Thursday, August 29, 2013

 Meet Author Anna Urquhart

Anna's inspiring debut novella A Silent Night is featured in A Pioneer Christmas Collection. She answers questions about her unconventional love story below. Find out more about her on her website at

What made you write about your period in time?

In light of the fact that we were looking at westward expansion, I wanted to find a focus of heading west that is often overlooked--travel by water. The Erie Canal opened in the 1830s which brought a flood of people into Michigan Territory and beyond. So that time period sparked my initial interest.

How is Christmas celebrated in your family and what effect did it have on your writing this story?

Christmas is always about family gathering, coming home from wherever they are. However, most of those traveling west didn't have that luxury. They had only each other and those they've met along the way, those who essentially have become family. So that is what I tried to capture in the Christmas story--the gathering and celebration of new-found family.

What research did you do to authenticate Christmas celebrations in your story?

Loads of research, specifically about Michigan Territory, went into this. As previously mentioned, families were forged on the frontier from more than just blood-ties, and it's curious to me how that seems to happen in times of struggle. Michigan Territory was quite wild at the time, with constant threat of weather, Indians, wild animals, and even trivial accidents that could change a person's life. I tried to capture that wildness throughout the story.

 When you dreamed up your story idea, what came first, the time period, the story, the location?

Time period, followed by location. I had a vague idea of the story, but it grew out of the setting.

What was the "germ" of your story idea and how did you flesh it out?

The germ was putting a woman in the kind of situation most women fear: helplessness. It's an abstract fear, but on the frontier becomes tangible quite quickly.

Would you like to have been there?

A part of me itches to see what it would be like on the frontier struggling for survival--something I know absolutely nothing about. Yet I think within each of us is a desire to know what it is that we're made of, to see the exact boundaries of our strength and fortitude. However, my husband has assured me that I've not the makings of a frontierswoman, and I do believe he is right. I am quite handy with duct tape, though.

What aspects of your characters are reflected in yours?

I think I have my protagonist's propensity to second-guess herself. Additionally, I think that, as a result, she continues to drive toward self-reliance, posing an unwillingness to surrender to the guidance and strength of the Lord. I also gave my protagonist a daughter--whom I named after my own daughter--and my character's struggles, as you can imagine, quickly became personal.

Have you been to the locations in which your story is set?

The story begins in Edinburgh, Scotland, where my husband lived for many years and of which I have plenty of knowledge. Michigan, however, I visited only long ago--long before I knew I'd be setting a story there. And at my visit it completely lacked the wildness that Michigan once had.

What surprised you the most about your story?

The ending. It turned into a completely different kind of love story than even I had anticipated.

Would you have made a good pioneer?

Uh, no. Though I'd like to imagine I'd put on a good show while I lasted.

Were any of your ancestors pioneers? If so, where and when?

At one time my ancestors pioneered across the Atlantic from Germany and Switzerland, but never made it beyond Pennsylvania.

What spiritual themes did you deliberately incorporate into your story? Which ones did you discover later?
I had no clear spiritual theme as I began the story because I find that often the story itself has it's own message it wants to forge. As I dug deeper into the story the theme of surrender seemed continually to appear, and it became clear that the direction the story wanted to take was too look at the age old decision faced by every one of us: to hope that our own strength is enough to sustain us or to surrender to the One who loves us, pursues us, and calls us by name.
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A Pioneer Christmas Collection Giveaway!
Comment below to enter. Every day that you leave a comment is a new entry. At the end of our 12 Days of Christmas Promotion, two winners will be chosen at random. First prize is a $50 gift certificate from The second prize (but best in my opinion) is an autographed copy of A Pioneer Christmas Collection signed by all 9 Authors!  
Each day you have a new opportunity to enter! You may comment all you like, but only one entry per day will be counted.


gail borden said...

Sounds like an interesting story. I just finished a book by Karen Harper about a woman going up the Mississippi to the Missouri River to Indian territory after her husband died and left her only an old river boat. This sounds like a good one too. I am looking forward to reading it.

Anna Urquhart said...

Thank you, Marcia, for being such a great hostess to me today on the Yielded Quill!

Marcia Gruver said...

It's my pleasure, Anna. Thank you for stopping by.

Terrie Coleman said...

Anna's story sounds fascinating. The "family" that is forged through hardship, the Erie Canal aspect and the simplicity of life that this era held - I doubt in a romanticized way, all has my anticipation sparked to read the book. Anna's note that the the kind of romance that developed at the end of the story even surprised her also is intriguing. Can't wait to read the book!

Anonymous said...

WOW! This one I find very interesting. I wouldd be so scared traveling down that river tho, must less no place to hide if the Indians or other riff-rafe sees you. I would sure love to read this book. maybe can win the book. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

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