I Wanted To Test Myself

Kaye D. