Friday, May 30, 2014

Texas Author Lynn Dean

Hello Lynn! Is there a story behind your book More Precious Than Gold?

Of course! All books have a story behind the story, and sometimes that's the best part.

My story is set in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, which is now a ghost town. My father took me there when I was an impressionable teenager, and I often wondered what would cause 12,000 people to flock to such a remote place almost overnight and then disappear nearly as quickly. Dreams or desperation must have driven them to take such risks, and that's where stories are found. 

As it turns out, an unusually large number of real-life stories actually converged in Elizabethtown. What would it have been like to live at that juncture of history? To witness it and be a part of it yourself? And so I invented Eliza Gentry, who was desperate to salvage what was left of her life and her faith.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?

The character who most fascinated me was a minor one-- a slave boy cruelly maimed by his master for a crime he did not commit. When federal officers of the Freedmen's Bureau jailed his assailants, it started a riot, which forced my main character's father to take an unpopular stand, which started my story--literally "with a bang."

While my main character eventually found a happy ending, it made me sad that this real boy became just a footnote in history. He did not live to have a family, so his name was forgotten. Though his story had little impact on mine beyond the inciting event, I became obsessed with learning his name. I narrowed down the window of time in which the event occurred, then drove 4 hours to the National Archives in Fort Worth, TX and spent a day scrolling through records, squinting at fuzzy images of handwritten ledgers until I found him. Tony McCrary. And now his story has a more satisfying conclusion.

What started you on your writing journey?

Even before I could read or write, I liked to tell stories. My mother encouraged me by writing them down, then we'd make simple puppets so that I could "present" the stories as she read them to my dad and sister. That is probably when I began to think of myself as a writer. I was five, so I've just reached the half-century mark in my "career". *wink*

My 3rd grade teacher was also a huge encouragement. She recognized that I loved to write and often became bored when I finished my work early, so she bought me a story writing kit--wonderful pictures to inspire ideas and skill-building tips that built confidence as well. I realize now she probably bought that for me with her own money. She watered the seeds my mama planted but she did not live to see the flowers. I met her son, though, and told him what an amazing thing his mother had done for me and how grateful I was that she was my teacher.

Teachers are some of the most important people in our lives. Great story. What distracts you from writing the easiest?


I write from what I've experienced, and readers will quickly discern that relationships are important to me. So when real live people need me, the fictional people in my head have to wait their turn. In the last two years my family has followed God through four moves, job changes for almost everyone, cancer, advanced dementia, loss of both our fathers (on the same day!), two engagements and one wedding (so far). From the highs to the lows, this is the stuff life is made of, and life is the stuff good stories are made of. I am confident that in God's timing, the lessons I've learned through living will work their way into stories with greater depth than I could have written before.

What is your favorite season of the year? 

I love autumn!  Always have, but more so now that I am in the "autumn" of life.

Ack! Did I just confess that? It's true, though, and I am finding this to be a season of harvest and reflection. I feel fruitful--like the experiences of a lifetime are beginning to ripen so that others might nourish their own faith through what God has shown me during my springs and summers. And even though winter will eventually come, autumn has a certain glorious radiance, don't you think?

Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?

God has blessed me with the opportunity to travel a great deal, and since I am insatiably curious, I always come away with questions and story ideas--usually some variation of "What would it be like to live during that time? Without the benefit of hindsight, would I have made the same choices they did? What can I learn about life and God from their experience?"

More Precious Than Gold and the books that will follow it are set, not entirely coincidentally, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico. What a beautiful place--cool and green in the midst of a virtual desert--and the name translates "Blood of Christ." Who could not find inspiration there?

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?

God is always teaching us, if we are paying attention. Since "hindsight is always 20/20," it's often easier to discern His purposes in stories drawn from historical events. That's what history is, right? HIStory. I love to tell HIS stories--God moving to reveal His plan in the lives of ordinary people.

Could you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you?
"Greatly rejoice, though now for a season ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." I Peter 1:6-7
This verse gave me the theme and title of my story.
It's easy to rejoice when life is going as we like, but much harder to recognize why God allows hard things to happen to us and rejoice in those as well. My characters wrestle with the truth of this verse in my story, just as we wrestle to live it in contemporary life. I hope readers will gain insight from my characters' struggles and find inspiration to walk out the journey God has planned for them.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

Book 2 of the Sangre de Cristo Series is due out in July 2014.

Stronger Than Mountains picks up on the story of Zeke and Millie, a bright-eyed young couple whose marriage is featured in More Precious Than Gold. (You can relax. That's not a spoiler.) They had four rambunctious young 'uns right away, pulling together to establish a ranch and keep everybody fed. Fifteen years later Zeke is fighting to hold on to his land, and Millie is fighting to hold on to a high-risk pregnancy. Tempers and temptations mount, threatening to pull them apart, unless Zeke and Millie can remember why they fell in love to begin with.

We'll look forward to hearing from you again. Thanks for sharing today!

Connect with Lynn Dean at:

Lynn Dean is giving away a copy of More Precious Than Gold. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.



cjajsmommy said...

When I read part 1 of this interview yesterday, I decided not to enter to win "More Precious than Gold" because I seldom enjoy anything set in the west nor in the previous centuries. But after reading today's interview, I am very much wanting to read Lynn Dean's book. I have never thought of Autumn (my second least favorite season) the way she said -- and her words really struck a chord with me. Thank you for sharing this bit of wisdom, Lynn; I'm sure I will be pondering this for the next few days.

cjajsmommy said...

I'm sorry for a second post. I forgot to include my email the first time. cjajsmommy (at) gmail (dot) com


Charity Lyman said...

Please enter me! Would love to read this book. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

I too Love Autumn - the beautiful colors, the reasonable temps, the fact that we were married in Sept. bears that out. I would love a chance to read More Precious than Gold.
Joyce Guard

Anonymous said...

Hello ladies. This seems to have a great story with much to teach us. I would love a chance to win it. Thanks and GOD bless you.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Jackie McNutt said...

More Precious Than Gold looks like a very inspiring book!
I would love to read it! I love how the title was taken from a part of scripture. It was very nice learning about Lynn and her book.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

I would love to

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