I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Amanda Wen to the blog today to chat about her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone!
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.
In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and worship teams, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her husband, their three adorable and hilarious Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat. Roots of Wood and Stone is her debut novel.
ROOTS OF WOOD AND STONE
SERIES: Sedgwick County Chronicles #1
GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline Romance
RELEASE DATE: February 3, 2021
This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts
Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary.Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.
Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.
A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.
This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations
Hi Amanda! Welcome to the blog! BIG Congrats on your debut novel!
Amanda: Winter! I love snow, and having a meteorological justification for my default setting (curled up by a fire under a fuzzy blanket with a book) is always nice. Plus, here in Kansas, winters are generally not too harsh—we can usually count on a few sunny, warmish days to break up the cold—which may explain why I’m more fond of them now than I was when I lived in Illinois.
Carrie: I do miss Illinois winters though… but probably all it would take is one Illinois winter to cure me of that, after living in the south for too long 😉
Amanda: Cats! I have a very snuggly Siamese named Jasmine who likes to sit on my lap when I write. Granted, sometimes that makes me type at an awkward angle, but…worth it.
Amanda: Music! In my non-bookish life, I’m a professional cellist (my college degrees are in cello performance), and I also play piano for choirs at an area middle school and high school. Music is as essential to me as writing is, and I’m blessed to be doing both!
Carrie: I love music – it’s nearly always on in our house – and I’ve always wished I could play an instrument (preferably piano because it seems easier than cello lol)
Amanda: Print. There’s just something about holding a physical book and turning real, three-dimensional pages that makes for a more immersive reading experience.
Carrie: that’s so true. I do like ebooks because of convenience and larger font size (I’m old lol) but I still love owning print books to randomly hug them whenever I want to 🙂
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Amanda: Probably multi-tasking. With my writing career, music, and three Wenlets (two boys, 12 and 10, and an 8-year-old girl) always keeping me on my toes, multi-tasking is pretty much a way of life! I don’t know if it’s truly a superpower or just a key to survival, but I’ve gotten fairly decent at it over the years.
Carrie: I’d say it’s a little bit of both lol
Q: Which books are ‘on your nightstand’?
Amanda: *wanders in to check on the stack* Okay, here’s the stack of books that’s literally on my nightstand right now, no editing or anything:
Burying Daisy Doe by Ramona Richards (I’m a sucker for anything that involves a cold case)
The Sowing Season by Katie Powner (She happens to be a dear friend of mine, and if you haven’t read her beautiful debut yet, you’re missing out. Bernard the Rooster is the BEST.)
The Beautiful Ashes of Gomez Gomez by Buck Storm (a very well-written and intriguing work of contemporary fiction)
Wish You Well by David Baldacci (which, despite its not being a romance at all, contains one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read)
Two non-fiction books (When Anxiety Strikes by Jason Hobbs and Dena Hobbs and Get Out of that Pit by Beth Moore)
The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene Peterson
Carrie: ahhhh so many great books i still need to read! lol
Q: If I sneaked a peek in your purse right now (which I would never do, I promise!), what would it tell me about you?
Amanda: It would tell you that I’m a mom (because there’s usually a crayon or a Lego in there somewhere, if not both), a cellist (because there’s a rock stop and rosin), a hoarder of tissues, receipts, and coupons, a collector of Frequent Buyer Cards for various local establishments (most of them coffee-related), a person who can never find her sunglasses because they’re buried amidst all the other flotsam in there, and a lipstick addict (even in these days of masking).
Carrie: I feel weird going out without my lipstick even masked-up so I always have to wear some too.
Q: Were there any songs that inspired you as you wrote Roots of Wood and Stone?
Amanda: What kind of musician would I be if I didn’t answer this question? Yes, several songs inspired me; I actually made a Spotify playlist for the book, which includes:
Hard Love by NEEDTOBREATHE; it always makes me think of Sloane and Garrett
The Silence of God by Andrew Peterson, which reflects much of Jack’s spiritual journey
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman; I listened to this song while researching the lives of my ancestors, and found its lyrics very descriptive of their steadfast faith
Wanted by Danny Gokey; these lyrics led me to heavily revise one of Sloane’s pivotal scenes. My editor hadn’t suggested any changes for it, but when I heard the lyrics of this song, the scene pretty much rewrote itself. Fortunately, my editor was cool with it. 😉
To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra, which might not be familiar by name, but if you’re a fan of the TV show This Is Us, it’s the one that played during the scene where the Pearsons’ house burned. To Build a Home is basically the theme song for the entire book and was the source of its working title (A Home for You).
Carrie: oh wow – these are fabulous songs!
Q: Some authors like to hide little things in their stories. Is there anything you have hidden in Roots of Wood and Stone?
Amanda: Roots of Wood and Stone is inspired by aspects of my own family history. My mom is a genealogist and has been tracing our family—and sharing their stories with me—my whole life. As an homage to her and all the rest of my ancestors, many of the people and places in my story are named for those ancestors. (Examples include last names like Anderson, places like Blackledge Creek, and Annabelle’s Uncle Stephen and Aunt Katherine. Stephen and Katherine share first names with two of my real-life ancestors who, like their fictional counterpart, took in and raised their motherless niece).
There are also several shout-outs to Wichita, Kansas, my home for most of my life, which people who’ve been around these parts might recognize. (For example, my fictional pizza place, Mirabelli’s, is named for Doug Mirabelli, a standout baseball player for Wichita State who went on to play catcher for my Boston Red Sox).
Carrie: I love learning about the various people and places that built my own life and allowed me to be who I am today – and I love that you incorporated yours into this book!
Q: What do you most want readers to take away from Roots of Wood and Stone?
Amanda: The message of Roots of Wood and Stone is ultimately one of hope. That the God who loves us enough to send his Son for us has a plan better than anything we could come up with. He is always there, faithfully guiding our steps, even—or perhaps especially—when we’re not aware of it. That no matter how dark things look or how many trials come our way, He is faithful, and he will weave those trials into a tapestry more beautiful than we could possibly imagine.
Carrie: Amen & Amen1 He is so faithful ♥
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Amanda: I’m currently working on revisions for the second book in the Sedgwick County Chronicles series, which features a second-chance romance in the present and an interracial relationship in the past, with both the past and present stories involving side characters from Roots of Wood and Stone. I’m also kicking around ideas for a new series of split-times inspired by a couple of local unsolved mysteries. Stay tuned…
Carrie: ooooooo you had me at ‘local unsolved mysteries’!!!
Amanda Wen is offering a signed, print copy of Roots of Wood and Stone to one of my readers! (US only for print. Ebook available if winner is outside the US. 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.
I’ll have more info on this tomorrow but you can also enter to win a copy from the Read with Audra blog tour. Click the pic below for more info!
What about you? What makes you want to read Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen?