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Interview with Janet Grunst

Historical romance author Janet Grunst has always been fascinated by World and American history. "It provides a window into the periods, people, events, and motivations that change the world." Although there are several interesting time periods for historical authors to write about, Janet chooses to pen novels about the Colonial Era.

"It's compelling because it encompasses the birth of our nation. God equipped courageous people at the right time to dare to take on the most powerful army and navy in the world when we didn’t have either, and then lead them as they formed our government."

Learning about those courageous colonial men and women took a lot of research. Lucky for Janet, she's just like a lot of historical fiction writers, in that she loves the research aspect of writing in this genre. "Sometimes it's a challenge to stop studying and get back to writing!" Janet did "a ton of research on emigration and indentured servants." Her bookcases are filled with books on this, in addition to many large notebooks she's made.

Some of Janet's research comes from the website Colonial Quills, which states on the "About" page that it is, "a website devoted to promoting colonial era to early American inspirational fiction." Janet is also a contributor to this site.

"Carrie Pagels, another colonial era writer, mentor, and local friend began Colonial Quills and asked me several years ago to join the group. It’s humbling and an honor to be associated with these fine writers, and I enjoy learning from their interesting posts."

Where is one location where a lot of research for Janet's novels takes place? Right there in her backyard, so to speak! Janet resides in the "historic triangle" of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. She says while living there she's become familiar with the locations, and it gives her a good sense of place, and she also gets to discover new and interesting tidbits.

"Virginia is like a candy shop for anyone interested in American history. You can hardly go anywhere throughout the Old Dominion without finding yourself in a place of historical significance. Or even meet people who are relatives of famous historical figures."

It is highly likely other colonial era authors have taken a bite out of this state's sweet historical informational pie, and maybe that's why Janet has enjoyed some of their novels so much. She says there are too many wonderful authors with great books to pick a favorite, but one that stands out is a book she read in the '80s, Follow the River by James Alexander Thom, a story based on true events that took place in 1755. Other authors who write "wonderful colonial period books" according to Janet are: Laura Frantz, Elaine Marie Cooper, J.M. Hochstetler, and Susan Craft. "I'm always impressed by their research and crafting terrific stories."

Other people who are impressed with Janet's abilities in researching and writing wonderful stories are her husband Ken, her agent Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency, and editors and other individuals at her publishing house, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC).

"Ken enjoys fiction and non-fiction and he reads all my stories. He is also my first reader and gets a set of red pens in his stocking every Christmas."

Why go with an agent and publisher instead of going indie? "Probably because I personally needed to know that an industry expert found my work worthy of publishing. Fortunately, there are so many legitimate options for writers, including Indie."

Janet says her agent was familiar with LPC and knew they were willing to take a chance on new writers. "They are amazing, and I've been delighted to work with them."

She started working with them with her first novel in this American Revolutionary war trilogy. Is there a distinct message Janet wants to get across in this series, a main takeaway, or is she like some authors who have the main goal to "just tell a really great story" each time?

Janet says she certainly wants to always write good stories, but all her books do have specific themes. Her debut novel A Heart Set Free is a story of forgiveness; her just-released novel A Heart for Freedom is a story of faithfulness; and third book in the trilogy, the book she's currently working to complete, is a story of forbearance.

Her themes help show why she chooses to write inspirational historical fiction. "I desire to share stories that communicate the truths of Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader." The Colonial Era setting does provide ample opportunities for Janet to fulfill these writing objectives, and even though people from that point in history lived and died long before we did, Janet reminds us that we who live in the modern-day actually have a lot in common with characters from her historical novels.

"People deal with the same kinds of trials, joys, fears, and challenges no matter the era or location. We all have that hole in our hearts that we look to have filled, materially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually."

Some similar trials and challenges a certain group of people have encountered during this century and last are … all the factors involved in how long it takes a writer to publish a book! The majority of writers don't decide one day to write a book and then it gets written and published a couple of months later. Janet's debut novel took only six months to write the original story—but 31 years to get it published.

"In 1985, Christian fiction publishing was very different, we didn’t need agents and could query publishers. Lots of rejections and a couple of almosts."

During the time she started her first novel, she also wrote non-fiction, writing regular columns for two regional papers. One column was a human-interest column, writing about the challenges of raising children, etc., and for the other column, Janet interviewed and wrote about local folks who operated home-based businesses.

Janet then had to set her writing aside for many years until she retired. A couple of reasons she needed to set it aside were to earn a living and take care of her children. One of the places she worked for during that time was Community Bible Study, which is an international ministry with thousands of classes throughout the world. Classes in the United States take place in host churches of all denominations. This is a ministry that Janet continues to be a part of today.

"When I suddenly had to raise my sons on my own and needed a job, I was living in Northern Virginia, and had been serving in leadership in one of the local CBS classes. Fortunately, the CBS office was located in Reston at the time. It was such a blessing to be able to work first for CBS International as the office manager and then in CBS, most recently as the EA for the Director of the ministry."

Of course, Janet's two sons are grown now, and they both have children of their own, making Janet a grandma of eight. Her youngest son has two kids, and her oldest son has six kids, including quadruplets! One son is a Major in the Army / Army National Guard, and the other son is a Commander in the Navy.

Being in the military runs in the family, as Janet's dad and grandpa were career naval officers, and Janet was also a military wife. This military background is incorporated into Janet's writing, particularly her latest release A Heart for Freedom, in which the tension between the Loyalists and Patriots is mounting, and hero Matthew Stewart is asked to help the Patriots.

"I have great respect for all those who serve in our armed forces and for their families. We owe our freedoms to those individuals who were willing to put their personal interests aside to take up arms against the most powerful military of that era. The sacrifices the Patriots made, as well as those who have served in the armed forces since then, needs to be understood and appreciated by the rest of the nation."

No doubt readers will come to a clearer understanding and appreciation of this after reading Janet's novels. The third book in the trilogy deals with the next generation of the main characters in the first two books. She is about midway done on it, and is eager to finish soon so there isn't too long a wait between books.

What are Janet's future writing plans? "LPC asked me to be part of a Highlander collection of novellas. That was fun because I set it in the villages my family came from in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The next story I'd like to tackle takes place in the 19th century."

Looks like Janet's husband Ken better get out those red pens!

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Melinda Freeland wrote her first "novel" at age 8 about Mr. & Mrs. Texas Toast, and their struggle to get off the plate before someone ate them. Today, Melinda writes fiction you can relate to—about humans—and their real struggles, not only in relationships, but also with understanding and trusting God. Love, Texas – Population 2 is her debut Christian contemporary romance novel. It was inspired by Melinda's reunion with her first love, her life as a small-town reporter, and her faith journey. Melinda lives in Texas with her handsome husband, two great kids, and her lovable Pug. She'd love to connect with readers at www.melindafreeland.com and on social media @authormelindafreeland and @melindafreeland.






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