The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, Avenue of Dreams Series #1The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, Avenue of Dreams Series #1
Olivia Newport
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Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work--and the classes she is secretly taking at the newly opened University of Chicago. When she meets an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is?
     

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Olivia NewportOlivia Newport's novels twist through time to discover where faith and passions meet. Her husband and two twenty-something children provide welcome distraction from the people stomping through her head on their way into her books. She chases joy in stunning Colorado at the foot of the Rockies, where day lilies grow as tall as she is.

Favorite Verse: John 1: 14 (NIV) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


 

 Our Interview with Olivia Newport


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m hooked on stories—reading them, writing them, and living them. Dozens of people stomp through my head on any given day. I chase joy at the foot of the Rockies, where day lilies grow taller than I am (no short jokes, please).

What is your favorite Bible verse (translation too, please)? Why?

John 1: 14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (NIV)

This verse tells me what my life is all about. Out of love, Christ came for us. He lived among us. He showed us what it means to be human. Because he did, we’ve glimpsed something beyond ourselves. Now I want to live in a way that intentionally reflects the grace and truth that characterize God’s kingdom.

What was your inspiration to develop The Pursuit of Lucy Banning?

A friend of mine became a docent at the Glessner House Museum on Prairie Avenue in Chicago. This house preserves the flavor of Chicago’s gilded age when the neighborhood was full of wealthy powerhouses of industry. I have suburban Chicago roots, but I never knew the place was there! My friend was able to give me a private tour. It did not take us long to cook up story ideas about a daughter of a privileged family who engaged with the changing social climate of her time.

How much of the story comes from personal experience?

I certainly have never been the daughter of a privileged family! However, Lucy Banning and I do share an infatuation with red velvet cake. I think it’s difficult for a writer not to leave a personal footprint in anything she writes. In this book, the personal experience piece probably revolves around navigating into adulthood, discovering direction, and making independent life choices.

How much research did The Pursuit of Lucy Banning take?
 
This book—the whole series—involved some serious research. I was grateful to have full engagement in the process by my docent friend, Stephen Reginald. We both scoured the archives of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for reflections of the era and the true events that serve as hooks in the stories. The Internet turns up all sorts of obscure books and historical accounts. One of my favorites was a first person travelogue written by someone who visited the world’s fair in 1893. Stephen’s work at the Glessner House Museum opened a portal into diaries and museum pieces that helped me faithfully recreate the story’s setting.

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing The Pursuit of Lucy Banning?

One of the most fun research pieces that I uncovered was a guide to caring for young children published in 1894. The prevailing expert advice was not to play with a baby before he or she was four months old, preferably six! On the other end of the spectrum was heartbreaking information about the desperate needs of orphans during that time period. Research opened my eyes to some of the roots of social challenges we still face today.

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

Stories take over my life! I always want to be in the story, heart and soul. As I get to know my characters and where they live and what’s important to them, they become some of my closest companions. But real life continues as well, so I have to find the balance between being absorbed in my story and engaging in face-to-face relationships.

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

Sometimes I wonder where my head was during history classes in school! Why did I not know all this stuff? Didn’t I care? I love learning about new places and old times. Every town across America has a story, and I seem intent on uncovering every single one of them.
 
What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

For about seven years I’ve been part of a book group made up of writers and editors. I’ve found encouragement there to keep writing. They set the standard high for how to interact with a novel at a stack of levels, and the lessons I learn carry into my writing.

I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Recently the local chapter sponsored “A Day of Romance” at the local library. I was on a panel, and I hope I was some help to pre-publication writers. It was also an opportunity for me to meet writers ahead of me on this journey. Writers at ever level of experience need a shot in the arm once in a while.

What new projects are on the horizon?

Charlotte Farrow is a secondary character in The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, and she will have her own full story next. After her comes Sarah Cummings, who is introduced during Charlotte’s story. One story from the Avenue of Dreams rolls into the next.
 
I have several possible new series percolating, and we’ll have to see which one comes to full flavor first. I will definitely be delving into historical moments that changed lives and help us see how we got to where we find ourselves today, including some stories that combine historical and Amish fiction.
 
What message would you like your readers to take from reading The Pursuit of Lucy Banning?
 
Where is your heart? It’s not always easy for Lucy to act out of a compassionate heart that reflects the compassionate heart of God, but she discovers that doing this, even against obstacles, is what brings meaning and joy to her life.

What were your favorite books as a child?

That’s a hard question, because I was a voracious reader. I was that kid who devoured every book in a well stocked church library and checked out heaps of books from the public library every week. I loved biographies, and I loved novels that gave me characters of determination. When I found a series that allowed me to return to the same characters again and again, it was as if I had found a bunch of new friends.

 

What is your greatest achievement?

Well, it’s not gardening, and it’s not cooking. I haven’t scaled a mountain or sailed across a sea. And children are not exactly an achievement. But I’m a persistent person, and one of the areas of my life I’m persistent about is deep, authentic relationships that enlarge my picture of what God wants from me as I take each new step in his kingdom.
 
What do you do to get away from it all?

That’s an easy one. My authentic Brazilian hammock on the patio. The winters can be long, but as soon as spring jumps out every year, out comes the hammock as well. It’s not far from my office—only a few yards—but swinging in my hammock satisfies something in me that nothing else does.
 
Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me on this journey. It is heartening to know that others are already coming alongside, as eager to meet Lucy Banning as I am to introduce her.


 
Accidentally Amish, Valley of Choice Series #1
Accidentally Amish, Valley of Choice Series #1
Olivia Newport
CBD Price: $11.99

Pursuit of Lucy Banning, Avenue of Dreams Series #1 -eBook

Pursuit of Lucy Banning, Avenue of Dreams Series #1 -eBook
Olivia Newport
CBD Price: $5.28

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