Sunday, August 12, 2018

Summer Stories: Shenandoah Road

Behind the Scenes: The Shenandoah Road
A guest post by Lynne Tagawa

Most authors start with theme or characters or plot—or all three—when writing a story. I confess that I did spend time on all of those things as well when I first gave thought to the idea of exploring the time period of the Great Awakening in the 1740s.

But as I did research on the time period, it seemed as though the setting itself steered the course of the project. I fingered through a huge book called Albion’s Seed, an encyclopedic description of the various types of people who had emigrated from the British Isles and settled North America. You might think that, hey, they all spoke English, weren’t they pretty much all alike?

Nope. They were almost all Protestant, spoke English, and had fair skin, but it is amazing how New Englanders differed from Quakers who differed from the planters down south. Not to mention the Scots from Ulster, Ireland, who flooded these shores in a wave lasting over fifty years before the Revolution slowed immigration.

Then revival breaks out in Connecticut under the preaching of Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield preaches in the fields from New England south to Georgia. Suddenly Benjamin Franklin can’t keep enough of Isaac Watts’s hymnbooks on his shelves. Everyone is singing. All that is in the story.

As I dug deeper, I discovered that everything was not as peachy-keen as it sounds. Good ministers disagreed with each other on the itinerant preachers rising up in Whitefield’s wake. They labeled these people “enthusiasts” who might harm the cause of Christ.

Between the cultural divides and the religious controversy, there was plenty of story material. I didn’t have to make up the tension and conflict—it was already there. Midway through the project, I discovered that a real-live minister in my story, a pastor in the Shenandoah Valley, disagreed with the revivalists. He’s kind of an important character, so my story took a little jag. Nothing I planned!

I’d tell you more tweaks I had to make to my story, but no spoilers! I will say this: it contains a romance, but it’s totally G-rated. I teach teenagers, and whenever I wrote a scene, in the back of my mind I’d think of my students. It is written for adults, but homeschoolers are sometimes given Herodotus to read. They’ll read whatever their parents let them. 

I hope you like it too.

Author Bio:
Lynne Tagawa is married with four grown sons and three marvelous grandbabies. 

She’s written a Texas history curriculum in narrative form, Sam Houston’s Republic, and The Shenandoah Road, a story of the Great Awakening, is scheduled to be published in 2018. 

Lynne lives with her husband in South Texas.

Book Blurb for The Shenandoah Road:

John Russell’s heart aches from the loss of his wife, but the Shenandoah Valley frontiersman needs to marry again for his daughter’s sake. At first, he believes he has found the right young woman, despite their differences in background, but his faith falters when time reveals she isn’t quite what she seemed. Can he truly love her? And what about his own failings?

Unlike her disgraced sister, Abigail Williams obeys the Commandments. At least, she thinks herself a Christian until a buckskin-clad newcomer courts her. He treats her kindly but also introduces her to a sermon by the controversial preacher, George Whitefield. Her self-righteousness is shattered, and she wonders about their relationship. If she confesses her lack of faith, will John continue to love her?

“Lynne Tagawa transports readers into the faith and hope, and sorrows and fears of 18th century colonial America. While other books feature the raw grit of frontier colonial life, this book goes deeper and reveals the heart.” —Douglas Bond, author of numerous books, including War in the Wasteland and Hostage Lands.

“The Shenandoah Road is an authentic and engaging journey back to the challenges of settling in the Shenandoah Valley” —Laura Hilton, author of Firestorm (Whitaker House, 2018)

“Raw, realistic, and historically packed, this story will make you think. If you enjoy stories with deep theological themes, you will enjoy this.” —Amber Schamel, author of Solve by Christmas, winner of the 2018 Christian Indie Award

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