Springtime of the SpiritSpringtime of the Spirit
Maureen Lang
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By the fall of 1918, the Great War has ended and the world is at peace, but there is little to celebrate in Germany. After four years of fighting for his homeland, Christophe Brecht returns to find there is little left of what he once called home. So when family friends ask him to travel to Munich to bring back their runaway daughter, Christophe agrees. When he finally locates Annaliese Duray, he discovers she is far different from the girl he once knew. Headstrong, idealistic, and beautiful...
     

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Maureen LangMaureen Lang became the recipient of a Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America, followed by the publication of three secular romance novels. Life took some turns after that, and she gave up writing for fifteen years, until the Lord claimed her to write for Him. Soon she won a Noble Theme Award from American Christian Fiction Writers, and a contract followed a year or so later for Pieces of Silver (a 2007 Christy Award finalist), followed by its sequel, Remember Me.  Maureen lives in the Midwest with her husband, her two sons, and their dog, Susie.

Favorite Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

I love this verse because I feel weak on so many days and in so many ways. If I ever accomplish anything it's purely due to Christ's help.

Visit Maureen in our Writers' Corner


 

 Our Interview with Maureen Lang:


 

How did you get started as a CBA writer?

I’ve always been a storyteller, even as a child. When I was in my mid-twenties I had three books published in the secular romance market, but gave that up when my life took some turns and I had to support myself. Rather than subject my then-5 year old daughter to the life of a starving artist, I gave up writing and returned to working outside the home. It took over fifteen years to find enough time to devote to writing again, but by then my spiritual life had grown considerably and I knew I wanted to write for the Lord. After going through the normal process: market study, critique group help, conferences, submission, rejection, submission, etc., my first CBA novel released in 2006. I’ve been writing for the Lord ever since.

How did you come up with the concept for Springtime of the Spirit?

Since this is technically the final story in my Great War series, I knew from the original inception that this book would be set at the end of the war. I’ve actually written five books with this war as the backdrop, the first two having been released from Kregel back in 2006/07. This Great War series from Tyndale gave each book a European slice of the war: Look to the East began in France just as the war broke out, Whisper on the Wind takes place in Belgium mid-war, including an Epilogue that announces the end of the war. Springtime of the Spirit begins immediately following the end of the war—and what spot on earth was more dramatic than Germany? I was eager to explore what went on in light of their defeat, and to finally have sympathetic German characters after working with so many rascally ones.

As a fan, there seemed to be an issue with one of the book publications, can you clarify that for our readers?

Thank you and thanks so much for asking! When Look to the East first released, the feedback regarding the cover wasn’t as positive as we all hoped. The story received favorable reviews, finaled in the Carol Award contest and even won in its category in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, but by then Tyndale had decided to take the cover art in a whole new direction for the following two books (Whisper on the Wind and Springtime of the Spirit). So we pulled the first book, Look to the East, from the shelves with the intention of giving it a new look to match the other two books. I’m happy to report Look to the East (with its whole new design) will be re-released this fall, of 2011. Thank you for letting me clarify this, because even though it’ll look fantastic I’d hate for a reader to purchase a copy and then be disappointed they’ve already read this particular story.


How many more books will be in The Great War Series?

This is it, 3 total. As mentioned above, Look to the East won’t be back on the shelves again until this fall, but at that time it’ll have a lovely new cover that will match the look of the other two books, and the set will be complete. Whisper on the Wind, Springtime of the Spirit and Look to the East.

Can each of the books be read as a stand-alone or must they be read in order?

Since I’m an avid reader myself, I think like a reader. I almost never read a series unless each book can be read independently or all of the books are available at the same time. I knew I didn’t want readers to wait, so I purposely set out to create independent reads. Although the chronology of the war was part of my initial inspiration, each book has a completely new set of characters that have little to do with the other books in the series. They can easily be read out of order without confusion.

 

Do you have a favorite character in Springtime of the Spirit? Why?

In almost every book I’ve written, the hero comes to mind first. But not with this story. I absolutely adore Annaliese, the heroine. She’s so feisty! She’s a bit idealistic and naïve, but she’s so passionate in everything she believes, and smart enough to see a bigger picture in a world that’s rapidly changing—even dangerously changing. She’s zealous about politics and is trying to keep God out of her life—but when Christophe appears she starts questioning everything she believes (with some surprising results!).

How much research did Springtime of the Spirit take?

You’d think since I’ve written several other books set in this time period that this book would have been the easiest as far as research goes. Actually, it was just the opposite. Almost all of my research to this point was devoted to the winning side, so I had to take on a whole new perspective when looking at Germany. But that was just the beginning! German society was so devastated by the defeat that they wanted to completely redefine their nation. In a power vacuum like that, all kinds of groups tried to take over, and I had to sort through so many pieces that it was difficult at first to decide which direction to take the story. I was fascinated by the socialists of the time, and how similar some of their ideas are to some ideas I hear about today. Even though this book is entirely historical, it taught me a lot about current political views.

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Springtime of the Spirit?

That history really does repeat itself, just as people say. I had no idea how many times the French Revolution has been repeated, but in different times and places. It’s the working classes revolting against the rich and privileged. At its core, that same sentiment probably inspired Marx to write the Communist Manifesto, which went on to inspire revolutions around the world. There will always be those who feel that wealth should not belong to individuals, but be available for everybody – for the “collective good” as some people say. It’s an attractive theory except when put into practice. When I explored this idea through the eyes of my characters wanting to rebuild their broken society, I found out people with starkly opposing views are as passionate—and believe they’re just as right—as the opposing sides.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Juggling time has always been an issue for me. I still have children at home, and one with a disability who requires nearly all of my attention when he’s home. So I tend to fiercely protect my writing hours, which are when my disabled son is at school. That leaves laundry, grocery shopping and other household chores for the weekend when everyone is home. It also means I tend to isolate, probably too much, because I’m so busy when I could be hosting friends.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I’m one of those writers who can’t NOT write. I go to bed with visions of my characters, I wake up looking forward to sitting at the computer and experimenting with whatever ideas I toyed with overnight. I hear stories about real people and tend to flesh them out with characters of my own making. I read history books and find drama everywhere. When I have a rough idea of what I want a story to be about, and then when little pieces start filling in to create a complete “story world” (as if it was there all along, and I just had to discover it)—well, there’s just nothing in the world more fun!

 

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

I network with other writers through American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, as well as a local face-to-face critique group I belong to. Writers are one of the most supportive groups of people anywhere, because we share a passion for stories and each of us know how tough the business end of things can be.

What do you do to keep your writing fresh and improve on it each time you write a book?

I keep reading! I belong to a book club where we discuss plots, characters, everything about the stories we read. I also read quite a bit of non-fiction, which helps me to have a broader picture of whatever setting will be the backdrop for my characters. I can find inspiration in music and movies, too, if they’re from the era I’m writing about. Other things that help sharpen my writing skill include my critique partner, networking with other writers about various topics on effective writing, and revisiting some of my favorite how-to books as well as attending conferences. I’m always game for refresher courses!

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

I’m having so much fun learning about New York during the Gilded Age! My next book is about a thief who believes he’s just a product of the corruption around him; he’s no better, no worse, than the guy next door. My heroine is ready to turn her back on every proper thing she’s learned in the past to join him in his reckless, illegal lifestyle—until God reveals Himself to both of them through the eyes of a mutual friend. It’s so fun to get into the minds of people who act one way but start to believe another—there’s plenty of room for angst (and of course romance!).

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Springtime of the Spirit?

I rarely discuss politics outside of my family, but I was so intrigued by all of the political events surrounding this era. My hope is that readers will come away with a basic understanding of how dangerous it is to try shutting out God from our society. With so much unrest around the world today, I think this book reminds people that God is involved in all of our lives in a very individual way.

What is your greatest achievement?

I’d love to say getting published, and certainly that’s right up there. I’ve written books that have challenged me and I hope have challenged my readers, too. But what comes to mind first when I think of achievement is more of a daily thing for me. As I mentioned, I have a child with a disability. My son is nearly sixteen years old, but he functions very much like a two-and-a-half year old in most areas. Every day when I wake him up I put my hands in the air, give him a big smile and say: “We live to fight another day!” Having responsibility for all of his personal care, even as his mother, sometimes feels like a fight just to do the same things again and again. But he’s made in the image of God, same as me, with choices and moods and the ability to love. I’ve learned to think of being a caregiver as one of my greatest achievements.

 

What do you do to get away from it all?

I know it sounds redundant, but I read. That’s why I write, because books have the ability to let people escape to another world—one full of fun or romance or adventure. I’m refreshed when I read. Movies can do that for me, too, and in a much shorter time span (since I’m a fairly slow reader) but it’s harder to find two uninterrupted hours than snippets of time to read. Reading just fits my schedule better.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’d love to take this opportunity to thank my readers! I’m blessed to be able to write for people beyond my own doorstep, which is the thrill of every writer. I’d also like to thank CBD for helping to get my books out there!

 


 

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