Maureen Lang is a multi-published author and has been awarded in such contests as RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice Contest, the Golden Heart Award, and American Christian Fiction Writer’s Noble Theme Award (now the Genesis). Her work has also been a finalist for the Christy, ACFW’s Carol Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellent, the Holt Medallion and others. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and their lovable Lab. Kelly: Hi Maureen, I just finished your fabulous book, Whisper on the Wind. One of the lines in your prologue captured my interest, and I was hooked.
“Edward turned to leave. He shouldn’t be out anyway, with German soldiers still roaming the streets, keeping the peace they’d broken with their arrival.”
I love the irony and simplicity of that statement.
What motivated you to write historical fiction of Nazi occupied Belgium?
Maureen: I’ve been interested in this era ever since my grandmother used to tell me about her life in this very same period. My grandfather fought in WWI, too, and she showed me his uniform. (In case you’re wondering about ages, I was one of the youngest in my rapidly aging family, and my grandmother was already quite old when I was born. She was born in 1894.) It seemed like that time period was an era that had a first taste of modern times—with telephones and motorcars and airplanes, but still so historical in many ways. The war itself, as horrible as it was (is there any other kind?) fascinated me because I kept looking for a clear line of good vs. evil, or even a starting point that made the beginning seem inevitable. For me, what made this particular war more horrible was that it really didn’t have a good reason to start, and no good reason for it to have continued as long as it did. As I kept reading about the effects of this war, I came across references to a “bold little newspaper called La Libre Belgique.” The more I learned about what that clandestine paper did, how it so bravely and stubbornly stayed in existence, I knew I had to write a story with my own characters involved in it.
Kelly: In your book, La Libra Belgique is an underground paper that gives hope to the people of Belgium during a German invasion. How do you hope to affect the reader with this book?
Maureen: I’d love to simply entertain my readers, of course, but more than that I hope a reader might come away reminded of how powerful hope can be. How our words, our attitudes, can make a difference. The people who actually lived through the German occupation were somehow able to survive—I think we’re probably all a bit stronger than we think, so I thought showing what ordinary citizens did during extraordinary times might inspire us to think we could be that way, too, if we had to be.
Kelly: Whisper on the Wind is just the first of a series of books in The Great War Series. Can you give us a hint about what your next book will be like?
Maureen: The next book is called Springtime of the Spirit, and at long last I’ll be writing a book where the Germans aren’t the bad guys. Well, some of them are, because we must have someone to foil things, mustn’t we? But since this book is set in Germany, all of the characters are German, so we get to cheer for at least some of them. It’s actually been such a fun—and challenging project. It opens just as German soldiers are marching home, having suffered a heartbreaking defeat. My heroine is haunted by guilt because her father made quite a bit of money from war goods, so she leaves her more rural home in search of personal atonement. In the city, she’s torn between an idealistic revolutionary and his way of life, and a soldier who came home from the warfront with more emotional than physical scars. This particular heroine is one of my absolute favorites!
Kelly: I enjoyed the book so much that I wanted to read it a little at a time to savor it….what are some books that you have enjoyed reading, recently?
Maureen: I recently finished The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Although they’re considered Young Adult books, I thought a person of any age would enjoy the plotting and characterization—in fact, I’d be more comfortable if these books were aimed at the adult reader, since they tended to be a bit dark. But as far as really skillful writing, unforgettable characters and plotting—wow! They were terrific.
Kelly: As a writer, I tend to compare my writing to other authors. I usually come out on the losing end in my own mind. Do you have any advice to those of us who want to write a novel, but feel like they come up short?
Maureen: I’m afraid even publication doesn’t alleviate all of the insecurities we’re used to carrying around, so my advice is to work on the comparison challenges even before publication, knowing those kinds of things are natural no matter what stage you’re at—or, unfortunately, what business you’re in. I’ve spoken to other writers, teachers, pastors, parents, businesspeople and many others who at one point or another have been tempted to fall into the comparison trap. Isn’t that where the saying came from about the grass being greener on the other side of the fence? It’s one of the most effective tools Satan has against us, because he knows our proclivity toward such things. All he has to do is whisper in our ear, remind us of the success of so-and-so and how we’ll never measure up. So we’re tempted to give up. Wouldn’t that be just what Satan and his cronies want? Not to use the talent and passion God gave us?
Most successful authors I know have felt inadequate at one point or another, and all of them have been rejected in one way or another. Knowing we’re not alone in our insecurities helps, but for me the best medicine is to work. To write. To read books that touch me, so I can figure out how they did it and try doing it myself in the books I write.
And then to stop the comparison thing the moment it presents itself. Praying for others whose work we admire goes a long way in keeping our spirits healthy.
Kelly: Maureen, thank you for stopping by to give us a close up look into your life as an author. It was fun!
Maureen: Thanks so much for having me, Kelly! I enjoyed our visit.