Saturday, September 02, 2006

Book of the Month: How the Idea Germinated

When I sat down to write my second historical series, I was still stinging a little from the reception of my first historical series. When I started writing adult novels, there were not really any writer's guidelines at all--and Christian fiction was still relatively new. (I'm dating myself!) So when I wrote my first historical series, I just sat down and wrote books with no particular reader in mind--for the world in general.

I soon learned Fact of Life #167: "the world in general" does not shop at Christian bookstores--which is where my books were being sold. I learned that I had to write for the Christian reader, and there are things that do not fly in the Christian market.

This debate, BTW, continues to this day. The unwritten guidelines have loosened considerably, but I learned a valuable lesson--she who writes for nobody in particular will reach nobody in particular.

I had endured some pretty tough criticism on my first series, which was set in medieval times. (Not for nothing were those called the Dark Ages.) And I happened to be studying legalism versus grace, so I took the lessons I learned from Charles Swindoll's book, Grace Awakening, and used my novel to illustrate those principles. Roanoke is based upon the original documents about the voyage, and I'd always been fascinated by the mystery surrounding that settlement. So my family and I drove up to Roanoke Island, I read everything I could get my hands on, and I began to write.

One thing about series writing that has always bothered me, however, is the repetition. I get bored quickly, and I didn't want to write about the same place, people, or era for five books in a row. So I needed a way to link the books together but yet keep the series interesting . . . for this writer.

So I came up with the idea of a ring that is passed down through generations. The ring is inscribed with the Latin words for "boldly, faithfully, successfully." It is given to Jocelyn in book one and keeps being passed from one person in Jocelyn's lineage to another. The series spans over 100 years and several different major colonies.

So--you have a ring, a writer determined to write to Christians (the choir needs to learn, too), and the historical genre. I was all set to begin.

Tomorrow: The Research



Deborah Raney said...

Angie, I don't know if you remember, but I "met" you after reading this series. I loved them, especially Jamestown. You were the first author I ever wrote to to say so (I started writing to authors after I became one!) I was so surprised and pleased that you sent me a postcard in reply. LONG time ago. : )

Anonymous said...


You probably didn't know that you gave me my first "great reads" in CBA (once I discovered CBA). The first books I ever read by you were the Theyn Chronicles. I *still* think they were "great reads!" I ducked out of CBA for a bit, came back later and read your Keepers of the Ring series (including Roanoke). Thoroughly enjoyed them all.

You've never disappointed your readers. And that's quite a record!


Anonymous said...

You mentioned about the Christian market. Don't you think it has changed? Last week I noticed in the NYT both Joel Rosenburg and Karen Kingsbury hit the extended NYTimes list. Karen Kingsbury hit the USA today list. Also recently Beverly Lewis had hit the extended list. Do you think it is because there is more Christians reading it or more people that want a story that promotes morals?

Angela said...


I think it's a little of both.