Hello, Milla, I’m so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. First, can you tell us a bit about your book and what inspired you to write this story?
My latest story, Pushing Past the Pain, is a Christian romance about two people who have been recently widowed. The first seed popped into my head when my husband and I bought life insurance.
My imagination started running on, thinking about what would happen if I lost my husband. Or if I were killed how would my husband carry on? I wanted to explore a love story between people with young children who have lost their spouses.
And is this the first book you have published?
This is the second book I’ve published and is the sequel to my first, Falling For the Foe.
How long has it taken you to get published?
I worked at a newspaper after I graduated from university. My main job was being a sub-editor, but I published a few short stories in the paper. That was over 20 years ago. My first novel was published last year. I decided to go down the independent publishing route and put the book out when it was ready.
What draws you to writing romance?
I think romance is the ultimate character-driven fiction. It’s all about the people and the internal obstacles they need to overcome. Unless the characters are compelling, the story falls flat. And with Christian romance, you also have the people’s journey in their faith and how God deals with their particular struggles and blind spots.
With romance, you can explore human nature in all its flaws and its beauty and tell stories of how God can bring something wonderful into our imperfect existence. Even though romance isn’t the main focus of a book, I still enjoy it much better if there’s a love story tucked in there.
Are there any authors who’ve influenced you in your writing? Do you have any favourite authors?
If we’re thinking about romance, Grace Livingston Hill is definitely an influence, as is Francine Rivers and Jane Austen. I also love JRR Tolkien. Jane Austen told amazing stories using a very small canvas of settings and characters, while Tolkien did the exact opposite. His tales spanned a vast swathe of history and entire empires. It tells me that there are many ways to tell captivating stories.
What advice would you give to other writers trying to break into the Christian market?
If you’re writing Christian fiction in order to sell it, you need to straddle the sometimes difficult line between writing something that’s commercial as well as a ministry. Truth cannot be sacrificed to financial interests. The most important thing is to be a diligent student of your craft, and learn how to write an excellent story that glorifies God. Thomas Umstattd Jr. and James Rubart have put together a fantastic five-year plan to becoming a best-selling author, and I would point everyone there who wants to learn to write books that will sell.
What hobbies do you like to do when you’re not writing?
That’s a difficult one, because a lot of my free time is taken up with writing-related tasks! I like visiting stately homes, drawing, and playing board games.
Do you have any quirky, must-have rituals before you get to writing?
Not really! Writing has to fit into the corners of my life already, since I’m a homeschooling mother of four. If I were too fussy about getting the conditions just right, I would never write anything!
Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you and your work?
My books are set outside the US. That’s because I’ve only been to America as a tourist. Although the vast majority of my sales come from US-based readers, I can only write confidently about locations I know well, such as England and East Africa. I may also set a future book in Norway because my husband is from there, and we lived there for seven years before we moved to the UK.
If you could have dinner with three famous authors, alive or dead, who would they be?
Another tough question! I would love to know what Jane Austen would make of the current publishing environment, as well as all the tools we have available. I would also be eager to hear how she came up with her stories and characters.
It would be an honour to chat with Francine Rivers about her writing process, and how she gets from story idea to completed manuscript.
And I would also like to share a meal with Grace Livingston Hill. She was very prolific, and I know that she wrote many of her beautiful love stories at a very difficult time in her personal life. I’d want to talk to her about how she presented edifying truth through her romance books.
Where can your readers find you on social media?
And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
God willing, my next book will be completed in June. It’ll be exclusive to my newsletter subscribers. The next book I’ll have for sale will come out in November 2020.
Thank you for being here today, Milla! And for generously offering an e-book giveaway to one lucky person who leaves a comment. So, readers…has anyone here visited the UK to vacation or for educational purposes? And if not, what part of the UK would you like to go visit if you could?
A devoted father devastated by the loss of his wife. A young widowed mother whose wounds began long before her husband died. Will their shared grief bring them together or push them apart?
Ragnar’s life was shattered when a hit-and-run driver robbed him of his wife and his young daughter of her mother.
Ella was struggling to hold her fractured marriage together when her husband died suddenly, leaving her with a mountain of debt and a heartbroken young daughter.
When her new neighbor Ragnar moves in, their little girls soon become inseparable, and Ella is the perfect babysitter for Ragnar’s daughter. But as the chemistry between them grows, Ragnar wants much more from Ella than childcare.
He’s dreaming of finding love again while she is petrified of repeating the mistakes that made her first marriage a nightmare.