All for a Song, All For a Song Series #1All for a Song, All For a Song Series #1
Allison Pittman
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Small-town girl Dorothy Lynn Dunbar finds joy in her family, church, romance with the pastor, and opportunities to sing for God's glory. But in St. Louis, she discovers movies, dancing, daring fashions, fancy cars---and evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. When she joins McPherson's crusade, she's confronted with troubling temptations. Can she embrace the Roaring Twenties without losing her soul? 368 pages, softcover from Tyndale.
     

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Allison PittmanAllison Pittman is the author of For Time and Eternity, Stealing Home, the Crossroads of Grace series, and her nonfiction debut, Saturdays With Stella. A high-school English teacher, she serves as director of the theater arts group at her church. She is also the co-president of a dynamic Christian writers group in the San Antonio, Texas area, where she makes her home with her husband and their three boys.

Favorite Verse: Lamentations 3:22-23 -Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

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 Our Interview with Allison Pittman


 

What inspired your interest in writing All for a Song?

I love the 1920’s. It’s such a fascinating time period, especially for women. Like the world was spinning faster, somehow. We see the changes in fashion, with the shorter skirts and shorter hair, but along with that came a huge change in social mores.

How did you come up with the concept for All for a Song?

It actually started when my agent asked, “Have you ever heard of Aimee Semple McPherson?” After doing some research, I became obsessed with this woman who was such a forerunner of what we take for granted today in terms of powerful women. Here she was, this powerful, world-famous evangelist; I liked the idea of showing the opposite end of the spectrum, with a woman who had a tiny evangelical audience—like, just herself. And then came the question: Is it possible to survive the journey from one side of fame to the other? Can contentment grow from compromise?

Is any part of All for a Song factual? Explain.

The existence of Aimee Semple McPherson is real. Beyond that, this is all my imagination. In writing a true historical figure, I think it’s important to try to be accurate but also to make him or her a welcome guest in your story. I’ve invented all of Sister Aimee’s dialogue, but I’ve done so based on what I have read of her writing and speaking. Oh, and of course the modern-day “frame” story with Dorothy Lynn celebrating her 107th birthday, waking up to the Today show. Might be the first guest appearance of Willard Scott in a Christian novel!

How long did All for a Song take you to complete?
 
That’s hard to pinpoint exactly. It seemed like it took forever for the concept for not only this story, but the others that will follow, to take shape. Once I start writing, however, I’ll spend about six or seven months just putting words on the screen.

Do you have a favorite character in All for a Song? Why?

Sigh . . . Yes. Roland Lundi. He’s such a rogue, borderline cad, sweet, wounded heart hiding in this brash, fast-talking body. He was so much fun to write!

How much research did All for a Song take?

I make research such an integral part of my writing process. If I waited until I’d found every fact and detail I ever wanted, I’d never get a single word on the page. I like to open up a scene, get myself set up, and then, when it’s time for a character to ring a doorbell, take a quick break to make sure people had doorbells in the year the story was set.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing All for a Song?

I loved watching some of the silent movies, looking for certain films to include in the story. And then, when I found the first air-conditioned theater in St. Louis, I was fascinated with the idea of what it would be like to feel air-conditioning for the first time. Most sad, perhaps, is the idea that the Hotel Alexandria, this beautiful, lush center of Hollywood’s elite, has fallen into disrepair. But then, there’s another reminder of the words of King Solomon, “Meaningless, meaningless . . .”

Many of your books revolve around the turn of the century to the Roaring Twenties. Is there something special that draws you to this time period?

It’s just more fun. And, for me, more interesting. I am not a country girl, but I love history, and I just can’t make myself deal with farms and crops and livestock. I appreciate those who do, but whenever a story revolves around losing the ranch, I always think, Great! Lose it and move to the city! About the ’20s specifically, I like dealing with the aspect of faith in the context of a world where Christianity—or even the broader idea of “Christian principles”—is no longer the given in society. In the years after the Great War, the moral compass shifted. Things that would never have been tolerated before were now encouraged. Even celebrated. The shackles of shame were lifted. To me, that means that the idea to follow Jesus Christ was a more thoughtful choice. For the first time, that meant going against the societal tide. It makes for a more interesting character study.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
Writing. Seriously, I’m a very slow writer, and sometimes it’s like the words are being pulled out of me. Then when other parts of my life are in full swing, it’s like I can’t type them fast enough. And then the blogging, the promotion, the connections—it’s super hard for me to promote myself, no matter how much I love my stories! I kind of wish I could just live in a basement apartment and write among the mushrooms, then hire somebody to be a charismatic “me” on the outside!

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

Writing. Yes, I know that seems to contradict the previous answer, but seriously, when the writing’s good, there’s nothing better. That moment when your character says something more clever than you ever could. I love meeting other writers, working with unpublished writers, talking about writing, writing about writing. It’s the most frustrating, fascinating, unforgiving, and fabulous profession.

What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by the seat of your pants?” Or somewhere in between?)

I do write a synopsis, otherwise I’d never know what to do. Then I write and write and write. . . . I’ll do little mini outlines  to get through sections of the book. So I guess somewhere in between. I try to keep myself under control!

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
  
There are two more 1920s novels in the works—one set in Washington, DC, and the other taking us back to Los Angeles. And then my head is full of half a dozen other ideas that are looking for a home.

What message would you like your readers to take from All for a Song?

I think it’s quite different from what most Christian novels would offer—and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. There are a lot of stories out there with the message of the importance of earnestly seeking God’s will when facing some major decisions. This book? More like a love letter to impetuousness. I don’t know that the careful weighing of consequences necessarily leads to making the right decision. We can search from here to the sun and still do the wrong thing. God’s grace isn’t confined to those who do their homework in advance. He can bring clarity in the midst of the biggest mind-boggling mess, and he can make straight the path that leads to home.

What is your greatest achievement?

Oh my. I don’t think I can claim a single thing that could have happened without the amazing, saving, merciful grace of Jesus. I’m an indifferent mother of three fabulous, accomplished sons; the impatient, harpish half of a beautiful marriage; the author of books that seem to minister to people more than I ever could.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

As far as my career goes, I hope to simply be able to continue. I hope to keep coming up with story ideas that capture the hearts and attention of publishers. I hope enough readers will want to go on new adventures with me. Then there’s a verse that I love to ponder in the context of my writing: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). I hope I’m bringing readers to that place.

What do you do to get away from it all?

We’re a huge Disney family, and when it’s an “off” year that we can’t actually go to Disney, my husband and I like to sneak off to a quiet dinner and plan an imaginary vacation. Is that pathetic? Other than that, I watch way too much TV. But when I want absolute unconditional “me” time, nothing beats packing a bag and going to spend a few days with my parents. Mom does all the cooking, Dad catches me up on antique Westerns, and I just wallow in still being the baby of the family.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I just want to thank everybody who ever buys a book, because that allows me to continue living in obedience to God’s calling in my life. And then, once you’ve bought it, read it, read it again, seek a soul to share it with. A public library, a small church library—maybe a friend who needs to see grace at work in a woman’s life. I love to hear of Christian novels being donated to prisons. The first book club talk I ever gave was in a women’s prison. The girls there had passed around the five donated copies of Ten Thousand Charms until the covers were worn off. I hear from readers all the time who have found my books in their library, and that thrills me to no end, because that means somebody can hear the message of Christ—freely given—just as he freely gave himself for us.


 

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