The Civil War tore the United States apart and many friendships and families as well. In A World Such as Heaven Intended, Amara McKirnan and Nathan Simmons share a devotion to their faith, but their loyalties lie on opposite sides of the conflict. Fate brought Nathan into Amara’s life but little does she know that the wounded soldier she ministers to harbors a secret that will not only jeopardize his life but hers as well.
Today I’m chatting with Amanda Lauer on her book ‘A World Such As Heaven Intended’. Amanda to kick things off, can you start with where the idea came for this book?
This book is based on the real-life experiences of my friend’s great-great uncle during the Civil War.
Did you already have alot of knowledge about the Civil War before you started writing this book because of your knowledge of your friend’s great-great uncle? Or did you have to do research to help?
I did considerable research on my hero and the Civil War in general.
Since you had actual historical experiences and circumstances to start from, how did you find that the characters came to life?
Many of the characters in the story are the 1864 version of people who are in my life today or people who have touched my life in the past through various experiences we’ve shared. Some of the characters are historical figures, but a good deal of the characters are versions of people who’ve been part of my life.
Did you have any characters that you wanted to stay with longer?
Yes, that’s why this book is the first part in a trilogy.
Which character in particular did you feel that you connected with the most?
Nathan, the dashing and fun-loving hero!
Aside from the characters you have developed, do you consciously try to incorporate other ideas into your books?
Absolutely! Themes of faith, love, loyalty, duty, etc. were purposely woven throughout the book.
What did you find the most rewarding thing about writing this book, weaving in the themes or working with the characters?
Giving a Civil War soldier the recognition he deserves and concluding his story in a way that turned out better than real life.
And to whet the appetite of your readers, can you let us know what are you working on next?
The second book in this trilogy, a coming-of-age story about a teenager growing up in the 1970s who was dealing with being bullied, and a time-travel book about a young lady who is transported back in time 200 years to the oldest golf course in the world.
Wow, working on all of those different stories at the same time must be challenging. So, what kinds of techniques or tricks do you use to get yourself in the flow?
I write one chapter at a sitting, which can be anywhere from three to eight hours. My goal is to devote one day per week to my novel writing. All my writing is done in my home office.
With dedicating a day a week to writing novels, about how long did it take you to write ‘A World Such As Heaven Intended’?
Two years. I wrote one chapter per month.
So, do you have any tips for self-publishing for other authors?
It’s worth it to pay for top-notch copy editing. Books with errors can turn off readers on the spot regardless of how strong the story is.
How do you personally go about the editing process? Do you do a large amount of editing the books yourself?
By profession I’m a proofreader and copy editor, so I did a lot of the editing myself. My publisher, Full Quiver Publishing, has a fantastic editing team that really helped make this book as polished as it is.
I’m a freelance journalist, proofreader, copy editor and network marketing professional. Since I’m writing almost every week for one newspaper or another, the book writing is a natural extension of what I do. Being in marketing gives me the skills to effectively promote my work.
Who designed your book cover? Was that through your publisher?
The book cover was designed by James Hrkach of Full Quiver Publishing. The photos are courtesy of Anna Coltran, who is based in Atlanta where the story is set. The book has recently been released again with a new cover, with ideas suggested to my publisher from a consultant. The new cover is very eye-catching so many more people will be interested in reading the book after taking a quick glance at it.
How do you feel about the future of reading, writing and publishing in the new world of self publishing?
People will always have stories to tell and there will always be audiences looking for good stories. There are a lot more opportunities for writers to get their stories out today even if they can’t get their books published by the large, established publishers. But if it’s an excellent story, people will catch wind of it and do what they need to do to get a copy of it.
You’ve had some traction in getting your book into the hands of readers. How did you feel when you got your first book review?
Ecstatic — it was wonderful to know that someone loved this story as much as I did!
It is always great to know that your work has been appreciated. So, whose work do you appreciate? Who are your favourite authors, and do you believe that they have influenced your writing style?
Julie Garwood, May McGoldrick, Judith McNaught to name a few in my genre. They’ve influenced me because their heroines are fun, strong-willed, admirable characters and they have dynamic relationships with their heroes.
What are you currently reading?
I’m a junkie for personal development so I’m starting Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy and since I’m usually reading more than one book at a time, I’m reading Across the River by Melissa Westemeier, one of my many writing friends. I’ve got a pile of books other friends have written that I intend to read this year as well.
What was your favourite book as a child?
A Wrinkle in Time, the Little House books, and The Diary of Anne Frank.
Good picks. Is there a book that you wish that you would have written?
Gone with the Wind.
Who is your favourite literary character?
Do you have any philosophies that you live by? Or quotes?
No matter what happens in life, good or bad, always respond by saying, “I’m lucky and blessed.” It’s not what happens to you in life that matters, it’s how you respond to it.
And my favourite quote is: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford
And now just a few out-of-the-box questions. Can you stand on your hands unassisted?
Yes, I was a gymnast in high school. That’s why I’m looking forward to the summer Olympics!
If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
A kiss and a hug from my favorite all-time singer, Paul McCartney!
Good choice! And finally, is there a question that you haven’t been asked that you’d like to be, or anything that didn’t come up?
Can writing fiction be a mission as well as a profession? (In my mind — yes!)
That is a good question and answer, and I think that I might steal it for future interviews. Thank you for being so generous with your time Amanda and I wish you the best of luck with your promotion of ‘A World Such As Heaven Intended’, and the other works that you are currently completing.
Want to find out more about Amanda? Contact her at the following locations: