Please join me in welcoming Lynne Basham Tagawa back to the blog! Today she’s chatting about her new historical fiction, The Heart of Courage!
THE HEART OF COURAGE
SERIES: Russells #2
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Blue Rock Press
RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2020
No one would understand. But he had to obey his conscience.
It’s 1753, and troubling news comes to Russell’s Ridge…
Susanna Russell longs to escape her valley home. When war breaks out, she gets her wish to study in fabulous Williamsburg. But she realizes she’s lost something important along the way. Something—and someone.
James Paxton is studying for the ministry. But when violence threatens the valley, his path becomes clouded. What is God’s will for his life? The answer is alarming—and impossible.
Red Hawk spies white surveyors near his home, a harbinger of trouble to come. Shawnee chiefs go to Philadelphia to treat for peace, but the unthinkable happens, and Red Hawk loses all he once held dear. Then he has a strange dream. What can it mean?
War, romance, and gospel truth unite in this remarkable sequel to The Shenandoah Road.
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I love writing historical fiction. I learn a lot. I learn about customs, theology, and, of course, the obvious: wars and battles and stuff.
All that is incorporated into the second installment of the Russells series, The Heart of Courage. I loved this project in particular because I was able to include a Native American character. I had to ask the questions: how did they live? How did they think?
The second question was hard. First, I looked into Shawnee theology. Yes, theology is where you start with characters. Sometimes we call it “worldview.” How does a character view the universe? How does he view God?
When Gandalf says that perhaps Bilbo was “meant” to find the Ring in The Lord of the Rings, he is making a theological statement. It is a familiar idea to most of us—a greater purpose, or the sovereignty of God, if you will. The Shawnee had somewhat different ideas about the spirit realm, and I knew those ideas would affect their behavior. I needed to understand them.
But creating a Shawnee character wasn’t just a fun thing to do. It was absolutely necessary. When I first started my research about the French and Indian War, I was horrified by the accounts of Indian raids in the Shenandoah Valley, where my characters live. I couldn’t gloss over the atrocities. Indeed, I was challenged as to how to incorporate it without giving the book an R rating for violence as I want my story to be accessible to younger readers. (I hope I succeeded.)
Early in the story, one of my characters asks, “Are they even human?” Well, I needed to show that yes, they are human, and have human motivations. Furthermore, in my research I discovered an event that is not included in most French and Indian War books. But it explained why the Shawnee acted as they did. No spoilers, though!
But getting back to theology. Many of the inhabitants of the Shenandoah Valley were Scottish Presbyterians from Northern Ireland. These hardy and sometimes uneducated folk insisted on an educated minister, held to the Westminster Confession, and taught their children the Catechism. In the first book of the series, The Shenandoah Road, my Scots-Irish frontiersman hero marries a girl born in New England. It was great fun to show how a woman from such a background would view a valley-style wedding frolic! Interestingly, the New England Congregationalists had a similar theology, as did many of the Baptists.
However, there was a hitch. In Virginia, where the Shenandoah Valley is located, the Church of England was the official church. Everyone had to pay tithe to the official church no matter your beliefs. Presbyterians and Baptists were considered “dissenters” and their ministers needed a special license and were restricted in what they could do. Baptists in particular got harassed and even thrown in jail because they were more likely to preach in public.
This sounds so foreign to us today. Naturally, I decided one of my characters would turn Baptist. But I won’t give any spoilers as to what happened to him!
Yes, theology and faith is intrinsic to this story. But also all the other stuff: battles and blood, carriages and gowns, Washington and Jefferson—oh yes, I could not resist! Enjoy!
Lynne Tagawa is an author, editor, educator, and best of all, grandma to four. She loves to write quality fiction with solid gospel content. Her debut novel, A Twisted Strand, is contemporary romantic suspense, but she thinks she’s found her true home in historical fiction.
Lynne Tagawa is offering a print copy of The Heart of Courage to one of my readers! (US/CAN only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) 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 Heart of Courage by Lynne Tagawa? What did you like most about her article?