Hello, reader friends! In honor of new release In a Far-Off Land by Stephanie Landsem, we are chatting with the author and celebrating old Hollywood intrigue and inspiration!
about the author
Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s traveled on four continents and met fascinating characters who sometimes find their way into her fiction.
Stephanie is just as happy at home in Minnesota with her husband of thirty years, occasional adult children, two cats, and a dog.
When she’s not reading, researching, or writing, she’s avoiding housework and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.
Can you tell us a little about your writing habits and how you get inspired?
S: I’m most often inspired by women’s stories of strength and transformation in the face of difficulties—and there are plenty of those kinds of stories in all historical time periods. A little research is all it takes to get the idea for a story and start asking the building-block question of any good novel: What if? After that, it’s more research, plotting, and writing. I’m a very slow writer so that part takes the longest. Then there’s revising, input from writing friends, and of course a good editor because commas are my downfall!
B: I love inspirational stories!
How did you go about researching the world of Hollywood in the 1930s?
S: Researching the 1930s was a delight and very different from my previous historical research in biblical times. I found fascinating firsthand accounts of everything from taxi-dancing to farm life, glamorous photos of movie stars, and of course the films of the times—from my favorite, Charlie Chaplin, to early works of Myrna Loy and Clara Bow. The original sources on 1930s Hollywood were abundant and easily accessed, which made deciding when to stop researching and write the story in my head the most difficult part of this book!
B: Wow, wow, wow! All the glitz and glam!
Can you tell us about some lesser-known historical events that made it into In a Far-Off Land?
S: I loved learning about farm life in the Depression—bank foreclosures, penny auctions, and how farmers made ends meet when money was tight. Researching the sad reality of Mexican Repatriation in Los Angeles and around the country was eye-opening and brought to light a chapter in our country’s history that is sometimes forgotten, and unfortunately has been repeated. Of course, the ins and outs of Hollywood were fascinating—the rise of the studio system, the power wielded by a very few, and the hopeful masses that flocked to California, hoping to be discovered.
B: Thanks for being a champion of lesser-known stories.
How can stories of struggle in past eras inspire us when we face difficult times?
S: Many struggles that we face now seem brand-new to us, but in reality, almost everything has been faced by humankind in some way before: economic crisis, war, poverty, disease, and prejudice have been on earth since biblical times. I think that is why Jesus used parables to teach his followers because they can be translated across the ages into the real truths that can see us through our current problems and point us in the direction we need to go.
B: Yes, so true.
Why do we love stories of leaving home to go to a “far-off land”?
S: All good stories are about change and transformation. And what is a more dramatic way to transform than to leave all we know and strikeout to a far-off land, to test our self-reliance and our limits? But what we find in leaving-home stories—from Grimm’s fairy tales to The Hobbit to The Wizard of Oz—is that even as we go far from home, we take our old selves with us. It is only when we let ourselves change from within that we can be transformed in a real and meaningful way and then—sometimes—discover that all we ever wanted is waiting for us back home where we started.
B: I couldn’t agree more, I’m a huge fan of pioneering stories. Thank you for chatting with us, Stephanie!
about the book
In a Far-Off Land by Stephanie Landsem
A story about the price of fame, the truth sacrificed on its altar, and the love that brings a prodigal daughter home.
As the Great Depression hits the Midwest, Minerva Sinclaire runs away to Hollywood, determined to make it big and save the family farm. But beauty and moxie don’t pay the bills in Tinseltown, and she’s caught in a downward spiral of poverty, desperation, and compromise. Finally, she’s about to sign with a major studio and make up for it all. Instead, she wakes up next to a dead film star and is on the run for a murder she didn’t commit.
Only two unwilling men—Oscar, a Mexican gardener in danger of deportation, and Max, a too-handsome agent battling his own demons—can help Mina escape corrupt police on the take and the studio big shots trying to frame her. But even her quick thinking and grit can’t protect her from herself. Alone, penniless, and carrying a shameful secret, Mina faces the consequences of the heartbreaking choices that brought her to ruin . . . and just might bring her back to where she belongs.
Thanks to the generosity of the publisher, a print copy of In a Far-Off Land by Stephanie Landsem will be sent to one fortunate Faithfully Bookish reader friend!
US only | ends 06/01 | complete giveaway rules
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