|Whisper on the Wind|
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In Brussels at the height of WWI, a small, underground newspaper is the only thing offering the occupied city hope-and real news of the war. The paper may be a small whisper among the shouts of the German army, but Edward Kirkland will do anything to keep it in print. Meanwhile, Isa Lassone, a Belgian-American socialite whose parents whisked her to safety at the start of the war, sneaks back into the country to rescue those dearest to her: Edward and his mother. But Edward refuses to go, and soon Isa is drawn into his secret life printing the newspaper . . . And into his heart.
Maureen Lang became the recipient of a Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America, followed by the publication of three secular romance novels. Life took some turns after that, and she gave up writing for fifteen years, until the Lord claimed her to write for Him. Soon she won a Noble Theme Award from American Christian Fiction Writers, and a contract followed a year or so later for Pieces of Silver (a 2007 Christy Award finalist), followed by its sequel, Remember Me. Maureen lives in the Midwest with her husband, her two sons, and their dog, Susie.
Favorite Verse: 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
I love this verse because I feel weak on so many days and in so many ways. If I ever accomplish anything it's purely due to Christ's help.
Our Interview with Maureen Lang
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born with a passion to tell stories. Early on, my dad identified me as “the creative one” and so, having been singled out of a pack of six kids, that description made an impact.
I spend most of my days either writing or researching my current or next project. But when my boys get home from school, I’m pretty much done with any serious work. One of my kids has Fragile X Syndrome, which is a brain disorder that can cause a whole spectrum of limitations. For him it’s pretty severe. He goes to a school for special needs kids, and when he gets home in the afternoons he needs close supervision with lots of care. I’d like to say I never complain, because his smile really does cover a multitude of frustrations, but sometimes I have to be reminded that the example Jesus set for us was that of a servant. Thinking of that helps get me through the days!
How did you get started as a Christian fiction writer?
When I was in my twenties I wrote secular fiction. I was far from God and didn’t much care that I was using the passion my creator gave me for something that didn’t reflect Him at all. But when I went through a divorce and faced single-parenthood, I reevaluated everything: my values, my goals, my faith. That led me, first, to give up writing secular romances. I spent the next several years too busy to write, but knowing if I ever went back to it I’d only write books God might want to read.
It took a number of years, but eventually my life settled down again. I was remarried, and even though I had new challenges with a special needs child, I felt God reigniting that writing passion. I joined what was then a new organization called American Christian Romance Writers (now American Christian Fiction Writers), joined a critique group with other Christian women pursuing the same kind of writing I was interested in, and one by one we all became published. It seemed a long journey, but looking back on it I think it was only a matter of a three or four years from first sitting down to write again until I received my first contract. I wrote two books for Kregel Publications, then started working with WordServe Literary Agency and was picked up by Tyndale House. I’ve just turned in my sixth book with Tyndale.
How did you come up with the concept for Whisper on the Wind?
The original idea for this book came during those years I wasn’t writing. I’ve long been interested in the First World War time period, so even while I wasn’t writing, I would occasionally read about that time. More than once, I came across a few vague references to a secret newspaper that operated in Belgium while the Germans occupied that little European country. It intrigued me—here were these oppressed people, their homeland taken over by an invading army, and a group of men and women still found the boldness to print a newspaper with the sole intent of giving others hope. They were willing to give their lives to remind others not to lose their identity as Belgians, and that good would triumph. It was so inspiring I knew if I ever sat down to write another book, it would have something to do with this brave band of Belgian patriots.
And that’s what I did. The first, very rough draft of this book was written around the year 2000. I’d been away from writing for so long, it felt as though a dam had burst. Words just flowed out—almost faster than I could keep up. It was such an affirmation to me. Spiritual application was something my previous work was definitely, sadly, lacking. It was thrilling to me to be able to talk to God during the whole process, to feel like He was my partner.
I did try selling that version, but after a couple of rejections I was too eager to keep writing to sit back and do revisions. I went on to another story, Pieces of Silver, which was also set during the First World War era. That sold first, but Whisper on the Wind waited patiently—moved from computer to computer, waiting for me to look at it again.
When I finally did revisit it, I rediscovered my love for this story. Part of it has to do with the very strong memory of how the original version of this story poured out, and how close I felt to the Lord during the entire process. For that reason alone, it’s one of my favorite stories.
What is significant about Whisper on the Wind?
The most significant thing about this book is the spiritual application. It’s not so much a story that preaches as it is about how people of faith react to extraordinary circumstances.
Is any part of Whisper on the Wind factual?
While all of my characters are entirely fictional, the rest of the story is steeped in fact. Germany really did invade and occupy Belgium during the First World War, and I strove to incorporate many of the aspects I read about that time. Everything from the newspaper itself, the La Libre Belgique, (Free Belgium) to little things like a group of children being arrested by the German army for refusing to sing German songs, are all based on fact. Even the ending—which I won’t give away here—is based on an account I read in a memoir.
I’d love to say it’s my own creativity that wrote this book, but the truth is so much of this book is based on actual events that I really can’t take the credit.
What is the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Whisper on the Wind?
It’s hard to pick just one! I think the original idea of this newspaper fascinates me most. That ordinary citizens—without military or espionage training—successfully operated a newspaper that the entire German army (which was very well trained!) couldn’t stop. One of the first things the German Army did when they invaded was to take over all of the newspapers so they could control what people knew about the war. The people who worked on this secret press found ways not only to learn some of what was going on outside the country, but to give people hope that they weren’t forgotten by the rest of the world. Some people were caught and executed for their involvement, but more people rose up to take their places. They believed in the power of the press—the power of words—so deeply they were willing to give their lives for it.
How many books will be in the Great War series?
Look to the East released in 2009.
Whisper on the Wind releases 2010.
Springtime of the Spirit releases in 2011.
Each of these books are entirely independent and even though they’re chronological as far as the war goes, they can be read in any order because the stories are more about people than the war.
Do you have a favorite character Whisper on the Wind?
Max. Definitely Max. For those who haven’t yet read the book, you’ll know what I mean when you meet him.
What other projects do you have on the horizon?
I’ve just turned in Book Three in this Great War Series, which is Springtime of the Spirit and is set just as the war ends—in Germany. It’s the first book I’ve written where the Germans are actually the good guys! So now I start the revision process, which is always rewarding.
This series is all about freedom. The first book, Look to the East, was about personal freedom and what it’s like to have that taken away. This one, Whisper on the Wind, is about freedom of the press and the power of words. The third book, Springtime of the Spirit, is about freedom of society—when Germany must rebuild everything, and decide what kind of freedom they want for their own citizens.
I’m thinking about doing something with a money theme next, and moving away from the war years. The Bible tells us the love of money is a sin, and I think with our struggling economy I’d like to look at what the real luxuries in life are: faith, and the people God has given us to love.
But whatever my next project will be, be assured it’ll have a romance!
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Finding enough time in the day to do everything I’d like to do. I’m so grateful that my editor just wants me to write the best book I can write. That’s really all I ought to worry about, but like almost every other writer I know, I often get involved in other things related to the industry—blogging and helping others, meeting with other authors, trying to keep up on the latest in fiction published today, some (limited) speaking engagements. It’s all fun, but it’s hard to juggle everything when I have a busy personal life, too.
Who was the person who most influenced you in your writing journey?
So many people have blessed me along the way! First my father, for recognizing my interest in spinning a tale. Then my cousin, who was an English teacher and always, always, encouraged me to write. She never made me feel silly for dreaming of getting published someday. There are others, too, from my brother once asking me (when I was writing seculars) when I was going to write something I could show God, to critique partners who affirmed that I had some talent. And myriad writers who touched me with their talent and inspired me to try doing that for others.
What message would you like your readers to take from Whisper on the Wind?
I’d love for them to come away refreshed both mentally and spiritually, knowing that we can trust God no matter how bad things look. He never takes His eye off of us, even if we turn our back on Him.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
I’ve written for both the Christian and the secular market, and without a doubt writing for the Christian market is more satisfying to me. I love seeing what God has to teach me, or remind me of, when my characters get into a fix. If someone can read my books and come away reminded of God’s ready and willing involvement in life, then my mission is complete.
What do you do to get away from it all?
I recently attended a writer’s retreat which was a wonderful getaway. I try doing that at least once a year. On a more daily basis, I walk the dog and listen to my favorite praise music. It works wonders!