The Author’s Cove is pleased to present novelist Lynne Tagawa and her Great Awakening series.
Author’s Cove: Tell us a little about your background and writing experience.
My sister was the “writer” in the family, the creative one. I could write decent research papers and ended up a biology teacher. But evidently some latent gene turned on after the age of fifty and enabled me to write fiction. I still marvel that folks call me a “writer.”
Author’s Cove: Why did you choose historical fiction as your genre?
Another surprise—a biology teacher writes history! The research element is certainly there. I think one of the things that hooked me was the element of providence. God is in charge of history and weaves it all together, whether we understand His purposes or not. Then there’s always the question, what would it have been like to live in a certain time? It’s revealing that time-travel stories are so popular. But another reason is that when I write historical fiction, it’s like sitting in that perfect chair, made just for me.
Author’s Cove: What led you to choose the First Great Awakening as your special era?
Very few novels are set in this fascinating time. We talk about and pray for revival, and here was revival on a grand scale. The interesting thing is that it was not universally accepted, even among Christians.
Author’s Cove: Who are some of your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing?
Douglas Bond had an impact on me because he wrote a historical series for teens, one of which (Guns of Thunder) was set during the First Great Awakening. Halfway through the book, I made my decision: I would write one in this time period for adults. His example told me that it could be done well without sacrificing the spiritual element.
Author’s Cove: How did you come up with your characters, John Russell and Abigail Williams?
Most of us are familiar with the New Englanders versus the more aristocratic planters of the southern colonies, but there were also Quakers of course, and a huge fourth English-speaking group: a large wave of immigration from Northern Ireland brought folks of Scottish descent (the “Scots-Irish”) here. Each group had different customs, different religious traditions, and even different speech patterns. Lots of “scope for the imagination” as Anne Shirley would say! So I chose a woman from New England and a Scots-Irish frontiersman, thinking that as they discovered each other’s differences, it would make for an interesting story, and the reader would be able to soak in the nuances of colonial life.
Author’s Cove: I like that you gave Abigail an interest in botany. It made her a unique individual. How did you go about researching what was known about botany and the medicines made from plants in this era?
That was tough, actually. It’s one thing to read a modern book or go online and learn about milk thistle, and quite another to ask, what exactly did colonial women use? What did apothecaries stock in that day? I gleaned bits and pieces online and from a tiny reprint of an 18th century be-your-own physician type of book containing herbal remedies of various sorts.
Author’s Cove: What is the main takeaway, or message, you’d like your readers to know after reading your book?
Since the Great Awakening was my dominant theme, the spiritual journeys of the characters stand front and center. Yes, there’s romance, and a bit of frontier drama, but Scriptural truth and how it works out in the real life of the protagonists is the thread that holds it all together. I hope my readers can see these truths better and be encouraged in their faith.
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