Friday, February 1, 2013

Featured Author Interview: Rita Gerlach

Rita Gerlach

Rita Gerlach lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland. 
She was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in a large family in the Maryland suburbs. Her family claims that storytelling is their blood, handed down from centuries of Irish storytellers. Rita believes there just may be something to that theory.

In many of her stories, she writes about the struggles endured by early colonists, with a sprinkling of both American and English history. Currently she is writing a new historical series set in the Gilded Age.  

The following is a February 2013 interview with Rita.

1.   Tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m a middle child from a large family. I had a vivid imagination, still do, and made up lots of stories as a kid. I have a memory as a preschooler standing in my mother’s kitchen chattering on and on about some event. She paused from washing the dishes and said, ‘Re Re, are you telling me a story?” I smiled and nodded that I was. And here I am so many years later, still telling stories. Only now I’m writing them down.

I married my high school sweetheart — a state champion gymnast back in the day, who traded in tumbling for fly-fishing and raising our two sons. I was a stay at home mom thankfully to his job, and was able to write full-time while our boys were in school.

We live in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland.

2.  How did you become a novelist, and did you always want to write? 

Since I was old enough to hold a book in my hands, I wanted to tell stories. I first knew I wanted to write novels as a career back in the early 90s. Something sparked within me, something ignited, when my cousin, a famous romance writer, gave me one of her books at a family reunion. I first wrote a novella. I had a lot to learn about the craft and worked at it for several years.

The most significant thing in my journey to publication was learning to be patient and persistent. I had to get to the place where I trusted God implicitly with my work, whatever His plan. I wrote about my journey and the miracle it was the day I contacted Barbara Scott, then acquisitions editor at Abingdon Press. For writers that are struggling and feel discouraged, and for readers who are curious, please read Perseverance, Patience, and Humility under the link ‘For Writers’ on my website.

3.   What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? 

There are a lot of opinions on this subject. But for me Christian fiction is most significant when it goes beyond entertainment and brings forth the message of God’s love and forgiveness demonstrated and witnessed through the lives of others. Even our characters should be fallen people, not perfect cookie cutter heroes and heroines that never sin, never say or do the wrong thing, and have perfect lives.  That’s just not how life is. Characters in Christian fiction should struggle through all types of adversity. And like us they grow in Christ through difficulties. What does that growth mean in Christian fiction? It’s different for every story, just like the stories of the millions of believers who are living and have lived before us.

4.   How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write? 

I hope my readers will come away reflecting on taking one day at a time, have faith that God is directing their paths, that He will work in the lives of others to help them through the darkest hours.

5.   What responses to your novels have affected you the most and why?

Naturally when readers post a positive comment on a bookstore site or a blog, it motivates me to write better with each book. It’s not a guarantee but it is my goal.

6.   How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ? 

I came to the conclusion a few years ago that I had to put my writing career into God’s hands and accept whatever plan He had for my life. It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had roadblocks along the way. Rejection is one thing writers have to grow a tough skin against, and we all know how rejection can discourage and immobilize people. I finally came to the place where I looked at rejections as stepping stones leading to the right door. I am thankful, oh so thankful, for what God has done for me, including the doors that closed. I tell people, no matter what their calling in life is, let go and let God direct it. That way you will be at peace, and when rejections come you’ll take a step forward, not backward.

7.    Other than writing great novels, what other goals do you have for your life? 

I want to write stories into my elder years until I get to the place I can no longer type on a keyboard and I’m worn out. Another goal is to finish a quilt I started years ago. I made several, but since I started writing for publication my quilting has slowed down and this one, a lemon star, will be my last.  But the biggest goals I have are to live a long, healthy, happy life, to see my two sons get married, to see my grandchildren, and live in my sunset years with my best friend – my husband Paul.

8.     What do you like to do in your spare time? 

 My husband is my ‘get away pal’ and a quiet afternoon lunch at a favorite restaurant with him gives me a relaxing break. We take walks along the Potomac towpath or journey down one of the country roads to soak in the scenery, or visit a historical place that has no crowds. And of course, if I have free time on a rainy day, I like curling up on the couch with a good novel.

