Monday, August 8, 2011
A few years ago, I read the beginning of Christine Johnson's debut, Soaring Home, in a contest entry. I gave it perfect marks. A terrific story of a young woman in the 1920's who wants to be an airline pilot - who wouldn't want to read what happens next?
I wasn't entirely surprised to see that it sold to Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line soon afterward. It was released last fall and now her second book, The Matrimony Plan, has just arrived this month! How could I resist having Christine come to visit?
Felicity Kensington is preparing for the grandest wedding Pearlman, Michigan, has ever seen. True, her prospective husband is virtually a stranger. But the well-connected engineer her father hired fits all her marriage criteria. Except for one tiny flaw: it’s the town’s new pastor, not the wealthy engineer, who makes Felicity’s heart race….
Gabriel Meeks left New York to avoid high society’s foolish rules. Instead, he’s immediately smitten with the high-and-mighty Miss Kensington. Beneath Felicity’s misplaced pride is a woman of genuine worth, if he can only help her see it. And nothing could make him happier than ensuring that her matrimony plan takes an unexpected twist!
Simone: Your books are set in the 1920s. What is it that attracts you to write in that era?
Christine: That era, from WWI into the 1920s, sits on the cusp between the modern world and the traditional world. Horse-and-carriages mingled with automobiles. Huge changes in society were taking place. The servant class was disappearing as new inventions made housework more manageable for the middleclass woman. Aviation took off. In the United States, women finally got the vote. It’s a very exciting time.
Simone: Inspirational romances seem to be more open to these great early 20th century settings. Do you think that the rest of the romance world will follow suit?
Christine: I sure hope so! The era offers a lot for writers to explore, but ultimately, the readers will decide if more books in that era get published. A few are out there now. For instance, I have Kristina McMorris’s WWII historical, Letters from Home, in my to-be-read pile. But you’re right. Lots of late 19th and early 20th century inspirational romances are being published right now.
Simone: What is the most interesting or unusual thing you've learned while researching a book?
Christine: I love that the research for every book brings its surprises. For The Matrimony Plan, set at the start of Prohibition, I learned many states already had statewide prohibition. While researching my first novel, Soaring Home, I learned just how many brave women took up flying in the earliest, most dangerous days. Before that research, I’d heard of Amelia Earhart, but none of those who paved the way for her. Harriet Quimby, Blanche Scott, Ruth Law, Katherine and Marjorie Stinson…all were household names in the 1910s. All risked their lives (and sometimes lost) showing that women could fly an aeroplane as well as a man. What a shame that we’ve lost that heritage over time.
Simone: What inspires you daily?
Christine: Of course my faith. That’s a daily source of inspiration. I also love nature. A walk through the woods or beside a stream or lake never ceases to inspire and awe me.
Simone: What's the best book you've read lately?
Christine: This will change next week, LOL! But most recently, I loved Jennifer Erin Valent’s Depression-era inspirational, Catching Moondrops. The story grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go, and that’s something I treasure as a reader.
Simone: Where is your favorite place to read?
Christine: Under a beach umbrella with a tall glass of iced tea and the waves crashing on the shore. But since that’s pretty rare, I settle for the comfiest chair in the house.
Simone: What's next for you?
Christine: My third book, All Roads Lead Home, comes out in January 2012. Since it ties in fairly closely with The Matrimony Plan, I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say it takes the heroine far from home as she travels across the United States in her car. In 1922, that’s a fairly challenging endeavor!
Christine Johnson is a small-town Michigan girl who has lived in every corner of the state’s Lower Peninsula. After trying her hand at music and art, she returned to her first love -- story. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in library studies from the University of Michigan. She feels blessed to write and to be twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® award. When not at the computer keyboard, she loves to hike and explore God’s majestic creation. She participates in her church’s healing prayer ministry and has experienced firsthand the power of prayer. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys. Visit her at http://christineelizabethjohnson.com.
Christine will be giving away an autographed copy of The Matrimony Plan to one visitor!
These stories of incredible heroines flying airplanes and driving cross-country have inspired me. What's the most daring thing you'd like to do?