Karen Witemeyer is the incredibly gifted author of To Win Her Heart, an historical romance set in the old west. You can read my review of this amazing book here, and don't forget to enter the giveaway to win your very own copy of To Win Her Heart while you're there! Karen has graciously agreed to do a three part interview with me for Little Bit Of Wonderful, and I know you are going to enjoy what she has to say as much as I did! Join me after the jump for Part 1 of this special three part series...
Alena: Where are you from?
Karen: I grew up in a little town along the central coast of California called Lompoc. They are famous for flower fields, La Purisima mission, and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Alena: When and why did you want to become an author?
Karen: I had always been an avid reader, and as I grew to adulthood, I toyed with the idea of putting my own stories to paper. I'd daydream romantic plot lines and jot down my ideas in a journal, but I never committed myself to writing. First, college kept me busy. Then kids entered the picture. But in 2003 when my husband learned his job was being cut, the urge to turn someday into this day became too strong to ignore. The busyness didn't disappear, of course. I started working full-time outside the home, and the kids were still young and in need of my attention. However, the Lord had sent me a wake-up call, and I knew I had to answer.
Alena: What inspired you to write To Win Her Heart?
Karen: Have you ever wished there was an epilogue to Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son? I have. When I decided to write To Win Her Heart, one question prompted the plot development: What happens after the father welcomes the prodigal son home? So often we focus on the wonderful homecoming the lost son received, but have you ever asked what life was like for him after the celebration was over? How did he relate to his bitter older brother or the servants and townspeople who were only too aware of his past arrogance and wild living? My story plays on those very questions.
Alena: Is there a message in this novel that you wanted to convey to your readers?
Karen: The underlying theme of this book is one of forgiveness and of learning to view others through God's lens instead of our own. Just as Jesus encouraged the Pharisees to only cast a stone if they were without sin, we must learn to set aside our self-righteous pride in favor of mercy and forgiveness. It is human nature to keep records of wrongs and to view others through our own hurts and prejudices. And while our God is certainly concerned with justice, when one of his children repents, his mercy and forgiveness know no bounds. We must learn to exhibit the same grace to our brothers and sisters in Christ, extending them the mercy we ourselves would wish to receive. After all, love keeps no record of wrongs.
Alena: Who is your favorite character in To Win Her Heart, and why?
Karen: I always tend to favor my heroes. Probably because I'm guilty of falling a little bit in love with them over the course of writing a book. Levi is definitely my favorite in To Win Her Heart. I admire his courage to change, to allow the Potter to throw him back on the wheel and reshape him as Jeremiah 18 describes. I am much more like Eden, wanting everyone to think that I've got it all together, that sometimes I forget to be like Levi, to reach out to hurting people who crave mercy, grace, and love.
Oh, and all those delicious muscles don't hurt, either.
Alena: No, they certainly don't! Did you experience writers block while working on this novel? If so, what helped you break through?
Karen: No, I never really experienced writer's block. There were definitely days where I struggled to get words on the page, but I always knew which direction my characters were heading. I usually compose a detailed synopsis ahead of time and stick to it pretty closely. Sometimes plots change slightly or elements get cut, but for the most part, having that road map keeps me on track.
Alena: Who is your favorite author, and what is your favorite book? Why?
Karen: Deeanne Gist is probably my favorite Christian fiction author. Her stories are always a joy to read. However, my favorite book would have to be Francine Rivers's Redeeming Love. That book blew me away with its incredible depiction of God's pursuit of his children. Loved it!
Alena: You are a Christian; how does your faith impact your writing?
Karen: My faith is an integral part of my writing, both on the page and in the process. I pray over my writing every day and ask the Lord to show me not only how to craft a compelling story, but how to weave a spiritual thread that highlights nuggets of truth through the lives of the characters. And often, the themes that emerge are lessons that I need to learn in my own life.
Alena: Are we likely to see a sequel to To Win Her Heart?
Karen: Unfortunately, there will not be a sequel. However, back in June I ran a fan fiction contest and invited readers to submit an epilogue for two of the secondary characters: Chloe and Duncan. Nancy Kimball won the contest, and I was so pleased with her ending. It is posted on the fan fiction page of my site. It's not a full sequel, but it is a fun little extra for those hungry to see more of the happily ever after.
You can find it here: http://www.karenwitemeyerphp
Alena: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers?
Karen: I love to hear from readers. You can contact me through my website or on Facebook. I also recently joined a western-themed blog called Petticoats & Pistols. We're all western romance authors, from both the Christian and general markets, and we love talking about cowboys, the old west, and the historical tidbits we discover as we research our novels. I post every second and fourth Friday and would love to see you there.
Don't forget to visit the original book review post and enter to win your own copy of To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer! Details can be found here, and the drawing closes Wednesday, August 24th, so hurry and enter, and tell your friends! :)