Author Bonnie Leon on Historical Fiction, Writing, and Faith

Bonnie Leon dabbled in writing for many years but never set it in a place of priority until an accident in 1991 left her unable to work at her job. She is now the author of several historical fiction series, including the Sydney Cove series, Queensland Chronicles, the Matanuska series, the Sowers Trilogy, and the Northern Lights series. She also stays busy teaching women’s Bible studies, speaking, and teaching at writing seminars and women’s gatherings. Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Bonnie, your book, Touching the Clouds, comes out in July 2010. What’s the book about?

The year is 1935 when Kate Evans goes looking for adventure. She finds more than she bargained for.

Kate is an adventurous and independent woman with a pioneering spirit. When she leaves her home in Washington State to follow her dream of being an Alaskan bush pilot, she knows it will be an uphill battle. But the adventure is more than she expects. As the lone woman in a man’s world, she finds that contending with people’s expectations is almost as treacherous as navigating the wild arctic storms.

When she crosses paths with a mysterious man living alone in the forbidding wilderness, she faces a new challenge. Can she break through the walls he has put up around his heart? And will fear keep her from realizing her own dreams?

Touching the Clouds will draw you in with raw emotion and suspense, all against the stunning backdrop of the Alaskan wilds.

What drew you to writing historical novels?

When I was growing up my mother used to tell stories about our ancestors and her life in Alaska. One of the tales was about my grandmother and how, as a young woman, she’d stood on a bluff overlooking the sea and watched as a tsunami hit the shore. That picture of my grandmother stayed with me and when I began my writing journey it was the spark that lit the creation of my first book, The Journey of Eleven Moons.

My favorite novels have always been historical. I’m fascinated by history and the people who walked this earth decades and centuries ago. Their stories inspire me. I enjoy contemporary books and, in fact, have a couple I’d like to write, but writing about history is the best fit for me.

As a writer, have you ever experienced times when you felt like giving up? What made you persevere?

YES! I think most writers have wanted to give up at one time or another. This is a tough business. It requires a thick skin, dedication and hard work. In order to stick it out, an author must love to write.

The times that try me the most are those when I’m on a deadline and the rest of life comes storming in. In addition to creating novels I’m deeply involved in church ministry and have a close relationship with my family. There is always something going on. Another big challenge for me is the marketing end of writing. It takes a great deal of time, and I have little extra of that. What I love most is to research and to write.

During the difficult days, remembering how my writing journey began is what has kept me creating books. It was so clearly God who led me down this path. He opened every door, brought encouragers into my life and provided everything I needed. If I say no to writing, I’m saying no to him. I can’t do that. And so, I plow ahead. Every time, God has lifted me up and strengthened me. And I will continue until he says stop.

How does your relationship with the Lord manifest itself in your writing?

My faith is part of who I am. There is no separation between my life and my faith. I honestly don’t know how to write without including the Lord. When I create a book I want to tell a good story and entertain readers, but I also want to say something that can make a difference in a person’s life. God called me to write and so I share Him with those who read my books. My stories always have something to say about God, life and faith.

Describe the day you held your first printed novel and saw your hard work as a finished product?

That day is forever imprinted in my mind, almost like the day I held my first child. I knew the book was on its way and I waited all day for it to arrive. By six o’clock in the evening it still hadn’t been delivered so my husband and I set out for town to do errands. On our way down our two mile gravel road, we met the Fed Ex man. We ground to a stop and asked if he might by chance be heading to our house.

Sure enough, he had my book, The Journey of Eleven Moons. When he handed me the package I was almost too excited to open it.

I quickly unwrapped the package, and there it was—my book. I remember staring at it, overwhelmed by what God had accomplished. It was very surreal. I’d always loved books, but had never imagined there would be one with my name on it.

 

 

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6 Responses

  1. What an inspiration Bonnie has been to other writers and to her readers!

    Write on!

    Patti

  2. Thanks, Patti.

    I love to write and it’s so encouraging to hear from you.

    By the way, if you want to see the “coolest” contest ever it just launched on my website today at http://www.bonnieleon.com.

    Grace and peace to you,

    Bonnie

  3. Yay, Bonnie. I love hearing your story. And I just learned we both started writing, for serious, in 1991. We’ve had very different journeys from that point, but I’m betting you would not trade a single day of it and all the Lord has taught you and done for you, as I wouldn’t trade. He uses it all for good.

    I’m looking forward to reading Touching the Clouds.

  4. Hi Lori.

    I didn’t now we started writing the same year–very cool. I can’t wait to read your book. I know it’s going to be one of those special reads, one never forgets.

    Hugs to you,

    Bonnie

  5. Not sure if anyone mentioned this, but the timing of this interview coincides with her 4 and 1/2 star review. Congrats, Bonnie! And this was a lovely interview. It’s nice to get to know another writer whose name has been one of the fixtures on the ACFW loops. 😉

  6. Kathleen,

    Thanks for the heads up on the review. I was thrilled to get 4 1/2 stars. 🙂

    And it feels so good to be considered a fixture on the ACFW loop. It’s a great organization and has been a wonderful support to me.

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