Roots of Wood and Stone by Amanda Wen: Author Interview
|This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts|
Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.
Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.
A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.
This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.
|About the Author|
|Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple writing contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions contests. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.|
Wen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog and is a contributor to the God Is Love blog. Her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, releases from Kregel Publications on February 2, 2021.
In addition to her writing, Wen is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team. She serves as a choral accompanist as well. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Wen lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.
To find Amanda Wen’s blog and short stories, visit www.amandawen.com. Readers can also follower her on Facebook (@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram (@authoramandawen).
What makes your main characters tick?
I have four main characters (two in the contemporary timeline and two in the historical one), so I’ll give you a brief description of each:
Sloane (contemporary heroine) is a curator at a local historical museum and is passionate about history and preserving the past. She loves researching and filling gaps in people’s knowledge of the past, largely because she was adopted at birth and knows next to nothing about her own story. She struggles with identity and feels that if she can just connect with her birth family, all her questions will be answered.
Garrett (contemporary hero) is a type-A uber-planner who’s trying to do right by his family. As a financial planner, planning in advance is how he rolls, so when his grandfather dies unexpectedly, leaving his Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother’s future in question, he concocts the perfect plan: sell the family farmhouse where his grandmother still lives and move her to a long-term care facility. But as the story progresses, his perfect plan bumps up against numerous obstacles, including his sister Lauren, his own heart…and Sloane.
Annabelle (past heroine) seeks adventure and the ability to make her own decisions. Following her mother’s death, Annabelle was left with an aunt and uncle at age nine. Ten years later, when this aunt and uncle decide to move to Kansas, they intend for Annabelle to stay behind…but Annabelle’s having none of it. Kansas is the adventure to which God is calling her. She can feel it in her bones.
Jack (past hero) is a recent settler to Sedgwick County who’s suffered some deep wounds. He’s questioning whether he made the right move coming to Kansas, and wondering where God is in the midst of his anguish.All these characters have deep needs only God can fill, and it was fun watching Him work in their lives as I wrote the book.
What was the highlight of writing this book?
I actually have two highlights, one a writing highlight and one a research highlight. The writing highlight came when my editor was getting ready to take Roots of Wood and Stone to committee (the first time a book of mine had made it that far), and she pointed out a need for one more past timeline scene. She and I did some brief brainstorming, and that led to a scene that is probably my absolute favorite scene in the whole book. (No spoilers, but you’ll know you’ve hit it when you read the words, “Prove it, Jack.”). Thanks, Janyre!
As far as research goes, Roots of Wood and Stone is inspired by a real-life 1890s farmhouse that belonged to my great-great-grandfather, Francis Little, who came from Ireland as a child and became one of the earliest settlers of Sedgwick County, Kansas. This house is not far from where I’ve lived most of my life, and every time we drove by it throughout my childhood, my genealogist mother would point out “Grandpa Little’s house.” The house has been vacant for many years and its land sold for development, but while writing the book, I got up the guts to call its most recent owner, a distant cousin of mine who still lives in the area, and ask if I could get a closer look at the property. Not only was he willing to do that, he gave me a complete tour of the house, inside and out! Of course, I brought my mom, and watching her walk around inside Grandpa Little’s house was a very, very cool moment.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
My non-writing day job is as a professional musician! I have college degrees in cello performance and frequently play gigs around town, and I also play piano for the choirs at a nearby high school and middle school. Music is every bit as essential to me as writing is! I find that the two art forms feed my creative brain in different ways; when I’m tapped out with writing, a little music-making fills the well, and when music has drained me, writing refills my cup. I can’t not write, and I can’t not make music, and I’m blessed that God is enabling me to do both!
When I’m not doing any of that, you can generally find me reading, cooking, running, watching and obsessing over TV shows (current obsessions are This Is Us and The Mandalorian), spending way too much time on Facebook, loudly rooting for my favorite football teams (the Oklahoma Sooners and the New England Patriots), snuggling with my cat, Jasmine, and spending as much time as I can with my wonderful husband, my hilarious kids, my awesome parents, and the fantastic group of friends God’s blessed me with.
When did you write your first book? Is that first one published?
My early writing took place in a couple different stages, separated by the birth of my three kids (all within four years; needless to say, I was busy!). The first phase was mostly long, meandering stories that, though novel-length, weren’t structured as novels. After I started writing again in 2014, I focused on the structure and format of novels and wrote two of those. One is a definite desk drawer novel, and the other one, while it didn’t get published, did land me my agent!
What genre would you choose to write that you don’t already?
There are several I could see myself writing! Split-time books encompass both contemporary and historical stories, so I could see myself writing a complete contemporary story or a complete historical one. I also love anything with a mystery in it, especially an old mystery, and I’m kicking around ideas for some stories revolving around those, so split-time romantic suspense (a la Jaime Jo Wright, but probably less creepy) could very well be in my future!
Are you working on your next book already? What can you tell us?
I am indeed! The current work-in-progress, another split-time, revolves around two side characters from Roots of Wood and Stone. The contemporary timeline features Garrett’s sister, Lauren, in a starring role (along with her ex-boyfriend, Carter Douglas, who’s suddenly reappeared in her life), while the past timeline deals with their grandmother Rosie’s 1950s-era secret romance with a Black classmate. It’s been a difficult, but fun project, and I can’t wait to let my editors get their hands on it and make all it can be!