Links to the Giveaway are at the end of the interview!!
(you must answer the author's question to be entered into the drawing @TBCN)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.
But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a speaker and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.
Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.
Her tenth novel, The Messenger follows prior Bethany House releases: A Constant Heart (October 2008), Love's Pursuit (June 2009), She Walks in Beauty (Apr 2010), and A Heart Most Worthy (Mar 2011)
She Walks in Beauty won the inaugural INSPY Award for Historical Fiction in Dec 2010. Three of Siri's novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door, and She Walks in Beauty were Christy Award finalists. Love's Pursuit was a finalist for the ACFW Carol Award.
Publishers Weekly proclaimed, "Mitchell delivers the historical goods."
Siri is represented by Natasha Kern Literary Agency.
|The Messenger collage of Characters|
How did you get the idea for The Messenger?
Mt. Vernon is one of my family’s favorite historic places to visit. We make several trips there every year. There’s a short movie in the Education Center about General Washington’s Revolutionary War spy network and my family challenged me to write a book about one of the spies. The idea intrigued me, as did the plight of Quakers during the Revolutionary War. There’s a legend that a Quaker woman operated as a spy in Philadelphia during several weeks in 1777. The thought was fascinating. Without duplicating her story, I wanted to investigate what would make a Quaker choose a side in a conflict and become an active participant in war. And more than that, I wanted to know how she could be an effective spy without the usual weapons of deception that her religion would have made her reject.
In your book The Messenger, what scenes were easy for you to write? Which ones were difficult? Why?
My favorite scene was the one in which the heroine confronts the hero’s disability. The hero, Jeremiah, lost an arm in Pontiac’s War when he was a soldier in the British army. Ever since, he’s been trying to deal with his amputation by not dealing with it. The heroine, Hannah, is the first person to see and willingly touch his scarred stump.
The most difficult scene to write was the one in which Hannah makes a tragic discovery in the jail’s dungeon (I hate to give away my plot twists!) In any case, I had to figure out how to have her react without bringing the British guards rushing to the jail cell.
Nora: I'm not to these parts in your book yet. I can't wait to get there they sound intriguing!
What do you hope readers take away from The Messenger?
Nora: Great point!
It’s an interesting title for this book, the cover intriguing as well. Did you have any say so in deciding the cover and title for this book? Can you describe that process for us?
I always have a working title as I write the manuscript. Sometimes it’s as simple as ‘The Corset Book’ (which later became She Walks in Beauty). For this book, my working title was Hannah’s Heart. Just before I’m due to send my manuscript to my editors, they ask me for titling and cover information. This includes any ideas I have for titles or covers as well as information about character personalities, settings, costuming, and a synopsis. For this book, my title ideas were grouped into several different concepts.
Titles with the ‘spy’ idea:
The Honest Spy
The Quaker Spy
The Quaker’s Secret
The Tavern-keeper’s Spy
The Spy in Quaker Clothing
The Timid Spy
One Life to Lose
The Traitor Within
Titles using Quaker symbols/phrases:
A Voice Within
The Light Within
That of God
Titles playing with the idea that Quakers also refer to themselves as Friends:
The True Friend
To Be A Friend
The Spy’s Friend
As you can see, none of my ideas included the concept of a messenger! As the team at Bethany talked about cover and title ideas, they decided they wanted to convey the drama, risk, intensity, and emotion of the book. They chose to go with a dramatic cover image and decided a short, strong title would be the best complement. I really like the title they came up with!
Nora: Love this Siri! Thanks for sharing. It's been fun to read!
I can imagine the extensive research you do to write an historical novel, what surprised you in your research for this book The Messenger?
Historians estimate that when the Revolutionary War started, one-third of the colonists supported the King, one-third supported the patriots, and one-third were neutral. That was pretty shocking to me, since in elementary school the war is taught in black and white, as if all the colonists supported the rebel cause.
The way the British disdained colonials also surprised me. If they had treated the colonists with respect, the war might have gone the other way. But their patronizing attitude forced many of those who had started out neutral to flock to the patriot cause.
Another surprise for me was the fact that the Quakers refused, in any way, to aid the prisoners of war. It seemed so contradictory for a people known for helping the helpless.
You've written some contemporary stories and historical stories. How is the writing process different for you in writing a contemporary story as opposed to a historical?
I spend much more time reading social histories and researching things like costuming and food for historicals. I also spend quite a bit of time trying to understand how people thought about and interacted with each other in the past. I probably read at least three times the number of non-fiction books in preparation for a historical.
What do you love most about writing a historical novel? What is the draw for you?
I love immersing myself in the history of an era. All of it: social histories, biographies, costuming books, cookbooks. Medical reports and essays. It always fascinates me that we’re so similar and yet so different from our ancestors. Each era seems to have its own tragedies and crises. I love discovering how those things were almost inevitable as I learn how people thought and what beliefs they held back then. And I love to see how those events in the past have rippled forward to affect us all today.
QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK
What were your three favorite books as a kid?
I loved Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey, the Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery, and the Arch Books Bible story books for kids.
If you had the opportunity to hang out with any two people alive or dead for 48 hours, who would you pick and what would you do? (besides Jesus)
I would pick the Le Nain brothers.
There were three of them that painted in 17th century France. They were true anomalies in the art world, especially for their time. No one can say for sure which one painted which painting because they all just signed their last name to their work. They also chose to focus on scenes of the peasantry which was not at all in fashion back then. I just think it’s fascinating that they didn’t care who got credit for what they did and that they painted subjects which could never hope to compensate them for their work.
What are three everyday things you’d rather not live without?
Starbucks coffee. I went to the University of Washington in Seattle when there were still only two Starbucks in the entire world. (Yes, I’m about 100 years old!)
A hot shower. It takes my brain a while to warm up in the morning. A hot shower really helps.
Crocs. Gotta have ‘em.
If you had an opportunity to go anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do?
I would go to Paris, eat at a different 3-star restaurant every day for a week, visit friends, and take in my favorite museums.
Nora: That does sound like fun!
A friend of yours has a time machine and will let you use it for a while. What would you do with it and what events would you like to experience?
I would go back to all the times I’ve said careless, hurtful things to my family and friends and I would use the opportunity to say the right thing instead.
Nora: Oh, wow!! Powerful! No one's every mentioned this before. I like it! That would be a great gift!
ANY FINAL COMMENTS – THOUGHTS FOR MY READERS, SIRI MITCHELL?
Thank you so much for your support for Christian fiction! When I write, it’s with all of you in mind.
It's great to have you here Siri! I’m excited about Bethany House giving away 10 copies of your new book. Thanks for coming up with a fun question to ask readers. It’s been a delight to get to know you and your books. I’m looking forward to you dropping by again.
The contest begins MARCH 19th at THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK www.bookfun.org (links to the giveaway will be on the front page on the 19th.) Looking forward to you being there!!
CLICK THIS LINK TO ENTER DRAWING http://ning.it/FQmWuM
Remember you must answer the authors question to be entered into the Drawing!
The Book Club Network CEO