The Anniversary WaltzThe Anniversary Waltz
Darrel Nelson
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Celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary, Adam and Elizabeth Carlson share their customary waltz---then recall how their love began. Travel back with them to 1946, when war veteran Adam returned home to Reunion, Montana. You'll be captivated by the story of how he revived his dilapidated family farm---and wooed Elizabeth away from his high school rival! 304 pages, softcover from Realms.

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darrel nelsonDarrel Nelson enjoys songwriting in addition to writing fiction, He currently teaches Fourth Grade here in Canada.  He lives with his wife and enjoys his children and grandchildren. The Anniversary Waltz is ihis debut novel.

Favorite Verse: 2 Kings 6:16. "I love the thought that with God’s help, we are never outnumbered."


 Our Interview with Darrel Nelson


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am somewhat of a late-bloomer. I’m a sixty-one-year-old debut novelist, with thirty-seven years teaching experience in the public classroom. I am married to Marsha, and we are parents of four children (with wonderful spouses) and the proud grandparents of ten grandchildren. I enjoy songwriting as well as writing fiction, and I have had two songs professionally produced and played on the local radio. I currently teach Fourth Grade here in Alberta, Canada, and I incorporate a lot of music in my classroom. Plus, I enjoy reading my junior novels (unpublished) to my students each year.

What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?

I love 2 Kings 6:16. The prophet Elisha is speaking to his servant at a time when the king of Syria has sent his army to capture them. When the servant sees the army approaching, he is frightened. Elisha tells him, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” I love the thought that with God’s help, we are never outnumbered. There are never obstacles large enough to overpower us or defeat us when God is on our side.

What was your inspiration to write The Anniversary Waltz?

The novel had its beginnings the day my wife and I took our parents on a drive to a heritage park. En route, our parents began reminiscing about their individual courtships and how friends had planned a shivaree for them on their wedding days. A shivaree was a local custom of friends separating the bride and groom, after the wedding, as a prank, and keeping them apart for a while. They might put the bride in a wheelbarrow and push her up and down Main Street. Or take her to someone’s home and keep her there for a while. All in good fun.

On the drive that day, our parents explained that for one reason or another, the shivaree intended for their weddings failed to occur. But my mother-in-law reminded us that on her son’s wedding day, his bride was whisked away in a car by friends and involved in a car accident. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But it got me wondering . . . what if? And so I decided to grasp that thread of an idea and see where it led. The Anniversary Waltz is the result.


How much research did The Anniversary Waltz take?

I did the research on a need-to-know basis. I began writing the novel based on what I knew of life back in my parents’ day, since I’d heard stories all my life about the era, and then I supplemented the novel with facts as I needed them. For example, if I wanted to make reference to a song of the day, I researched it to make sure it actually existed then. I talked to my mother about working in a dry cleaners, since she worked in one as a young woman, and I incorporated some of my family history throughout the novel to add authenticity.

How did you choose the setting?

I am a product of the Canadian prairies, which is part of the Great Plains of North America. I wanted the novel to be set in a location that I could relate to—with mountains in the west and the plains flowing to the east “like a planted ocean.” I know the climate and the feel of the prairies, and I wanted to stay in familiar territory. Southern Alberta, where I live, is very similar to northern Montana, where the novel is set, and gave the setting a familiar “feel.”

Which character surprised you in The Anniversary Waltz?

The character of Nathan was a big surprise because he kept changing. Originally, he was a rough and tumble town maintenance worker, a brute as well as a bully. He even had a fistfight with Adam. Then he morphed into an assistant to Wil, Elizabeth’s uncle. Finally he became a somewhat cultured banker who had control of the Carlson’s mortgage and got back at Adam financially rather than with his fists. Even though he is a minor character in the novel, he went through the biggest changes. The principal characters (Adam and Elizabeth and their families) remained surprisingly consistent to my vision throughout. 
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing The Anniversary Waltz?

