at the end of book two.
How do you choose your characters, or do they choose you?
I usually know my character before I start writing. He lives a while in my heart. Then when I start writing he unveils his secrets and I learn more about him while I write. They are all very real for me.
What motivates you to return to your keyboard daily and write?
Writing is what I love to do, so I’m highly motivated. When I’ve got a story in progress, what motivates me is to see what happens next!
What do you hope to write someday?
I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I think what I hope to write is what I try to do now, which is write books that people enjoy and read, books that will be around after I’m gone.
If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?
I recently finished reading what I think might be the best book I’ve read in two years. It’s A Noble Treason. It’s brilliant. The writer (Richard Hanser) writes classical prose that is so learned, and beautiful. I’d like to write like that. The second best book is Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright. I’d like to have her memory of historical facts. I can hardly remember when I last had an oil change. I’d love to have a profound memory like hers. Since I write a lot of historical stories, it would be a great help.
How does God enter into your writing life?
I’m not sure He enters in, like coming and going. He resides there. I don’t necessarily start out to write something Christian, but I am who I am, and my work just turns out that way. I think writers write what they know, but they also, intentionally or not, write who they are. I do.