Monday, September 15, 2008

Meet Bonnie Leon, Author of LONGINGS OF THE HEART

THE BIO

Bonnie LeonBonnie Leon is the author of fifteen novels, including the popular Queensland Chronicles and the Sydney Cove series and the bestselling Journey of Eleven Moons. She also stays busy speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions. Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.


THE INTERVIEW

JA: Your latest book is Longings of the Heart. Please tell us about it.
BL: I’m so glad you asked. I’m very excited about book two in the Sydney Cover Series.. Longings of the Heart picks up where book one, To Love Anew, left off. There are a couple of unanswered questions in book one, so some of the readers I’ve heard from are anxious to continue the story of John and Hannah. The transplanted Australians have survived betrayal and imprisonment and are ready for a new beginning. They imagine grand possibilities, but soon realize that their dreams are in jeopardy.

They hope for children but as the months pass and Hannah doesn’t conceive she’s certain it’s God’s discipline, consequences for her past sins. And to make matters worse she’s kept this part of her life a secret from John.

There is a person in their midst who waits for an opportunity to destroy the couple’s happiness. It will take courage and strength, not just from John and Hannah, but from the community as well, to stand against evil. Only God has the power to overcome, but will friends and believers stand with John and Hannah or give way to the power of darkness?

JA: Your Sydney Cove books deal with Australia’s early history and settlement. Was there anything you found out while researching the period that surprised you?
BL: There were lots of surprises, but I will address only two. In the early nineteenth century London was not what I imagined it to be. It was a vicious city that devoured its own. And the filth and degradation of the society was astonishing. I’d love to write another book or series that takes place in London during that time period. There is great fodder for storytelling.

Secondly it was stunning to discover that the majority of prisoners transported to Australia were guilty of minor offenses. And some were completely innocent of the charges brought against them. Women, who were arrested, often were forced to take their children with them. It was a horrendous situation with little room for mercy.

BL - Longings of the HeartJA: In this book you delve deeper into the relationship between Hannah and John. What is your favorite thing about this couple?
BL: First and foremost that they are real people who struggle with the same things all human beings wrestle with. But they are determined to not let life’s circumstances destroy them.

Secondly I’d have to say the power of their love, not just for each other, but for God. They faced unimaginable suffering and treachery, they let God down, let each other down and yet their love fought to endure.

JA: What do you want people to take away after reading Longings of the Heart?
BL: That living a transparent life, though risky and even frightening, is the best way to live. When we hide behind masks, hoping to conceal who we truly are we shortchange ourselves and God. When we live authentic lives we make ourselves available to others. God wants us to love as he does, without conditions. This is something I personally feel strongly about so it has been extremely satisfying to write this particular story.

JA: What’s next for you in the writing arena?
BL: Book three of the Sydney Cover Series will release early in 2009. John and Hannah discover that life sometimes delivers terrible surprises and that God is greater than any of our troubles. He can solve even the most difficult dilemma. I’m very excited about the book. I think it’s the best in the series.

Presently I’m working on a new series with a working title of The Sleeping Lady. It takes place in 1935 Alaska and is the story of a woman who dreams of being a bush pilot. It’s a fun tale with a good blend of drama and adventure.

JA: Your journey to becoming a writer is fascinating. Would you please share some of it?
BL: Unlike many authors I didn’t dream of becoming a writer all my life. It wasn’t until I was nearly forty that I was gripped by a compulsion to put down my thoughts on paper. I was having a great time writing short stories, personal experiences, and poems when an auto accident with a log truck put an end to the fun.

God spared my life, but I was left with disabilities and chronic pain. For many months, actually years, I didn’t know how I was going to push through, to survive even one more day, let alone the rest of my life. I lost my ability to do the things I loved. Being a wife and mother was a joy for me, and suddenly I couldn’t stand long enough to cook a meal, or do the family shopping, or clean my home. I struggled to attend some of my children’s activities. In the beginning I could sit for only about thirty minutes. I spent most of my days propped up on pillows on my sofa.

It was a devastating time, and I felt as if I had nothing to offer my family or the Lord. On one particularly bad day, through my tears, I asked God to give me something to do that mattered. Soon after that I started writing again, spending thirty minutes or so a day at my computer.

