Please join me in welcoming author Leslie Gould to the blog today to chat about her new dual timeline Amish novel, A Brighter Dawn!
Leslie Gould is the #1 bestselling and award-winning author of over forty novels, including the Sisters of Lancaster County series and the Plain Patterns series. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and an MFA in creative writing. Leslie enjoys research trips, church history, and hiking, especially in the beautiful state of Oregon where she lives. She and her husband, Peter, have four adult children and one grandchild. Learn more at lesliegould.com.
A BRIGHTER DAWN by Leslie Gould
SERIES: Amish Memories #1
GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline Amish Fiction
PUBLISHER: Bethany House
RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2023
“Incredibly well-researched, thoroughly enjoyable, and singularly original.”–SHELLEY SHEPARD GRAY, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
“A beautiful story of love, loss, and the bonds that connect a family to its faith.”–SUZANNE WOODS FISHER, bestselling author of A Season on the Wind
Ivy Zimmerman is successfully navigating her life as a young Mennonite woman, one generation removed from her parents’ Old Order Amish upbringing. But when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, Ivy’s way of life is upended. As she deals with her grief, her younger sisters’ needs, the relationship with her boyfriend, and her Dawdi and Mammi’s strict rules, Ivy finds solace in both an upcoming trip to Germany for an international Mennonite youth gathering and in her great-great-aunt’s story about Clare Simons, another young woman who visited Germany in the late 1930s.
As Ivy grows suspicious that her parents’ deaths weren’t, in fact, an accident, she gains courage from what she learns of Clare’s time in pre-World War II Germany. With the encouragement and inspiration of the women who have gone before her, Ivy seeks justice for her parents, her sisters, and herself.
Hi Leslie! Welcome to the blog!
Leslie: Definitely cats. I was born into a family with cats and have had cats my entire life. One of our cats was my muse, several have been brilliant, and some have painfully non-brilliant, but all have been valued members of the family and have added lots of love and laughter to our home.
Carrie: Pets are so great for adding love and laughter – even if (especially if?) they are painfully non-brilliant haha!
Leslie: I’ve always leaned toward words without music, like the news, podcasts, and definitely audiobooks. I love to listen to stories while I’m doing housework, walking, and gardening—basically whenever I’m not writing (lol) or reading a print book. However, I do listen to music (classical music without words) when I write.
Carrie: words without music & music without words – love it! 🙂
Leslie: I live in Portland, Oregon, which is just over an hour east of the Pacific Ocean and an hour west of the Cascade Mountains. I love both! But if forced to choose, I’ll go with the ocean. I love snorkeling, swimming, and bobbing (in warm water); walking along a stormy beach; and watching the waves from the warmth of a beach house. There’s something both soothing and primal about the rhythm of the waves and the hint of infinity that they offer.
Carrie: I’m envious of your location!!
Leslie: I love reading ebooks on my phone if I don’t have a print book with me, but I’m a BIG print book person. I collect books, and I have bookcases all over the house. I like to say I decorate with books, but others might say I hoard them (I can assure you it’s the only thing I hoard!). At last count, I own close to two thousand books. I’m hoping to have a long retirement where I can read the books I haven’t read yet—and reread the books I love so much.
Carrie: It’s not hoarding if it’s books! And oh goodness, I am hoping for that kind of retirement too 🙂
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Leslie: Researching is my superpower. Not because I’m amazing at it, but because I can’t seem to quit. Even after I’ve turned in a revised manuscript, I continue researching the subject. I could spend every waking hour doing research. I have to force myself to stop and write.
Carrie: a learner at heart ♥
Q: Who is your favorite book character from childhood?
Leslie: Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. My mother read the novel to my siblings and me when I was five or six years old. I’m the youngest of four kids born in five years, so the story was a little advanced for me at the time (later, I realized Mom left some things out as she read), but I absolutely loved Francie and the entire story—and still do! I’ve read it multiple times through the years and listened to it during the first month of the pandemic while walking with my husband. It’s a story that’s definitely stuck with me through my life.
Carrie: Isn’t it so special how a story can grab us in childhood and stay with us into adulthood? And big applause to your mom for reading aloud with you & your siblings!!
Q: Writing spaces are as diverse as authors and books. Where is your favorite space to write?
Leslie: At home, I’m like a cat. I’ll choose one space for a few weeks—like the living room—and then move to the office in the basement and then the sunroom and then the patio in the summer. Changing spaces seems to keep me more focused. But when I’m nearing a deadline and need to up my word count, I escape to the Oregon coast for a stretch and power write for 12–16 hours per day. That’s definitely my favorite place—I just can’t be there all the time. 🙂
Carrie: oh if only… 🙂
Q: What surprised you about A Brighter Dawn or your characters as you wrote their story?
Leslie: I wrote the first draft of A Brighter Dawn, which is a dual-time story, in late 2021 and early 2022. The Holodomor, the manmade famine created by Stalin to force the collectivization of farms that killed millions, is part of the backstory for the historical thread, as is Ukraine in the 1930s. The contemporary thread of the novel is set in 2014, and although the main character is a Mennonite young woman in the US, a secondary character is a Mennonite young man in Ukraine who knows he’ll be called up to fight as Russia invades Crimea and Donbas and starts the Russo-Ukrainian War.
Just as I was finishing my first draft, Russia fully invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Suddenly, my secondary character’s story became all I could think about as I wondered what his life would be like in another eight years (yes, I had to remind myself my story is fiction). And my entire story became more immediate and real as I grieved for the Ukrainian people and their countless losses.
Carrie: News stories become personal when we love someone that’s affected – even if that person happens to be fictional! I find this to be true often – including as it relates to the attacks on Ukraine – after 11 years of teaching English as a Second/Other Language to international adults. Instead of nameless faces, my heart sees Anna, Vitaily, Natasha, Maria, Anatoliy, Yaroslav, Lucy and so many more ♥
Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote A Brighter Dawn?
Leslie: The main part of the historical thread of A Brighter Dawn takes place in pre-World War II Germany when the Mennonite Church, and nearly all German churches, chose to support Hitler and the Nazi Party. As I researched and wrote the story, I became even more aware of the dangers of giving in to fear and putting politics before faith. God calls me to be an American Christian—not a Christian American. Following Christ and his teachings must come first.
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.
Leslie: Right now I’m working on the rewrites for the second book in my Amish Memories series, This Passing Hour, and the first draft for the third book in the series, By Evening Light. I’m looking forward to completing the series and having all three books in my readers’ hands!
Bethany House is offering a print copy of A Brighter Dawn by Leslie Gould 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 A Brighter Dawn by Leslie Gould?