September 1, 2023

Cindy Smallwood Interview on Until Then~A New Love Story

Interview with Cindy Smallwood on new book, Until Then.

Cindy, what inspired you to write Until Then?

I had a strong heart’s desire to explore how we as humans often have unmet longings and dreams to develop gifts or talents that might be outside what our family or community believe we should pursue.

How did you decide to combine Amish fiction with time-slip fiction? 

In many ways the Amish live in a different time, but to send an Amish person back to the 1800s added a new dimension of deliciousness. Would an Amish person adjust easier because of their way of living? In our time, the Amish are known for being separate from the world, but they were in the thick of social justice and political battles in the 1800s. A time-slip setting for this story allowed me to dive deep into the history of 1822 and write about the bravery and diligence of the Amish and Quakers when it came to fighting against slavery. Because the Amish and Quakers would never bear arms, their history is very different, and that difference had an impressive impact on quiet, unseen lives.

How do you expect the novel to resonate with your audience? 

I have strong hopes that women will be impacted by the love story between Celeste and Vin, who are separated when Vin slips through time. Vin has no understanding of how to get back home. Celeste has no idea where he is or why. She isn’t a widow who can remarry, although she meets a very kind, handsome single man. She’s thrust into being a single mom of two in a community that believes she’s the reason her husband is missing. She faces being passively ostracized while trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, and she feels the sting of being neither a successful breadwinner nor the kind of mom she dreamed of being. She’s so very lost and betrayed by her husband’s disappearance. I feel all women have witnessed or felt some of those stings on some level

What are you most excited for your readers to experience by reading this story? 

I’m most excited that as the story unfolds, we see both Vin and Celeste learn to trust in God differently than ever before, to accept what is and make good use of the time they are living in as opposed to fulfilling the dreams they shared.

You are a mother and daughter-in-law writing team. 
Can you describe your writing process? 

Our usual tag-team writing method was tossed out the window for this book. Typically, we each choose a main character or two, and through hours of brainstorming and outlining, we develop our character(s). But because of this particular story and the new difficulties of two storylines in two different times and the amount of research needed, I wrote, and Erin edited. We talked on the phone a lot to clear my head and help me to stay true to myself, my readers, and my genre. 

See, Louis L’Amour kept trying to take over! Decades ago, I read his works voraciously, and as I wrote this book, each time I slipped back in time to the 1800s, Mr. L’Amour showed up, trying to write the story from a male point of view with superheroic efforts. I got that out of my system and was able to hear just my voice. 

Finally, months later, I sent Erin the last five chapters of the book. At the time I had Covid and was quarantined in Canada, unable to return to the States. Erin read the chapters and called me, apologizing as she told me that those chapters didn’t work. The problem: I was coming from a place of being weary and irritable, and she pointed out that the characters were in love and needed to show a level of gratefulness and trust in order to be true to who they were. So, L’Amour hadn’t shown up, but Grumpy Author had arrived on the page. I told Erin if she could call her sick mother-in-law stuck in a tiny hotel room with no food service while trying to meet a deadline and gently speak the truth, she could do anything in life! I love being a team with her!

What role does faith play in this story? 

In many ways, Celeste and Vin both see their faith burned to the ground in all they thought they knew and understood, and from those ashes, they each slowly find a new faith that carries them in very different ways.

What lessons or truths do you hope people take away from Until Then? 

Vin and Celeste are trapped in lives they can barely survive, either physically or emotionally. While Vin prays unceasingly for God to show him how to return home, and he promises to be a better man, a better husband, a better dad, as time passes, he often ends his prayers with the words “Until then, may I use my time as You desire.” So, he uses the “trappedness” to do the one thing each of us can do—take on an “until then” thinking and sacrifice our desires to make others’ lives better. Isn’t that always a part of what life and love are?

You talk about the idea of an "until then" perspective in this novel. Can you explain what you mean by that? 

All of us are trapped in some ways: trapped with personal illness or the illness of loved ones, trapped with difficult bosses or a low-paying job, trapped with bills and taxes we can’t get free of, trapped in a difficult relationship, or trapped in silence as we watch loved ones suffer. When we can’t get to where we’d like to be, we can be free to do our best by praying, “Until then, may I use my time as You desire.”

Be sure and get Cindy Woodsmall's & Erin Woodsmall's new book. You will enjoy this amazing love story.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to create such a helpful blog