Contact: Nancy Berland, 800-308-3169
Kim Miller, 800-308-3169
Uhrichsville, OH —When most everyone can hop in a car, bus or subway and shop for groceries, take the kids to baseball practice, or pick up the dry cleaning, it’s difficult to imagine the hardships endured by the Quaker WOMAN OF COURAGE in New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter’s April novel.
Published in trade paperback and digital formats by Shiloh Run Press, a Barbour Books imprint, WOMAN OF COURAGE (ISBN 978-1616260835) is a love story wrapped in the arduous adventure of a determined young Quaker woman, who is responding to a calling. Her journey takes readers from Amanda Pearson’s modest home in Dansville, New York, to a primitive missionary outpost in 19thCentury Oregon Country. Amanda’s faith—and a promise she made to her dying father —sustain her as she faces long days in the saddle, the death of her father and her guide, treacherous mountains, attacks by Indians and wild animals, as well as heartache, injury and bone-chilling weather. But as a WOMAN OF COURAGE, Amanda Pearson perseveres. She is determined to reach the settlement established by missionaries Henry and Eliza Spaulding to minister to the Nez Perce Indians.
“I identified with Amanda’s pain and took the journey west in my mind as I wrote WOMAN OF COURAGE,” says Brunstetter, a key founder of the now-popular Amish fiction genre with more than seven million copies of her books sold. “WOMAN OF COURAGE is my first novel using a Quaker as a main character. My great-great-great grandparents were part of the Dutch Quakers, and that is what made me think to include a Quaker woman in this book.”
As for inspiration for the book itself, Brunstetter says, “When my husband was pastoring a church in Troy, Idaho, several years, we discovered the nearby town of Lapwai. There we found a historical museum with information about the Nez Perce Indians and Rev. Henry and Eliza Spaulding, missionaries who brought education and the Christian faith to their tribe.”
According to Brunstetter, whose career spans more than 60 published books, Eliza Spalding and another missionary, Mrs. Marcus Whitman, were the first white women to travel to Oregon Country. “I believe they were able to accomplish what trail-hardened men couldn’t because of their gentle spirits, love for the Indians, and of course, their devotion to God.”
Brunstetter will revisit the backdrop for WOMAN OF COURAGE when she signs her new novel inLewiston, Idaho, on April 5 at His Story Christian Bookstore. Other appearances will find her signing April 4 in Spokane’s Lifeway Christian Store and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho’s Sower Bible Bookstore and at the RT Booklovers’ Convention in New Orleans May 17. For times and locations, checkwww.WandaBrunstetter.com and her Facebook page.
Among Brunstetter’s honors is the Retailer’s Choice Award, and many of her books have been Picks of the Week at CBD. Her 2012 novel, THE HALF-STITCHED AMISH QUILTING CLUB, inspired “Half-Stitched – the Musical,” a play drawing packed houses for the second year in several Midwest cities.
Brunstetter and her husband, Richard, a talented photographer, live in Yakima, Wash.
To learn more about Wanda E. Brunstetter and WOMAN OF COURAGE, visitwww.WandaBrunstetter.com. For an interview with the author or a review copy of the book, contact Nancy Berland, Nancy@NancyBerland.com, or KMiller@NancyBerland.com, 800-308-3169.
An Interview with Wanda E. Brunstetter About Her April 2014 Novel,
WOMAN OF COURAGE
- Woman of Courage is a love story wrapped in an adventure, a journey story, if you will, and a departure from the books you’ve been writing. What inspired you to write this compelling book?
My husband was the pastor of a church in Troy, Idaho, for five years. While we were there, we discovered the community of Lapwai a short distance from our home. There we found a historical museum with information about the Nez Perce Indians and the Rev. Henry and Eliza Spalding, who were the first to minister to these people. I found it fascinating and could almost visualize the setting and the things that had transpired during that time in the 19th century. Following our visit I did a lot of research on this topic and decided that someday I would write a book set in this time period and location.
- Amanda Pearson is a Quaker—you usually write about the Amish. What inspired you to write a story about a Quaker woman heading west? What new research did you have to conduct in order to write about this character?
