So So today I’d like to take the time to introduce Allison Kohn. I had the privilege of meeting Allison on Goodreads.com
Allison describes herself as “a seventy-four year old woman who has been through muddy waters and over steep mountains and knows how to show others the way in an interesting and entertaining way.”
So tell us about your book Allison. Why did you write it and who is it targeted towards?
Evelyn’s anxious Bench is the first in the Baker family saga. It tells the story of Jonathan Baker’s extended family’s departure from their luxurious homes in Maryland with all the servants and other amenities – like bathrooms – to help blaze a trail through the untamed country between Independence, Mo. and the west coast. Jonathan Baker had a strong personality and when he got the manifest destiny bug, he expected his children and their spouses to pick up their children and follow him into the unknown. The story focuses on his oldest daughter, Evelyn. She is the last of his children to give in to his desire and she doesn’t like it one bit, but she is determined to be a “good woman” so she puts on her martyr’s bonnet and does her best.
Why did I write it? I was responsible for the unmarried adults in our church and they were reading novels full of things not listed in that “whatsoever things are pure…” guideline for walking in the light. Writing has always been second nature to me, so I decided adults needed to read things “…of good report” as the guidebook says; and the adventures of the Baker family and their part in manifest destiny would make exciting, romantic reading.
Sounds like you were looking for a way to do ministry. What were some of the biggest challenges in writing the book?
For me, the greatest challenge was a lack of technology. I wrote on notepaper with a pencil – my first typewriter was an old pharmacy model. Rejection was the next biggest challenge. I sent in my first pharmacy typewritten copy to Zondervan in the early eighties. I got a three page letter back and was so ignorant about the process; I threw it away and had a good cry. What I should have done was made the suggested changes and sent it back.
Four books are quite a number to have under your belt. What advice would you give new novelists?
Don’t give up, of course. A good editor is a must, but you better be a good editor yourself too, because it’s your book and your editor is human – and humans make mistakes. I have also advised authors to get a writer’s thesaurus with a language guide in the back and spend time with the guide.
So I of course have to ask about your faith. How did you become a Christian?
That’s a long story. My mother was sure about God and she made me pretty sure about him, but when I asked her why Jesus died on that old rugged cross, she said she didn’t know – to her, it seemed like a stupid thing for him to do. Years later, during 4th and 5th grades, I went to a Mennonite school where a friend led me in the sinner’s prayer and explained that I should cover my head with my hands when I prayed – since I didn’t have a prayer cap and she was pretty sure my mother wouldn’t let me wear one. I didn’t remember the prayer, but I remembered the thing about covering my head with my hands when I prayed. When that didn’t seem to be getting through, I tried prostrating myself – but that didn’t work either. I asked a Baptist if being baptized would help. He said, no, I didn’t have to be baptized to be saved, but he wasn’t sure what a person did have to do.
By that time I was seventeen years old and I had an asthma attack and had to stay home alone. I got my mother’s Bible – she never read it, it was important to her, but she said it contradicted itself, so she kept it dusted and cherished it but never opened it. I looked up to the ceiling and said, God if you’re there, mama says this is your word, so use it to speak to me and show me how to know I am going to heaven when I die. Then I let the Bible fall open in my hand to wherever it would. Well, I’d been to Sunday school enough so I’d heard about the serpent of Moses’ and when the bible fell open to the third chapter of John where Jesus explained to Nicodemus about that snake on the pole being a picture of Jesus dying on the cross, it all became clear and I jumped and shouted for joy. I didn’t have to do anything, Jesus did it all for me. A few months later we got a lot of books from my aunt with a Bible in the lot. I started reading and fell in love with God. That was 58 years ago and the love has grown exponentially through the years.
What a wonderful testimony. Do you any favorite authors and or books you like to read?
While I was going to that Mennonite school, I discovered Grace Livingston hill and have read her over and over again through the years. Recently I discovered Eugene Peterson, Glen beck, Fred Herron, P.L. Gaus, Nancy Mehl, and a assortment of new Indie authors with Paula Rose Michelson in the front.
Now that you’ve written the book what other projects if any are you working on?
I have written four of the Baker family saga books and am working on the fifth. I am going back over the first four and re-edit them, and, if necessary, re-publish. That’s the best thing about self-publishing. The writer has complete control of fixing the errors.
When did you start writing?
I have dyslexia and am left handed, so it wasn’t until I was twelve years old I learned how to deal with both well enough to read and write well. Before that I told stories. When I discovered the Bible’s many treasures, I started writing commentaries and sermons; but there was always the Baker family in the background, waiting to be written about.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The fifth book in the Baker family saga is set in the south during the civil war and features Linda Baker, Jonathan’s youngest son’s youngest child. She is a strong willed young lady visiting her cousin when war breaks out. She is quite outspoken about her allegiance to the north, which causes a lot of trouble. Things escalate from there.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Since the library was my home away from home for many years, and I got the chance to do a little traveling along the Oregon Trail, there was no problem till I could no longer drive, walk well, or see well – but there are always ways to overcome every obstacle.
Than you Allison for sharing with us today. I especially appreciate the pointers from another writer. May you have great success!
For those interested in Christian Fiction in the historical /romance genre you can find Allison’s book here