I want to thank Janice for joining me on the blog today. Her book Out of the Storm relaunches tomorrow.
Why did you choose this title?
I chose this title NOT bceause God brought the characters out of the storm and then spoke to them, but because like Job, they were in the midst of a terrible storm when God spoke to them. It’s based on the verse from Job 38:1.
How did you research this book?
I used mostly books to research my series, because I wrote it in the early 2000s, and Google wasn’t a thing yet. But I remember at one point having four books open, and four varied “truths.” I had to decide which truth was the most probable, considering the source and other information. The resource page on my website (http://janicedick.com/history-and-resources/) has a list of many of the books I used.
How much of the story is true and what is created?
Much of the story is true, because I couldn’t make up this kind of thing. I’m a peacemaker, and this is a story of war. So I rewrote incidents and events, weaving them into the lives of my characters. Sometimes certain character situations led me in directions I had not planned. For example, Paul Gregorovich Tekanin was only supposed to appear briefly in the first book to get my Russian bearings, but he refused to leave.
Why did you write this book?
Three basic reasons: 1. To preserve the story of my family/people group for the sake of my children and grandchildren, so they would not forget where they came from. 2. To show the broader story of the Mennonite people, as well as to understand how other cultures and societies responded to similar trials. 3. To show God’s faithfulness in and through the storms of life.
How long did it take to write it?
When I began this story, I didn’t know if I could fill a book. Then I came to 300+ pages and had to start a second book, and eventually a third. So most of the research happened with the first book. It took about two years. The second and third books took about a year each to sort out.
What did you learn about God from this story?
I learned several things about God from writing this story, some that I knew and needed to be refreshed, and some that surprised me. I learned that God does what He does; He does not owe us an explanation. (See the book of Job.) I learned that God is faithful in spite of and even through unimaginable trials, that He has something to teach us. That sometimes we suffer b/c we happen to be in a certain place at a certain time, not that we are being punished. I can’t judge whether some event or situation is a punishment, a trial for growth, or simply something God allowed for reasons unknown to me.
Why is the story set in these specific villages?
When I began this series, I was unsure about where in the Molotschna it should be set. I consider this one of my God-prompted decisions, because the villages around Alexanderkrone were a real hotspot for the conflict of the time. The Reds and Whites met there about 28 times (that’s from memory, so don’t quote me), with the war front moving back and forth through the villages. Also, some of the villages are familiar to me because of family stories.
Why is this story important to you?
This is the story of my forebears. My first reason to write it was to preserve the stories for my children and grandchildren, so they would not forget where they came from. The more I learned, the more I realized this story was universal, beyond the Mennonite experience, having happened in various ways in many cultures over time.
Are you going to write more books in this series?
My goal was to get my characters to their new home, which ended up being Saskatchewan, Canada. I did that, and my part is accomplished. There is much that happened in the new land, but it was not my time to tell it. Short answer: No.
How do you know when to begin a story and when to end it?
I knew I wanted to tell the story from three perspectives, that of a middle class Mennonite (Johann), that of a wealthy family (Katarina’s family), and that of a Russian peasant (Paul Gregorovich). Also, I wanted a male and a female point of view. So I created those characters with their settings. As I mentioned in the last answer, I ended when I had achieved my purpose of moving them to their new land. More generally speaking, an author tries to come to the story “in medias res,” which means in the middle of the action. What is my main conflict? How can I jump into it quickly? Give a quick nod to the character’s normal situation and then lean into the change that upsets his/her life. The end happens when the story is told and the loose ends are tied up. There is always much before and after the story, which must be imagined in the mind of the reader. A novel is usually a chosen piece of time.
Janice, thank you so much for sharing with my readers today. You have given us an inside look into the book. Congratulations on your re-launch.
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The entire series is available on Amazon:
Calm Before the Storm (The Storm Series Book 1)
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