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Friday, April 11, 2014

Author Interview--Janice L. Dick

Anne: Our interview this morning is with author Janice L. Dick, whose first and second novels, Calm Before the Storm and its sequel, Eye of the Storm, won first place in the historical fiction category of The Word Guild's Canadian Writing Awards (2003-04).  She lives with her husband Wayne on an organic grain farm in central Saskatchewan. I reviewed Janice's most recent release yesterday (click HERE to read that review.)

So Janice, what gave you the idea for this series?

Janice: The idea for this historical series came from a true account that wouldn't leave my mind. It's the story of a group of Mennonites living at the far-eastern edge of Soviet Russia just before 1930 and how they escaped into China. The historical event and all that leads up to it is amazing. I started my story several years before the escape, building the characters and setting the stage to show why they were so determined to flee the country and what all went into the dramatic escape.

Anne: How did you do your research for this series?

Janice: I used a number of sources in my research. My favorite source is always books, and I came upon a small, old one written by one of the people who was part of this event. It was most helpful in determining details of the actual escape. Aside from that, I'd done a lot of previous research on Mennonites in Russia, since my first three books were set there. However, the trilogy (Crossings of Promise)  takes place in South Russia, whereas this story begins in western Siberia and moves to the far east of Russia along the Amur River. I used the Internet to research people and places, and I have acquaintances who are missionaries in Novosibirsk, Russia (western Siberia), so they were kind enough to read what I had and give me ideas to make it more authentic. Also, I have a friend who knows the difference between oars and paddles, canoes and rowboats, etc., and she was a great help in fixing mistakes that would have bothered people who know much more than I do about such things!

Anne: In this particular series, what is your favorite scene?

Janice: My favorite scene takes place in, I think, the eighth volume, which isn't out yet. It's a reunion that very nearly goes wrong. I can't say any more about that here!

Anne: What for you is the hardest part of writing?

Janice: The hardest part for me is always the beginning, leaving characters I have grown to love and inventing new ones that will discover themselves and carry my story idea. I don't know them or how they will react to events, so it's a process that can get really messy for a while until it all sorts itself out. Once I have something to work with and have come to know my characters better, it gets easier. Relatively speaking.

Anne: What do you love the most?

Janice: What I love the most is re-reading my story and liking what I read, even though I've read it dozens of times. I can keep editing forever, but it's a great feeling when I find a part I really like as it is.

Anne: Tell us something about yourself that we might find surprising.

Hmm. Although I'm a bit of a redneck, having lived on a farm all my life (read: I have no qualms about shooting a gopher or muskrat or pesky magpie), I eat a mostly paleo diet. I love organic (we're organic farmers) and am into healthy lifestyle eating.

Anne: Can you give us a little about the next volume?

Janice: I'll give you an abbreviated summary of Volume 7 of Other Side of the River, which should release in a couple of weeks:

As memories of Daniel weigh heavily upon her, Luise cannot forget him, even as Phillip tries to convince her otherwise. She writes letters never to be sent and copes with the dangers from Soviet police in Shumanovka. Daniel closes the distance between them, running from Dubrowsky and his lackeys, desperate to reach Luise before she gives up on him.

Right now I'm working on the sequel to Other Side of the River, so far titled In a Foreign Land, so that's what's on my creative mind.

Anne: Thank you so much for joining us here today, Janice, and giving us a chance to get to know you better. May God infuse your writing with His inspiration!
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