Saturday, February 28, 2009

An Interview with Kathi Oram Peterson about The Forgotten Warrior

I have to confess that when I saw that The Forgotten Warrior involved time travel back to Book of Mormon times, I wilted. The idea was just a bit too fantastic for me. But then I remembered how I loved reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court when I was in high school. And as a young woman, I was entranced by The House on the Strand. Mark Twain and Daphne du Maurier are pretty good company. If they can write about time travel, why not Kathi Oram Peterson?

I interviewed Kathy about writing this book and writing in general. Here’s what she said:

Liz: What age group is The Forgotten Warrior targeting?

Kathi: I've received fan letters from kids as young as ten, from young women who are in college, and from adults, so I think it has broad range.

Liz: I think you did a good job of creating things young people like to read about: action, strong characters, heroes, cliffhangers, a little bit of romance, even a flatulence joke. Is this in your comfort zone, or was it a departure from the usual for you?

Kathi: I have had such fun writing in the YA genre. A bonus in writing a time-travel in the Book of Mormon is researching the scriptures. I wanted my characters and plot to match real people and events as closely as possible. In doing this, my testimony of those brave prophets has increased exponentially.

Liz: What made you choose the Stripling Warriors as a subject for your book?

Kathi: I'd just finished writing a time-travel that had to do with the Book of Mormon and asked my son what era and story in the scriptures he thought would be interesting. His reply was, "You can't go wrong with the stripling warriors. There are battles and heroes." He was right. I also wanted this book to have a strong female protagonist, so I created Sydney Morgan. Young women need to know that they are warriors, too.

Liz: Yes, and Sydney is a strong female role model. I won’t reveal the contribution she makes to the success of the Stripling Warriors, but it’s a nice little twist to the story. What problems did the time travel aspect pose for you as an author?

Kathi: I had to have a fresh catalyst that would send the protagonist back in time. A cave had already been used, near death experiences have been done, even putting on old clothing or jewelry has been overdone. I wanted something specific to the Book of Mormon. One day as I pondered this problem, my daughter dropped by and she suggested that the stones carved by the brother of Jared could send Sydney back. Brilliant! As you can tell, I brainstorm a great deal with my family.

Liz: Ah yes, your family. Do you come from a word-loving family, or are you charting a new path?

Kathi: My mother was an artist. I have many of her paintings in my home. My father was the writer, but he never tried to publish. I wish they were still alive to see my book in print.

Liz: When did you begin writing?

Kathi: I've always liked to write. I remember in a high school English class we were told to write a fiction piece and I wrote about some monster who could morph into other creatures. The teacher made me read it in front of class, which when you're 15 is so uncool. I didn't start writing books, though, until after my first baby was born, which was too many years ago to fess up to.

Liz: What other things have you written?

Kathi: For years I worked on writing romantic suspense novels. I had so much fun doing research: went on a cattle drive, attended some very rustic rodeos, and fished the Snake River. The problem with research is more ideas for books pop in to my mind. I stopped writing for a while, so I could go to college and earn my BA in English. Afterwards I was hired by a curriculum publisher to write nine children's concept and biography books. When I left that job, I started in earnest to write young adult fiction.

Liz: I noticed at the end of this book, Syd doesn’t get transported home. Do we find out what happens to her?

Kathi: Yes. I've written the sequel to The Forgotten Warrior, which picks up where this story leaves off. In book two Syd meets Captain Moroni and helps with the battle for Zarahemla. I've also written a book that involves Samuel the Lamanite's daughter. Didn't know he had one, did you? I didn't know either until she appeared in my story. ;)

At this time, I'm writing a time travel series that takes a brother and sister back in time to when Christ was born. The sister goes to Rome and meets a Roman soldier. The brother goes to Bethlehem and meets a shepherd family. The working title for this series is Chasing the Star. The first book is finished. Right now, I'm working on book two.

Also An Angel on Main Street comes out in the fall of 2009. This story takes place in 1953 and is very near and dear to my heart. I created a small fictional town in Idaho. Eleven-year-old Micah Connors and his little family have recently moved to town. Micah’s father was killed in the Korean War. His mother works as a waitress and his little sister, Annie, is very sick. A few days before Christmas, a nativity begins to appear in the center of town. No one knows who is building it. Annie tells Micah that she believes when the baby Jesus arrives he’ll make her well. Her condition worsens and Micah doesn’t think she can wait until Christmas. He‘s desperate to find the nativity builder and borrow the Jesus doll for Annie. I won’t spoil it and tell you how things turns out.

Liz: Wow! You are a busy lady. I love the premise you’ve created for An Angel on Main Street. I can’t wait to read it. You have a great way of using sight, sound and smell to put people in the moment.

But back to The Forgotten Warrior, what message do you hope this book conveys to youth?

Kathi: It is my hope that the youth will realize how important they are to our Heavenly Father. The stripling warriors were awesome heroes and so are the youth of today. I'm holding a Latter-day Stripling Warrior Contest right now. People can enter a youth between 8 and 18, male or female, to be a Latter-day Stripling Warrior by writing down a kind deed or deeds they have done. I have received some amazing entries. Our youth are warriors for the Lord, especially now with all that is going on in the world. I think sometimes they forget that.

Liz: Thank you, Kathi, for doing this interview with me. And to all you readers out there, go to Kathi’s web site to enter a youth into her contest.

- - - - - - - -

Become a follower for this blog by clicking on "Follow This Blog" under the image of Counting the Cost. That will let you read the posts that don't appear on the newsstand at yourLDSneighborhood.


Rebecca Talley said...

Great interview, Liz. Kathi's books all sound wonderful.

Valerie Ipson said...

Thanks for sharing the interview, Liz. The premise of the book (abd others mentioned) sound perfect for my teenage son and daughter. I'll have to look for them.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Thanks, Liz!

You know, that book by DuMaurier isn't one I've read yet, but I loved Rebecca so I'll give it a try, too!

JoAnn Arnold said...

Kathi came to St. George on Friday to do a book signing on Saturday. We met at Appleby's and had lunch together. We were e-mail friends but had never met in person. What a fun experience and lunch. We talked and talked and talked.
Yesterday She had her booksigning at Seagull B&T. I stopped in, had her sign my book and wished her well.
Now, knowing her in person, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your interview with her.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Thank you for the interview, Liz. I had a good time answering your questions.

La Mujer Loca said...

I'll have to look for the book. It sounds great. Good interview.

Chas Hathaway said...

Great interview. I love hearing how writers do what they do, and why.

Thanks for your great books, too!

- Chas

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, I'm glad there is another book. Me and my sister loved every bit of the Forgotten Warrior