|Hearts That Survive: A Novel of the Titanic|
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On April 15, 1912, Lydia Beaumont is on her way to a new life with a boundless hope in love and faith. Her new friendship with Caroline Chadwick is bonded even more as they plan Lydia's wedding on board the "grandest ship ever built." Then both women suffer tragic losses when the "unsinkable" Titanic goes down. Can each survive the scars the disaster left on their lives?
Decades later, Alan Morris feels like a failure until he discovers he is the descendant of an acclaimed, successful, heroic novelist who went down with the Titanic. Will he find his identity with the past, or will he listen to Joanna Bettencourt, Caroline's granddaughter, who says inner peace and success come only with a personal relationship with the Lord?
Will those who survived and their descendants be able to fin d a love more powerful than their pain?
Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of 48 novels with more than 3 million books sold. Carolina, South Carolina, and Schoolhouse Brides sold over 100,000 units each. She has written historical, contemporary, romance, women's fiction, mystery and biblical fiction. Her works have been published by Zondervan, Thomas Nelson, David C. Cook, Guideposts, Barbour, Bethany House. She has been published in Germany, Norway and Holland. Ms. Lehman lives in Black Mountain, NC.
Psalm 17:7 (NIV) Show me the wonders of your great love.
Our Interview with Yvonne Lehman
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in the panoramic Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. Have three daughters, a son, and nine grandchildren. My favorite place I’ve visited, along with my fun-daughter and pastor-son is Israel. Felt like I was walking in the Bible. Well, I suppose I was! The only other place outside the US I’ve visited is Paris. Loved that historic, intriguing place. I walked up the entire 638 steps of the Eiffel Tower (not without stopping along the way). A great privilege was my founding and directing the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference for 25 years. Now I direct the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat (www.lifeway.com/novelretreat) and plan the Novel Writing Track for the Gideon Media Arts Festival (directed by my daughter and sil – www.gideonfilmfestival.com). They named it Gideon in memory of my husband, whose favorite story in the Bible was about Gideon. I mentor students with the Christian Writers Guild. Earned my Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University.
What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?
Various ones have had special meaning at different times in my life. The most recent, after having a difficult year of family concerns and a slump in my writing career, and moaning, groaning, complaining, questioning, a particular verse came across Ken Raney’s Clash “verse of the day” site. “Show me the wonders of your great love.” Psalm 17:7 NIV. My attitude changed from negative to positive after I claimed that verse. God did show me! Another that I cling to is Jesus saying, “I am with you always.” If no one, or nothing else is, He is! Another through the years has been “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and I’ve learned that doesn’t mean I can perform miracles. It means I can stand and speak. It means I can get through a trial because He is there to strengthen me.
How did you come up with the concept for Hearts that Survive?
My novelist/friend, to whom I dedicated the book, gave me the idea several years ago after she had personal contact with Nova Scotia and told me of the important role NS played in the aftermath of the Titanic’s sinking. That intrigued me, as well as the many books and movies about the Titanic. The one statement that stuck in my mind was, “Not even God could sink this ship.” That gives me iceberg-shivers.
Also, with the 100th memorial approaching, I thought of the many lives lost, many untold stories, and changes in society that resulted from that tragedy. I wanted my readers not only to relive the tragedy, but see how there is not only survival after devastation, but there is hope and a new life if one can reach out for it and trust God.
Have you seen the artifacts from the Titanic?
Not yet, but I’m in the planning stages of a trip to Pigeon Forge, about two hours from where I live. Members of my family and writers group want to accompany me to that display. So I’ll likely go more than once, then see about going to the other displays in the U.S.
|How much does the story tie in with the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic?
It’s my 50th published novel and it covers a time period of 50 years. My story takes the reader through the “before, during, and after” the sinking and deals with a character planning the 50th year anniversary of the sinking, so it fits quite well. Also, the book will be released in time to be available during the 100th memorial services.
Do you have a favorite character Hearts that Survive? Why?
Oh yes, Craven Dowd. This is the first time I’ve written about a major character without his being a point-of-view character. He is an enigma! The reader will draw their own conclusions about him, and likely there will be differing opinions. When he first appeared, I thought he’d be another basically stereotypical character. Not a chance. He would not fit into a mold.
