Ashberry Lane: You rewrote the first book in the series a couple of years ago, so it makes sense that you would want to redo the others in this series. But why? What have you learned about the craft of writing that made you want to bring fresh life to these wonderful books?
Bonnie Leon: Through the years, when people discover that I’m a writer many of them have said, “I want to read your books and I’m going to begin with your very first one.” My response – Eek! No!
I’d always get apprehensive because I didn’t want them to begin there. When the Northern Lights series first debuted I was a newbie writer with much to learn. I knew little about the craft of writing. What went down on the page was mostly intuitive. I know now that the learning never ends and what is acceptable as quality writing changes over time.
I’m still growing as a writer and want a reader’s first taste of my stories to be my best work, which is the principle reason I decided to revise The Journey of Eleven Moons—that and it’s one of my favorite stories. It needed a redo as did the rest of the series.
AL: What do you remember about first writing this book over twenty years ago?
BL: A couple of things stick out in my memory. I’d known about my native heritage, but I never knew what it was really all about. Not until I did the research for this series and spent many hours talking with my mother about what it meant to be native in Alaska. It was eye-opening. And as I worked through the process, for the first time I connected with my heritage and came to treasure it.
Secondly I was enthralled with the writing process. It was magical. I was often times so deeply involved in a scene that I would be crying while I wrote or would come to the end of a chapter and be out of breath because I’d lived what had just happened in my mind and on the page. A big surprise about the process was how the story revealed itself. Mysteriously it rolled out of my brain and onto the page. I’ve learned to trust that the discovery of a story will happen and thus far I’ve never been disappointed. After all these years how it happens is still a mystery.
AL: How did the revising process go? Does it feel like the same book, a made-over story, or a whole new creation?
BL: Revising is challenging for me. I have a more difficult time seeing the work objectively and catching errors. I have a tendency to sit back and relax in the work. I’ve actually kept a list of problem areas to watch for because I may not see them. Generally I don’t have as much difficulty with this while working on a new project.
I’ve reworked two books—The Journey of Eleven Moons and In the Land of White Nights. Both felt like new creations. As I moved through the stories I made so many changes I’m truly not sure how much of the original is still intact. With my most recent attempt, In the Land of White Nights, I actually had a major plot change that I think will make readers very happy.
I’m presently working on book three in the series, Return to the Misty Shore, and already I’ve dropped two entire chapters. I look forward to the finished work and I’m confident it will be much improved over the original.
AL: Which character are you most like?
BL: I’d like to say Cora or Millie, both mature women who live out their faith with confidence. However, I think I’m more like Anna. I am strong willed and even tenacious, but I suffer with self-doubt and sometimes irrational fears. I also tend to leap ahead rather than patiently waiting for God. But, like Anna, I usually find my way and arrive in the place God intends me to be, but the path getting there is often crooked and filled with potholes. I pray that as I grow in my faith that my journey will be less difficult.
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