I am honored to welcome the delightful Tracy Groot to The Power of Words this week. In addition to being an outstanding writer, Tracy has a great sense of humor, loves quotes, and has a very interesting website at www.tracygroot.com that is well worth exploring. For instance, readers could lose themselves in her two screens of "splendid quotes"!
Tracy is also a two-time Christy award winner for historical fiction with Madman (2007) and Flame of Resistance (2013). With her latest novel, The Sentinels of Andersonville, she has given us a story that challenges, confronts, inspires, motivates, and entertains at the same time (see my review here). Giveaway details are at the bottom of this post. Now grab a cup of coffee and sit down for an enjoyable visit.
Q: Tracy, tell us a little about yourself and how you got started writing.
I love to read and write. That’s me, condensed. Oh, and I like to travel, eat, watch a lot of movies and TV shows, knit and crochet, play Settlers of Catan and backgammon and chess, and hang out with people—that’s me, diluted. I got my start by writing office memos and radio commercials.
Q: What is it like to own a coffee shop? Do you like yours black or with cream and sugar? Favorite latte/cappuccino flavor?
It’s great. You get free coffee, the good stuff. I take it black. I do enjoy an occasional mocha, but I like to save my sugar for the solid version of chocolate.
Q: Name a movie and TV show that you never tire of watching.
Movies: Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Serenity, Last of the Mohicans, The Lord of the Rings movies. TV shows: Once Upon a Time, Merlin, Firefly, Malcom in the Middle—don’t get me started...
Q: A special birthday is coming up - your husband's or one of your children's. Since you enjoy baking, what wonderful culinary meal or treat will you prepare?
For Jack: Any kind of pie, preferably pecan or Banoffee. For Evan: Chocolate Éclair Dessert. For Gray: Red Beans and Rice. (He prefers that over dessert.) For Riley: Whopper Dessert. (Made with ice cream, Oreo cookies, hot fudge, and crushed Whoppers.)
Q: Tell us about your newest release, The Sentinels of Andersonville. What attracted you to this infamous historical event?
I watched a movie when I was a kid called The Andersonville Trial. In it, testimony was given which included a fact that stopped me in my tracks: a woman had driven up 4 farm wagons loaded with food for men who were starving to death in the prison—and the food was forbidden. She and the food were turned away. The story never left me. Then about 20 years ago, a friend loaned me John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary. I finally asked: How could this have happened on American soil? How could 14,000 men have starved to death, by intention or attrition, right here? I had to find out.
Q: What spiritual theme or question does your story deal with?
Where is my first duty? To king and country, or to God and conscience? If my government tells me it is treason to feed a starving enemy, how do I respond? How does God want me to?
Q: Have you visited the Andersonville prison site and museum?
We spent a few days there for research. It’s quite a place.
Q: One of my favorite quotes from your book is this: "The devil's crowning achievement is a blindfold. Only the devil could blind good people to such evil." Why do you think this has been such a struggle for people through the years, and how can we better combat evil or indifference?
"My people go into exile for lack of knowledge." Blindness, by choice or not, is an exile. Staying open to the Spirit of God for what He wants us to do within our own sphere will keep us out of exile. It will keep the blindfold off.
Q: After winning the Christy Award for Madman, a story about the Gerasene demoniac, why did you transition from biblical to historical fiction? If securing a publishing contract wasn't an issue, which would you prefer to write?
It was a stationary transition, in a way; I’m still retelling stories, I’ve just broadened the scope of my time periods in an effort to connect with other places where people like to read—and yes, that was an issue to securing a publishing contract. At the time, biblical fiction wasn’t selling. I didn’t make the transition willingly, because I loved writing ancient fiction; but once I made it, I loved it. That’s when I discovered the bottom line in myself, that I simply love to retell stories—I don’t care which time period. I love learning about those “small hinges” upon which history turns, doesn’t matter where those hinges appear on the timeline.
Q: On your fantastic website, you have two screens of "splendid quotes." Give us a quote or two that are especially meaningful to you.
Oh, man. This is hard. They all seem to speak for me at various times, so I’d say what’s speaking now are these two: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” –Thomas Jefferson. And, “I’d rather be in trouble for having done something than for not having done anything.” –C.S. Forester.
Q: What's on the book horizon for you?
I’m wrapping a book called Maggie Bright, a story about the miracle evacuation of the British army at Dunkirk in May of 1940. King George VI (anyone see the fantastic The King’s Speech?) called upon the entire nation to pray for them. That’s hot. And when I mean hot, I mean sexy. When I first heard about this incredible Day of Prayer, I had to learn more. Turns out, WWII was nearly lost during those 9 days in 1940 when the entire British army was cut off and surrounded. Had Hitler wiped them out then, and he could have—well, sprecehn sie Deutsch? We’d all be speakin’ German, fraulein. Anyway—Maggie Bright is the result of studying this event in history. Oh—and it’s also a love story. J Having a lot of fun with this.
Q: What are some ways we can support and encourage you, both personally and as an author, Tracy?
Wow. This question is a first, and a dandy. I think a condensed and handy and truthful answer is prayer. That’s a gift, and one that will always serve.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Yes! It’s this: Thank you for asking great questions.
The Sentinels of Andersonville is a very moving book on many levels, but the best part has been getting to meet you, Tracy. Having you with us this week is a pleasure.
Readers, be sure to meet Tracy online at one or all of these places: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+.
Tracy has graciously offered a copy of The Sentinels of Andersonville to one of you, so please enter by leaving a comment or question for Tracy, along with your e-mail address in a safe format. And I'm always glad to have new blog followers and "likes" on my Facebook page, The Power of Words Reviews.
Contest ends at midnight on Monday, April 21. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and announced on Tyesday, April 22. Due to postage costs, US and Canadian addresses only.