Friday, March 27, 2009

Interview with Annette Lyon author of Tower of Strength

About a month ago, I met Annette Lyon at a luncheon our publisher held. When I heard that her new book was coming out, I jumped at the chance to interview her on my blog.


For those who are new to your writing, tell us a little about yourself and your writing career.
I've published six books now, two contemporary novels and four historical temple novels. My fifth book, Spires of Stone, was a 2007 Whitney Award finalist for Best Historical Novel. In 2007 I also received Utah's Best of State medal for fiction. My next book, tentatively titled, Band of Sisters, will be out spring 2010. With it, I return to my contemporary novel roots.

Your new book, Tower of Strength, has a beautiful cover showing the protagonist and the Manti temple. So is this book basically just for an LDS audience or would people of all faiths enjoy it?
Although the characters happen to be LDS, their struggles are universal. Being Mormon colors Tabitha's character and lifestyle, but much of her experience and choices have nothing to do with her beliefs. I think readers who are not LDS will be able to enjoy the story as much as any reader. Tabitha faces losing someone she loves, trying to hang on through stormy times by being strong, and being criticized by other people. Those are the things everyone can empathize with.

Great! Many authors use a working theme for the novels they write. Did you have a theme for this book?
I don't usually write a book with a working theme in mind. The characters and their story always come first. Themes end up being woven through the story, but they develop on their own. In this case, I think the themes of loss, renewal, and standing up for your beliefs are big ones. But aside from any theme, I hope readers come away feeling uplifted and like they had a great ride getting there.

So let's get down to basics regarding the book. Tell us about the main character in Tower of Strength. What is her inner conflict? And, what does she want most in life?
At the age of 19, Tabitha was widowed after only months of marriage, leaving her expecting a child. She left Manti and all the pain it represented behind. Six years later, she returns to own her own business and be closer to family. But now she must face all those old wounds. She runs into criticism and moral challenges with her newspaper business, and she'll have to decide whether to allow her heart open and let herself love again--risking pain--or stay safe but alone.

Tabitha sounds fascinating. There are a lot of women today that face similar situations. Tell us a little more about her struggles.
Tabitha faces intense community accusations and pressure and holds up the best she can using the strength she's gained over the years from being a single mother. She rehabilitates an abused horse, but when it becomes ill, she finally realizes that no matter how strong she is, she can't control the future. And that makes her question whether she dares open her heart to love again, because getting hurt can be too painful.

I know Tower of Strength is part of a series. For those who are not familiar with the previous books, what do readers need to know to bring them up to speed?
The "series" isn't one in the typical sense of the word, only in that each book features an old Utah temple. The only plot or character connection is between the first two, where a single character from House on the Hill (about the Logan Temple) continues on with their story in At the Journey's End (about the St. George Temple). Otherwise, each book stands alone. But you can still read At the Journey's End without having read House on the Hill. The other two temple books (Spires of Stone and Tower of Strength) are completely separate.

Will there be another book in the series?
There won't be another at this point, but I'm not saying never, because I've enjoyed it so much. If my publisher wants another temple book, I'd love to do one.

Do you have other books coming out soon?
Band of Sisters, about five women who become friends when their husbands are deployed to Afghanistan, will be out next spring.

What novel are you working on now?
I will likely do a sequel to that [Band of Sisters], about the re-entry time that follows deployment, which has its own issues. I'm working on a few other projects, including a chocolate cookbook.

Tell us about the contests you're having, your website and your blog.
I have on-going contests on my website ( where readers have to find a simple answer to a question I pose for a chance to win a book, often other LDS authors' works. This time readers can win a copy of Tower of Strength. Just visit the contest page on my website and fill in the form.

Check out Annette's blog as well as this wonderful book trailer about Tower of Strength.

Thanks, Annette, for the interview.

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