Today we are kicking off the Blog Tour for Canadian author, L.A. Racines’ – A Shield in the Shadows!
Hey L.A.! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, I look forward to hearing what you have to say today about your novel.
To get us started, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a Canadian, born in Quebec but now living among the rolling hills, farmlands and forests of rural Ontario. After university I went to Nigeria to teach French, African History and Bible Knowledge to the boys and girls of a prestigious secondary school just as things were heating up for the Biafran war. I stayed through that for my full two year contract even as other expatriate teachers were being taken out by their governments for their own safety. The need was great and the workload was heavy, but I am proud that I could help hold things together for that school and those students.
Back in Canada I married a young theology student and have served with him in the Anglican Church of Canada until today. We have two married daughters and sons-in-law, including one set in California, and four growing grandchildren. I have had many interesting jobs over my lifetime working mostly with NGOs and non-profit organizations, and have published quite a few free-lance articles, as well as writing and editing for a variety of Christian groups.
Could you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your novel?
They say you become interested in your own family history after the age of forty. For me, the church is my family. Over the years I have met Christians with many different backgrounds from around the world, and have found that there is often a stronger bond between us than there is between me and my secular neighbors. It occurred to me that the Christians who have preceded us over the centuries are my family too. With such huge cultural and language differences between us, what will we have in common when we gather together at the Throne? That was one of the questions in my mind as I began the research for this book. How did they relate to God? And how did God relate to them as they underwent their own horrendous trials and difficulties. The answer, of course, is that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and knowing Him will help us get through our battles in any age.
Walk us through a day in your life. Do you adhere to a strict writing schedule or do you go with the flow – somewhere in between, perhaps? What kind of research did you put into the book?
I am an early riser. Usually by the time I am fully awake I already know a lot about what I want to accomplish in a day, be it studying, writing, marketing or some other book-related tasks. By the time I have finished my large mug of coffee, I have already made a good dent in at least one of those jobs. I work most days, and often put in five hours on the job, but if I feel disinclined to do one type of work, then I tackle something different.
The kind of book I have written requires an enormous amount of research. I started reading about the Roman Empire in January, 2004 and studied for eight years before I even began y novel.. One professor of Antiquities whose books I read and who answered some specific questions I had which were not in any book, told me after he read my manuscript that I had done the equivalent of a PhD.
I love research and learning, and it is a good thing. Think about it! I had to create a world in my head that included the history, specific geographies, social customs, religious beliefs tribal differences, and scads of details about anything from the types of horses the Goths used, to the kinds of fish that live in the Danube River. For many people this would be deadly, but for me, an ex-teacher, it is engrossing and fun. When I began to write, I found myself teaching too much, so had to go back later and edit whatever was unnecessary or unnatural.
What would you say has been your favorite part of your journey as an author?
I enjoy most of what I do, but I think the part I like the best is editing. Scenes clarify, conversations become more real, subtle motivations emerge as I work with what is already there in the text. I am now re-editing the book for the third time, and each time I get satisfaction from it.
Care to share what you’re working on now?
I am continuing to edit and I am reaching out to potential markets, but I have also been studying for the second book in the series. Some of the scenes from that are starting to come to me, and that means that the whole smoky story is beginning to nudge me forward. That is part of the process, too, and one I value very much. Letting my brain work in the background and now trying to force the story is how I get to understand the factors that drive my characters.
Any quirky writing habits?
I pray a lot about what to write. I believe this is a divine appointment for me, so I get pretty demanding to God about what I want the final result to be like. Since I believed I was doing what God wanted me to do, then I had the liberty to ask that this novel be entertaining, inspirational, educational, and as correct factually as I could make it.
Do you prefer silence while writing, or do you enjoy music or something along those lines in the background?
Silence. I get lost in what I am doing anyway, so I don’t need outside stimuli to be productive.
Can you describe your book in one tweet(140 characters)?
A young barbarian Christian girl fleeing the Huns joins a doomed illegal barbarian migration into the Roman Empire and finds purpose, romance and unexpected friends along the way.
Do you have any hobbies? I always love learning about the person behind the book!
I love music. I have been in many choirs, but now get my fix by listening to classical and jazz music and the music of my childhood and teen years. I also love nature, so visit the zoo or walk in the woods when I can. I also love to pray, so I am one member of a team of Christians who pray for the particular needs of people who come into our local Healing Rooms.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell potential fans?
You never know what life is going to throw at you. Be thankful for the good things in your life, but don’t take it for granted. Become a person who knows their worth in God, and seek to learn your own purpose in life. It may take a while. I had to wait many decades before I had my life-long dream of writing a novel come true, and when that day finally came, my novel, A Shield in the Shadows, under my pen name, L. A. Racines, turned out to be much better than I could ever have thought possible.
Be sure to check out A Shield in the Shadows on Amazon here, and stay tuned for more great posts from L.A. and reviews from bloggers(including myself!) who have read the book. Have a question for L.A.? Comment below! She’ll be keeping an eye out to answer y’all!