Woman of Courage is my first novel in which a Quaker is a main character. My great-great-great grandparents were part of the Dutch Quakers, and that is what made me think to include a Quaker woman in this book. I did a lot of research on the Quakers of that era and let my imagination take over as I created Amanda Pearson’s character and decided on the obstacles she would have to face on the trip to Oregon Country.
- What role did missionaries play in settling the geographical areas encompassed by your story inWoman of Courage? Why do you think they were able to accomplish what trail-hardened men were not able to do?
Eliza Spalding and another missionary, a Mrs. Whitman, were the first white women to travel to Oregon Country—they were accompanied by their husbands. The Whitmans settled around what is now Walla Walla, Wash., and the Spaldings made their home in Lapwai, Idaho. Each couple set up a mission to minister to and educate the Indians. I believe they were able to accomplish what trail-hardened men couldn’t because of their gentle spirits, love for the Indians, and, of course, their devotion to God. The missionaries went west on a mission—to share the Good News with those who had never heard about God.
- It’s almost inconceivable what Amanda went through on her journey west, the heartbreak, the hardships, the determination to lead those she met to Jesus. What is the most difficult hardship you have endured, and how have you drawn on that experience to write Woman of Courage?
I’ve encountered many trials over the years, but one that particularly stands out in my mind is the two years my husband and I were separated while he served in Germany during the time he was in the Army. Then, wives of enlisted men with a lesser rank did not have their travel paid in order to join their husbands. Too, since I was expecting our first baby and couldn’t work due to extreme morning sickness, I had no choice but to remain in the United States. It was the longest two years of my life, and it seemed like an eternity until Richard came home. Due to our income at the time, and the high cost of long-distance overseas phone calls, we were only able to speak to each other a few times during his absence. Letters and recorded tapes are what tied us together. It was especially hard when our son was born and my husband didn’t have enough money or leave time to return home for the special event. Again, letters, pictures and recorded tapes helped, but it wasn’t the same as if he had been there in person to share in the joy of the birth of our first child. Since this occurred during the Vietnam War, I lived with the fear that my husband might not be able to return home. Remembering the pain and fear I endured this time, I was able to write a story about a woman who faced her own difficult hardship. But through it all, she never gave up and kept her faith in God, just as I did when my husband was overseas for two years.
- Tell us what you saw in Lapwai Creek in the former Oregon Territory the first time you visited the town. Are there any remnants there today of those early years? Landmarks?
My husband and I have visited Lapwai several times. The hills surrounding the area and nearby river are the same as they were in my story. We visited the cemetery where the Spaldings were buried. As we stood in that spot, I could almost feel, hear, and see those Nez Perce natives, whose lives were transformed, thanks to the early missionaries.
- Tell us more about the Nez Perce (Nimiipu) Indians. What remains of the tribe today?
The current tribal lands consist of a reservation in North Central Idaho, primarily in the Camas Prairie region, south of the Clearwater River, in parts of four counties: Nez Perce, Lewis, Idaho, and Clearwater.
- Amanda had difficulty adjusting to hours and days in the saddle. One can just imagine how uncomfortable and painful that journey must have been. Have you ever ridden horses? Gone on a rail ride?
I went horseback riding for the first time when I was in sixth grade, with some friends from school, at a riding academy not far from our home. It turned out to be a terrible experience. The horse I was given had a mind of its own. I remember the fear I felt as the mare raced down the trail at full speed, leaving me hanging on for dear life. I hollered “Whoa!” many times, while tugging on the reins, but the horse kept running. The man in charge finally came alongside with his horse and got mine to slow to a steady walk.
- The scenes of your characters trekking across the wilderness and sleeping outdoors with all kinds of wild creatures have such a ring of authenticity to them. Like Amanda and others in the book, have you ever camped in the wilderness, had to “make do” with the provisions you had with you? If so, what did you learn about yourself in the process?
My father liked to go camping, fishing, and hunting, and he took our family on many such trips where we had to sleep in a tent. I also went camping with my Camp Fire group and often roughed it in the woods. What I learned most through those experiences is that I’m not the camping type, so I long ago put my days of tent camping and roughing it behind me. Early in our marriage, my husband and I owned a well-equipped camping trailer that had many of the conveniences I was accustomed to at home. But you can’t really call that camping . . .
