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Recently, I told you about a book I was reading, called The Fourth Kingdom. You may have even lucked out and grabbed a copy when it was available for free on Kindle! At that time, I also told you to stay tuned for more information about the sequel to that book, The Force.
Alexandra and Joyce have also been kind enough to answer some questions, and I will be featuring those questions and their answers here for you. Let’s get started with the first round of questions!
1) When planning a new book, how do you go about planning for it? Do you have a method you use, or is each one different?
Each one is different. In this case, this book is a sequel to The Fourth Kingdom, which we originally wrote in 1988. That book was inspired by a 60 minutes interview that Joyce saw of an elderly German national who was saying that the world needs a secular savior. That comment gave rise to the entire book.
The Fourth Kingdom was written about 10 years before the Left Behind Series. We sent it to a publisher (Harvest House) and they were reading it at the time that Dolly the sheep had just been released to the world. So it was very timely. The editors at Harvest House loved the first part of the book, which is now The Fourth Kingdom but at that time was called “The Doppelganger Experiment.” We had a completely different second half though, and there were serious creative differences about how that part should play out. So we held onto the book and waited.
Part of the impetus that drives Karl Helmick–the villain in The Fourth Kingdom, is the desire for racial and genetic purity. He wants to pick up where Hitler left off. That kind of purity is not achievable in the real world–it was not achievable in Hitler’s Third Reich. But he is trying to do with cloning what Hitler tried to do with his SS breeding program–create a master race.
In The Force, we take it one step further. Josef is profiteering from making copies of people–from famous long-dead starlets to loved ones who have died. And we take a look at what it would mean if you could scientifically resurrect a loved one. What would it mean to be able to get back that beloved spouse or child or parent who had died? We look at some of the issues that would be inherent to something like that. That is why the opening chapter with Peter Kessler is significant.
One of the questions we ask in the description of The Fourth Kingdom is “How Far Would You Go to Live Forever?” In The Force we continue that theme.
2) Do you have a certain writing space, somewhere you go *just* to write your books? An office, a lake cabin, a hotel? What do you love about that space? How does it inspire you?
I was in financial services for 15 years and we bought an office building during that time. We closed that company April 1, 2013–on our 15th anniversary, but since we owned the building we retained it as our offices. I write in my office. I have a computer on a desk and a window to the left of me. I can spread out my research materials and work. I like the discipline of having a place away from home to work–I think that is the financial services person in me. And I keep regular office hours still. I am at work every day no later than 9:00 AM and I do not leave before 5:30 at the earliest. Often I work until 6:30. Those are still work habits left over from my previous career, but they help me to stay organized and to remember what I am trying to accomplish. Joyce comes in a 9:00 everyday also and works until about 5:30. She has an office also and she writes there.
3) I have read a bit about your homeschooling experience in your book, No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master’s Degree at Age Sixteen. What part do you feel being homeschooled played in piquing your interest in writing, as well as in giving you the skills to write the way you do?
Homeschooling definitely played a big role. I wrote so much in school; we used the Calvert program so I wrote at least one composition a week from about third grade on. I have a Bachelor’s in liberals arts from BYU and every assignment was a 500 word essay at least. To graduate I had to write a 50 page research paper, and then I had to pretty much do that again for my Master’s degree. So the schools gave me the skills. The challenge, though, was learning a more relaxed style. When I republished “No Regrets”, I kept it pretty much the way it was originally published; I just worked on fixing typos that we had never been able to get corrected from the original company we contracted for it. If you read “No Regrets”, you will see that my writing style was still a little stiff and formal–a little academic. My first job in business after I left teaching was as an editor for a small, locally-owned publishing company. I edited nursing manuals, and that was also very academic. Over fifteen years of working in business I had to learn a more relaxed way of communicating. I think if you read The Force and compare it to the early works you will find a generally more relaxed style–more conversational. That actually reflects who I am today and how I communicate with people. It took me years to develop a relaxed conversational style that tells the story without sounding a little stilted.
I hope you will come back each Monday (for the next two weeks) for the rest of my series. You will learn more about Joyce and Alexandra, and also learn about what inspires them to write!
This post is linked up with the Hearts for Home Blog Hop #41.