Suite T's Interview with Janet Grunst
Janet Grunst is a lifelong student of history. her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, and encouragement to the reader. She is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was the 2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. The second book in the series, A Heart For Freedom was the 2019 Christian Indie Award for Historical Fiction.
Janet how do you manage to write a historical novel and make it feel fresh?
While historical events and actual people are set at a specific point in time, there are often details about them that readers have little knowledge of and find interesting. Fictional characters in historical novels often experience many of the same issues mankind has struggled with throughout time. The characters’ attitudes and how they navigate life decisions are often a view into the era and culture in which they live.
elements do you use to make your historical fiction become what your readers
want to read?
I believe readers want a compelling story, either character or event-driven. Thorough research and accuracy in depicting everything about the era are critical. Readers of historicals expect that and pick up on an author’s errors. Those of us who write historical fiction love the research, and for me, it’s an ongoing process, not just before I start a story. It involves everything from words, idioms, and items in use at the time, modes of travel and communication, and knowledge of the area in which the story takes place.
Where did the idea come from for this book?
Did you ask the “What if questions” and if so, what were the first what if questions?
Interesting question. My what-ifs would have to be what if my traumatized characters’ behavior is misunderstood and fractured relationships. And what if there is no easy answer to solve it?
Were you able to put a different twist on your story so it would not seem like other stories?
Yes, I had several characters coping with PTSD, and one with non-combat-related trauma who struggled with it. It’s a complex condition and I wanted to write a story of perseverance and hope. PTSD is a complex condition and isn’t always solved. However, people can learn to have fulfilling and productive lives while coping with it.
Did you focus on a specific group of people during a turbulent time?
The Revolutionary War lasted seven years and was our first civil war often pitting neighbors, families, and friends against each other. The series takes place in various parts of Virginia and the Carolinas centering around several families in Fairfax County and Alexandria during the Revolutionary War.
What time periods do you like to write about?
I find many different eras fascinating. The series takes place in the colonial period through the Revolutionary War. I also have a novella The Year Without Summer, in The Highlanders: A Smitten Historical Romance Collection. It takes place in 1816 Scotland and Ireland. The story I’m currently working on takes place in 1847.
What draws you to that time period?
I find it fascinating how current events can change the course of a person's life. The circumstances my characters find themselves in are the result of personal tragedy, political, economic, cultural, agricultural, and even geological events.
Did you focus on a special individual?
Since my stories are all in the historical romantic fiction genre there are always two main characters.
Do you think the setting enhances your writing?
Absolutely. I think the setting gives a story depth, and sometimes a vital part of the story.
What advice would you give a novice about writing historical novels?
Write the truth about history, the good and the bad. We live in an era when history is being rewritten and too often our young people are not being educated about what made our country great.
Be faithful in doing the research as much as writing your story. Accuracy is essential and in historical fiction, it will impact almost everything in your story.
And finally how do you feel the pandemic affected your writing?
Other factors impacted my writing during this period, but I can’t blame them on the pandemic.
We want to thank Janet for spending time with us today, If you love historical fiction you will definitely love Janet Grunst stories.
Here are links to get in touch with Janet Grunst: