Author Insights

As I’ve been working diligently on Book 2, I have found not one but three characters that are central to the story. There is yet another who will come to prominence later on. For those who like to ask questions about the writing process, this may be of interest.

With the exception of some insights from Hannah’s perspective, and a few moments with Friedrich, most of Sani is completely focused on Frederick. I guess you could almost call it literary fiction, because it is so character-driven.

I had originally intended this book to be the same way, but it is developing far differently than I planned. While I am enjoying seeing the story from each character’s perspective, I find myself really missing the deep dive into the heart of one character. I remember feeling Frederick’s struggles so intensely. I knew his every thought, his every movement.

Up until yesterday, it bothered me that I haven’t been able to go so deep with any of my characters this time around. While I believe that ultimately this book is still going to culminate in the story of one young man, his story is very much intertwined with and inseparable from the stories of the others, to the point where I may need to separate it into two separate novels. It is a story of abandonment, devastating loss, and the struggle to move on and learn to trust again, not just another individual, but God Himself.

It is also a story of how hurting people hurt people. (Thank you to my dear friend Jen for being a voice of confirmation on that theme.) And it is a story of transcendent love. The love of God, and the love that is possible when God is the source of one person’s love for another.

Yesterday evening, something was weighing on my heart. Granted, I didn’t feel well, but sometimes God uses our infirmities to force us into a place of listening. After I put my children to bed I just sat at my desk with soft piano music playing in the background. I was tired, but didn’t want to sleep, so I pulled out one of the sketches I’ve been working on, a portrait of one of my Schmidt boys. As I gazed at his picture, sketched a line here, and erased a line there, I thought deeply about his story and his pain. I feel like I really began to understand him, and know him the way I knew Frederick.

Ernst. I’m no artist, but sketching my characters
helps me know them better.

It didn’t help that Brian Crain’s instrumental version of “Hallelujah” came on. I kind of feel like I crossed over into crazy brooding artist mode, because I truly wanted to cry over his story. I guess that’s okay if it makes the story better in the end.

We’ll have to see how it unfolds. Although I’ve had a plan all along for this book, it continues to transform as I write, the story deepens and the patterns created by the strands of the characters’ lives become more and more complex.

I’m eager to get to Germany, so that I can walk the streets my Schmidt boys would’ve walked. Although I’ve never considered the Schmidts to be from Bavaria originally (my own Schmidts and other German ancestors are from Hesse and Rhineland-Pfalz), that is where the family finds itself in the first part of the 20th Century. There was some ideological and interpersonal strife, which is why the family became fragmented in the 1800s. Some moved north to the outskirts of Schwerin and others immigrated to America, as we know from Frederick’s story.

So far I have published one book… however in my mind the saga has become very complex and multi-generational, stretching (at least) from the early-mid 1800’s through modern day Germany. We’ll see how far my writing takes me over the next few years and which of the stories I get to share with my beloved readers!

Another quick update, I am (finally) actively working on finding a narrator for the audiobook version of Sani, which people have been requesting for a year now. Please keep that process in prayer if you are so led. Feel free to Like my author page on Facebook in order to stay up to date on this process, as well as the progress I’m making in Book 2. Or, you can click below to be added to my mailing list.

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