Thursday, August 8, 2019

Yowza! All the Books, Day 8: Pat Jeanne Davis

Pat Jeanne Davis, When Valleys Bloom Again

Congratulations Sue Vesey, yesterday's Yowza! All the Books! winner. You have won a copy of Angela K. Couch's book The Return of the King's Ranger! Watch your email for details!

More than writing or revising my story I enjoyed doing research for When Valleys Bloom Again. I talked with those who lived during the WWII era and also had the opportunity to ask questions of veterans in the U.S. and U.K., now in their mid-90’s, who were willing to share their experiences and their photographs. I enjoyed traveling to distant and unfamiliar places. I visited living museums in England where people went about their tasks in clothing that would’ve been worn during the 1940’s. The guides were always helpful and eager to share what they had learned. I’m happy when I uncover an extra special tidbit of information that will enhance my story.

On one research trip, I went into the largest purpose-built civilian air raid shelter in England that was extended to accommodate 6,500 people during the Second World War. The Stockport Air Raid Shelter is a network of underground tunnels, a mile long, carved out of the sandstone hills on which the city stands that provided not only protection but a way of life for families. This underground world still intact today as it was during the war years gave me an opportunity to learn about the raw realities of life during the Blitz. I came away with a deep admiration for my husband’s family and for numerous others who struggled to live with only the basic amenities in such depressing and stressful surroundings.

There are lots of ways I choose characters’ names. At times I pull from a book I read, a film or documentary I watched, or maybe someone I’ve known. In my debut novel for a character, I used my great-grandfather’s full name, but added an “e” on the end of his surname. He immigrated to the United States as had Uncle Will, the loveable secondary character in my novel. A cousin of mine said she nearly fell out of her chair when she saw our great-grandfather’s name in my novel, but was delighted to see him in the story.

As an author I love the idea of having tea with my favorite literary character. For me that would be Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus’ character is shown in the way he raises his children to respect all people and his willingness to talk with them about the injustices they see around them. Atticus shows courage when he agrees to defend a black man of a crime he’s charged with. This lawyer stands tall against the abuse and threats against him and his family from his racist community and proves in court his client is innocent. In When Valleys Bloom Again, one of the characters is a lawyer. Unlike Atticus Finch, Henri is racially prejudice, shrewd and not an honorable man.

My favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. I receive such reassurance from this Bible verse.

In When Valleys Bloom Again, my heroine, Abby, frequently reminds herself of this promise in God’s Word after she is uprooted from London due to impending war and forced to return to a country far from her family and the life she’s become accustomed to living.

Scene at New York Harbor, Sept. 4, 1939

As the Queen Mary closed in, men in military garb holding rifles scanned the vessel, their heads in constant motion. Not here too. Policemen weaved through the waiting throng below, looking at papers and detaining one here, one there. Abby seized the railing and closed her eyes. Lord, help me to see this is all working to my good. Caught in a tidal flow of passengers behind her, unburdened of shipboard courtesies and agitating for solid ground, Abby felt herself shunted toward the gangplank. Clutching at the coarse hand-rope, she rode the roiling wave down.

About Pat:
PAT JEANNE DAVIS lives in Philadelphia, Pa with her British-born husband, John. They have two grown sons. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She has a keen interest in twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical romance set in that era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Subscribe to her newsletter here

About When Valleys Bloom Again:
As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?

Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?

Connect with Pat:
Your turn!
Visit Pat’s website or Amazon page to be able to answer the following question to be entered into today’s giveaway of When Valleys Bloom Again: In what country was Abby Stapleton born?

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