I love having our authors visit us on the blog, and this week Judith Miller is answering my questions and sharing a bit about her recently-released novel, The Brickmaker’s Bride. Read on for the inside scoop!
Amy: Historical fiction takes us to a time with different values and conflicts than our own. What do you think modern readers can find relatable in settings so far removed from us? Is there something specifically in The Brickmaker’s Bride that modern readers can learn from?
Judith: Although society has changed a great deal since the nineteenth century, there are many issues and behaviors that remain significant for today’s reader. Historic events, lifestyles, and social mores have changed, but human traits, good and bad, such as greed, selfishness, bigotry, hatred, love, generosity, and kindness still abound. In writing historical fiction, it’s a matter of creating a story in an historical setting that defines the social mores of the time. Unfortunately, mankind hasn’t changed a great deal through the years. Flaws and weaknesses as well as strengths and values are as applicable in historical fiction as they are in contemporary novels. In The Brickmaker’s Bride, readers will learn that a life of integrity may not reap financial rewards, but far greater rewards come to those who trust in the Lord and are willing to make difficult, but godly choices.
Amy: One of the reasons we love romances so much is because they demonstrate what love should look like. What did Ewan and Laura’s story teach you about love?
Judith: Ah, love! Ewan and Laura have a very complex yet sweet love story. Their journey reinforced the importance of being honest and forthright. Life would have been simpler for both of them if there hadn’t been a secret that held them apart.
Amy: But then there would be no story! As you researched your novel, what’s one thing about modern life or convenience that you appreciate even more now?
Judith: Oh, my—let me count the many things. There are some lovely settings in The Brickmaker’s Bride, but portions of the novel take place in a brickyard where men worked very hard and had no benefits. Because of that, I think the thing I would say that made me appreciate modern life is the fact that the work environment is safer (not yet perfect, but much better than in the nineteenth century), there are forty-hour workweeks, and that children must attend school rather than work in dangerous environments.
Amy: Absolutely! Now, on the other hand, what’s one tradition, way of thinking, or process that you wish we still did the old-fashioned way?
Judith: Spending time going to visit friends and relatives. We’re all so busy, and few of us actually take time to go to a friend’s house and enjoy a cup of coffee and focus on building relationships. We’re too busy sending text messages or communicating through email rather than in person when possible. While I’m thankful for emails and texting when necessary, I’d like to return to a time when we actually “called on” friends.
Amy: That’s a great reminder, and something we could all do more of. Here’s a question just for fun: if you could travel back in time to one era, which would it be and why?
Judith: I write almost exclusively in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, and I’d say that would be the time period I’d go back and visit—probably around the 1880s. There was a great deal of change taking place with so many new inventions and ideas, yet it was a more genteel time and a time when Christian values were embraced.
Amy: Great! And if, while you went back to that time period, you could bring back one item as a souvenir to remember it by, what would you choose?
Judith: An old typewriter! My office is decorated with replicas of old typewriters, pictures of old typewriters, typewriter bookends, and even a teapot typewriter—and an old typewriter,but not one as old as I could get if I went back to the 1880s.