Erica Vetsch returns to my blog today for an interview about her new book. She is offering a giveaway so make sure to leave a comment below with your email address. We need at least ten comments to make a contest. Continental US only.
She joined us back in November 2011 to share with us how her faith influences her writing.
Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.
Erica, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in central Kansas, and from a small child, my parents taught me about the Lord. When I was eleven, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I attended Bible college where I met and married my wonderful husband. After finishing my degree in education, we moved to his hometown in Minnesota where we still live. We have two children, a daughter who is a senior in college and a son who is a junior in high school. I’m currently in the midst of driver’s ed, basketball, homeschooling my son, and writing novels. In my spare time, I’m the bookkeeper for the family lumber business and museum aficionado.
Share something about your day-to-day life that might help readers feel as though they know you a little better.
Oh my. I think one of the things that surprises a lot of people who aren’t novelists is that my day-to-day life looks pretty ordinary. I am a stay-at-home mom who forgets she put laundry in the washer, wonders what to make for supper, and is trying to juggle work and family and homeschooling and life. During the school year, my life has more rhythm and scheduling, which I love. Homeschooling and bookkeeping in the mornings, writing in the afternoons, hanging out with family in the evenings. I’m also a movie/tv addict. I love watching old westerns and new action flicks.
Your life sounds much like mine except I am no longer homeschooling. Tell us about the quilt you are currently making and the “story” behind it.
About three years ago now, I was delivering a meal to a new mom in our church and I realized she lived less than 5 miles from a county historical society museum that I’d never visited before. (I LOVE county historical society museums. So small and specialized, and there’s always someone there who is waiting for someone to walk through the door and talk history.) I ventured into the Dodge County MN Museum and one of the first things I saw was a circa 1918 Red Cross signature quilt. The idea was that a local group of Red Cross member volunteers would piece a quilt (white, with red crosses) and sell subscriptions to local residents to have their name embroidered on the quilt. All the proceeds for the quilt were donated to the Red Cross to help in the war effort.
My mind latched onto the idea and I couldn’t shake it. I wanted to incorporate the idea into a story. When I got the go-ahead to start writing A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA, I also got the idea of sewing my own Red Cross quilt. (I enlisted the help of my sister-in-law, Linda, without whose help, the quilt wouldn’t have happened.)
After some research, we compiled the names of 350+ World War One veterans from Dodge County, MN and embroidered them on the quilt. You can now visit the DCHS Museum in Mantorville, MN and see both quilts on display.
That is a fascinating story! I am sure it will inspire some of our readers to start a quilt of their own. I read in a previous interview of you that you like to watch cooking shows but you don’t like to cook. Tell us three more things about you that would surprise readers.
1. I don’t eat seafood of any kind. I’m not allergic to it; I just can’t stand the smell, taste, or texture.
2. My favorite color is red. I wear red whenever I can, and I love red shoes.
3. I do most of my writing in a coffee shop (That’s where I’m writing this interview now) but I don’t drink coffee. I love tea though, and coffee shops serve great tea most of the time.
Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite?
Isaiah 41:10: Fear thou not, for I am with thee. Be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, will I help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.
I first read this verse while reading Jeanette Oke’s Love’s Long Journey. I think I was in 9th grade. The characters were venturing by wagon-train to their new home in the west, and the bride’s parents had given the couple this verse as a hope and a promise. I remember when I read it; it was almost as if the words were sinking into my heart. I was so comforted and encouraged at that time and so many times since by this verse.
Don’t you love how authors are used by God to bring hope to our readers through scripture? What is your number one spiritual gift?
Leadership. I seem to have a knack for getting things done and organizing and leading groups. When in a group at church, I seem to become the de facto leader. A close second would be teaching. I loved being a teacher, and I love homeschooling. I think writing historicals is an extension of this love of teaching history. I try to incorporate a lot of historical information into the story in a hopefully interesting manner.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I always loved books and reading and read fiction almost exclusively. I think in my heart I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t really acknowledge that dream until a few years ago.
What was your biggest obstacle to becoming published?
