I enjoyed Be Still My Soul so much that I wanted to follow up with a second post and allow Joanne to tell us more about her book and "The Cadence of Grace" series. (My review can be found here: http://booksmusicandlife.blogspot.com/2013/04/be-still-my-soul-book-one-in-cadence-of.html).
Joanne was gracious in taking time to answer some of my questions . . .
Q: Do you know of any other writers today who use Appalachian settings for their stories, and will you use Appalachia as a setting for future novels after this series is completed?
At the time of writing this, I didn't. But as soon as the book came out, people immediately began comparing it to their fond memories of the Christy series by Catherine Marshall. I'd heard of the Christy books and am so eager to read them now, not only for the Appalachian setting, but they hold a dear place in so many of my friend's hearts that I just know they are special.
I'll most definitely use this setting again! It is my genre of choice. I have more story ideas for the region and time period, so I'm excited to see what the future may hold with that!
Q: For someone living in California, you did a great job at portraying the essence of the Blue Ridge mountains. Why the mountains, first of all, and then how did you become interested in using Appalachia as a setting?
Why the mountains? Because I watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Coal Miner’s Daughter while growing up. I grew up to the sounds of Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss, and John Denver, when I wasn’t listening to my mother sing in harmony with my guitar pickin’ dad.
I have never been to the Blue Ridge Moutains, but I spent a great deal of time researching it as much as I could. Sometimes it was in books or by watching videos on the region. Some of my favorite sources, though, were finding the folks who grew up there and reading about their personal stories. I also have an amazing handful of historians who live and work in Patrick County where the series takes place. They have been invaluable in my research and learning more details about the era and time period.
I had never really been connected to the setting or the mountains until I moved to the mountains myself. We live about a mile high in Southern California in a lovely mountain community and as soon as I called this place home about seven years ago, I just fell absolutely in love. We keep chickens, heat our home with the wood-burning stove and enjoy the quiet simple life, plus I love giving homesteading activities a whirl. Whether it's churning butter or braiding a rug, I always want to try everything at least once, plus it makes great research for my stories.
Q: I was captivated by the use of music - Gideon's talent on the mandolin, Lonnie's singing of Come Thou Fount, etc.
I really wanted music to be a part of this series, as it played a large role in me discovering these characters to begin with. I'd been listening to some folk music at the time when the seed of this story started to grow into something. Right away, I wanted music to be within the pages of the books and having Gideon play the mandolin was such a treat as I play it myself...though my dad plays it much better than I do!
More about "The Cadence of Grace" series . . .
I really wanted the series title to honor God’s goodness towards us. In combining GRACE: An unearned and unmerited favor; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver. And CADENCE: the modulated and rhythmic recurrence of something. The idea behind this series is that God has a perfect plan…but it’s not always through calm waters. Nothing along the journey is for naught. Perhaps it wasn’t time for their happily-ever-after to come. Not just yet. I think the hero of the story, Gideon, still has some lessons to learn. He still has some growing up to do. I think that trials come into our lives, so that we might come out on the other end a little bit stronger and a little bit wiser. Not because God is unkind, but because He is gracious to give us that time of growth—when we need it the most.
There’s a hymn sung in each book. In Be Still My Soul, it’s “Come Thou Fount” and in Though My Heart Is Torn, it’s “Before the Throne of God.” I’m not sure what hymn will be in book 3, but I hope to work one in there somehow!
When faced with a difficult situation God is always ready and waiting to be our strength. I hope that readers will take away a peace that God works in all situations. The scripture I’ve based the series around is 1 Peter 5:10, and I chose it because it’s a great reminder that we are never alone on this journey called life. Through the ups and downs, God is there and His mighty plan is at hand. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. (1 Peter 5:10)
Be Still My Soul is a story of gently growing trust and love, grace and redemption. I found it to be a beautiful, haunting story. I highly recommend it to all lovers of romantic historical fiction that inspires.
The next book in this series, Though My Heart Is Torn, released on April 2, 2013. To learn more about Joanne and her books, visit her website at joannebischof.com.