This week we have the fun of introducing you to debut novelist Terri Wangard! Terri’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.
Congratulations on your debut novel, Friends and Enemies! It’s great that we can celebrate with you during release week. Please tell us a bit about it.
World War II rages across Europe, particularly in Germany, claiming the life of Heidi Wetzel’s husband. In a bid to escape her grief and the frequent bombings of German cities, Heidi and her sister flee Hagen to a farm in the German countryside, where they help care for orphaned children. While there, Heidi comes across an American airman, Paul, with whom she spent time when her family was living in Milwaukee during her high school years. When Paul’s plane is shot down over Germany, his only thought is survival—until he hears God’s voice guiding him to his late wife’s friend.
What are one or two things readers would want to know about your main characters?
Both must deal with personal tragedies while living in difficult times. One stays close to God, the other turns away. Paul soon realizes that God never turned away from him.
Where did the idea for the story come from?
I have several letters written in 1947-48 from distant cousins living in wartorn Germany. My grandparents sent them care packages. The letters don’t touch on whether they supported Hitler or how they felt about the war. From an internet search, I know their factory used slave labor, but did they have a choice? I created a story for them, a family to be proud of.
Wow, that’s an interesting connection. How did you get started with your writing?
I first started writing in the early 2000s. A publisher had my contemporary manuscript for a year before saying, “No thanks.” I had been writing another story, but set it aside. Then in 2008, I read Debbie Macomber’s book Twenty Wishes, about a group of women who decide to fulfill their dreams. That prodded me to write again.
What first drew you to writing historical fiction? What keeps you doing it?
I had wondered what to do with the German letters. When I decided to write again, the letters were like the proverbial light bulb. I suddenly had half a story. For the American character, I chose the B-17 because I enjoyed Touch the Face of God, a WWII novel by Robert Vaughan. I had written the first draft (it was later completely rewritten) when Sarah Sundin’s first novel, A Distant Melody, appeared in 2010. I was horrified. Who would want another B-17 story?
Apparently, someone did! :-) What do you love about writing World War II stories?
I hadn’t planned on writing another WWII story. I had started a contemporary story when an editor told me I would probably need a series to be published. So I set aside the new draft and decided on another B-17 story. I have so much material about the Flying Fortresses. What those airmen went through is amazing.
You have two other books, No Neutral Ground and Soar Like Eagles, set to release later in 2016. Congratulations on what will be a busy year for you! What can you tell us about these stories?
Visitors, come back tomorrow to learn about Terri’s other books – and if you love WWII stories, you’ll want to put them on your to-read list!
In the meantime, be sure to enter our drawing for your chance to win a copy of Friends and Enemies! Either click on the Rafflecopter entry form below or answer this question from Terri in the comments:
If you had lived in Nazi Germany, would you have dared to speak out against the regime?
We’ll see you tomorrow!a Rafflecopter giveaway