9.     What can you tell us about your latest novels? 

 ‘The Daughters of the Potomac’ was launched in February 2012 with book 1, Before the Scarlet Dawn. Writing a series has been an amazing, challenging experience, especially since the heroines in the stories are attached in some way to the others.
Before the Scarlet Dawn (Daughters of the Potomac #1)

Before the Scarlet Dawn 

On a windswept night in April of 1775, Eliza sat at her father’s bedside hoping he would recover. Forced to leave the home she grew up in, Eliza grows desperate. She could marry her former suitor, but cannot bear the thought of a loveless marriage. Instead she falls in love with Hayward Morgan, the condescending son of a landed gentleman. When Eliza learns of his plans to leave England and build a life in the Maryland frontier, she decides to present a proposal of her own.

Read Chapter One  

[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

Beside Two Rivers (Daughters of the Potomac #2)

Beside Two Rivers 

In this dramatic saga that began in 'Before the Scarlet Dawn', Eliza's daughter seeks to unravel a lifetime of memories and the absence of her parents, unaware that the young Englishman who loves her holds the answers. Her search takes her far from her beloved home along the Potomac, to a manor house in faraway England. Soon the secrets of the past slowly rise to the surface. Will she be reunited with the most important people in her life? Will Hayward and Eliza find peace and reconciliation? Will Darcy's faith sustain her to make the difficult choices, and will the love she and Ethan share endure? 

Read Chapter One 

[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

Beyond the Valley (Daughters of the Potomac #3)

Beyond the Valley 

When Sarah Carr's husband Jamie drowns, her young life is shattered and takes a turn that she never expected. Pregnant and now widowed, she reaches out to Jamie's family for help but they are unwilling. Instead they devise a plan to have her kidnapped and taken to the Colonies to live a life of servitude. Sarah's new life in the Colonies finds her surrounded by a family's whirlwind of secrets, while she hopes the young doctor she loves with will bring her freedom.

Read Chapter One

[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

The Rebel's Pledge

The Rebel's Pledge 

A bestselling stand-alone novel of enduring love. 

Matthew Hale was a rebel to King James, hunted down, captured, and enslaved in Colonial Maryland. Haunted by war and wrestling with a troubled past, Hale pledges to protect the daughter of his former owner and bring her from England to her father’s plantation along the Chesapeake, an undertaking that challenges the depth of his courage, and the strength of his faith. When Lara learns her guardian has promised her in marriage to a rich English lord in order to save the ancestral home, her hopes unravel, until she meets the heroic stranger that rescued her from the hands of a highwayman. 

Read an excerpt on Amazon

[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]

Surrender the Wind

Surrender the Wind  

A stand-alone novel of inspiring romance set right after Revolutionary War in Virginia and Georgian England. 

When patriot Seth Braxton inherits his grandfather's estate in faraway England, he inherits more than an isolated manor house. He discovers Juleah's love, and a plot that leads to kidnapping, murder, and betrayal, in this stirring tale of fidelity and forgiveness. 

Read Chapter One (Adobe Reader Required)

[Purchase: | Amazon Kindle]


10.   What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead? 

 A new chapter has turned in my writing life that I am very excited about. I’m writing an Edwardian novel set in opulent Chevy Chase, Maryland and the western part of that state. 

Also I am revising two historical romances that have been out of print since 2005 [Thorns in Eden and The Everlasting Mountains] and reissuing them into a 2-in-1 collection in ebook and paperback either in the spring or summer.

Thorns in Eden & The Everlasting Mountains
Now Available in Kindle Format

[Purchase: Amazon Kindle]

11.    What would you like to say to your fans in New Zealand, and others worldwide?

 I hope you will enjoy this series, and find a little respite in them from our crazy world.  I’ve been asked to categorize my fiction. My books are not formula romances. They are what I like to call Inspirational Historical Dramas. You will find romance, but you will also find stories about relationships between people, stories about forgiveness, redemption, faith, and loyalty. Each character has good points, but they are also flawed human beings that make mistakes and fall hard, and at some point struggle through the adversity, dust themselves off and move on.

While writing the Daughters of the Potomac series, I realized forgiving and being forgiven can change lives for the better, and how much harm can come out of a heart that refuses to forgive. There are so many people walking around today with that weight on their shoulders. Perhaps someone reading this interview has this burden. My prayer for them is that they cast it upon Him that is able to carry it.

12.   Do you have any parting words?

Yes, I want to thank you, Ellie, for the privilege of this interview and a spot on your website, ‘Soul Inspirationz’. It’s been fun, and I wish you and your readers all the best.

Buy Rita's Books at The Book Depository

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