Not knowing what I was doing and thinking I was pretty good when I started out. I had all the confidence and hubris in the world, happily slapping words on the page and living vividly in my own head. The realities of the publishing world hit me like a heart-punch. But that was when I gulped, spit on my hands, and waded into the fray again, this time armed with knowledge and the realization that I had a lifetime of learning ahead of me.
Oh, sister, I so know what you’re talking about! What do you consider the greatest pleasure of your writing journey?
The people I’ve met. Imagine discovering an entire group of people who are just like you! They live in their heads all the time, are happiest when creating fictional worlds where they wreak havoc on their characters, and love nothing more than talking about writing and books.
Yes, I agree. I love meeting other writers. It’s fun being crazy together. What are your favorite themes to write about?
I love to write about forgiveness, letting go of the past, and giving up pre-conceived notions. God is waiting to forgive us, no matter what we’ve done. His love and grace are more than adequate to cover our sins. That blows my mind!
What keeps you writing now?
A love of telling stories, of trying to make each one better than the last.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
By necessity, the schedule has to be flexible, and yet consistent. When on deadline, I try to write every afternoon, M-F, with the occasional Saturday thrown in. I don’t write on Sundays. I also don’t get as much done at home as I do when I write at the coffee shop. I’m not sure what it is, whether I need the white noise of the coffee shop to block out and help me focus, or I need to be away from the distractions of chores and tv and piddling around the house, or perhaps it is the need to justify my iced tea with lemon, but I’m always more productive at the coffee shop.
From The Back Cover:
With her brother already on the front lines in France, Meghan Thorson becomes a Harvey Girl in Needles, California. Ready and willing to wait on the hundreds of doughboys heading for Europe, Meghan deems this service her way of contributing to the war effort. When a Red Cross representative breezes through town, Meghan embraces the challenge to do even more, committing to completing a Red Cross signature quilt and canvassing the town for donations to the cause.
Horseman Caleb McBride makes his living by training stock for the US Cavalry and keeps his pride by remaining a loner. When Meghan meets Caleb, she senses something mysterious and wounded about him, piquing her curiosity. But after the townsfolk scorn him as a coward and a profiteer, Caleb feels her pity and becomes even more guarded.
When Needles is hit by an influenza epidemic and the Harvey Girls’ hotel is made into a temporary hospital, Meghan discovers Caleb’s shameful secret.
Will both Caleb and Meghan find a way to kill their pride before their chance of love rips apart at the seams?
What inspired you to write this particular book?
As mentioned above, the quilt I found at the DCHS museum was a big catalyst for the book. When I researched what was going on in the world in 1918, I knew the First World War would play a central role, as well as the influenza epidemic that swept the globe. When deciding where to set the story, I faced a challenge. Needles, CA is set in the desert, an inhospitable location. Both my agent (who lived in California for many years) and a friend who had traveled through Needles on several occasions, questioned my choice of setting, but I wanted to use the El Garces hotel and the harsh climate in the story.
Was it harder to write this one than a Western? Did you have to do a lot of research?
I wouldn’t say it was more difficult to write than a western, but I did do a lot of research. All my previous books have been set at least a decade before 1918, so I had to find out what was available as far as technology, terminology, clothing, medical advances, etc. I also needed to research the El Garces Hotel, the Harvey Company, and the influenza epidemic. Strangely, while there is a lot of information to be had regarding what was happening in Europe during World War One, information about the home-front in the US during the war was less plentiful.
I love the research stage of writing almost as much as writing the actual story. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us? Maybe a writing tip or advice for aspiring authors? Or maybe a bit of spiritual advice for everyone?
If you’re an aspiring author, make the journey about the people, not about publication. You’re going to have ups and downs, and it is the friends you make along the way who will help you through. Remind yourself that anything worth having is worth working for. The road to publication isn’t an easy one, and it’s crowded with talented writers all seeking the same thing. Make friends, link arms with fellow writers, and march forward!
Wonderful, wonderful advice! Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?
- Barnes & Noble
- Christian Book Distributors
- Family Christian Stores
- LifeWay Stores
- Parable Bookstores
You can find me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Erica-Vetsch/168952446490736
And my blog is at: http://onthewritepath.blogspot.com/
Thank you so much for joining us!