The author of over twenty historical and contemporary novels, including two series set in Florida’s unique Amish/Mennonite Gulf Coast community, Anna Schmidt is a three-time finalist for the coveted Romance Writers of America RITA award and a two-time winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.
When not writing, she tends to her garden, knits prayer shawls for hospice patients—she recently lost her husband to an eight-year battle with pulmonary hypertension, and says she has hauled so many seashells home from Florida beaches that somewhere in the future archeologists may believe there was an ocean in Wisconsin!
You have a unique and early connection to “characters” on the big screen because your father ran the local movie theater when you were growing up. What was the catalyst for creating characters of your own, i.e. putting down the words of your first novel?
The true catalyst was that I wanted to write but my first real attempt at something came in the form of a grant I applied for from the Wisconsin Arts Board to write a play—interestingly enough that play was also about the Holocaust!
How does your faith play into your writing?
I am a Unitarian/Quaker by faith which means I accept people as they are—flaws and all for who am I to cast stones? I spend a lot of time praying for peace and looking for ways to inspire others to be more forgiving and accepting.
We often experience detours in life—some self-chosen and others God-directed. Can you tell us about a “divine detour” in your life that set you on an unexpected path?
I began attending Quaker meetings for purposes of research way before the Peacemaker series sold. My attendance coincided with the time when my husband was in the last months of his life (and we knew that) and I soon found that research was not at all the reason I had been led there.
Let’s talk about your new book, All God’s Children (Barbour Books, September 2013), the first in your Peacemakers Series. Please tell us about it.
This is a labor of love on multiple levels: first I have a fascination with history in general and WWII in particular. Second as a novice Quaker I wondered what would happen if an American Quaker found herself living in the very heart of the Hitler regime and how all that she was to witness might test her faith. Third I have had a long association with the Center for White Rose Studies here in America—an organization dedicated to telling the story behind this German resistance movement. Finally I stumbled across the story of the Sobibor death camp—the ONLY concentration camp where prisoners made a successful attempt at escape and the story pretty much wrote itself!
What inspired the story (and/or the series) and the German setting?
In each of the three novels at least one main character is a Quaker—I needed to set these characters into situations where their pacifist beliefs were tested. So All God’s Children begins early in the war in Germany; Simple Faith (Bk. 2 coming in Spring 2014)) moves the characters who are on the run across Europe; and Safe Haven (Bk 3—Fall, 2014) brings them to America.
God often uses our stories to teach us when we’re writing them. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book?
In every story I write there are moments when I cannot imagine what will happen to my characters next and while I have never truly suffered from writer’s block there have been times when I had to leave the story and go for a walk or watch a movie or read a newspaper and invariably the answers will come. The idea that acceptance and appreciation for the vast diversity that God created in people and nature and all facets of this earthly life are always reinforced—if not in real life, at least in the lives of my characters.
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Way too easy—CHOCOLATE the darker the better!!!
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it “talent” but I love to sing along with recordings of Broadway musicals when I am on long car trips and I did play clarinet in my high school band.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
It would change from day to day—but there are songs I can turn to that fit a variety of moods. For example there’s pretty much a song for every occasion in the compendium of Broadway musicals. I have a masters in theater so in addition to being inspired by all those movies I saw as a kid in my dad’s theater, I LOVE live theater. In fact when I write I see the characters on a stage or in a film—they are moving.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Having gone through the long goodbye when my husband was dying I hardly saw myself as strong; I am not pretty/cute/vivacious enough for girl-next-door credit; mysterious? Not so much. I tend to wear my heart and my other feelings on my sleeve. You definitely know where you stand with me. Super heroine? Seriously? I have spent a huge part of my life being scared to death which has paid off in that it forced me to keep moving forward. And honey, I STILL can’t walk in high heels!!
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
I’ve had both dogs and cats—they each have their special qualities so I will not choose. Most recently my husband and I had two dogs over the course of our marriage: a standard poodle with the given name of Lancelot but who I renamed Macho because I didn’t want him to be bullied by other dogs; and a soft-coated Wheaten terrier that we named Gramps because at the time we were running a Mom-and-Pop business to provide day care for frail older people and used to take Gramps to work with us.
Thank you, Anna! It’s a great pleasure to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
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Anna has a unique way of connecting with her readers. Click here to request one of her handmade bookmarks.
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