Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Interview with Amanda Barratt

Today we welcome Amanda Barratt to my blog. Glad to have you stop by. Tell us about the book: 

My Dearest Dietrich is the love story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria von Wedemeyer. Most people are familiar with the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but few know about Maria, Dietrich’s fiancée during the final years of his life. It’s one of those instances where a famous man has a remarkable woman standing beside him, yet she gains only a brief mention in the literature written about him.

 Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived a very multifaceted life—not only was he a pastor and theologian, he was also involved in the conspiracy against Adolf Hitler. Dietrich’s relationship with Maria played a much larger part during the final chapter of his life than most realize. It was an absolute privilege to bring these characters and their world to life through the pages of the story.

Have you always liked to write? 

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since high school, when I developed a love for classic authors like Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and Charles Dickens. My first attempts at writing novels definitely included nods to their work. Becoming a published author though took years of seriously studying the craft of writing, and lots of rejections. I was able to keep going throughout that time because few things make me more excited than the way God uses fiction to impact lives. It’s such an honor to be able to write stories that I pray will draw readers closer to Him.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write? 

Such a great question! Like I said above, I’m a huge fan of the classics. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre remains one of my favorite books of all-time.

Some of the authors that continue to inspire and challenge me to grow as a writer include: Cathy Gohlke, Laura Frantz, Jocelyn Green, Lori Benton, Tracy Groot, Joanne Bischof, Patti Callahan, and Kristin Hannah. I could seriously keep going until this list was a page long! I adore well-written fiction, and am always reading and trying new authors and genres.

How did you decide upon the title of Dearest Dietrich? 

The original title for the novel was Costly Love, but the team at Kregel decided they wanted something that sounded more romantic and personal. My Dearest Dietrich fits the story beautifully, and I love it even more than the original. I also think that with as many times as I’ve said the title, I’ve probably called Dietrich Bonhoeffer “dearest” more than Maria. :-)

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names of character in Dearest Dietrich based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Choosing names for this story was super easy, as almost every character was actually a real person. However, because of this, I ended up having several characters with the same name. In 1940s Germany, they were especially fond of the name Hans, with a million variations. :-)

Usually, I decide on character names based on both how the name sounds, and the meaning. With historical fiction, it’s tricky to make sure the names are appropriate to the time period, so I rely on literature from the era, and whatever records are available. I keep a running list of names, and often refer to that. Also, I’ve probably visited baby name sites more than most expectant mothers. :-)

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

My Dearest Dietrich is the most challenging book I’ve written to date. In previous novels and novellas, I’ve dealt with a variety of time periods, but my historical research was more generic. With My Dearest Dietrich, I delved deep into the era and the lives of Dietrich and Maria. I read countless biographies, the correspondence of Dietrich and Maria (published in the book Love Letters from Cell 92), Bonhoeffer’s correspondence with family and friends, Bonhoeffer’s books and sermons, and books and documentaries about the German resistance and life in Nazi Germany. I utilized and created detailed timelines of their lives, so the dates in my story lined up with the actual dates of when things occurred. I spent months researching before actually writing, and continued researching throughout the writing and editing process. Since I’m not fluent in German, I even had a friend who speaks German translate a source that wasn’t available in English over a nine hour Skype call. While the research process was demanding, I loved immersing myself in the story and digging into new facets. It was a lot of fun!

Writing the story was also a challenge emotionally. I cried more while writing My Dearest Dietrich than I have during all of my other books combined. It’s such a moving true love story, and I grew very close to it during the writing process. I feel incredibly privileged to have been given the opportunity to tell this story, and I’m thrilled to think of readers discovering Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the first time, or perhaps rediscovering him in a new light.

Share your bio:

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical novels and novellas, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. Her novel My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love, releases from Kregel Publications in June 2019.

She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards. 

Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel, and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.

Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at: amandabarratt.net.

Social media and buying links:

Visit my website: www.amandabarratt.net


Rose-Marie said...

It would be interesting to read a book that tells about Maria!

Marilyn R. said...

My Dearest Dietrich will be a worthwhile read with the story focusing on Maria. Thank you for the nice interview.

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