Christian Retailing

Fiction File February 2014 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 10:12 AM America/New_York

JanetteAndLaurel_OkeASK THE AUTHORS:  Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

WhereCourageCallsLATEST PROJECT: Where Courage Calls, “When Calls the Heart” series (9780764212314, $14.99, softcover; 9780764212321, $19.99, hardcover; 9780764212338, $17.99, large print; February).

PUBLISHER: Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group).

(Oke) What motivated you to write prairie romances after 14 years?  I was asked by Michael Landon Jr. and his filming partner, Brian Bird, if I would be interested in writing another series. I first said “no,” then they suggested I co-write. I knew our daughter Laurel was in a space where she was free to pursue writing once again, so [I] asked her if she was interested in the project.

(Oke) How is Where Courage Calls related to When Calls the Heart, the book and Hallmark Channel movie?  The film released in October dealt with two sets of characters. Elizabeth Thatcher, a schoolteacher who went west to teach, and Wynn Delaney of the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] were the first set. These characters were taken from the novel, When Calls the Heart. The second group, included a younger Elizabeth (Beth) Thatcher, relative of the first Elizabeth, who also chose to be a teacher, and who also went west. Where Courage Calls introduces the reading audience to the new set of characters.

(Oke) What type of character is Beth Thatcher and how does she change?  Beth Thatcher grew up in a wealthy home with two loving parents who rather pampered her. She had been ill as a child, so her mother was very protective of her, which caused her to feel a bit smothered and held back from independence. Leaving her secure home and venturing west to a quite primitive town was a stretch. Beth’s sensitive and caring side developed as she realized how blessed she had been and how needy were some people in her world. She discovered that she could not only cope, [but] she could also reach out to others. She also discovered that these people of little means had much to offer to her. She learned appreciation of persons, apart from status. 

(Oke) What other themes are explored in Where Courage Calls?  When Beth left home, her father sent her off with a Bible verse which he recommended she make a daily part of her life, Phil. 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” He knew Beth had always been told that she was not physically strong. He did not wish her to judge what she was capable of accomplishing because of her perceived weakness. If God gives one a task, a mission, then by faith we can depend on Him to also give the strength and wisdom needed to perform that task. We do not depend upon our own strength, but His. At times, we also need to seek counsel from others before rushing ahead with new ideas. Beth could have caused unintended hurts had she not sought advice from those who knew the people of the community far better than she. In the process, she gained much in down-to-earth wisdom and earned love and acceptance.

(Oke) Are there more titles to come in this series?  That is still pending. We have talked of further novels, but have agreed with Bethany House that we would wait to see if the readership is interested in more about Beth, her adventures and relationships.

(Logan) This is your second collaboration with your mother. How does your partnership work?  For this project, we were able to get together several times to work on the planning and writing, even during family visits. That was a huge benefit. But we also worked together online and spent quite some time on the phone. In an ideal world, Mom would be my neighbor, but we’ve been able to collaborate on this despite the miles.

(Logan) What research did you conduct for writing your first prairie romance?  I grew up on the Alberta prairie. Where Courage Calls is primarily set in a fictitious mountain town southwest of where we lived, an area similar to where we spent many family vacations. Mom had done quite a bit of reading about the Frank slide [a 1903 rock slide] referred to in the novel. Most of my research had more to do with the time period of the novel, which was required to be the early 1920s so that it would follow Aunt Elizabeth’s story [from When Calls the Heart] well, so I delved into the specifics of things like inventions and songs and fashion.

(Logan) Do you have other collaborations planned with your mother? How about writing projects on your own?  There seems to be interest in hearing more about the new Elizabeth Thatcher. I am also working on some homeschool-related materials and another novel.


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