Liz Tolsma resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. All of their children have been adopted internationally and one has special needs. Her novella, Under His Wings, appeared in the New York Times bestselling collection, A Log Cabin Christmas. Her novel, Snow on the Tulips, released in August of 2013. She enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family.
Welcome back today, Liz. What drew you to writing historical novels?
Plain and simply, my love for history. I love the stories, I love the fashion, I love the settings, I love the drama. History is stories.
If you’re anything like I am, one favorite book is hard to pick! Do you have two or three top picks among the historical genre that you would care to recommend?
You’re asking the impossible! Anything by Sarah Sundin. She probably thinks I’m stalking her because I’m such a big fan. Tracie Peterson was my first “author crush”, so I’d take any of her historicals as well. And I love Kim Vogel Sawyer, too. I had the privilege of working on a project with her years ago. It never saw publication, but I love her work. There – I didn’t pick books but authors. Even that was hard!
What do you consider the best resources for historical research?
Whenever I can get my hands on personal accounts, I prefer them. Diaries and journals are the best, because they are written at the time of the event. They contain the most immediate thoughts and emotions and the most reliable historical material. Memories can fade and dim with time and aren’t quite as reliable, but I still take memoires over most other sources.
What or who inspired you to write inspirational fiction? How does that keep you plodding ahead with your writing each day?
My fifth grade teacher praised my creative writing and that sparked my desire to become an author. I think of her and of my family and how I want to make them proud of me. That keeps me going and keeps me wanting to be my best.
What helps you maintain productivity as a writer? And what do you find most challenging about the business of being an author?
I turn the Internet off until I’ve met my daily writing goal – usually between 2000 and 2500 words. That way, I don’t have interesting emails coming in or Facebook posts or tweets. Nothing is there to disturb me, but I have that reward waiting for me at the end. I wouldn’t be able to write as much as I do if I didn’t do that.
Juggling deadlines is one of the most challenging things for me. I am not a multi-tasker. I prefer to work on one book at a time, but when you have a three-book contract, you end up promoting one, editing the second and writing the third – all at the same time. That has been difficult for me and I’m still trying to figure out how to do it.
Do you feel you are more of a character driven or plot driven writer? How do you think it comes across in your writing?
Having written WWII historicals, I think I’m rather plot driven, though I’m working hard on my characterizations. I create characters and put them in situations, then sit back and see what happens to them along the way. Yes, that makes me a seat-of-the-pants writer. That’s what’s so fun about it.
Would you like to share about what you are working on now?
I’ve just finished editing the second book, Daisies Are Forever, which releases in May. It begins in East Prussia in February 1945 and traces the flight of a German-American woman ahead of the advancing, marauding Russian troops. Along the way, she collects a rag-tag group of people including an escaped British POW. They arrive in Berlin, but the constant air raids and the arrival of the Russians mean they are never truly safe. In her attempts to redeem herself from her past mistakes, will she jeopardize everyone she loves?
And, back to that juggling, I’m eleven chapters into book three which is set at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila during the war. Over 3700 Westerners were sent to this camp and lived there for over 3 years. By the end, starvation and disease became real problems. Most of the internees were Americans.
Do you have any last words of wisdom to share with aspiring authors?
Keep plugging away. Learn the craft and continue to hone it. You never know what God’s timing will be for you, but it will be perfect.
Thank you, Liz, for joining us at Novel PASTimes. It has been a privilege to interview you.
Other ways to follow Liz Tolsma:
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