It Turned Out To Be Chilling And Brutal

Kaye D Schmitz Author Interview

The Road Renounced follows a mourning woman as she goes through her father’s things and discovers the diary of her grandmother, that died before she was born. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

The premise for the setup of this book, which follows my last novel, presented itself to me before I had even finished writing The Road Remembered. That earlier book explores Sam Ryan’s family, where we learn that his father, Buzz, was a less than stellar parent. I knew that my own father’s father was, in fact, a less than stellar parent, and there are some parallels between the life of my father’s mother and Sam’s mother. While my real grandfather was not a drunk (as far as I could learn), he had a habit of leaving my grandmother alone much of the time with no or very little money—and eight children to care for.

Like Sam, who spent much of his life wondering how his father could have abandoned his mother, I wondered what got into my grandfather to leave my grandmother alone so much with all those mouths to feed. No one in the family had a good answer and since my own father WAS a stellar parent, I couldn’t understand the thought process my grandfather must have gone through to have been okay with leaving my grandmother alone the way he did. So I began thinking of reasons my grandfather may have had for leaving. Was he disappointed with his life and searching for a better one? Or at least a different one? As I speculated all manner of things that could have gone through my grandfather’s head, as often happens, the characters, themselves, reached out to me and told their own story rather than, I believe, my grandfather’s story. It turned out to be chilling and brutal. Much worse than my grandparent’s real life story.

And, since I knew that everyone who could have related the fictional story to Sam’s daughter was dead, I had to think of another way to tell the story to my readers. So I told it in layers—Suzanne reading her grandmother’s diary to get the big picture and then the scene morphing into that particular point in time so the reader could learn the “as-they-happened” details. My early readers and the Literary Titan reviewer have led me to believe that that story-telling style worked.

Suzanne learns of her family’s past and about how alike she and her grandmother are. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The primary ideal was women’s strength and how strong women do whatever is necessary to care for their children and keep a roof over their heads. While Suzanne wasn’t faced with raising children alone the way Maude was—Suzanne’s husband didn’t die until her son was grown—she still had to face life alone once he died and then the day-to-day trials of caring for her father. So while we didn’t have a chance to explore the depth of Suzanne’s strength, we certainly saw how strong Maude was.

Another huge ideal was dealing with emotional impact as a result of external factors. In Maude’s case, she had to deal with losing her brother, her mother, and then her father in addition to figuring out how she would cope when she realized she couldn’t count on Buzz. In Suzanne’s case, it was dealing with losing her husband, then her father and finally, realizing that she couldn’t share what she had found out about her grandfather with his remaining children.

And of course, both women shared their fierce love of family.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Since the story takes place during the first World War, I wanted to explore the themes surrounding what leads to and takes place during global fighting. The overarching thing I tried to get across was the emotion generated from all aspects of the war—the dread of having to leave your home and go and fight someone with whom you had no quarrel, the heartsickness of those left behind, the devastation when loved ones are lost, and finally, the realization that a few people decide the fate of the world and that foot soldiers are simply pawns in the process. One of the things that upset me the most was the fact that so many soldiers died needlessly on the last day of the fighting because one general didn’t agree with the armistice.

Other themes included how the world handled the Spanish flu, especially given the fact that we are still recovering from the COVID pandemic. I also wanted to explore women’s rights—or in this case, lack of them. There were many times, as I researched, that I was shocked at what women had to endure a mere hundred years ago. And because of the time in history, it was also important to bring in tidbits about prohibition and the Great Depression.

Mostly, I wanted to write a satisfying story of human emotion and a mother’s determination to keep her family together during difficult times as Maude, first, reinvented herself to leave home and get a job, and then—always—focused on maintaining her selfless devotion to and love for her children.

What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?

I am currently exploring an idea for a third book in the “Road” series that would focus on Sam’s remaining siblings. I haven’t gotten very far with this one yet, so it may be 2024 before that one is ready. And of course, like any writer, a myriad of other ideas are chasing around in my head and working to take shape.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In the story telling style of Kristin Hannah and Delia Owens, The Road Renounced is a World War I tale of one soldier’s triumphs and tragedies as told by the woman who loves him.

2015. Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. Suzanne Ryan uncovers her grandmother’s diary hidden in the binding of a century-old photo album. Thrilled to learn about her grandmother, Maude, who died before Suzanne was born, she reads the first entry, written on Maude’s tenth birthday.

1915. Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. Maude Brewer, her brother, Henry, and his best friend, Buzz Ryan, live a relatively care-free existence. But the darkening conflict in Europe looms, threatening them all with the fight of their lives.

At the same time, across the ocean, darkness has already fallen as the Germans march into neutral Belgium and shatter the life of nurse Marthe Peeters, whose family is viciously killed right in front of her. She is captured and forced to travel with the German Army, each step escalating the rage in her heart that explodes into plans for revenge.

But as Maude’s story unfolds through the years, it intersects with Marthe’s and despite the fact that an ocean separates them, it is clear that the two women share their perspectives on the war. They also, Suzanne learns, share the love of the same man, Buzz Ryan, Suzanne’s grandfather. Buzz must not only fight the war on the battlefield, he must also fight the war within his heart.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on January 15, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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