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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KIM VOGEL SAWYER is the author of seventeen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.
COURTING MISS AMSEL
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Published by Bethany House
ABOUT THE BOOK
Edythe Amsel is delighted with her first teaching assignment: a one-room schoolhouse in Walnut Hill, Nebraska. Independent, headstrong, and a firm believer in a well-rounded education, Edythe is ready to open the world to the students in this tiny community. But is Walnut Hill ready for her?
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1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
As a former school teacher, I've always thought it would be fun to feature a schoolmarm in one of my stories. A snippet from an article about women's suffrage--it mentioned that if Nebraska had approved the right-to-vote amendment, it would have been the first state in the U.S. to give voting rights to women--planted a seed, and Edythe Amsel was born. Edythe is a very progressive schoolmarm for 1882, and Walnut Hill, Nebraska, will never be the same once she sweeps through.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
I had a lot of fun incorporating some of my own teaching methods (tweaked, of course, for a different century) into the story. Like Edythe, I wanted my students to expand their thinking--to grow personally as well as academically. I hate to confess, but I also share a tendency toward stubbornness with Miss Amsel. lol Of all the heroines I've written, I probably related most closely to Edythe because of the teaching aspect and some of her personal traits (stubborn, independent, wanting to make a difference...). But she's a lot spunkier than I ever thought about being! I'm not one to instigate or stand up very well against conflict.
3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?
Hm, Joel is such a steadfast, dependable fellow, he would probably be something that can stand alone and still blend well with others. So I'd say vanilla with real vanilla beans for an added burst of flavor. As for Edythe, since she has a penchant for "standing out," she'd be a much more exotic flavor...cinnamon with dark chocolate chips.
4. Are there any themes in Courting Miss Amsel that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
When the story originally formed in my mind, I expected a theme about being true to one's convictions to be the underlying take-away. But as I got to know Edythe better, I realized she had a real problem with letting go of control and leaning into someone else's strength. This impacted her earthly relationships, but also interfered with developing a trust in her heavenly Father. Edythe had as much growing to do as some of the children under her tutelage. Thankfully, God is a patient teacher. :)
5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
The most difficult parts concerned the historical aspects--making sure the details were right for that part of the country in that time period. Farming methods have changed greatly in the last 100 years! I scoured every resource I could find, and an 1882 Farmers' Almanac proved the most helpful. As for my favorite parts...any of the classroom scenes. Writing about Edythe relating to her students brought back so many pleasant memories of my own teaching days.
6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
The next release is titled A Whisper of Peace, set in Alaska (near Denali) at the turn of the century. I'm not sure of the release date (spring or fall?), but it will definitely be out in 2011. I'm very excited about this story--it features an Athabascan Indian heroine and a pair of missionaries, and was inspired by my visit to Alaska in 2008. It is different from my others historical stories (not a prairie in sight!), but I hope my readers will enjoy getting to know Lizzie, Vivian, and Clay.
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Thank you, Kim, for being in the spotlight with us.
ENTRY RULES Readers, answer the question associated with the spotlight in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Courting Miss Amsel. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.
Question: Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school, and why?
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