Fireweed by Terry Montague is an intriguing and poignant WWII saga from the German citizen point of view. Terry pulls the reader into Lisel’s heart and then lets you see, smell, hear, feel and touch her world. I wanted to reach out and give Lisel a hug.
Margaret: Why do you write?
Terry: Because I have so many questions about life that, I think, I’m always trying to work those out in my mind. Plus I’ve got lots of stories bubbling around in there and writing is the most effective way to get them out!
I’ve always been a person of maximum curiosity. My parents tell me my first word wasn’t “Mama” it was an entire sentence, accompanied by a pointing, pudgy finger, “What’s that?”
I love to turn over rocks and say, “Look what we have here.”
Margaret: Are the goals different for other projects?
Terry: Yes. For instance, when I was writing for Meridian Magazine, the Proctors wanted stories that were uplifting and inspiring stories about facing life’s trials. Then, a couple of years ago, I wrote a piece of fiction that was intended to let women know they could laugh at the perplexing things in life. I entered it in a humor competition and won a first place. Fireweed and Mine Angels Round About were “Look what we have here,” projects.
Margaret: What genre are your books and who is your target audience?
Terry: Historical and Women’s Fiction for teen-agers and older. I’d like to do something with Mystery but my Mystery skills aren’t advanced enough, yet.
Margaret: Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to write this story?
Terry: Yes. As I was thinking about finding a new and intriguing project when I met Norman Grant Seibold who was then one of our County Commissioners. His experiences as a missionary in Nazi Germany inspired me to research the West German Mission evacuation of 1939. Over a five-year period, I tracked down nearly sixty of the almost eighty missionaries involved in that dramatic and historically significant incident.
Often, I traveled to a former missionary’s home to find he had family members, some of them German, sitting in on the interview. If, during the interview, the missionary had to retrieve a journal or set of letters from another room, his German family members would say to me, “Now let me tell you what happened to me.”
When my research was as complete as I could make it, we released it as a piece of primary resource historical non-fiction, titled Mine Angels Round About. Then, because I knew I needed to tell another part of the story, one from the German point of view, I began writing Fireweed.
Margaret: Intriguing. Tell us about the heroine in your book.
Terry: I like to use a main character who seems the weakest or has the least power in her situation then I toughen her up by throwing some rocks at her so that, eventually, she not only has the most power but can sling rocks back.
Margaret: Tell us about the villain. Is it a person, thing, or circumstance?
Terry: All three. I think conflict should come from all different directions. Plus, the villain in one part of the story might serve another purpose in another part. So the villain can change or the circumstance can change. That’s the way it is in mortal life. Everything changes. I like it that way.
Margaret: How do you discover the characteristics of your characters?
Terry: Ha! I didn’t discover them. I assigned them. I know, that sounds a bit backward but I always go at a story from setting and circumstance first. Then, I work on what kind of character would best suit what I want to say. I let the character have her say, but I’m not the kind of writer who lets the characters take over the story.
Margaret: Who was the first person you told when you found out your book was being published?
Terry: My Husband, Quinn.
Margaret: Thanks for visiting with me Terry. Reading Fireweed reminds me of my mother’s and grandmother’s stories from Holland in WWII. Some of them are recorded in my mother’s book: Never Again – by Martha Petronella van der Wal Larsen.