Q&A: Janet Spaeth
The author shares about her 3-in-1 historical romance collection Minnesota Brides (Romancing America):
Escape into three delightful historic romances from the land of prairies and 10,000 lakes.
Q: Your 'Romancing America' book started out as separate titles for the Heartsong Presents readers. Tell us how the individual novels are linked together into a larger picture.
Minnesota is an astonishingly beautiful state. I chose three very striking areas for each of the novels. Remembrance takes place in northern Minnesota, in the Bemidji area. There, the prairie has come to an end, perhaps 50 miles to the west, and suddenly there are forests everywhere you look. Kind-Hearted Woman is set in the southern part of the state, along the Minnesota River, near Mankato, which is a beautiful golden section of the state. And The Ice Carnival happens in St. Paul, which even in the mid-1800s, was quite the bustling city.
Q: When you were originally writing the series, how much were you focused on each individual title -- and how much were your eyes on how each piece fit into the larger story?
I was intent upon the story I was writing, although I knew as I wrote that I had a responsibility to Minnesota to share its beauty and its depth with my readers, so that was always in my mind. But all in all, the characters, who have their own life as I write, were the most important. I had to be true to them too.
Q: What was your inspiration for the original series? (And how much did your original plan change over the course of the arc?)
My inspiration was Minnesota itself. Individually, I can tell you this: Remembrance began a long time ago, with a mental image of a woman looking out of a train window at the snow. It stayed with me for years. Kind-Hearted Woman has a similar start—I drew a picture of a cat with a heart on its stomach and put it on my bulletin board, knowing that it would someday be important. I must have seen it at some point in my life, for it’s the sign of a kind-hearted woman used during the Depression. The Ice Carnival grew from my fascination with St. Paul’s Winter Carnival. I wondered what the first one was like, why it happened, and so forth, and that was the seed of the story.
Q: How does your faith influence your writing?
It’s such a part of me, how can it not be in everything I do?
Q: What do you most hope readers get out of your fiction?
I want them to feel as they read each story that they’ve spent some time with people they could have been good friends with, had they lived during that time period. I like my stories to be warm and gentle and friendly and funny, like my friends. And, I hope, like me.