Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Chat & a Review

Tracie Peterson has been busily churning out the books this year, and that is just fine with me! In fact, I teased her about this when I had the privilege of meeting and interviwing her at the Expo in March, where she was promoting her Brides of Gallatin County series (see my review here):

I love it when [the books] come out so close together because a lot of time they make us wait 6 months or a year. It's probably hard on you, because you have to write them fast!

(Tracie laughs) My readers are always saying "Why can't they just come out every week?" But that would make it just too hard! And then they get them, and I've spent months in labor over these babies, and then they read them in two hours!

In addition to that series, and Dawn's Prelude, which I reviewed last week, the third and final installment in The Broadmoor Legacy series, A Surrendered Heart which Tracie co-wrote with Judith Miller, was also recently released. We discussed that as well.

Judith and I are dear friends; we've been friends from when I lived in Kansas, and she's just a lot of fun to write with. She's a remarkable woman to work with, and I'm excited to see the series complete.

So how does it work when you write with someone? Who comes up with the idea?

Well, it depends. The very first co-write I did was with Judith Pella; I met her at a conference and I had an idea for a series, and one thing led to another - it was such a God thing. With Judy Miller, we were friends, and I knew her style and knew it would mesh with mine very well. So we started talking, and the first series . . . . we had both been toying about doing something with the textile industry and the mill girls, and little by little we began putting together story ideas; it was really a mutual thing.

Judy has been writing the first draft, so that involves most of the research, but it still requires that the second writer have a good knowledge of the time period, the research, the information. So for that purpose we [have] traveled together and researched the elements. So basically, we work on the idea together, we flesh it out; we're sticklers for an outline, so we do a detailed synopsis. And then Judy writes, sends it to me, I flesh out; she will have chapter chunks that she leaves for me because maybe I have more expertise in that area. And she always, always --here's the secret!--leaves me the last chapter to write because she can't bear to say goodbye. (Laughs) So now your readers will be in the know!

So how do you come up with the basic ideas for your stories?

I'm a voracious reader, and we watch a lot of the History Channel. A lot of times, I'll be reading a non-fiction book and see some little thread [that I wonder about] - my favorite line is "and we don't know how this happened" or "we don't know who was involved." I love that because that just opens the door for the fiction author to take it and run.

So you're just the Paul Harvey "The Rest of the Story" person!

(She laughs) Sometimes it's a place. I fell in love with Alaska the first time I went there and I knew I wanted to write about it. Sometimes it's a character. I'll see someone and think "I can spin a whole story around this person."

A character as in, someone in history? Or someone weird you see walking down the street?!

Either way!

So what is the weirdest thing you've ever done to research for a book?

My husband's a historian, so he works for me and does a lot of research for me, and he's fantastic at it. In one of the books with Judith Pella, the girl is on her back in a field, and she's flailing a knife at the guy that's pinning her to the ground - who's actually pinning her to save her life from the bulletfire! - and she doesn't want to see if she stabs him, [so her eyes are closed as she's flailing the knife]. And I wasn't really sure how to portray that scene and work it out, so my husband and I acted it out. And his father walks in! And he just looks down at us. I was just using a butter knife!

And you're still happily married?!

We are! Twenty-nine years!

I liked Tracie's books before I met her, but now that I've seen what a delight she is, it makes them even better!

Anyway, back to the book, A Surrendered Heart! I have thoroughly enjoyed this series of the three Broadmoor cousins. This last book is the story of Amanda. She is in her element helping Dr. Blake Carstead provide medical care at the Home for the Friendless in Rochester, New York when the cholera epidemic of 1899 breaks out. The rest of her family flees the city to their estate on the Thousand Islands just as the Home is quarantined - and Amanda becomes deathly ill. Once she is on the mend, she reluctantly goes to join her relatives for a complete recovery, although her heart remains with her patients and the doctor who is her mentor and friend, and she looks forward to returning and to, hopefully one day, attending medical school herself.

As the summer weeks progress, Amanda's plans are suddenly thwarted by the disturbing news that the family fortune is about to disappear. Her father's unethical business practices are catching up with him, and to save his finances and his reputation before both are destroyed, he promises Amanda's hand in marriage to a business associate many years her senior. She quickly discovers the type of man Ellert Jackson is, but there is no escape from the future laid out for her.

Sophie and Fanny, Amanda's cousins who were featured in the first two books of the series, face their own continuing challenges. The bond between the three girls is tested, as is their faith. I love the way the authors wove the cousins' stories together and brought the series to a satisfying conclusion. And we know which author wrote the last chapter! LOL

Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her novels, two of which have placed in the CBA top ten lists. In addition to her writing, Judy is a certified legal assistant. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas. Visit her Web site at

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 70 novels. She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. Tracie and her family live in Belgrade, Montana. Visit

A Surrendered Heart can be purchased directly from the publisher or from Amazon or


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My ADHD Me said...

I like that you put in a bit of your interview. It makes the book more interesting to think about the "real" person behind it.

quilly said...

Oh how lucky you are to have gotten a live interview!

I have always thought that writing a novel and cooking Thanksgiving dinner had a lot in common. Hours of prep for moments of consumption.

Barbara H. said...

I was going to say what Quilly said about writing and reading being like Thanksgiving.

I enjoyed this very much. I have read several of Tracie's books and A Surrendered Heart is on my TBR shelf. I had wondered how it worked to write with another author, and I loved hearing how ideas for stories come to her.

I was privileged to hear her speak a few years ago at a nearby Christian bookstore with five other authors. She mentioned that once she turned in a writing assignment that I think was a prerequisite for entry to a certain writing class, if I remember correctly, and whoever evaluated it said she wasn't creative. Can you imagine? Her creativity has certainly displayed itself in her books. But that was an encouragement that just because one person doesn't see God's gift in you, that doesn't mean it is not there.

Katherine said...

I just LOVE Tracie's books! She is my all time favorite author! I wish I could meet her. I can't wait to read these new books that she's come out with!