Touching the Clouds, Alaskan Skies Series #1Touching the Clouds, Alaskan Skies Series #1
Bonnie Leon
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Kate Evans is an adventurous and independent young woman with a pioneering spirit. She pilots a mail-delivery plane in the forbidding Alaskan wilderness, the lone woman in a male profession. But even that seems easy compared to finding true love. She likes a fellow pilot and would even consider marrying him--if it weren't for Paul, a mysterious man on her mail route with a gentle spirit and a past to hide. Can Kate break through the walls Paul has put up around his heart? And will her quest for adventure be her demise?
     

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Bonnie Leon's home is nestled in the southern Oregon forest, where she loves to sit on my back porch and listen to the breath of the wind huff through the trees. Bonnie is married with three children.


Favorite Verse: Isaiah 40:26 – 31 - "... The Lord is the everlasting God, The Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak And strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, And young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

 

 Our Interview with Bonnie Leon


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

With me, what you see is pretty much what you get. I do my best to just be who I am. If you stop by my website and read my blogs you’ll discover I’m pretty transparent.  I enjoy spending time with people and have always wondered how I ended up with my rear end planted in a chair in front of a computer.  However, I’m glad to say that I do manage to fit in some good people time.

I’ve been married to the same man for thirty nine years. We met when I was seventeen and he was nineteen—just kids. After all this time, we’re still in love, not that we haven’t had our rough patches. God is the glue that has held us together.

We’ve lived in Southern Oregon since 1980 where we raised our three children in the midst of the forest and farm country there.  Presently all our children live in the state of Oregon. We have four adorable and lively grandchildren. The next best thing to being a mom is being a grandma. 

I’m a family kind of gal and love family gatherings. My favorite things to do are to read, go on outings to the coast or the mountains. And my perfect day would be floating on a high mountain lake with a fishing line in the water.


How did you get started as a Christian fiction writer? 

I’ve always been a reader, but didn’t begin writing until 1989. It was just a hobby, but in 1991 the van I was driving was hit by a log truck and my hobby became something more. I was badly injured in the accident and unable to return to work. After many months of tests and therapy doctors told me that my body and my life were permanently altered and not in a good way. I couldn’t even do simple things, like cook meals for my family or clean my house. In despair, I asked God to give me something to do that mattered. He carried me down an unexpected path. By 1994 my first novel was completed and contracted for publication  with Thomas Nelson Publishing.

My disability planted me in front of my computer. I love to write and although I would have preferred discovering that truth without an accident and disability.  I trust God. He is my refuge.

 

How did you come up with the concept for Touching the Clouds?

My mother spent several years living on a homestead in Alaska. The only communication she and her family had with the outside world came via radio and the pilots who delivered mail. She always admired and trusted those pilots and often spoke of them with affection.

Over the years she’s given me several books about Alaskan pilots. Finally one day I sat down and read the first of many books about these courageous and uncommon people. I was enthralled by their stories and wanted to share them. Creating a novel seemed the natural way for me. I thought it would be especially fun if my protagonist was a woman pilot who challenged the north against all odds.

In addition, the idea of a solitary man with a hidden past came directly from my mother’s life on the homestead. There was a man who lived near her family whose past remained a mystery even until his death. I was given a copy of his diary and in the pages discovered a steady, hardworking individual who was kind and who lived honorably. But he was also lonely. I wondered what it was that he’d left behind and why he remained hidden in the Alaskan wilderness.


What is significant about Touching the Clouds? 

Our past is part of our present. It affects who we are. We can use it to make us stronger and wiser or we can let it cripple us. Ultimately we choose.  We respond in distinctive ways when dealing with tragedies we feel responsible for. As in real life, my characters Paul Anderson and Kate Evans in Touching the Clouds, book one of the Alaskan Skies series, choose different paths toward self preservation and restoration.

After a terrible accident causes the death of a dear friend, Kate boldly sets out to prove to the world and to herself that she’s not irresponsible and reckless. She runs toward a new future, pushing to find her destiny.

Paul, on the other hand, seeks isolation on an Alaskan homestead, a place where he can hide and grieve and where no one knows his past. He no longer trusts his God-given abilities and refuses to use them. Together, Paul and Kate, find a better way as they learn to trust each other and God who offers grace and peace.

Is any part of Touching the Clouds factual?

The story of Paul and Kate is pure fiction, but some of the places and background of the state of Alaska are very real as are the challenges pilots faced during that time period. Being an Alaskan bush pilot was and is difficult and dangerous. From the early beginnings of aviation, pilots have risked much and some have lost it all.

 

What is the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Touching the Clouds?

I think the piloting itself was the most interesting. I’ve never flown in a small plane and because of an ear condition probably never will,  but with the help of Gayle Ranney, an Alaskan bush pilot who has flown for more than fifty years, I was able to visualize and experience what it’s like to fly a small plane in the Alaskan wilderness. It takes a great deal of skill, fortitude and courage. Gayle, now in her seventies, is still flying. I’m impressed.


What other projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m presently working on book two in the Alaskan Skies series. It’s the continuing story of Kate, Paul and another pilot, Mike. It’s full of fun, surprises and drama. And of course romance.

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

Time is a huge challenge. There is not enough of it.

When I first set out to write, my major task was simply getting down the story. But things have changed. In today’s highly competitive market writers also spend many hours working on marketing and staying in touch with the writing world. It’s been difficult to learn just how to do that and I’m still in the process.

I also  still have a life—friends, family and church. I just need another twelve hours in each day and I’ll be good to go.  

Who was the person who most influenced you in your writing journey?

There have been countless authors and friends who’ve given guidance and encouragement. I appreciate every one of them. But the bottom line is that God has most influenced me. I write for Him and because of Him. This writing journey has been difficult, and I don’t think I could have managed without the certainty that God asked me to write and that He’s with me as I do my best to follow the path He set out for me.

When I sit down to create a story I want it to be entertaining, but I also want it to say something that sticks with a reader. I’m dedicated to presenting God’s truth, as I best understand it, and pray that my words will refresh and draw people to Christ.

What message would you like your readers to take from Touching the Clouds?

Make peace with your past. Allow it to teach rather than cripple. Stop listening to negative thoughts of self-doubt and loathing that distort the truth and steal hope. Believe in a better tomorrow.  It waits for us if we’ll just reach for it.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My utmost goal is to glorify God in my writing. Beyond that, I want to take readers out of the “everyday” of life, to entertain and encourage them. And if I am able to help them see more of God then I’ve done the best I can do.

What do you do to get away from it all?

My favorite get away is fun time with my grandchildren. They make me laugh and there’s nothing more refreshing than laughter. I love to fish and it’s wonderful to spend a warm sunny day floating on a high mountain lake.  Often I retreat inside a book (one I didn’t write). And I love road trips where I can see and experience new places and people and discover the wonders of God’s creation.

 

 

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