Thursday, April 22, 2010
HER MOTHER'S HOPE blog tour with FRANCINE RIVERS
Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market and her books were awarded or nominated for numerous awards and prizes. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, mother of three, and an established romance novelist. Shortly after becoming a born-again Christian in 1986, Francine wrote Redeeming Love as her statement of faith. First published by Bantam Books, and then re-released by Multnomah Publishers in the mid- 1990s, this retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction. Redeeming Love continues to be one of the Christian Booksellers Association’s top-selling titles and it has held a spot on the Christian bestseller list for nearly a decade.
Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes – all bestsellers-- and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the globe. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for numerous awards including the Rita Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Gold Medallion, and the Holt Medallion in Honor of Outstanding Literary Talent. In 1997, after winning her third Rita award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers’ of America Hall of Fame. Francine’s novels have been translated into over twenty different languages and she enjoys best-seller status in many foreign countries including Germany, The Netherlands, and South Africa.
Francine and her husband Rick live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their five grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.
How did you get started as a writer?
From the time I was a child, I knew I would be a writer. Because I didn’t know what I would write, I majored in English (emphasis in literary writing) and minored in journalism (emphasis on who-what-when-where-why). My parents had always been non-fiction readers. Rick’s family loved all kinds of books – and lots of fiction. Mom Edith loaned me novels and I loved them. On a dare (from Rick) I decided to write a combination of my favorite genres and wrote a “western-gothic-romance”. Romance novels were booming in the general market, publishers were on the look-out for new writers. My first manuscript sold and was published. I was hooked! I followed with eight or nine more (of what I call my B.C. (before Christ) books). They are all now out of print, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended.
When I turned my life over to Jesus, I couldn’t write for three years. I tried, but nothing worked. I struggled against God over that because writing was my “identity.” It took that period of suffering “writer’s block” to bring me to my senses. God was trying to open my eyes to how writing had become an idol in my life. It was the place I ran to escape, the one area of my life where I thought I was in complete control. (Hardly!) My priorities were all wrong and needed to be put right. God first, husband and children second (we had three children by then) and third-- work. I prayed God would change my heart. My love for writing and reading novels waned and my passion for reading and studying God’s Word grew.
Rick and I began hosting a home Bible study. I began working with Rick in his business. The children came along and played in the office, hiding in the shipping popcorn. Writing ceased to matter. I was in love with Jesus and my husband and children. God never stops with the transformation process. We began studying the book of Hosea, and I sensed God calling me to write again – this time a romance about Jesus’ love for each of us. Redeeming Love was the result. It is the retelling of the Hosea story, set in Gold Rush-era California. After I turned it in, I wasn’t sure whether I would write anything more. I had so many questions about what it means to be a Christian, how to live for God, different issues that still haunted me. I felt God nudging me toward using my writing as a tool to draw closer to Him. I would ask my question, create characters that would play out the different viewpoints and seek God’s perspective. I began work on A Voice in the Wind. Writing has become a way to worship the Lord through story – to show how intimately He wants to be involved in our lives.
Tell us about your current work.
I have just completed the second in a set of two books about mother-daughter relationship over four generations. This was intended to be one long novel dealing with the different ways generations have lived out their faith – but became so long it needed to be divided. Her Mother’s Hope will be released March 16, 2010. Her Daughter’s Dream will follow in September. There are numerous family and personal details woven into both books and I plan to share those things on my blog.
Where do you get your ideas for your plots?
Almost every story I have written since becoming a Christian has come from a question that regards a struggle in my own faith walk. The plot centers around the different ways that question can be answered by “the world” – but the quest is to find God’s answer. Here is a list of my novels with the questions that started each story:
A Voice in the Wind: How do I share my faith with unsaved family members and friends who have no desire to read the Bible or hear me talk about my faith?
An Echo in the Darkness: How many times are we called upon to forgive people who hurt us deliberately -- and (in many countries) would like to see us dead?
As Sure As the Dawn: How do you deal with anger – especially when there is “good” cause? What is “righteous anger” and how does it look?
The Scarlet Thread: What does “sovereignty” mean in man’s relationship with God? If He is in control of everything, what does that say about the bad things that happen to people?
The Atonement Child: Is there complete forgiveness and restoration for a woman who has aborted her child? Does abortion have any effect on the woman and the man involved in the crisis pregnancy? Does it impact people around them? (This was my most painful and personal book because I needed to face and deal with my own abortion experience. The character of Hannah is based on my story; Evie is based on my mother’s.)
The Last Sin Eater: What is the difference between guilt and conviction? This book came out of The Atonement Child. What I learned: guilt kept me imprisoned for years. Conviction sent me to my knees before the Lord where I received forgiveness and experienced His love and grace.
Leota’s Garden: Are abortion and euthanasia connected? Is euthanasia merciful or an act of murder? This novel also came out of my work on The Atonement Child. While studying the abortion issue from all sides, I realized the arguments for abortion are exactly the same as those for euthanasia. While going through a post-abortion class with other women (one a nurse), I learned that the elderly are already at risk. One scene in the book continues to shock people. I wrote it for that purpose. I want people to understand life is precious. The movement toward legalizing euthanasia continues to gain momentum (and has less to do with “mercy” than saving money for care).
