Author Interview and Giveaway – Lynn Austin – Waves of Mercy

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Isn’t this a gorgeous cover? I’m excited to have Lynn Austin here to share about her new book! PLUS if you were here last month, author Rachel McMillan mentioned that she got to read an advanced copy of this and had this to say about Lynn’s work: “I think what I love most about Austin’s books is that they encourage you to accept that God uses all manner of people.  Her heroines always validate me as a woman who has never quite felt that she fit into a traditional woman’s role.”

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Waves of Mercy

Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean at age seventeen with her parents and a small group of immigrants from The Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. Fifty years later, in 1897, she is asked to write a memoir of her early experiences as the town celebrates its anniversary. Reluctant at first, she soon uncovers memories and emotions that have remained buried all these years, including the story of her one true love. 

A few miles away at the Hotel Ottawa Resort on the shore of Lake Michigan, twenty-three-year-old Anna Nicholson is trying to ease the pain of her broken engagement to a wealthy Chicago banker. But her time of introspection is disturbed after the violent storm her steamship encounters on her journey across the lake, stirs up memories of a childhood nightmare. As more memories and dreams surface, Anna begins to question who she is and whether she wants to return to her wealthy life in Chicago. When she befriends a young seminary student who is working at the hotel for the summer, she finds herself asking him all the questions that have been troubling her.

Neither Geesje nor Anna, who are different in every possible way, can foresee the life-altering surprises awaiting them before the summer ends.

Lynn’s Website



Questions about Lynn’s Story

What inspired your story?

The story of the Dutch immigrants who settled Holland, Michigan has interested me since I first visited Holland, Michigan as a Hope College freshman. I saw how proud the community was of their faith and their Dutch heritage—so much so, that they imported a 250 year-old windmill from the Netherlands as the showpiece of their town, and planted nearly 4 ½ million tulips in parks and gardens and along city streets. The annual Tulip Time Festival brought swarms of tourists in cars and buses and motor homes to the otherwise quiet town. All of this impressed me as a young college student.

I met my husband Ken while we were students at Hope College, and although he grew up in Holland, he didn’t know very much about his Dutch ancestry. In the years since, we’ve learned that his great-great-grandfather immigrated to Holland, Michigan with his family in 1871, when the town was only 25 years old. When Ken and I decided to move back to Michigan two years ago, I began researching Holland’s history to see if it would make a good novel, and I wasn’t disappointed! The first Dutch settlers arrived here in 1846 for religious freedom after suffering persecution and famine in the Netherlands. Since that’s been true of so many other immigrant families over the years, I knew the story would resonate with many readers. The commitment that the Dutch community had to each other and to God is very impressive.

What was the hardest part of your book to write?

Before I began researching “Waves of Mercy,” I had no idea how much hardship and suffering these early settlers endured. They decided to come to America in 1846 because of religious persecution in the Netherlands. They left behind beautiful, centuries-old cities to move to the virgin wilderness of Michigan and live in crude log cabins. Their first summer here, malaria struck the community killing many settlers. A year later, a ship called the Phoenix, carrying 225 passengers, including 175 Dutch immigrants, caught fire and sank in Lake Michigan, five miles from their destination. 180 men, women and children died. As the bewildered immigrants buried their loved ones, they must have asked, “Did we really hear from God? How could He allow these tragedies to happen?”
I found it hard to write about all of these things in a realistic way because I’ve never had to endure such tragedies. But it was also difficult for me because I needed to portray their spiritual questioning in a realistic way—how did they endure and not become bitter toward God? This is an issue that many Christians still face, and I wanted to do it in a way that would bring hope without resorting to “pat” answers.

What research book or website used to write this book was your favorite to peruse?

One resource that really sparked my imagination were the wonderful programs presented by a local group called the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association. This group of divers search for sunken ships in the Great Lakes using historic records, then film their underwater dives as they explore the wrecks. Along with their website, they’ve also published several books that document the history of various vessels, detailing how and why they sank. The Association’s books and presentations gave me a peek into the sometimes-dangerous world of sailing on Lake Michigan in the 19th Century and inspired me to include a shipwreck (or two!) in my upcoming novel, “Waves of Mercy.”  


Questions about Lynn’s Reading

Which book got you hooked on reading Christian Historicals?

It would have to be “The Zion Chronicles” by Bodie Thoene, published back in the late 1980s. Book One was “The Gates of Zion” and tells of the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948. I was just beginning to think about writing back then, and these books were all the rage in our church library in Canada. The books were among the very first to be categorized as Christian Historical Fiction and really paved the way for the variety of historical fiction published today.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take one Christian Historical Novel, which would you pick?

I would choose “Christy” by Catherine Marshall. It was released in 1967, long before Christian books became popular, but it is an all-time classic. Her characters are unforgettable and she deals with issues of faith in a realistic, appealing way. The fact that it was based on the true story of her mother’s experiences makes it even more fun to read.

Lynn is giving away a copy of her book (Paperback – US only) and I’m giving away winner’s choice of any available ebook of the books mentioned above. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

**If you don’t want to enter Rafflecopter, tell me in a comment below: “I’m not entering the rafflecopter, but please throw me in the hat” so I can manually put you in there for a chance.**

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