Valley of Decision, which concludes Lynne Gentry’s Carthage Chronicles series, is filled with rich historical detail and adventure. But what I most enjoyed was its spiritual impact and relevancy, a book and series that gave me much upon which to reflect. Please click on the title, Valley of Decision, to see my review.
Thanks so much to Lynne and Litfuse Publicity for this interview and a copy of Valley of Decision for one of you. Now enjoy as Lynne shares about this book . . .
Q: Tell us your favorite thing about your new book, Valley of Decision, which is the final installment in your series The Carthage Chronicles.
The world says we should make our decisions about love based on feelings. This story shows us how different the world would be if true love were based on actions.
Q: Why did you decide to set the book and the series in Carthage?
The Roman era has always interested me. When I stumbled across a third-century plague that nearly destroyed the empire, I had to know more. My research uncovered the fact that the Plague of Cyprian originated in Africa. So I didn’t choose the setting; history did.
Q: You’ve based some of Cyprian’s decisions in Valley of Decision on actual historical documents. What was the most important piece of research to the development of the book you found?
My stories are loosely based upon multiple historical accounts and Cyprianus Thascius’ own extensive writings, so from the beginning I’ve known Cyprian died a martyr’s death. As I wrote this final installment of his story, I took a closer look at his final day. Cyprian’s best friend Pontius recorded that soldiers came in the night and escorted Cyprian from his villa. He spent the night in the home of the commanding officers. That piece of information caused me to consider those long, dark hours. What went through Cyprian’s mind? Was he frightened? Did he ever consider recanting his faith? While we don’t have Cyprian’s thoughts, Pontius tells us that in the morning Cyprian went bravely and with “exceptional cheer” to face his executioner. To me, Cyprian’s demeanor validates the Lord’s calming presence in our lives . . . especially when the end comes.
Q: In the third century, Christians had the choice to run toward or away from those suffering from a deadly viral outbreak. What caused your characters to run toward the ill?
When the World Trade Center towers came down on September 11, 2001, cameras captured the terrified faces of people running for their lives. What struck me the most, though, were the unbelievable images of people running toward the smoke. Why would anyone risk their own lives to save someone they do not even know? That’s a question without an easy answer. I believe selflessness is a Christ-like characteristic best acquired through observation. When the church operates as Christ intended, a spirit of selflessness is modeled. Placing the welfare of others above your own is a picture of true love.
Q: What does your heroine, Lisbeth, discover about the true meaning of family in her efforts to reunite her own?
Lisbeth is like me. She longs to live in the security of a loving, united family. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered no one lives in a perfect family. Feelings get hurt. Relationships fragment. And sometimes, blood is not thicker than water. Flesh-and-blood families don’t always stay together. This would be a sad story if that was the end of it, but, like me, Lisbeth discovers family doesn’t always match our DNA. She learns families are the people who choose to love you no matter what.
Q: How does your own family reach beyond flesh and blood?
Every time the Lord called us to serve him in a new location, we moved farther from my flesh-and-blood family. I mourned not having my relatives close. I wanted my kids to know the joy of running in and out of their grandparents’ home. I wanted them to grow up playing with their cousins. To my surprise, those missing relationships were filled by people who weren’t related to us. At every church we served, the Lord provided a loving older couple excited to step in and love on our kids. The Lord brought a steady stream of families into our lives. Our children gained instant cousins, and our house was always full of laughter and friends on the holidays. Some of these friends have used their vacation time to sit by my bedside or care for my family as I recovered from surgeries. They’ve driven across the country to meet us for vacation. They’ve even sent checks to keep us afloat during a financial crisis. I’ve learned Christ is the blood that unites us all. Someone gave me a plaque that reads: “Friends are the family we choose.” I pray that you too dare to extend the borders of your family relationships. I promise you will be blessed.
Q: If you could go back in history, what time period would you visit?
I would love to return to the time of Christ and walk the same cobblestones and sandy beaches with him. I think my love of all things Roman came from sitting in Sunday school and listening to the stories about that intriguing part of the world.
Q: What projects are you working on next?
Stories are always clamoring for my attention. My next series is but a nugget based on a very unique event that happened in a dusty Middle Eastern town at the end of World War II. But I promise you, the stakes will be high, the adventures outlandish and the romance heart-melting. In the end, the world will be changed for the better!
For more information about Valley of Decision and Lynne Gentry visit www.lynnegentry.com, become a fan on Facebook (Author-Lynne-Gentry), or follow her on Twitter (@Lynne_Gentry) and Pinterest (lynnegentry7).
To enter the drawing for Valley of Decision . . .
1) Please go to my Facebook page and share about this giveaway ("likes" to my FB page are not required, but very much appreciated).
2) Answer the following question or leave a comment for Lynne:
If you could go back in history,
what time period would you visit?
BE SURE to leave your name and your email address in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - for the drawing. E-mail required for entry. Contest ends at midnight PST on Monday, November 9. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
Eligibility: US residents