We hope you have a chance this upcoming holiday weekend to be thankful for all those who have given their lives while serving our country in the armed forces.
This spring, Bethany House had two books releasing with military heroes, exploring the themes of loss and sacrifice and all that comes with them. I chatted with Leslie Gould and Becky Wade about the unique challenges and research that went along with writing veteran characters.
Amy: Thanks for joining us, Leslie! So, why did you decide to make Joel Beck and Charlie McCall veterans in Amish Promises?
Leslie: Yes, it was an unusual choice to make two characters in an Amish romance veterans. But I wanted to contrast the life of a soldier’s family to that of an Amish family, who along with all Plain people practice nonresistance. It allowed me to explore issues of pacifism, along with what it means to love our neighbors, including those half a world away.
Amy: How did your own experience as a military wife influence you as you wrote and planned your novel?
Leslie: My experience as a military wife, and more specifically our experience as a family, inspired the novel. As I wrote previous stories about the Amish, I found myself contrasting the lifestyle of a Plain family with that of a military family—ours in particular. Even though I’m the wife of an Army Reserve soldier, I’ve always been fascinated by the philosophy of pacifism and, of course, Christ’s teaching to turn the other cheek. On the other hand, through my husband’s three mobilizations and two deployments, one to a war zone, I saw our kids deal with issues children tucked away securely in an Amish community would never have to consider. But I was aware that those children could also very likely have their own heartaches and trauma to deal with. Those were the thoughts bouncing around inside my head as I wrote Amish Promises.
Amy: Thanks, Leslie! And now, a few questions for Becky Wade. What kind of research did you do to accurately include Jake’s experience as a veteran in A Love Like Ours?
Becky: My favorite research method is to read books written by people who’ve experienced the things my characters have experienced. So, in preparation to write Jake, I read a book written by a Marine who’d come home from his tours with PTSD. That book, more than anything, gave me a sense of Jake’s experiences overseas, his challenges, his heart. I also read accounts written by people who’d been involved in IED explosions, like Jake. I researched PTSD and the treatments for it. And I spoke with a Marine by phone to get his insights and to let him set me straight on some of the details I was unsure about.
Amy: How would you explain what Jake is up against in this story when it comes to relating to others and to God, especially due to his PTSD?
Becky: Jake is a man who’s lost his hope. And because of his PTSD he also feels emotionally numb. He’d prefer to stay in the dark place where he’s long lived and avoid a relationship with both Lyndie and God. But over the course of the story, Lyndie and God both pursue him, and ultimately force him to overcome those difficulties in order to relate to them.
Thanks, Becky and Leslie. And now, for some giveaways! Becky has a fun drawing for some Texas-themed items, and Leslie is running a giveaway that includes a reading quilt! Stop by both blogs to enter.