Allison Pittman is a high-school English
teacher, and serves as director of the
theater arts group at her church in the
San Antonio, Texas area. Her latest
novel is All for a Song
Can a young Christian woman embrace
all the Roaring Twenties has to offer
without losing herself in the process?
Q. What led you to set your latest novel
during the Roaring Twenties—and to
include a real-life historical figure?
I’ve always been fascinated with the time
period. It was a decade of such sweeping social
change. For the first time, the traditional morals
of Christian life were pushed aside for a new
“normal.” Activities like drinking and dancing
and promiscuous behavior lost their scandalous
label. It seemed like a test of faith for the entire
country. Bringing Aimee Semple McPherson into
the story brought together both the idea of this
great voice of faith coupled with the bourgeoning
power of women.
Q. How prominently does Aimee Semple McPherson
appear in the novel? (Are any of the other
characters based on or inspired by real people?)
She herself is a fairly minor character, but the circumstances
of her ministry play a major role. My other characters are
all completely born from my imagination, although the experiences
that Dorothy Lynn has with her
successive strokes are drawn from those
experienced by the mother of a dear
friend of mine.
Q. What sort of research did you do, not
just for the historical points, but also
to catch the flavor of the period?
I read several portions of McPherson’s
biography, trying to capture her voice.
I also went through fashion magazines
and catalogs of the day to “dress” my
characters. My favorite “research” came
from watching silent films and documentaries
about the early film industry,
as well as recordings of the gospel music
of the time, trying to capture Dorothy
Q. Where do you draw the line
between historical accuracy and
taking dramatic license?
I spent over an hour Googling around to
see if it was reasonable to give Dorothy
Lynn’s sister a doorbell. But then I sort
of assumed bus routes and travel time
and went for it. The doorbell was important,
because it spoke to Darlene’s level
of income, her desire to have the best
and the latest for her home. The bus and
train? Meh—that’s just to get a character
from point A to point B. So, I guess
when it matters to the character, it matters
more to me. If it’s a plot point, I feel
like I can fudge a little. More often than
not, my awesome editors let me know
that, no, I can’t....
Q. Although your novel is set back in the
1920s, how are the lessons of the novel
still relevant today?
Temptations abound. Impetuous decisions,
no matter how well intentioned,
can lead us away from the life God has
intended for us. And yet, there is always
an opportunity for repentance. While
there is breath, there is time to turn
back to God, to go to the home He has
prepared for us. Jeremiah 29:11 speaks
of the plans God has for us, but sometimes
we need to be on the other side
of those plans to truly appreciate the
prosperity of God.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!