How much research did Hearts that Survive take?
Considerable. Several years ago, after my friend mentioned it, I began thinking about a story and read A Night to Remember by Walter Lord. Later, the Titanic movie came out and re-whetted my story appetite. I watched it several times. When I knew I should write a proposal, I watched every movie, documentary, and read every book I could find about the Titanic, researched the website, contacted a writers group in Nova Scotia and a writer there volunteered to correspond with me about NS. She and I emailed each other almost daily as I wrote the book.
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Hearts that Survive?
The way different people face tragedy, impending danger, and even death. There is a great nobility of the human spirit. Some people do anything to save their own life. Others give up his/her life to save another. That fascinates me, and I can’t know which side I’d be on. When I get in water up to my neck, I feel panicky. So, I cannot say I would be brave and go easily if faced with a watery death.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Each time I begin a new book, I’m challenged and question whether I can still write an entertaining story that will also give the reader something to ponder or hope for. I feel I write best when I have a commitment and deadline. That keeps my fingers on the keyboard and my thoughts almost focused.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
When the story and characters are alive in my mind. They go beyond my original concept and become like real people, learning, acting, failing, becoming, growing. I love it when I have to cry or laugh with them. They often surprise me and I love it.
What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?
I direct conferences and retreats, teach at them, speak to others, mentor students of the Christian Writers Guild, am involved with my writers group, and belong to writers groups on the internet. As I mentor beginners, I help, and at the same time they are giving me a review of the basics. I love every aspect of writing and enjoy professional and beginning writers. We all have something to offer and gain from each other.
What new projects are on the horizon?
I’d like to follow Hearts that Survive with another story that I’ve worked on for many years and is also based on true events. Guarded by U. S. Border Patrol, Japanese and German diplomats and families of diplomats were interned in a resort area a couple miles up the road from where I live. They existed in a pseudo-peaceful environment while the world was at war. Of course, they had their own internal wars that spilled over. Not sure about the title yet. Maybe Hearts that Tremble or Hearts Interned.
What message would you like your readers to take from reading Hearts that Survive?
No matter what the tragedy, the loss, or the devastation, there is hope. Not that God sank that ship, but he certainly could. He can take a sunken, devastated life and give it hope and meaning.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Fairy Tales and I still absolutely love Cinderella. Maybe that’s why I’ve written so many romance novels. The characters are faced with obstacles, things that keep them from their dream, and then it becomes a possibility or a reality. That may be the theme of most books. In my teen years I loved biographies, particularly about U.S. presidents’ wives. Now, I have no favorite. I love whatever I’m reading at the time if it’s a good story.
What is your greatest achievement?
I don’t know that one can know. Something as seemingly simple as a smile, hug, or kind word can do wonders for another person. But we generally think of achievement as something that receives an accolade. And that’s worthy. I think the beginning of any of my “achievements” was when I was speaking to church groups, leading Bible and Mission Studies, helping with special events in church and I’d always talk about how scared I was. Finally, a good friend said, “Will you stop being self-conscious, and be Christ-conscious.”
That stopped me. From that moment on my attitude changed. No, it wasn’t about me. It was about what I was doing for the Lord or what he could do through me. That’s why I was able to begin and lead a writers conference for 25 years. I truly did not think of the enormous impact that had on so many hundreds of people until after I turned it over to another person. I knew it was helpful and needed, but my thoughts were never on what “I” was doing, but what God could do through an incapable person.
That isn’t humility on my part. That’s fact. It’s difficult and quite an achievement (for me) to get outside myself, let go and let God.
What do you do to get away from it all?
I live away from it all. My husband died several years ago and I live alone so my time is my own. What energizes me is getting with other people, going to conferences, meeting with writers, having lunch/dinner with family and friends, taking a trip somewhere.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
This book is a composite of so many people, including myself, and presents the weaknesses, strengths, failings, accomplishments, dreams, hopes, lack of faith, strong faith and what may beset or bless each of us at one time or another. I think it incorporates real life, not with being explicit, but in presenting real hurts, and goals, and emotions. I hope my readers will be entertained, encouraged, and blessed.