I’m so delighted to welcome Linda Thompson to the blog today – she’s here to share some behind the scenes facts about her new historical fiction The Mulberry Leaf Whispers!
THE MULBERRY LEAF WHISPERS
SERIES: Brands from the Burning #2
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Fiction
PUBLISHER: Mountain Brook Ink
RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2020
A WWII Japanese naval officer. The teenage daughter of a legendary Christian samurai. Three centuries separate them, but a crucial question binds their destinies together.
Which lives have value?
In the highly anticipated sequel to her award-winning debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, Linda Thompson provides a riveting story inspired by true events.
1587. Bartered off in a peace agreement to the ancient enemies of her illustrious house, is Sono a war prize, a hostage, or a bride? One hope sustains her. If she can provide an heir to the dashing husband she just met, she’ll ensure decades of peace for the beloved family she was forced to leave behind. But when a dark secret threatens her desperate bid to purchase their security, she must rise to a battle she never dreamed she’d fight.
1942. Akira Matsuura’s naval vessel explodes under enemy fire. Everything he has lived for disappears in flames with it. His command, his crew, his future—all lost. Worse, his honor is eternally decimated. A prisoner’s life is of value to no one. Least of all to himself. But a stunning twist reveals his family’s secret shame. Can a long-buried truth provide the vital spark that reignites his will to live?
Thrill to two poignant journeys of courage, duty, and sacrifice, deftly woven through the centuries to inspire with dynamic faith that conquers despair.
pre-order now for only $2.99!
Top Five Behind-the-Scenes Facts
by Linda Thompson, author of The Mulberry Leaf Whispers
Exploring a Key Character’s Lost Years.
I’m doing my best to avoid spoilers here! In my debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, an important character returns after a number of “lost years.” If you’re going to write a series, something like that just cries to be explored, doesn’t it? I knew from the beginning of this authoring adventure that if The Plum Blooms in Winter was ever published, The Mulberry Leaf Whispers would have to be written.
Characters Drawn from Life.
While my WWII naval officer is a fictional character, several other key characters in The Mulberry Leaf Whispers stepped straight from the history books. Here’s one example. Akira meets a young Christian woman named Peggy Covell whose sacrificial commitment to serving her enemies leaves an abiding impression on him. Peggy is a historic person, and Akira’s encounter with her is based on a true event. And while she only makes a brief appearance in the novel, her story is another one of the key reasons I felt compelled to write it.
I’ve been wonderfully intrigued by the time-slip format. I mean, how can a true history lover resist the urge to explore two fascinating eras through story? So I challenged myself to try writing one. The Mulberry Leaf Whispers expands on the 1940s timeline from The Plum Blooms in Winter, while introducing a timeline from Japan’s intriguing samurai era. The protagonist of that samurai thread, the teenage Lady Sono, also comes straight out of history. So do many of the other characters who inhabit her story.
Please believe me that there were many moments when I questioned my decision to try a time-slip novel. Days when I agonized over why I had thought writing one story wasn’t pressure enough! But despite all my panic, God is ever faithful. He showed up right on His schedule—not necessarily mine!—and provided the twist I needed to weave the two stories together.
Fabulous Medieval Setting.
Much of Sono’s story takes place on Hirado, a small island toward the southern end of the Japanese “home islands.” Hirado is remote enough that it was largely spared from the WWII bombing raids that decimated much of Japan. The atmosphere of a samurai castle town still prevails in many corners of the city, and the collision of East first meeting West portrayed in the novel is still on clear display. There’s a samurai-era castle there, as well as mossy streets, ancient shrines, and venerable teahouses. And a museum displaying the treasures of the Matsuura family which are mentioned in the novel. If only a fledgling author’s budget would cover a research trip to a remote end of Japan!
Imprisonment and Freedom as a Theme.
Every one of my point-of-view characters in this series spends a significant amount of time in some kind of prison. I’m still trying to figure out why that is, or what it says about me! The Plum Blooms in Winter and The Mulberry Leaf Whispers are bookends in the sense that one follows a WWII American airman taken prisoner by Japan, while the other tracks a Japanese naval officer taken prisoner by the U.S. Their experiences are very different, but each of them needs the hand of God to lift him out of despair.
Even when they escape their physical prisons, my characters struggle to break free from spiritual bondage to the tragic wounds of their pasts. I believe I know why that theme worked its way in. Miyako’s journey to overcome her past abuse threads through both novels. The Lord used writing her journey in a powerful way to open my eyes to some aspects of my own past trauma. I found myself taking tentative steps toward freedom in time with hers.
Did My Character Come from a Teacup?
There is a lot to discover about the traditional Japanese view of women, and plenty of it has defied my expectations. I have been collecting teacups with images of geisha since I started writing this series years ago. One of those cups became my clear favorite. A lady in a striking red kimono toying with… what? I thought maybe it was a quill pen for calligraphy, but I eventually realized it was an arrow. The lady in her fine kimono was heading out to practice archery! It turns out that samurai daughters and wives were expected to possess self-defense skills and could be warriors in a time of dire need. Who knew?
So I’m writing along about this young noblewoman who’s more interested in archery and castle defenses than she is in elegant kimonos and stately gardens. And somewhere in the middle of penning the book, I realize I’m writing the woman on my teacup! Coincidence? I’m…not sure.
Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves—stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an O.C.W. Cascade Award winner and a finalist for several 2019 awards: Christy and Carol Awards, plus the International Book Award in two categories. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, one mostly-grown-up kid, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading—yes, that does make her a throwback!—enjoying their first grandchild, or taking in a majestic desert moonrise.
Linda Thompson is offering a copy of the first book in this series, The Plum Blooms in Winter (choice of paperback or ebook) to one of my readers! (US 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 Mulberry Leaf Whispers by Linda Thompson?