Interview with Joanne Bischof #2
About the Author
A Carol Award and two-time Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She was honored to receive the SDCWG Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon Writer’s conference. Her 2014 novella This Quiet Sky broke precedent as the first self-released title to final for the Christy Awards. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.
The Interview: The Lady and the Lionheart
1. How did you decide on a title for your novel?
Originally I just called the story Lionheart but as my agent and I were putting together a proposal, I gave it a new title, one that seemed fitting for a historical romance. But that new title just wasn’t right. My agent suggested we keep trying and she was right. After a few days of back and forth ideas, I threw out The Lady and the Lion Tamer. It was close, and certainly intriguing, but it was missing something—the heart of the story—which isn’t Charlie’s occupation, but his very spirit. That’s when The Lady and the Lionheart fell into place…just the perfect fit.
2. How did you decide to write this novel in the Victorian-era vs another era?
I adore the Victorian-era and when this story came to me, mixed with its vintage circus elements and all the quirks and mysteries that entailed, I started to peruse a lot of old fashioned Victorian circus photos and fashions. The time frame, culture, and even way of dress all play a key role in the plot, so setting the scene as 1890 really served the story well.
3. Can you tell us a bit about the "behind the scenes" to writing the novel?
I’d love to! The story idea came like a freight train and I wrote it very quickly. Because of that, there wasn’t time to research all the aspects that would be needed before writing. But I also couldn’t stop the story from coming—aching to be put onto paper, so in some ways it was like flying blind. I ordered all the books I would need but by the time most of them arrived, the story was already 50,000 words strong after just two weeks. It meant that I used a lot of place holders or sort of “guessed” as to what would work in any particular spot, particularly having to do with the historic circus. Online research was my biggest help in those days as it gave a clear and concise direction which helped that initial foundation to be pretty stable. But when all the books arrived, I was able to devour those and incorporate nips and tucks into the manuscript to enrichen the story and keep things as accurate as possible. I spent the next two years polishing the novel, which lent a lot of time to continually find new research books and I ended up making little changes all the way up to the end—sort of like the sharpening a spear—giving it a finer, and finer tip until it was perfect.
4. What was the hardest part about writing this novel? Easiest part?
The hardest part was chapter 27 when Charlie is faced with a great temptation. It’s such a complicated scene that by the time I wrote it, I sent it along to my agent as the very first piece of the story she saw. I was incredibly nervous as to what she would think because it tells a complex part of the story and I didn’t know if it would be too much for Christian readers. It turned out that my agent wrote right back saying that she read the whole chapter with her jaw dropped and wanted to know what I thought about us using that exact chapter to present the story to publishers. I was so surprised and honored. More importantly, her faith in that scene and the story as a whole gave me a fresh wave of strength to press on toward the end.
The easiest part? That would definitely be writing a book starring Charlie Lionheart. For those of you who’ve read the book, you understand. :) He is by far my favorite character and while I love all the characters I get to write about, there will never be another one quite like him.
5. If The Lady and the Lionheart was made into a movie, what actor/actress would you want to play the leads?
Ah, great question! I confess that I don’t know of any actors or actresses that come to mind for this. I have faces in mind, which I have pinned to the Pinterest board. But as far as acting talent, that’s a great question! I’d love to know if any readers who’ve read the books have any ideas come to mind!
6. What do you want your readers to take away from reading The Lady and the Lionheart?
My greatest hope is for them to walk away with the Gospel fresh on their minds. That through reading Charlie’s story, they would think on a hero that’s a million times more remarkable than he is – Jesus Christ. Through this story of Charlie’s love and sacrifice, my prayer is that readers will feel afresh what Christ did for them on the cross. How He came to set His children free and give them new life.
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