- What character in Woman of Courage do you relate to the most and why?
I suppose it would be Amanda, since she was faced with obstacles that could have weakened her faith. Instead, she clung to the hope that God was with her and would see her through. Growing up in a dysfunctional home, I was put in fearful situations all too often. However, due to my religious training and the love I felt from my church family, I put my faith in God, and He saw me through every frightening situation.
- Through your story, you show that Amanda is truly a woman of courage. However, there were other women in your story who earned this designation as well. Do you think a woman (or a man) is born with courage, learns it, or acquires courage in another manner?
I don’t think anyone is born courageous. Whether a person is courageous or not might depend on the circumstances of their childhood, too. I believe people acquire courage by facing their fears head-on and asking God, and sometimes others, to help get them through whatever trials they may face.
- Some authors plot their books from beginning to end. Others have a general idea of where a story is headed when they begin a book, and as they write, the book unfolds. What was your process with this book?
In addition to the summary for my story, before I write the first draft of the book I usually do a chapter-by-chapter outline. However, quite often I don’t stick strictly to the outline, as new ideas will come to me as the story unfolds.
- While writing this Woman of Courage, were there any surprises revealed to you? Did your characters develop in ways you had not planned?
When I plotted the book and began to write the story, it was going to be primarily about Amanda, and how she found the courage to make what seemed like an impossible trip. Then, as I got into the meat of the story and introduced the Indian woman, Mary Yellow Bird, I realized that her story and the reason behind her bitterness from the past, needed to be told. So, in the end, not only was Amanda a woman of courage, but Yellow Bird was as well. In fact, some of Amanda’s strength and ability to forge ahead came from watching her new friend and listening to her story, which was, indeed, a sad one.
- Sometimes it’s difficult for an author to know the theme of a book before she writes the pages. Did you know what the theme of Woman of Courage would be? What is that theme, and how has that theme played out in your own life?
I knew the theme of this book, as I do most of the stories I write, before I began the actual writing process. The theme, as the title indicates, is “courage.” When we are placed in frightening circumstances, our first reaction is often to panic. When we are faced with insurmountable odds, our first inclination is to run from the problem. I wanted to run and hide when I was a child. Instead, I grabbed hold of Jesus’ hand and never let go.
- In the time setting of Woman of Courage people faced many hardships and much adversity. Today we also face adversity but of other kinds. What time period’s adverse conditions do you think were or are worse, that of your story or today’s, and why?
In that time period, people were faced with adverse conditions, as they are in today’s world. Back then, though, they didn’t have computers, cell phones, or ready means of communication. They were also faced with many dangers in the wild. Nowadays, we have other fearful situations, which are brought to light every time we watch the news. I believe the conditions the pioneers faced in their everyday life, though, in the wilderness, were more adverse than what we face now. With the exception of the Amish, and some other Plain groups, most of us today don’t deal with the hardships the pioneers had to face. However, we do face other dangers and difficulties. So, in a physical sense, the people in Woman of Courage faced more outwardly adverse conditions, but not necessarily any worse than what we do with the emotional challenges of our everyday living. Today there are so many horrible things going on around us.
- Buck experienced an epiphany at the story’s end that changed his life forever. Why do you think Buck was finally able to welcome God into his heart?
I believe Buck was able to see the light and forgive those who had hurt him, because he saw the change in his mother, who had forgiven those who had hurt her, which enabled her to find redemption for her soul.
- What would you like your readers to know about your journey as you wrote this book?
I would like them to know that before I began writing the book, I asked God to give me the words that would touch someone’s life and help them see that God is with them, no matter how fearful or hopeless a situation might be. I would like my readers to know that as I wrote this story about Amanda Pearson, a Quaker missionary, I identified with her pain and took the journey west in my mind.
For a review copy of Woman of Courage or to arrange an interview with Wanda Brunstetter, contact Nancy Berland, Nancy Berland Public Relations, 800-308-3169, firstname.lastname@example.org