Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Michelle Ule - Meet One of Novel PASTimes' Own

Navy wife Michelle Ule is a graduate of UCLA and the author of five novellas and a novel. She lives in northern California with her family where she works at a literary agency, teaches Bible study, plays in a woodwind ensemble, and writes.

Michelle is a long-time lay counselor in both crisis pregnancies and budget counseling. She loves to travel and is an accomplished genealogist. You can learn more about her at her website.

Today and tomorrow we welcome one of our own Novel PASTimes' staff. Michelle writes a column on the last Monday of each month, sharing about books and bits of history. It's great to have you here as a guest, Michelle. Could you share with us some of the surprises you’ve encountered along the road to publishing?

I’ve been surprised by how much joy there is writing an historical novel. It involves a lot of research, for sure, and I’m a stickler about getting the facts correct. Some days, typing my stories reminds me of playing the piano. The music of words flow across the computer screen, I lean forward to watch the sentences, lean back to laugh and when I reach the end of the scene, I’m exhilarated.
            
My back often hurts, too, and I’m tired, but it’s so satisfying!

Please tell us something about your latest novella, The Sunbonnet Bride, in the 12 Brides of Summer Collection.

The Sunbonnet Bride is a sequel to my The Yuletide Bride which released as an ebook last Christmas. The two stories are part of The 12 Brides of Summer Collection and The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection and feature the same families, though with additional characters, of course, to make it interesting.
            
The Yuletide Bride is the story of a young woman learning to be a helpmeet as her intended struggles to earn enough money to satisfy her father and win her hand in marriage. (And it features bagpipes!)

The Sunbonnet Bride flips the concept into a young woman who must decide which type of man fills her heart best in a crisis and thus wins her hand: a teamster who uses his brawn to physically help, or a banker who uses his mind to make sure there’s enough money to lend. It’s an important distinction to Sally because she wants to open her own dressmaking shop in 1875 Nebraska.

The Sunbonnet Bride is set in 1875, in southeastern Nebraska. What drew you to write about this time period and the location of your story?
            
It began with The Yuletide Bride—which features folks making reed panpipes. I had to find a place in North America where the reeds grew to make the flutes but where blizzards also occur. Southeastern Nebraska fit the bill!
            
The Sunbonnet Bride takes place the following summer, and I selected 1875 because I originally was going to include a grasshopper plague—but that disaster was too big to fit into a 15,000 word novella with any depth. (Sally’s disaster is a tornado—much easier to write about!)

Have you found that similar themes throughout your writing? Why?  Or why not?
            
Yes. When I look over my historical novellas and my unpublished contemporary novels, I see individuals wrestling with challenging circumstances—whether personal, societal or spiritual—I’m interested in how people respond to difficulties and put their lives back in order afterwards. You can see that theme running through The Sunbonnet Bride.
            
I’m also interested in how people come through trouble spiritually intact—and so I look for how God may be at work to resolve their problems in a satisfying way.
            
All my stories, ultimately, wend their way back to a satisfying ending where our hero and heroine may be shaken, but their faith is strengthened.
            
That’s true of my own life.

What drew you to writing historical novels?
           
I’ve always loved history. I flipped a coin when filling out my college application: history or English? It came up English and I’m glad—I never would have read all that poetry otherwise. But since my graduation back in the dark ages, I’ve probably read five poetry books and thousands of history books.
            
I just love the stories and the amazing things God has done through history—and it’s all true!

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?
            
Among recently published books:
            
Jo Baker’s LongbournPride and Prejudice told from the point of view of the servants, was a glorious tour de force I enjoyed a great deal.
            
Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale was a thick read on a summer vacation day: a WWII novel with a twist that made me cry.
            
Jojo Mayes’ The Girl You Left Behind was a different take on a WWI and art story. I had never realized, though I should have, that the Germans were stealing art in the Great War as well.


What do you consider the best resources for historical research?

Come back tomorrow for more from Michelle Ule. Enter the
Rafflecopter drawing which includes leaving a comment by
answering Michelle's question below for you for a chance to
win The 12 Brides of Christmas or an ebook version of
The Sunbonnet Bride—winner's choice.

Michelle's question:
What’s your favorite period for historical novels and why?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

16 comments:

Kim Amundsen said...

1700 and 1800 because life was tough but some how people made it through and thrived. I also enjoy reading people from different societies falling in love or even from the same class of people. The clothes were interesting too. kamundsen44(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Michelle Ule said...

It was fascinating to do my genealogy and discover I had ancestors living in North America in those years (my mother was born in Italy who would have guessed my father's family went back to 1620?). It's made the reading of history and historical novels much closer--I can put a name to a time and place and even imagine some of my ancestors in stories like those of Laura Frantz in KY and TN, and all sorts of Texas tales from the 19th century. Two of my novellas draw and include family history members. Thanks for commenting.

Patty said...

I enjoy reading both historical and contemporary novels, but historicals are certainly my favorite! I usually like novels set in port civil war America, mostly in the West.

pattymh2000(at)yahoo(dot)com

Michelle Ule said...

It's interesting how the west, post-Civil War seems to capture our attention more than the east. Perhaps because the East coast was more cities (though obviously not in the south), and after the war, the west still had a promising future not overshadowed by the tragedy of the war.

I'd never thought about that before, but interesting observation, Patty.

Deanne Patterson said...

My favorite time period would be the 1800's. It all started as a child when I discovered the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. My fascination grew from there . I am so impressed with the people of this time period. You had to be a strong hard worker or you just didn't make it. They went through so many hardships to make life so much easier for us today. Historicals are my favorite to read and I'll never lose my fascination with them.

Deanne Patterson
Book1lovingmomma at gmail dot com

Michelle Ule said...

I'm with you, Deanne, Laura Ingalls Wilder introduced me to historical fiction. You can read about it here: http://michelleule.com/2014/10/24/thank-laura-ingalls-wilder/

Deanna Stevens said...

I think I like the 1800's. Such a struggle but I loved how important family was!
dkstevensne(AT)outlookD OTCom

Bonnie Roof said...

It's hard for me to pick a time period - I enjoy many, however, I prefer historical fiction, and most any era involving one of the wars.

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity, Michelle - I enjoyed your interview!!

traveler said...

I enjoy historicals very much since they are meaningful and profound. My favorite era is the 1940's through the second world war until the end of the 1950's. Thanks for this giveaway and the great interview and feature. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Michelle Ule said...

Interesting how we're drawn to the challenges and drama of WWII--so much happening and the world in such gigantic flux. My friend Sarah Sundin has done a fine job depicting the military aspects of life during the war. I've recently finished a novel about WWI and that's another time when hope was hard to find. Thanks for commenting.

Caryl Kane said...

There are SO many interesting time periods it's hard to choose! I do enjoy reading Regency and the WWII era.

Thanks for the fabulous interview and giveaway.
psalm103and138[at]gmail[dot]com

Wendy Newcomb said...

I have MANY favorite books/authors, lol, but one series that sticks out in my mind is the Quilt Chronicles by Stephanie Grace Whitson, the books include, "The Key on the Quilt", "The Shadow on the Quilt" and "The Message on the Quilt". Three great books make an awesome series!

wfnren at aol dot com

Kathleen Rouser said...

Thank you for your comment, Caryl. It is hard to pick a favorite time in
history for sure! There are so many to choose from. I enjoy the Regency
era, especially the original Regency novels by Jane Austen.

Kathleen Rouser said...

Wendy, thank you for your comment. i have not read
the series you mentioned, but I imagine stories
involving quilts would be interesting. Being pieced
together, quilts are a metaphor in themselves.

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