I am so glad to welcome Ruth Axtell here today! I read her first published novel, Winter Is Past, several years ago and have been a fan of her writing ever since. Regencies are a favorite of mine, but so are stories set on the Maine coast, and I'm eager to explore this side of Ruth's writing.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ruth's latest Regency, A Heart's Rebellion (reviewed here), which features one of my favorite leading men. I appreciate Ruth's willingness to share a copy with one of you, details of which are at the bottom of this post. Now enjoy getting to know a little more about Ruth and her writing . . .
Q: First of all, tell us briefly about yourself, Ruth - including some of the interesting things you did in the years before becoming a published writer.
I feel I enjoyed my late teens and early twenties by traveling, first spending my junior year abroad in Paris and seeing much of Europe with college friends (there’s nothing like that!), then going as an au pair right after college (when I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life). Then I got married and moved to the Netherlands. It was there, while raising a family, that I began seriously dividing my time between babies and learning how to plot stories.
Q: Ruth, you share a very personal and moving testimony on your website which I encourage everyone to read here. Could you share just a little of that with us now?
My coming to Christ meant understanding what “surrender” means. I had been brought up in Sunday School; I had heard about salvation and saying the “sinner’s prayer”—and had even said it more than once. But when I was 24, and had come to the end of myself, and cried out to God with a surrendered heart—meaning I was willing to try it God’s way, whatever the cost—then God was able to speak to me. I had a powerful, supernatural experience at the altar, so that when I went back to my seat, I felt my life had taken a 180 degree-turn.
Q: If you had a bucket list, what are two things that would be on it?
- Go to the Holy Lands (including not just Jerusalem but Turkey and Greece where much of the early church was planted).
- Go to some of the world’s top-rated restaurants.
Q: Tell us about the novel we're featuring today, A Heart's Rebellion. Is it part of a series or does it stand alone?
It can stand alone, even though it is a sequel to Moonlight Masquerade. So many times when I’m working on a novel, I get curious about a secondary character and want to tell their story. This becomes a sequel, but usually one that can stand by itself as well.
Q: What are some strengths and weaknesses in the main characters, Lancelot and Jessamine, and why should readers care about them?
They say our greatest strengths are also our weaknesses. I like to show this in my characters. Lancelot is a humble man, a Christian with a surrendered heart. But this also means that sometimes he doesn’t have enough confidence in himself.
Jessamine has been raised a Christian, the daughter of a vicar, and has tried to be a good Christian daughter her whole life. Unfortunately, this means that she hasn’t ever really had to come face to face with the reality that she is a sinner, just like the worst sinner. When life hands her lemons, instead of making lemonade, she grows rebellious for a season, only to find that the problem is within her. When she comes to that place of repentance, she discovers God’s love for her—how it hasn’t changed.
Q: Something that I particularly enjoyed about A Heart's Rebellion is the way you contrasted what I think of as "religion vs. relationship" faith. How was that exemplified in the era you wrote about, and do you think it is still relevant today?
There was a whole evangelical movement back in Regency times in England, so while there was a whole traditional religious community, there was a parallel “awakening” among many Christians who were rediscovering the Bible and its message of personal salvation. Lancelot is an evangelical in that sense, one who remains in his traditional church (the Anglican) but who preaches the “full Gospel” of salvation, not by works but by God’s grace alone.
Q: What one thing do you hope readers will take away from this story?
I hope they will not judge Jessamine too harshly, but wait and see how the story unfolds and see her spiritual growth. I hope they recognize a little of themselves in her. We all have that rebellious streak that must continually be brought to the Cross.
Q: For those of us who enjoy Regencies, who are some of your favorite authors - classical, inspirational, or general market?
Jane Austen, of course, though she is not strictly “Regency.” She wrote in the time period, so she is a contemporary author of that period. I love Georgette Heyer, the inventor of the Regency genre.
Of newer authors, I love Dawn Lindsay, who wrote Regencies back in the 80s. I used to read a lot of the secular Regency romance authors, and many are very good, but I haven’t read them in several years, because the romances got steamier and steamier as my own writing got less and less graphic in that area. I haven’t read a lot of the newer Christian regencies. There is more and more Christian fiction available and my TBR pile keeps growing and growing…
Q: I haven't read all of your Regencies, but I've enjoyed all that I've read. What other type of stories have you written, and do you prefer one type over another?
I’ve written late 19th century romances set on the coast of Maine (where I live) as well as late Victorian English-set romances. I love the 19th century. I never planned on writing Regencies! But the Lord gave me a story idea for one, and I took the challenge, and it became my first published novel (Winter Is Past).
Q: What’s on the book horizon for you, Ruth?
I am editing the first full-length novel I ever wrote (back in the 80s). It started as a challenge between a college friend of mine and me. We decided to write our own romance. She read tons of romances; I hadn’t read many during my college years. After a few chapters, she bowed out, but I continued writing, and have been writing ever since. It’s set in 1830 Poland, a time of revolution, during the Romantic Era. Think War and Peace.
Q: What are some ways we can support and encourage you, both personally and as an author, Ruth?
Readers can best support authors whose work they enjoy by buying their books and then recommending them to others. I just hope your readers will take the time to try one of my stories.
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Ruth, I know how busy an author's life can be, so we appreciate really appreciate you taking the time to be with us today. I especially enjoyed your Christian testimony and encourage readers to check it out here. May God continue to guide and bless your writing, Ruth.
To enter the drawing for A Heart's Rebellion, simply leave a question or comment about Ruth's books or something you found interesting in this interview, along with your e-mail address in a safe format. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook.
And I'm always glad to have new followers on my blog and "likes" on my Facebook page, The Power of Words Book Reviews.
The fine print:
- E-mail required, one entry per person. Odds of winning are based on number of entries.
- Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, June 8. No purchase necessary.
- Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail on Monday, June 9. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
- Eligibility: US residents, 18 and older