Dear From the Heart reader, it is my privilege today to introduce to you, author Rita Gerlach. Rita lives in Fredrick Maryland and has been enjoying promoting her latest fiction title release, Surrender the Wind, published by Abingdon Press.
Rita, you write in a genre that is not the usual Christian Fiction. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your supporting cast.
I live in central Maryland with my husband and two sons. Those three guys are my supporting cast. Lots of talent under my roof. My husband and youngest son are both accomplished guitarists. My oldest son is the brain in the family.
But if you are asking about the cast in my latest novel, I have a long list. So for the sake of brevity I’ll tell you about the two main characters. Seth is an American patriot of the Revolution who inherits his grandfather’s estate in England. Juleah is an English girl from a genteel family who falls in love with Seth and helps him overcome the scars of his past.
How and why did you decide to focus your writing on this historical time period.
I’ve always had a romantic soul for days long ago. It is not the fashions, the modes, the historical dates and famous names that have intrigued me. What draws me to eras like the Georgian or Federal periods is how differently people lived, how the majority had strong faith, that men believed their word was their bond, and that love and family were of greater significance than today.
Has it been a fun experience over all, promoting your book? Yes it has. I enjoy promotion. I think my favorite experience is connecting with readers through networking sites like Facebook and Shoutlife. It’s so fun to meet them.
Where did you get your inspiration from for this particular story? This thought popped into my mind one day. What if an American patriot of the Revolution inherited his grandfather’s estate in England after the War? I was intrigued by the idea and began exploring this as the premise for the novel. Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 rang loud and clear.
So your characters just pop into your head? Tell us, do you write in people you know or are related to?
They always do pop into my head.
There has been only one time when I drew from someone related to me. In Surrender the Wind, Juleah’s father, Sir Henry Fallows, is showing signs of early Alzheimer’s. My father suffered with this disease and I drew upon my experiences dealing with this as well as his. It was painful at times, but he was, like Sir Henry, the sweetest man you could have ever met.
I have always wondered just where authors get the names of their characters. Their names come to me out of the blue most times, and fit their personalities. I made up the name ‘Juleah’ in ‘Surrender the Wind’. I wanted my heroine to have a name set apart from all others that would be memorable.
Have you traveled overseas to do any of this research or spend a lot of time at your library? I’m fortunate to live in Maryland where my novels are partially set, and I explore those places that I visualize my characters being, such as the Potomac River area. I haven’t had the opportunity to literally visit England, but the Internet is the next best thing. With the Internet, I haven’t had to go to the library. But when I wrote my first three novels, I spent a lot of time there pouring over historical archives.
What has been the hardest part of writing your novel and how did you overcome it? The hardest part is when I experience writer’s block. But I have come to realize that writer’s block, or ‘writer’s pause’ as I like to call it, is caused by distractions and stress. It is a part of life, and so the best thing to do is to keep working, but not force the writing.
What do you hope people will take away from reading your book? That when everything is said and done, in the end it all turns out all right. Love is the cohesive bond that helps us face adversity. The message of Surrender the Wind is wrapped up in fidelity and forgiveness, and the surrendering to our Creator those winds that shove and batter us.
What new projects are you working on, are they in the same genre and time period? Thank you for asking. I am currently writing three historical novels in a series that begins in 1775. Tenatively the series title is ‘Lowlands of the Potomac’. Each book focuses on a female lead character and they are all interconnected to each other. Adultery, betrayal, and blackmail will challenge them and test their faith. But keep in mind light dispels darkness. You can expect love will triumph over all these.
I would imagine like most authors, once people know you are writing you get a lot of advice. What is the best and worst writing advice you ever got? The best advice I ever got was write from the heart. Without that kind of feeling and passion, writing can be dry as an empty well. The worse advice I ever got was never make your hero your main character. I was told if I did I’d never get published. It was not true.
What new gadget have you added as a tool to help you in your everyday writing life? A Canon Power Shot digital camera. I’m taking photos of historical places that are in the 3-book series I am writing. These will help me with building the book trailers, and promoting the books on my website. I’d like to put together a pictorial journey of each book to inspire readers and help them visualize the setting.
Is there an area in your writing that you are working on improving? I am working on toning down too much descriptive narrative by writing it tighter. I’m also working on creating more lively dialogue between the characters.
What obstacles have you run up against in your writing journey? I’m sure other writers will agree that it is rejection, the doors that never seemed to want to open. I came to a point though, that I relinquished my writing career over to God. When I did that, I was at peace about where I was going with it, whether I’d be published or not. That’s when doors started opening.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing and your previously published titles?
Would you like to offer the other authors out there a last word of encouragement? Read best selling books on writing. Learn everything you can about the craft, from character development to plotting, to how to write tight. Study how to edit your work. Study the industry and get an understanding of how publishing works. Read best selling books within your genre. Above all do not let discouragement get the best of you, and do not write for fame or fortune. If that is your goal, you are starting out for all the wrong reasons. Write because you love it and because God blessed you with a talent.
Rita, thank you so much for joining us here today and I hope our readers will check out your sites, get to know you and read Surrender The Wind. I really enjoyed it myself. I would imagine you have a healthy reader group waiting in the wings for your next release.
It was my pleasure, Diana. I’ve had a lot of readers ask me about subsequent books, and they want to read my previous novels that were print on demand published but are now out of print. Hopefully someday they will be reissued. Thanks so much for this interview!
From our heart to yours,