Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tower of Strength by Annette Lyon

By Brittany Mangus

Below is my interview with author Annette Lyon about her wonderful new historical fiction novel Tower of Strength. I love historical novels and was very thrilled to read Annette's latest creation! I was so excited to read Tower because I went to Snow College and loved the Manti area. Anyway, because of that, I thought I would include some of my own photos in this interview.

Q: Spires of Stone was a take on Shakespeare's Much Ado. Was there a book or play that inspired the storyline of Tower of Strength?

A: The storyline for Tower of Strength grew organically after researching the Manti area and the temple. One day as I was blow-drying my hair, Tabitha appeared in my head. I knew her background and even that she hated being called, "Tabby." Then as I wrote the book, I felt a bit like an archaeologist uncovering a story that was already there. The process was very different than with Spires of Stone, where I went into the book with a pretty clear framework.

Q: This is the fourth book in your temple series. (The other books have centered around the Salt Lake Temple, the St. George Temple and the Logan Temple.) I have ancestral ties to the early pioneers who helped settle the Bear Lake Valley and who helped build the Logan Temple. What draws your interest or inspires you in the historical aspect of the early Utah temples and the Mormon pioneers?

A: My original fascination began solely with the Logan Temple, which has some family connections for me. I wanted to write about it, so I did. Then I decided that it was such a rewarding experience that I wanted to learn more about other temples and write about them. Both sides of my family came into the Church relatively recently, so I personally have no pioneer blood. Writing about the Saints who settled Utah and Arizona has made me feel connected to Church history in a way I never did before. I also have a greater appreciation for temples than I used to.

Q: I love names. How did you choose the first and last names for your characters in Tower of Strength? Do they have a special significance? At any point were they changed?

A: Tabitha showed up with her own name. Will's name changed at one point after my critique group debated on whether his original nickname fit the period, but I don't think anyone else had a name change.

I keep a running list of names from the 1800s that I've found in either old records or on headstones from that era. When I need a first or last name, I consult that list. One name I picked deliberately was Wilhelmina--it sounded a bit abrasive and uptight, so it seemed to fit her character.

Q: Did you have a working title for the book that was not Tower of Strength?

A: This may sound odd, but I don't usually have working titles. The marketing department picks the title, and it's almost never what the author submitted a book as. For me, it's hard to call a book something and then have to rename it, so I just refer to manuscripts along the lines of, "my Manti book." I was pleased with the title they picked--the towers are under construction during the story, so the title can refer to the temple, but it also refers to a major theme with Tabitha, who's had to be a major tower of strength in her own right just to survive.

Q: Margaret Mitchell famously wrote the last chapter of Gone with the Wind first. Did you know how the story would end before you finished it, or, while writing it, did the story take on a life of it's own and dictate its own ending?

A: I pretty much knew the basic story arc from the beginning, although I did discover a lot along the way. I didn't know exactly what the final scene would be and even played with the end in revisions even though I knew what would happen with all the major characters, including Mantia.

There's a significant scene near the end between Tabitha, Samuel, and Mantia that I knew about very early on. It was one of the first parts I wrote.

Check out the book trailer! Manti is interesting... (if you learn to ignore the turkey smell).


Brittany Marie said...

OK so I didn't look before I posted... I didn't see that Heather posted her entry about Tower.


Heather B. Moore said...

I loved this book! Nothing better than 2 reviews :) The book trailer captures the book perfectly as well.