And the Shofar Blew: What is a church? How do you build it? During my travels around the country and speaking at various churches, I saw many struggling through building projects and massive programs to draw more parishioners. Size of building and number of people in the pews seemed to define success or failure. Like a government out of control, the “church” (in many cases) has forgotten its foundation and purpose. Christ is the cornerstone. Believers meet together to study the Word of God, worship Him and encourage one another – and keep their doors and hearts open to those seeking God. Unfortunately, too many congregations have left their first love (Jesus Christ) and turned to idolatry (placing a building/drawing a crowd/being “politically correct” above a relationship with the Lord).
Her Mother’s Hope / Her Daughter’s Dream: What caused the rift between my grandmother and mother? When my grandmother had a stroke, my mother raced from Oregon to the Central Valley of California to be with her. Grandma died before she arrived. My mother was heart-broken and said, “I think she willed herself to die just so we wouldn’t have to talk things out.” I have wondered since: What causes people (even Christians) to hold grudges? What might have brought resolution and restoration to these two women? Could my grandmother have loved my mother without my mother understanding it? The two books have many personal, family details woven in and I will be sharing this information in my blog.
Which is your favorite book of those you’ve written?
My favorite book is Redeeming Love. It was my first as a born-again Christian, my statement of faith, and the most exciting year I’ve spent writing anything. I felt God’s presence throughout the months of work, as though He were telling me His story through thousands of Scriptures as well as explaining the inner heart-ache and quest of each “my” characters.
Christian fiction continues to boom. What would you like to see happen in the field?
I want to see Christian fiction speak to the hard and real issues that tear people’s lives apart. We need writers who are willing to ask the hard questions and go through the soul-searching and agonizing to find answers – and present these stories with skill that surpasses the general market. Some of the greatest works or art and literature were rendered by Christians. I believe God is at work in these areas now. I would also love to see more Christian stories make it to the big screen and into the world of television, and to have the Christian worldview presented fairly. Much of what comes out of “Hollywood” appeals to the basest side of mankind and crushes the spirit. Right now, with war and a failing economy, people are hungry for stories that inspire them, lift them and give them hope. People need to know there are solutions and we can have peace and an abundant life -- even in the midst of trials.
What advice would you give to a new writer?
Write what you need to read. Write from your heart and. Write truth. Sometimes it hurts to peel away the layers of self-deception and see ourselves in the mirror, but it will also draw us closer to Jesus. And your work may minister to others struggling with the same issues. Read the Bible every day so that it will flow naturally into the story. Study the Bible from beginning to end. It is the most exciting reading in the world. It is also alive – and will help you recognize when you are entering into sin and need to realign yourself with the Lord. Keep your focus on Jesus.
Tell us about your family life?
Rick and I met in the fifth grade. We were good friends through school, and graduated together in 1965. I went away to college and he joined the Marine Corps. When the hometown newspaper carried the story of my brother’s capture in Hue during the Tet Offensive, Rick wrote to me from Vietnam and we began to correspond. We married a year after he returned from Vietnam (1969). We have three children and five grandchildren. (Note: My brother was seriously wounded, escaped from his captors when the Marines entered Hue, and is alive, well, happily married with two grown children and living the blissful retired life in the woods of Northern California.)
Are any of your novels going to be made into movies?
The Last Sin Eater was produced and directed by Michael Landon, Jr. and Brian Bird (They did an outstanding job.) The movie was released in theaters in 2007 and is now available on DVD. You can see the trailer on IMDB.com. Rick and I were invited to visit the set during filming in the mountains north of Salt Lake City. We had a great time and there are pictures of our trip in the movie-edition of the novel.
A film based on Redeeming Love is currently in development with Abba Productions/ Christy Lee Taylor. She has partnered with producer Ralph Winter and they are trying to pull together funding to get the project off the ground.
HER MOTHER'S HOPE
The first part of an unforgettable epic family saga about the sacrifices every mother makes for her daughter and the very nature of unconditional love. On the eve of the First World War, fiery Marta Schneider leaves Switzerland and her difficult childhood behind, determined to find a new life on her own terms. Barely out of her teens, Marta is haunted by a devastating loss that fuels her ambition to one day own a hotel. From the cramped quarters of a French housekeeping school to the portrait-lined halls of a stately English manor, Marta becomes a hard working domestic who has little time to dwell on what might have been. Instead, she draws her strength from what could be. Then, Marta meets Niclas Waltert, a man just as determined as she to forge a better life in a new place. Niclas captures her heart and together they endure the harshness of life as tenant farmers on the vast prairies of Winnipeg, Canada, before following the promise of the American dream and migrating to the agriculturally rich Central Valley of California. Marriage and motherhood bring both joy and heartbreak, as Marta must surrender her long-held ambitions for the sake of her husband and children, including her daughter, Hildemara, upon whose shoulders her own hopes now squarely rest. Only the strong survive and Marta is determined to raise a daughter as strong as she. But as Hildie reaches young womanhood and another war is fast approaching, those hopes become too heavy a burden for Hildie to bear. Born with a heart to serve others, Hildie pursues her calling as a nurse, something Marta can’t understand. Marta’s years of hardnosed parenting have left Hildie still hungry for her mother’s love…and now for her mother’s respect. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie falls in love and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter, Carolyn, never to doubt her love—but the challenges of life conspire against her vow and the only person who can come to her aid is the person she remains so desperate to please: Marta, her mother. With hallmark touches of brilliant prose and gripping characterizations, Her Mother’s Hope is a rich, moving epic about faith and dreams, heartache and disappointment, and ultimately the resilience and tenacity of love.
First chapter excerpt at:
Book trailer video at:
PLEASE NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to the me as a blog tour host by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at http://www.christianspeakerservices.com/ for more information about blog tour management services.
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