Monday, November 11, 2019

Take Five With Caroline Warfield & Her New Novel ~ Christmas Hope

As an author myself, I love reading about other authors and how they approach some of the key elements of a novel.  

Welcome to An Indie Adventure, Caroline. Tell us, what inspired you to write your book Christmas Hope?

Hi, L.A., thank you for hosting me again. 

Stories bubble up from the girls in the basement by some mysterious process. I didn’t see this one coming. I was presented with a set of story elements required in a novella for an anthology. A group I belong to offered the right to specify story elements for it as a prize. We ended up with a mixed bag of things: a heroine with hazel eyes and a bible among them. A vision of a story set in 1916 came to me almost immediately, I am not entirely sure why. As an army brat, I’ve always had an affinity for soldiers, but this is my first actual wartime story.

I wrote a novella that ended with the hero and heroine happy-for-now on Christmas, 1916. I knew they faced two more years of war, and I knew almost as soon as I wrote it that I had to finish their story. This book is the result.

How do you use setting to further your story?

Setting is generally critical in my writing. This story begins just after the Battle of the Somme. The contrast between the mud and destruction in the area of the fighting with the color and life among the floating gardens of Amiens reflect Harry’s despair and the thin thread of hope he feels when he meets Rosemarie.

Do you prefer to read in the same genre you write in, or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?

I do read historical romance, but not exclusively. Actually, I usually say I read historical anything—paranormal, steampunk, mysteries, romance, and non-fiction. Historical eras have always been the alternative reality I escape to one way or another. Lately, historical mysteries have been my go-to reads to unwind.

If you could live during any era of history, which one would you choose?

That is tough. It has to be an era in which literacy was high, especially for women. The Roman Empire comes to mind. After the 5th-century literacy all over Europe fell sharply. Women in Ottoman harems had better access to learning than many European women.

I used to think Tudor England would be interesting but the seething politic and religious conflicts were pretty ugly. Many eras have high points, but they all seem to have downsides. I might choose the early twentieth century when women began coming into their own.

What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?

In a romance, everything flows from the characters. The first thing I do is identify them, name them, and then do a deep dive into their origins, background, conflicts, wounds, needs, goals, appearance, family—you get the idea. The more I know, the easier the writing process will flow. In Christmas Hope I had to know about Harry’s life as the only child of a lawyer, his conflicts with is father, and his ugly romantic breakup in college. All those things mattered. I think there ended up being a lot of my father in Harry.

How do you create internal and external conflict in your characters? I find conflict often the hardest to create when I start planning a book.

Internal conflict is critical, it is more important than external because the story hinges on it. You find it by a thorough study of your characters before you start. Everyone has scars and wounds they need to heal, but fictional characters need them to be sharp enough to drive decisions and behavior. Look around your life, your friends, or even the news media, and you can find sources of pain. Be courageous and lay it on your hero!

Once you knew their deep pain, you can create external conflict. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen—to this particular character knowing his particular issues—and then do it to them. Setting Christmas Hope during wartime made some of this easier than usual. Harry hated the violence and yet he never faltered. For him it was much harder to lead other men into battle—in some cases to their death—than to do what he had to do as an individual soldier.

Give us a brief summary of Christmas Hope:

After two years at the mercy of the Canadian Expeditionary force and the German war machine, Harry ran out of metaphors for death, synonyms for brown, and images of darkness. When he encounters color among the floating islands of Amiens and life in the form a widow and her little son, hope ensnares him. Through three more long years of war and its aftermath, the hope she brings keeps Harry alive.

Rosemarie Legrand’s husband left her a tiny son, no money, and a savaged reputation when he died. She struggles to simply feed the boy and has little to offer a lonely soldier, but Harry’s devotion lifts her up. The war demands all her strength and resilience, but the hope of peace and the promise of Harry’s love keep her going.

Separated in the fog of war, they struggle to reunite in the end. When it is over, will their love be enough?

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Award winning author Caroline Warfield has been many things: traveler, librarian, poet, raiser of children, bird watcher, Internet and Web services manager, conference speaker, indexer, tech writer, genealogist—even a nun

She reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows where she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. 

She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart. Love, she believes, is always worth the risk.
Find Caroline: 
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