As part of today's Virtual Book Tour, I am including an interview with the author of The Forgotten Warrior, Kathi Oram Peterson.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? I have always enjoyed reading novels, but the writing bug didn’t bite until after I’d had my first child. My first book was dreadful. I’ve written many unpublished books and with each one I’ve learned more. Tell us a little bit about your book/s. Which ones are your favorites if you have more than one, and briefly let us know what they are about. Pay particular attention to your most recent book and/or your first book: The first few books I wrote were romantic suspense. I love the challenge of plotting a good suspense and I’ve always been partial to romance. When the time comes, I hope I can revisit those books and make them marketable. The Forgotten Warrior, which is my debut young-adult novel, was a pleasure to write. My son suggested I write about the stripling warriors. I wanted to have a young woman as my protagonist, and I wanted her to be from our time. So, of course, she had to travel through history. The story really took off from there. I loved imagining what Captain Helaman was like. I used Friberg’s famous painting of Captain Helaman with the stripling warriors for inspiration, but a picture really doesn’t tell a lot, so I did as much research as I could and from there I developed my version of Captain Helaman and his warrior sons. I also wanted to use actual events from the Book of Mormon and write the story around the battles and trials the warriors lived through.
Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon? I turned in a sequel of The Forgotten Warrior to my publisher. They really liked it but wanted to see how well the first book is accepted before committing to another book. However, they did accept a little Christmas story I sent them, An Angel on Main Street which will be out in the fall of 2009. This story, which takes place in 1953, is very near and dear to my heart. I created a small fictional town in Idaho. Eleven-year-old Micah Connors and his little family have recently moved to town. Micah’s father was killed in the Korean War. His mother works as a waitress and his little sister, Annie, is very sick. A few days before Christmas, a nativity begins to appear in the center of town. No one knows who is building it. Annie tells Micah that she believes when the baby Jesus arrives he’ll make her well. Her condition worsens and Micah doesn’t think she can wait until Christmas. He ‘s desperate to find the nativity builder and borrow the Jesus doll for Annie. I won’t spoil it and tell you how things turns out.
My most recent project is again a two book project titled Chasing the Star. It is another YA time-travel adventure. The story is told from three different points of view: Marcus, a Roman Centurian; Rachel, a 19 year-old girl, and Joshua, her 12 year-old brother. It’s Christmastime and Rachel has come home from college. She doesn’t know how she is going to tell her parents that she’s dropping out of school to pursue a singing career. Worse yet, she has kept an even more disturbing secret from her family. For years Rachel and her father tried to prove that there was a real star of Bethlehem. But Rachel’s astronomy professor has convinced her there was no such star. In fact, Rachel has lost her faith in God. Upon her arrival home, she finds that her parents were killed in a car accident and Josh was badly hurt. She goes to her brother, but when she is called to the nurses’ station to fill out paper work, Joshua disappears. As Rachel searches for her brother, she is given a stone which sends her back in time to the belly of pirate ship sailing on the Mediterranean. There will be more to come.
What one thing are you the most proud of in your life? My family. As life has given us highs and lows we’ve clung together. My husband is the rock in my life. My children, who are all adults now, are kind and caring people. Last year my husband was away on my birthday, but my children brought me dinner, cake and ice-cream and celebrated with their mum. My son-in-law takes such good care of my daughter and grandson. I truly feel blessed to be a part of their lives.
What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing? I have two girls and one boy. They are grown now and are very supportive of my writing. My brothers and my sister have always encouraged me to write. My parents did as well. They have both passed on, but I’d like to think they’re proud of me. I miss them every day.
The main characters of your stories - do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you? Sydney Morgan isn’t anything like me…except I’d like to think I have her faith. She is short tempered, holds a black belt in karate, and is very courageous. I could never do what she does. I think that is why I liked her so. She can do things I can’t or wouldn’t even attempt. Tarik, a stripling warrior and second-in-command to Captain Helaman has nothing in common with me, except I’d like to think that someday I will have his loyalty and ability to always do what is right.
Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor? For years I adored Mary Higgins Clark. The first book I read of hers, Where Are The Children, grabbed me from page one. I even met her once in Omaha, Nebraska at a writers’ conference. Very inspiring woman, who has paid her dues for the success she now enjoys. I’ve also admired Francine Rivers’ novels especially her Voice in the Wind saga. I have many mentors. I belong to a wonderful writing group with many authors. We’ve been meeting for over 20 years. They are all my mentors.
When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book? I remember two books that made impressions on me: The Wizard of Oz and Lassie Come Home. In the book The Wizard of Oz, one of the characters becomes stuck in the middle of a river. That scene scared me so, but I couldn’t put the book down. And who could read how Lassie finally made it home without crying?
Location and life experience can sprinkle their influence in your writing. Tell us about where you grew up and a little about where you live now - city? Suburb? Country? Farm? If you could live anywhere you want to live, where would that be? I grew up in Rigby, Idaho. I was very fortunate to experience a small town. My father owned a Firestone Store on Main Street. For a few years we lived in an apartment over the store. I could peer out our living room window and watch people milling about the sidewalks. The main highway ran right through the middle of town, so there was a lot of traffic: diesels, farm trucks and cars. The town had a great influence on my book An Angel on Main Street. While living there my mother suffered a heart attack. I was sent to stay with my parents’ friends who owned a farm. I loved playing in the barns, watching the kids milk the cows and jumping around on the haystacks.
I now live in the Salt Lake area. A big theater complex is a block away as well as restaurants and grocery stores. In many ways my neighborhood reminds of my childhood and growing up in a small town, though children aren’t as free to play as they were in my day. I like where I live, but I’d also like to someday have a cabin in the mountains.
Do you have any pets? Tell us about them. I have a Yorkshire Terrier named Miss Elizabeth Bennett. We call her Lizzie. I have always been a fan of Jane Austin’s. Lizzie is my buddy who follows me around the house all day. She curls up on her pillow under my desk as I write, and she’s always happy to see me.
Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you'd go back and do differently now that you have been published? Although it’s taken me many years to find success I’m glad my first published novel is The Forgotten Warrior. There were days when I felt as though I was being guided as I wrote.
What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by your writing? My deepest wish is to inspire young adults to believe in themselves, have faith in God, and to read, read, read!
How has having a book published changed your life? The publishing world brings new worries and new demands on a writer, but what wonderful demands. I love having an editor excited to read my work. My editor has been such a pleasure to work with. Plus I’ve met some wonderful people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it? This recently happened as I was writing Chasing the Star. I had to do a ton of research and found the story of Julia, the daughter of Augustus Caesar. She started taking over my story, pushing Rachel aside. As soon as I realized what was happening, I retraced my steps, deleted quite a few pages and started again. The result is a much stronger story.
Do you have any book signings, tours or special events planned to promote your book that readers might be interested in attending? If so, when and where? Starting on January 15th I start a book tour that will take me from Rexburg, Idaho to Mesa, Arizona. For details of where and when I’ll be signing please check out my website at www.kathiorampeterson.com under Events. I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.