During our recent book club meeting to discuss the novel Courting Morrow Little, we enjoyed chatting with author Laura Frantz. I feel like I have gotten to know Laura over the past few months of correspondence, and with each encounter I always feel so blessed by her warm and gracious spirit. I asked Laura to share a few insights with readers of A Little Loveliness.
You write about 18th-Century Kentucky with such vivid detail. What draws you to this region and time period?
Kentucky back then was a very wild place. My family came into the area then and I've always wondered what it was that gave them the courage to leave a settled, comfortable life in Virginia where they were county magistrates, lived in a spacious stone house, and had servants to make such a dangerous trek and settle in a cabin in the wilderness. Sadly, no letters or journals exist, only census records and genealogical records and family lore, etc. They, and other settlers like them, inspired me to create a story of how I thought Kentucky might have been when untouched and pristine. I'm sure I didn't do it justice, though I tried!
Forgiveness is a powerful theme in this book. Why is this such an important journey?
I believe unforgiveness is a huge stumbling block for many believers, hindering their growth personally and spiritually, if not strangling it altogether. It certainly was this way for me. Christ is the model for forgiveness, and He expects the same of us. No matter how difficult, we must be the first one to offer forgiveness, no matter the offense. This doesn't excuse the harm done to us but releases us from its power. I had to take the first step personally, even though my offender did nothing in return. But it freed me from carrying the burden, and I no longer think of it anymore. When Christ sets us free through our obedience to Him, we are free indeed!
Many people would argue that Morrow was justified in hating, or at least fearing, Native Americans after Shawnee warriors murdered her family, yet Morrow overcomes her prejudices. How important is this to her growth?
I wanted to show a character who was weak and made strong by her choice to forgive. Daniel Boone was my character template in this respect. He had two sons murdered by Indians -- one very cruelly -- yet he refused to hold a grudge. In Morrow's case, letting go of her fear and embracing forgiveness led to overwhelming blessings in her choice of a life's mate, children, and a godly future. Oftentimes, we cannot see sin's domino effect -- or the good that comes from living a godly life. I wanted this to play out in a character's life in practical ways through a story.
Forgiveness seems to come more easily to Morrow's father, yet in some ways he seems less willing to face the past. Why do you think this is?
Elias Little was more heavenly- than earthly-minded. The past was so painful, something that he would never understand in this life, that he kept his focus forward, so to speak. I think this is true for so many of us when we lose loved ones too soon or encounter painful circumstances that alter our lives forever. Nothing can remove the hurt of it, nor explain it away, so we just go on as best we can, trusting God will fill our brokenness with His healing power and blessings till we get to heaven. Either that or we live a broken, embittered life. I think, had Morrow's father crossed the dogtrot and ventured to the other, ruined side of the cabin, he would have been tempted toward unforgiveness and a crisis of faith. Knowing this, he avoided the temptation of doing so and kept His eyes on Christ.
What a memorable leading man readers find in Red Shirt! What inspired his character?
Oh, I wish I had a clue! Red Shirt surprised me in so many ways during the writing of the novel. He became so real to me. That's the joy of writing -- when characters become larger than life. Red Shirt is my ideal hero/husband -- gentle, intelligent, careful, faithful, enduring, strong ... . I may have made him too perfect. Sometimes I forget he was a murderer (remember that dangling scalp?) saved by grace.
Do you have any upcoming projects you can share with us?
I'm so thrilled to bring Eden's story to life in Love's Reckoning, come August/September of this year. It's a mail-order groom type story that deals with rival sisters and a Scottish hero and is the first of four books spanning four generations -- or 100 years -- in one family. The series title is "The Ballantyne Legacy." I pray readers are touched and God is glorified by these books.
Thank you, Laura, for taking time to chat with us!
Laura is so generous with her time. She actually took time away from her birthday celebration to answer these questions. You will be so blessed if you visit her blog. Please join me in wishing her a belated happy birthday! I encourage you to give yourself the gift of reading Laura Frantz novels. I highly recommend Courting Morrow Little, as well as The Frontiersman's Daughter. The Colonel's Lady is next on my list, and I look forward to exploring "The Ballantyne Legacy" when it becomes available.
If you have thoughts to share about our book club selection, Courting Morrow Little, or an encouraging word for author Laura Frantz, please leave a comment below.