I am excited to have Jan Cline on my blog today. Her latest book Heaven’s Sky has just released! So grab a cup of coffee and join us in a fun conversation about books! – Becca
I am excited to have you on my blog today. I’d like to start off with some questions so your reader’s can get to know you a little bit better.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I live in Northern Idaho with my husband and our impertinent dog, Cooper. We have three children and 9 grandchildren, most living nearby. We raised our kids on a farm not far from where we live now, but once they were grown, we moved to the city. That’s when I started to do more writing and eventually got serious about it and hooked on writing fiction instead of my usual non-fiction pursuits. We love the beautiful Northwest and wouldn’t live anywhere else.
What hobbies and activities do you like to do?
My husband recently retired so we bought an RV and plan to do some traveling. Im a craft-aholic and also like to golf. I love history, so traveling to do research is always more fun than work for me.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely not a night owl. I do my best writing in the mornings and I’m usually up early anyway. I remember at college being so annoyed at all the students who wanted to party all night and not start classes until late morning or afternoon. I felt out of sync with the rest of them, but I think it was a good thing.
Growing up, what did you see yourself doing as a career?
Singing or teaching music. I’ve been singing since I was little and I thought that would be my focus in life. But even though I enjoyed that talent, it wasn’t meant to be my gift to the world.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I’m a slow reader, was that way all through school, so I didn’t really fall in love with reading. But I did seem to have a knack for writing at an early age. My dad instilled a great love for history in me and my sister, and I naturally leaned toward that when I started writing fiction. I think the biggest thing that sparked my love for story was all the classic movies I watched as a kid. Jane Eyre, The Secret Garden, and movies like those birthed a love for well-told stories and interesting characters.
Thank you for these great answers! I have some questions about your writing and books.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
When at all possible, I like to visit places that relate to or are directly about my story. When writing my first novel, Emancipated Heart, I visited an actual Japanese American internment camp site in Wyoming. I watch hours of documentaries and do lots of online research. I often get so involved in the research part I have to remind myself it’s time to write the book.
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The third book in this series will be based on the life of my mother and her pilot husband during WWII. They are both deceased but their story is worth writing about. The rest of my stories are based on true facts and real experiences of people and American history. There are so many stories that need to be told.
What weather inspires you the most, in terms of bringing out your literary best?
Well…I never thought of it much, but I’m a melancholy personality type, so I think maybe dreary weather lends itself to the kind of stories I write. Nothing like a good rainstorm to get you in the mood to write historical and literary fiction!
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I do a bit of plotting to outline my story and organize my thoughts, but I’m a create as I go writer for the most part. I do believe in understanding the elements of a novel and how they all come together to make a good read. Most of my knowledge about novel writing came from studying with My Book Therapy and Susan May Warren. I don’t follow her model to the tee, but it’s my go-to foundation.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with again?
I have been asked by readers to do a sequel to my first novel, but I think I will just continue on with new stories about the era I love to write – 1930s and 1940s. I do think I will write more series as that allows you to stay with a character longer.
If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why?
I think that would be a Christmas novella I published in a box set a couple years ago. It’s not currently available and I’ve often thought about re-writing it. I had less time to finish the manuscript than I usually take, and I knew when I turned it in that I hadn’t done my best writing. Of course I always say my best book is yet to be written!
Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?
I would have to say my first one, Emancipated Heart. I feel so strongly about that particular event in our nation’s history, and I think our young people need to know more about what happened during WWII in general. But the Japanese American internment story is a fascinating one and I don’t think it’s been overdone movie wise.
Heaven’s Sky just released this week! This book sounds like a wonderful story!
Can you tell us a bit about your novel?
Heaven’s Sky is about two sisters who are battling the ravages of the dust bowl years of the 1930s in southern Kansas. They each have baggage from their past to deal with, and through the trials and dangers of the times, they learn lessons about faith, love, and forgiveness. A secondary but key character – a drifter named Elijah – is instrumental in showing them the paths God wants them to take to survive and thrive. It’s a touching story, showing the courage of women in that era who lived through the unimaginable.
What inspired you to write this story?
I watch a lot of documentaries and was captivated by the dust bowl story. It has a lot to do with farming, and since we come from that background, it was even more interesting to me. I knew there had to be many stories of faith that needed telling about that time in our history.
What is one thing that you learned while researching for this book that was surprising to you?
I would say it was finding out how many people stayed on their homesteads for the entire duration of the drought and dust storm phenomenon. Some did leave to find a better life in California or other places, but most stuck it out for almost 10 years before the rains came back and the storms stopped. Amazing fortitude…or just plain stubbornness.
What do you want readers to take away from your books?
My target audience is women, so I would say I want readers to see how hard life was for many women of the past – that even though so much was expected of them, they kept their faith and femininity in spite of tragedy, loss, heartache, and trials they never imagined they could endure. And that often the strength to do what they had to do came from God – the best kind of strength.
What will you be writing next?
I have slated to finish this series for 2019, and then I hope to work on another WWII story rolling around in my head. I would also like to have another Christmas novella done for Christmas this year, but we’ll see if there is time for me to write that much!
Do you hide any Easter Eggs in your books that only a few people will find? Would you be willing to share a clue with your readers?
I always add a character that is mysterious and has a part in “saving the day”. The reader never knows if they are real or an angel. I leave it to the reader to decide.
Thanks so much for letting me share about my book and other stories!
Purchase your copy HERE