I've excited to participate in the re-release celebration for my friend Terry Montague's novel, Fireweed.
Lisel Spann dreamed only of wonderful things in her future. Living with her father, sister, and brother in a cramped apartment in Berlin, the small family shares what seems to be an unbreakable spirit of love and security. However, with the rise of the Nazi party and approaching dark clouds of war, any kind of future grows increasingly uncertain. Knowing little of hate and destruction, Lisel is ill prepared as the storms of battle erupt in full fury and loved ones are taken from her as her beautiful city is reduced to rubble.
With fear and despair rising within, it is through her quiet, compassionate father that Lisel discovers faith and hope. Now, in a desperate journey to find her sister, Lisel and her neighbor flee Berlin and the advancing Russians for Frankfurt, a city under the protection of the Allies. But their flight to safety is filled with pain, hunger, and terror. However, with spiritual lessons and blessings from her father, the support of departed loved ones, and her tried but undying faith in a loving Heavenly Father, perhaps Lisel can emerge like the fireweed—rising strong and beautiful from scorched earth —transforming bitterness and despair into a charity that never faileth.
Purchase Link to Amazon.com: Paperback | Kindle
Terry Bohle Montague is a BYU graduate and a free-lance writer, having written for television, radio, newspaper, and magazines including The Ensign and Meridian Magazine. She has also been published as the author of book length historical non-fiction and fiction.
Her non-fiction work includes the book Mine Angels Round About, the story of the LDS West German Mission evacuation of 1939, which occurred mere days before the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Her LDS novel, Fireweed, is loosely based on her interviews with the evacuated West German missionaries and their families.
Terry studied with Dwight Swain and Jack Bickham, as well as David Farland. Her writing awards include those from LDS Storymakers, Idaho Writers’ League, and Romance Writers of America.
Links to Terry Online: https://www.terrybmontague.com/
Hi Terry! It's a pleasure to talk to you again.
Hi Marsha! Thank you so much for supporting Fireweed in its new incarnation.
My pleasure. Tell the folks a little about yourself.
I’ve lived almost all my life in southern Idaho, where the spuds come from. There was a seven-year stretch when I went to a French girls’ school then back to the States to attend BYU. After BYU, I worked in Public Relations and wrote lots of newspaper articles and things like commercials for radio and TV. I also wrote for Meridian Magazine’s Extraordinary Stories column and had a goofy –but-true thing published in The Ensign’s Mirthright column.
Also, because I just got tired of the animal welfare issues that abound in this area and, with a couple of friends, began a feline rescue group that now has volunteers in seven counties. We’re at magicatsrescue.org.
On a personal level, I met my husband, Quinn, at BYU and we have a daughter, a son-in-law, two granddaughters, and a grandYorkie.
Fascinating! How long have you been writing and what made you start?
When I was really little - about three, I think, because my younger sister was a newborn – my mom got me a toy ironing board. She’d get out her ironing and set up my ironing board and we’d “iron” together. One time she said, just off-handedly, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I didn’t even miss a beat. I said, “A writer.” Wow, was she surprised! She said, “Don’t you think you need to know how to read first?” At the moment, I didn’t really see the need to read in order to make stories. I was already doing that!
After Quinn and I moved back to Idaho (from Provo) I was just bored. I had a two-year old and Phil Donahue. Anyway, I heard an author interview on a news segment and thought I’d pick up that author the next time I went to the library. I was so disappointed with the book and told Quinn, “I could do better than that!” I think he was tired of me being bored so he suggested I just “do” it. So, I joined a writers’ group and started going to conferences.
Good start. What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly [write] by the seat of your pants?
I’m too insecure to do anything other than outline. And I mean I even outline every element of a scene, too.
Ooo. You like the hard work. Do you have a particular goal you aim to achieve with your writing?
I think because I am very curious about everything, I want to show a reader whatever I have found under the rock I just turned over. I want to share the excitement of learning something new, even if it means it’s only new because we’re looking at it from a different angle.
Nice of you to share! What is your daily schedule like when you're actively writing?
Get up and write. Sometimes I even get my clothes on before noon, but often not. I usually stop to feed the family or go grocery shopping but I write until bedtime. Then, I go to sleep but my mind is still working on the story. My dad says I have a one-track mind.
Many writers have the same schedule - and mind. So why did you write Fireweed?
I was standing in a bookstore aisle, browsing like we all do, when I noticed a pregnant young woman who was also trying to control a toddler. She looked really tired and I felt bad that, while she was picking up books, she was also putting them back. I wished then, that I could write a story for her. Something that would let her put down her burdens for just a little while.
I had a lot of left-over research from Mine Angels Round About and decided to put it to use. Thus, Fireweed, which is about a young woman who probably had a worse life than most young women and still found happiness and contentment.
What was the hardest part of writing it?
I had to stop for a few months when my husband bought me a derelict house to renovate. I find I just don’t have the energy to write when I have to make a lot of creative decisions.
Of course, then Lisel started showing up in my dreams and scolding me, so I had to go back to work.
Why should anyone part with their hard earned cash and precious time to read Fireweed? Sell it to us!
Because it’s from the point of view of someone we probably haven’t thought about before, a German teenager of an LDS family living in Nazi Berlin. Have you ever thought what that was like for someone like her? What about her family? Can you imagine living in a city under siege? How do you retain your faith when you are exposed to so much destruction and loss?
Now, lest you think this is all grim, remember this is also a girl who is reading Gone with the Wind and dreaming of dancing, like Ginger Rogers, in a pink, feathered dress. She gossips with her friends, teases and bickers with her older sister, avoids the loud-mouthed neighbor upstairs but takes cake to the older gentleman downstairs. She sings too loudly in church and frequently embarrasses her strict but much-beloved father. She is young and like many of us but she also faces difficult situations with a deep conviction and faith she doesn’t know she has.
I might also mention that when you’re parting with your well-earned cash, pick up a box of tissues because you’re going to need them. Oh, and maybe you shouldn’t read Fireweed in a food court.
A couple more questions now. What is the coolest thing about being an author?
Hearing from readers who tell me Lisel’s story made them see history or life or faith in a new way.
Oh, and I did hear from a woman who had been a Polish slave during WWII. She said she started having nightmares and flashbacks after reading some of the scenes that took place against the backdrop of the Bombing of Berlin. She said, “That could have been me!”
I was thrilled to have nailed it.
Cool! How do you want to be remembered, 1) as an author; 2) as a person?
1) As a writer who opened vistas. A writer who made people think.
2) As a person who tried to scrape up every tiny bit of information in an effort to understand life and everything about it.
Thanks to Terry Montague for giving me this interview.
Official Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1479068102403649/