When I was offered a scholarship to the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference I knew I needed to trust God and so I went to the conference, fearful but expectant. God used wonderful writers to teach me. In the ten months after the conference I wrote my first book. And that following summer I returned to the conference and presented the book to the acquisitions editor for Thomas Nelson Publishing. Thomas Nelson contracted for that book and two others. The Journey of Eleven Moons, my first book, made the bestsellers list. No one was more shocked than me.

I’ve been writing ever since. My physical condition remains a challenge, but I’m better than the doctors thought I’d be. I have bad days, but try to fully live life and enjoy every moment.

JA: I looked at the “Speaker” section of your website and there are some very cool topics listed. What’s your favorite thing to speak about?
BL: That’s a tough question. I love to teach. And every time I get in front of an eager group of students it’s a thrill to watch as they grasp new concepts and begin to believe that they can create great stories.

From Idea to Completed Manuscript is one of my favorites to teach. It’s great fun. It’s an all-day class, which gives me enough time to connect with students. I present the nuts and bolts of novel creation—from idea to completed book. It equips writers with enough tools and information that they can return home and write a book.

Opening Lines is another favorite. One of the things I love about the class is that we get to look at some great writing and some not so great writing. Making the comparisons is fun. I’d been writing many years before I got a grasp of how important opening lines can be. They can make or break book deals. You’ve got to capture an editor’s or a reader’s interest right off the bat. It takes practice and creativity to produce great openings. The class is interactive and lots of fun.

JA: Is there something that people would be surprised to know about you?
BL: I have a long list of surprises, but I’ll focus on just one. I was in high school during the late 60’s. It was a time when the concepts of free love and experimentation with drugs were the “in things”. I was right in the middle of it all. It was one big party, but most of us weren’t having fun. I ended up being arrested and charged with the sale of drugs. That was definitely not fun.

I can’t say I regret my experiences because so much of what happened drove me to Christ. He gave me a new life. And because of Him I’m a new creation.

JA: Last but not least, how can people keep up with your latest publishing news?
BL: Thanks for asking. I post news on my website at www.bonnieleon.com and I publish a quarterly newsletter. There’s a place on my website to sign up. I also post a blog two days a week—Quiet Moments With God and Tips For Triumphant Living.

I look forward to hearing from some of your readers and to making new friends. :+}

You heard her, folks… Check out Bonnie’s website and give her a shout out! Thanks, Bonnie, for sharing your talent and your heart with us. May God continue to bless you on your writing journey!


WIN THE BOOK

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Longings of the Heart just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on September 22nd. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

12 comments:

CherryBlossomMJ said...

*note: I do not need to win*

I am very excited about this book! As soon as I saw it available for pre-order from CBD.com I jumped at the opportunity. I haven't read it yet, as it has fallen it to the TBR pile, but I cannot wait until I do!!

Deborah said...

i love bonnie's books, please enter me!

bookwurm70 said...

Bonnie, thanks so much for sharing your story! I have been so discouraged with health issues this summer and am touched to hear about your struggles and triumphs. I'd love to win your book, please enter me.

Gail

Doreen said...

I would love to have the chance to read this book! Thanks! :) purposedrivenlife4you (at) gmail (dot)com

windycindy said...

A remarkable lady who has overcome physical obstacles to write wonderful books for the rest of us to enjoy!
I find her books inspirational. Please enter me in your drawing for her book. Many thanks, Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Carly said...

Hey, cool book! please enter me.

fecarly1{at}yahoo[dot]com

Becky C. said...

Sounds like a great book!

Please enter me in the contest!

Thank you,

Becky C.
rec(at)hiwaay(dot)net

Patty said...

I just checked out bonnie's website earlier today, so I would really love to win her book. I'm a fellow Northwesterner also.

pleblanc_1[at]charter[dot]net

Stacey said...

Bonnie's books have been on my wish list for some time. Please include me in the drawing. Thanks.

stacey_dale[at]yahoo[dot]com

Ann Shorey said...

I love Bonnie's books. Her love for people and the Lord shines through in her writing. Please enter me in the contest for "Longings of the Heart."

annshorey at msn dot com

Bonnie Leon said...

Thanks for all the great comments. Hope you all manage to read Longings of the Heart . . . and enjoy it. :- )

Blessings to you,

Bonnie Leon

www.bonnieleon.com

Jennifer AlLee said...

The winner is... Stacey! Thanks to everyone who visited :+}