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Interview with Joanne Bischof

Debut author Joanne Bischof loves to weave tales around Appalachian romance and God’s amazing love. Publishers Weekly had this to say about her debut novel, Be Still My Soul, “Bischof kicks off her Cadence of Grace series with a tale of love blossoming in the most daunting circumstances. A gem by an author sure to draw fans.”

Joanne, I love what you say on your website about your husband being a neat freak who follows you around with a trashcan and dustbuster because you're a “mess maker.” What are you favorite kinds of messes? (And can we have an award made for your sweet hubby?)

Haha! Yes, I am a major mess maker. My husband most definitely deserves an award. My favorite kind to make is usually in the kitchen. Flour, eggshells and drips of vanilla mean that the kids and I are having tons of fun baking away. I tend to try things once and then go and try something else. I’ve been a scrapbooker, a card maker, a rug braider, a soap maker and once I even tried to bag my own mint tea…the only thing that’s truly stuck is writing. It’s sort of the central thing that grounds me and all the crafts and fun activities really help in my research.

In Be Still My Soul, Lonnie and Gideon start their marriage off in circumstances that are “less than ideal.” What was your inspiration behind these two characters and their rocky start in matrimony?
As the idea for Be Still My Soul took seed, it unfolded to be a love story between two very mismatched people—a marriage between a shy, innocent girl with a strong faith, and a cocky, confident bluegrass musician who hasn’t given God much thought. By throwing them together in a shotgun wedding, I wondered how their story would unfold. Could true love rise from the ashes of broken hopes? This was the question I asked myself as Lonnie and Gideon’s journey began. I love to write about redemption and of course, I love a good happy ending, so the challenge to go from the beginning of the story, to the end was a big one and a great adventure as a writer.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
I’d say the most significant thing was also the most difficult—waiting on the Lord. It’s easy for us writers to get frustrated when things don’t happen on our schedule. But God’s plan is perfect and it has a purpose. Oftentimes one we don’t always understand in its midst.

Joanne, your family made the recent decision to homeschool, plus I see you have a wide variety of interests! What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with all the rest?
Our tiny little home is bursting at the seams with five people…there is a crib next to my writing desk, homeschool supplies in the laundry closet and stacks of loved books on every available surface. Even with all the messes and noises that come with a brood of kids in a small space, I don’t think we would have it any other way. But, it’s definitely not easy. I write mainly when everyone is asleep, whether it’s during nap time or in the wee hours of the morning. Writing is one of my absolute favorite things to do, so even if it’s in my jammies, curled up on the couch with a cup of tea, the time doesn’t really affect me. It’s all such a joy! And I’m so thankful to get to spend these years with my children. They are my best buddies and I savor getting to see the world through their eyes.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Redemption is my passion, made stronger by my husband’s accepting of Jesus as his Lord and Savior, just over a year ago. My goal with each story I write is to bring forward a story of someone who’s hungry for truth. Who’s hungry for peace. And for someone desperately needing to understand the depth and wonder of God’s love and mercy.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
The first moment that comes to mind is when my agent called me with the news that my 3 book Appalachian romance series had been picked up by my dream publisher, WaterBrook Multnomah. I was in my car, on an old highway in the middle of no-man’s land. I remember pulling off onto the dusty edge and listening to the joy in my agent’s voice that they wanted all three books and that this story that I had poured so much into, would someday get to reach readers. To know that Be Still My Soul would be brought to life by the same publisher that gave reader’s Francine River’s Redeeming Love, was an incredibly humbling and awing moment. It’s such a dream come true.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas usually come from?
I think the idea of bringing flawed characters to the page spurs me to find the words. I want to shed light on our need for a savior—using human imperfections and weakness to illuminate the strength of our Lord. He is mighty and mighty to save.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I’m smiling at the word unique ☺. I tend to write in a way that reflects the Appalachian region that is so dear to me. My writing is a little bit gritty, a little bit lyrical and always about love and faith. It’s my constant hope that those things live in the pages of my stories and reflect the characters that I hold so dear.

I saw something recently about your next book. Can you give us a sneak peek?
Absolutely! The next book is called Though My Heart is Torn and picks up with Lonnie and Gideon a few months after Be Still My Soul ends. There’s a big twist that will have readers flipping to the first pages of book 1. Here is an excerpt form the next book during a scene between Lonnie and Gideon:

Clearing his throat, he voiced her name. It fell from his lips like sweet honey. Would he ever have a reason to say her name again? Perhaps he would have to whisper it in the silent places of his heart to keep himself from losing his mind. They continued walking and Gideon waited until he had her attention. He longed for her forgiveness, but that seemed selfish. He focused instead on bringing her peace.

Any parting words?
Thank you so much for having me today! I truly enjoyed your interview and have been blessed by your ministry. It’s a joy to get to meet your readers!

Thanks for sharing with us, Joanne!

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