The idea of the penny auction. During the Great Depression, two hundred thousand farms underwent foreclosure. There was a group of farmers in Nebraska who decided to take matters into their own hands. About one hundred fifty of them showed up at a foreclosure auction being held at the farm of a family by the name of Von Bonn. The family couldn’t repay their loan, so the bank was holding an auction to recover what money they could. As the auctioneer began with a piece of equipment, one of the local farmers opened up with a bid of five cents. When an outsider tried to raise the bid, he was encouraged in a rather physical manner to withdraw his bid. No one else bid on the piece of equipment and so it went for five cents. Item after item went for ridiculously low bids. When the auction was finally over, the bank had made a grand total of five dollars and thirty-five cents. The idea of the penny auction, as they called it, spread like wildfire. Farmers began attending public auctions as a group and crowding around the auctioneer, intimidating rival bidders. In some cases, they set up roadblocks or changed signposts so the public couldn’t attend. They would place outlandishly low bids on everything. If someone tried to raise the bid, they were met with ridicule and sometimes even outright violence from the crowd. By using this strategy, many farmers managed to block foreclosure sales. The bank often ended up making mere pennies on foreclosure sales when they expected to make hundreds if not thousands of dollars.


What was the most difficult aspect of writing this story?

The most difficult part for me was fine-tuning it with my editor. She is a stickler for details, timelines, and POV, and insisted I be accountable for everything. Imagine! I tried bluffing my way along on occasion, but she called me on it. I had to rework the storyline and make certain that events followed a realistic timeline. I had to make sure I didn’t continually shift POV (like I seem to often do), and that I kept my characterization consistent throughout. As I stated in my Acknowledgments in the novel, she didn’t let me get away with anything less than an “A for effort” on my report card.

What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?

My second novel, The Return of Cassandra Todd, comes out in the spring of 2013. My editor has been through it once and I’m fine-tuning it right now. (Refer to my comments in the question preceding this one.) The introduction to the novel reads: “Turner Caldwell could never have imagined that the outdoor training and survival skills he learned at Camp Kopawanee, a Christian summer youth camp where he worked for several years as a leader, would one day become so crucial. When Cassandra Todd, the girl associated with making his life miserable in high school, suddenly re-enters his life and asks for help in eluding her abusive husband, Turner finds himself entangled in a life and death struggle that will require every skill he has in order to survive.”

What message would you like your readers to take from reading The Anniversary Waltz?
The novel is a story based on Christianity’s most powerful principle: love. In this case, the love of a young man, Adam, for a young woman, Elizabeth—a young woman who, on the day before her wedding, is involved in a car accident and is somewhat disfigured. She falls into a depression because she feels
unlovable. She locks herself away in her bedroom and refuses to let Adam see her. The plan that Adam comes up with to rescue her from herself and convince her that his love is real is moving and powerful.
In this age of growing despair and increasing calamities, I want the reader to have faith that the power of love can ultimately transcend anything. This is the message of The Anniversary Waltz.


What do you do to get away from it all?

I love to go on weekly dates with my wife. We recently celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, and we still love one another deeply. When we do leave town to get away from it all, it’s usually to go visit our ten grandchildren, in Denver and Salt Lake City. We enjoy listening to book CDs as we drive. Maybe one day we’ll have a chance to listen to The Anniversary Waltz!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, a big thank you to everyone for their interest and support in The Anniversary Waltz. Getting published is a thirty-year-dream come true. I began writing and sending off manuscripts when I was in my early thirties, and I have acquired enough rejection slips to wallpaper the walls in our home. But finally a letter of acceptance arrived and now . . . here I am. I truly feel though that I was not ready earlier to be published. My previous novels were part of my apprenticeship; I hope now I’m ready to graduate. 



 Also in E Book

The Anniversary Waltz: A novel - eBook

The Anniversary Waltz: A novel - eBook
Darrel Nelson
CBD Price: $9.29

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