Sunday, October 29, 2006

Interview with Tricia Goyer, Part 1

I am very happy to have Tricia Goyer as my guest over the next few posts. As an award-winning author of novels and nonfiction books (including a children's book) and hundreds of articles, and as a homeschooling mom and a mentor to other "Generation X" moms, Tricia is a modern-day Renaissance woman. Through her novels centered on the World War II era, including her most recent, Arms of Deliverance (Moody Press, 2006) and the website she has set up for veterans to write about their experiences, Tricia has given those heroes a voice and has provided place and a means for them to record and preserve their stories.

Marilyn: Several of your books take place in the World War II time period. What drew you to that time?

Tricia: Marilyn, I never planned on writing about World War II. When I first started writing fiction, I wanted to write contemporary romances. I had some ideas and my agent even sent proposals out to publishers. But, unfortunately, there were no bites.

Then in 2000, I was in Europe with two writer friends who were both researching for novels. We went to Mauthausen Concentration Camp and I heard the true story about twenty-three American GIs who liberated the camp at the end of WWII. I also heard about a Nazi wife who was the first one into the camp helping the prisoners. The story intrigued me, and I went home to research. During research, I met some of the veterans, and I knew I had to write a fictional story inspired by their experiences. The veterans also gave me ideas for more stories; thus my love for historical fiction was birthed.

Marilyn: I know that you interviewed many veterans of that war. How did you come in contact with them? What was their response? And what did you learn from them?

Tricia: I first contacted them through the website of the 11th Armored Division. The organization gave me the contact information of the individual men. The men responded right away by phone and mail. They invited me to their 59th reunion of their division. I first interviewed them there. I didn't know what to expect, but the men were amazing. They were so excited to share their stories and open up.

I learned from them that they were ordinary men (boys really) who became unexpected heroes. (Actually, they don't even like being called heroes.) They helped me to see that each of us has a place in history--we are here for a purpose and we can rise to the occasion and accomplish more than we think possible with God's help.

Marilyn: Have your research and your books prompted others from that generation to tell you their stories? What has been the most surprising?

Tricia: Yes, after writing about the 11th Armored Division, other veterans contacted me. One man told me his story about being in the Bataan Death March. He asked, "Would you be interested in writing our story, too?" How could I say no? That became the inspiration for Dawn of a Thousand Nights.

I have been most surprised by my love for history. The more I know, the more I want to know. I could write hundreds, thousands of stories!

Marilyn: You've created a website just for WWII veterans to write their stories. Please tell us more about this site, why you created it, and how others can use it.

Tricia: Because I don't have the time to turn each story into a novel I'm sharing some of these stories on a new website, Unforgettable Stories of World War II: www.triciagoyer/ww2stories

Marilyn: Thank you, Tricia!

While you're checking out Unforgettable Stories of World War II, visit the rest of Tricia's website:

Next time: Tricia talks about being a Generation X mom and mentoring other moms.

© 2006 by Marilyn C. Hilton

Monday, October 16, 2006

Never Too Late

I heard a story a few months ago that both saddened and encouraged me. The mother of a friend of mine was dying. They had not been close in their adult years; too many angry words, too many unmnet expectations, and too much pain had created an empty gulf between them, and all that remained was regret. And now, time was growing short because her mother was dying. My friend didn't want to leave things the way they were, unspoken and unforgiven, but she didn't know how to fix the problem.

What is it about the certainty of death that brings clarity and purpose to life? When we can see that gulf looming on the horizon, we see that our relationships with other people are more important than financial portfolios, awards, publication credits, real estate, or any other material we've collected in life. We want to let go of the grudges, hurts, and angers that have complicated and paralzyed those relationships, but often we don't know how. How do we let go of the pride that prevents us from forgiving people for doing us wrong? Who should take the first steps toward forgiveness--the person dying or the one left here?--and how can those first steps be taken?

For my friend, an energetic and resourceful person who rarely needs more than a few seconds to make a decision, these questions practically answered themselves. She picked up her video camera and decided to ask her mother some questions. But there her mind went blank: she didn't know what kinds of questions to ask. Then she spotted a book that she'd recently bought for her young daughter. (It happened to be my first book, The Christian Girl's Guide to Your Mom.) Wondering if there were anything in the book she could grasp and use for her mother, she flipped through the pages and found several "interview" questions. These are conversation prompts that spark deeper communication between parent and child.

She knew this book was for tween girls and their moms, but empty of anything better, she gave it a try. So she turned on the camera and asked a question. Her mother answered. Then she asked another, and her mother answered, and soon this mother and daughter who had long ago stopped talking about the things that really mattered--their love for each other and their deep longing to heal the wounds that had paralyzed them for so many years--began a new, loving relationship while they still had time.

Is there someone in your life with whom you want to reconnect, but you don't know how? If pride is stopping you, push it aside and stretch your hand to that person. Chances are, that hand will soon be filled with another grateful one.

© 2006 by Marilyn C. Hilton