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Tracie Peterson is a best selling Christian historical romance author and it was a delight to interview her for my A to Z Challenge.
I remember borrowing Ms. Peterson’s books from the church library when I was a teenager and escaping into the prairies of the Old West with the Harvey Girls. If you are a fan of historical romances, I hope you enjoy this interview and give Ms. Peterson’s books a chance. She has written fiction set in so many great settings from the gold rush to the old west to the industrial revolution in America to Minnesota. Enjoy!
You’ve shared in the past that your writing is a ministry to share the Gospel and offer Biblical encouragement. What reason should non-Christians choose to pick up one of your books?
Tracie Peterson: The books are historical romance adventure which also happen to share important truths. There isn’t a Christian label stamped across the top and often the books are found in a variety of places and picked up without the reader seeing it as anything more than a historical novel. Once they start reading the book they are usually interested enough in the story that they accept the Biblical truths that are offered and either skim over them or think on them deeply.
I have had a lot of readers say they had no idea the book was a “Christian-based novel” but that once they got into reading it that part blended so well into the story that it seemed completely acceptable–natural. Some have even said that it made them rethink their former beliefs and some even turned to God because of what they learned.
Your books have been based in all parts of the Western World and different time periods. How do you do your research?
Tracie Peterson: Research is critical to my stories as I try to use a lot of actual history for various places and times. I start with lots of reading, then usually locate some of the authors of those history books to discuss or contact local historical museums to ask who might be willing to talk to me about certain topics, etc. I watch video documentaries and anything else I can get my hands on that deals with the history of the setting and if possible, I visit the location and their museums and get a lay of the land and talk to locals.
Your current series, The Ladies of the Lake, is based in Duluth, Minnesota. Have you ever lived or visited Duluth? How did you choose your location?
Tracie Peterson: I’d been working on a lot of western cowboy stories, as well as Alaska and thought something different would be fun. My publisher is located in Minneapolis so I started looking at Lake Superior and landed on Duluth. They have an amazing history with lots of interesting stories that could be shared in a novel and so I chose them. I visited the location, talked to various people and purchased local history books that were quite helpful. Sometimes locations are chosen that way and other times they are chosen because of an event I want to incorporate in my story.
You are known for your historical fiction but you’ve also authored amazing contemporary fiction such as What She Left for Me. Do you have any interest in writing more contemporary fiction?
Tracie Peterson: I have always said that the books I write are inspired by thoughts and ideas that I believe God lays on my heart. So if He directs me to write another contemporary story I will. I have readers who love them every bit as much as the historicals and so it’s always a possibility.
Would you ever consider writing a series on Biblical characters or set during Biblical times?
Tracie Peterson: If God calls for that, but I’ve never really had an interest. I think it’s a matter of wanting to keep the Bible times and people separate from the fictional stories I create. Just a personal preference. But if God laid a story on my heart, I would write it.
With books such as Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers) and Love Comes Softly (Janette Oke) being made into movies, which of your series of characters would you most like to see brought to real life on screen? Any dream casting preferences?
Tracie Peterson: I have had several books optioned for movies including my Yukon and Alaskan Quest books. I think it would be fun to see how they could be brought to life, but I’m one of those people who has always been disappointed in the movie after reading the book. Books just do amazing things for me and it’s never the same as watching it on the screen. Still, I would be honored if someone wanted to make the books into movies.
You’ve co-authored several books with the likes of Judith Pella, Judith Miller, Michael Landon Jr., and Kimberley Woodhouse. What inspires you to co-author a book and how do you choose the other author? What is the creative process like when sharing the pen with another author?
Tracie Peterson: It’s happened in various ways to be honest. With my first co-write with Judith Pella I asked if she would consider co-writing. I knew I could learn a lot from her and loved her writing style. I prayed about it, read her books to make sure I thought we could blend well together, then asked her. She’s an amazing lady and was so gracious to co-write with me and introduce me to Bethany House Publishers. Other times, the publisher suggested the co-write, and still others I suggested the author. It was a fun way to introduce my readers to new authors.
The creative process isn’t all that different. We both plot out the story we have in mind, then one author writes the first draft and then sends it to the second author to add to, take out and expand on what has been written. We go over it together–back and forth several times and then turn it into the publisher. Overall, it’s a process that has blessed me and allowed me to get closer to some amazing writers.
What books are you currently reading for pleasure?
Tracie Peterson: I read all sorts of books fiction and nonfiction. Right now I’m reading An Unlikely Proposal by Toni Shiloh, Reindeer Paws by Joi Copeland and in nonfiction – The Art of IT Intervention by Daniel Cottrell (a great book on office leadership and he’s my cousin), and Max Lucado’s How Happiness Happens.
A big thank you to Ms. Peterson for taking the time to talk with The Joyous Living. Be sure to catch her latest book, Forever My Own (Ladies of the Lake), that is due out July 6, 2021.
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