Happy Wednesday once again! Through September 19th (culminating with a list of winners), I have the privilege of sharing mini interviews with nearly all of the 2020 ACFW Carol Award Finalists! Today I’m continuing with Allison Pittman and her Carol Award finalist book The Seamstress! You can check out a list of all the finalists HERE.
FYI – There will be 2-3 posts per day, and a series-long giveaway, so make sure you catch them all!
Allison Pittman is an award-winning author of thirteen novels, including the Christy-nominated Sister Wife series and the critically acclaimed The Seamstress. An enthusiast for all of the writing world, Allison holds active leadership in her local American Christian Fiction Writers chapter, and she heads up a thriving critique group in the San Antonio area. When not writing, Allison teaches middle school English, working as a conduit to introduce her students to new, fresh literature. Visit her at www.allisonkpittman.com
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: February 5, 2019
A beautifully crafted story breathes life into the cameo character from the classic novel A Tale of Two Cities.
It is the best of times . . .
On a tranquil farm nestled in the French countryside, two orphaned cousins—Renée and Laurette—have been raised under the caring guardianship of young Émile Gagnon, the last of a once-prosperous family. No longer starving girls, Laurette and Renée now spend days tending Gagnon’s sheep, and nights in their cozy loft, whispering secrets and dreams in this time of waning innocence and peace.
It is the worst of times . . .
Paris groans with a restlessness that can no longer be contained within its city streets. Hunger and hatred fuel her people. Violence seeps into the ornate halls of Versailles. Even Gagnon’s table in the quiet village of Mouton Blanc bears witness to the rumbles of rebellion, where Marcel Moreau embodies its voice and heart.
It is the story that has never been told.
In one night, the best and worst of fate collide. A chance encounter with a fashionable woman will bring Renée’s sewing skills to light and secure a place in the court of Queen Marie Antoinette. An act of reckless passion will throw Laurette into the arms of the increasingly militant Marcel. And Gagnon, steadfast in his faith in God and country, can only watch as those he loves march straight into the heart of the revolution.
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Hi Allison! Welcome back to the blog!
Q: How has Christian fiction impacted you personally?
Allison: I was completely unaware of Christian Fiction until I went to a writers conference (hoping to sell some humorous articles) and won a copy of Eve’s Daughters by Lynn Austin. Half-way through reading it, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So, one novel totally changed the direction of my life. I have made amazing friends—men and women I would never have thought I’d have the opportunity to meet. I’ve had nachos with James Scott Bell, and sat on a writers panel WITH Lynn Austin. All of that is just amazing to me.
Carrie: I completely understand that feeling – and now ‘nachos with James Scott Bell’ is going on my bucket list 😀
Q: When you’re not writing your next award-nominated book 😉 who are your fave authors to read & why?
Allison: I love Tracy Chevalier, especially when she tackles stories of real women, real history, and manages to make them seem read like a compelling fiction narrative. (Remarkable Creatures does this especially well.) I’m also a huge Anne Tyler fan, because her books always seem to drop you in the middle of a story and leave you with it not quite finished—like you’ve only been given the best little nugget of something so much bigger.
Carrie: Adding both authors to my TBR list!
Q: Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks?
Allison: I don’t know if this would be considered strange, but I rarely write more than 3 sentences in succession without a full-on break—even if the break is just stopping and staring into the distance for a few minutes. (yes, minutes) Otherwise, I tend to get myself into either a circle, or off on a tangent. This is how I make each sentence be (I hope) a precise link in a chain of ideas, because I stay hyper-focused on the one right before, and the one right after.
Carrie: that’s a great strategy!
Q: Which of your characters has really stretched you as a writer?
Allison: Depicting Katerina Luther (Loving Luther) was absolutely my most challenging. First, because she was a real person, so I had those confines of her biography to consider. Mostly, though, I was challenged in how to write a spiritual journey to Christ in the heart of a pre-reformation woman. Her salvation had to be so completely organic, without Bible verses to lean on, or some wise old Christian to lead her. It had to come from a stirring within. I loved it, though, because it forced me to really think about what it means to seek forgiveness and salvation in Christ and Christ alone—to strip all of that down and then build it back up in this woman I crafted.
Carrie: oh wow – I hadn’t thought about what went into writing a pre-reformation character. But sometimes we all need to strip our faith & theology down to the basics and see what’s truly essential, so I love the process that you went through to write her character.
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve googled lately while researching a book?
Allison: Ghost photographs and footage.
Carrie: I could get lost down that rabbit hole for way too long – it’s always been a fascinating mystery to me. And I’m even more intrigued to learn what book this is for!
Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote The Seamstress?
Allison: If anything, there is a theme from the novel that God is teaching me now: Psalm 146:4-6 which, to paraphrase, tells us not to put our trust in mortal men whose power ultimately comes to nothing, but to instead trust in the LORD who remains faithful forever.
Carrie: amen & amen!
Q: What is one of your favorite quotes from The Seamstress & why do you love it?
Allison: My favorite line is actually the last line of the story: (*spoiler, unless you’ve read A Tale of Two Cities…)
Laurette’s story, my story. I live every moment of both in less than the blink of a blade.
I like this line for a lot of reasons. First, it completely captures exactly what I set out to do with this novel—tell the stories of these two characters. It also answers the question that Dickens posed: how long would it be before the two cousins were reunited? What I really love, though, is how this exemplifies the collaboration between a writer and an editor. I had this at first as a last line of a prologue, meant to set up the entire story as being Renee’s vision in the last moments of her life. Instead, it became the last line of the story, and the reader realizes they’ve been experiencing her final breath since page 1. I had the instinct to write the line; my amazing editor had the instinct of where it should go. (You can read it in the original Prologue as a preview after the end of Loving Luther.)
Carrie: oh i love that! ♥
I am offering one reader any TWO books (print copies) that finaled in the 2020 Carol Awards! (open internationally as long as Book Depository ships to your address) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read the historical Carol Award finalist The Seamstress by Allison Pittman & what did you enjoy about Allison’s answers?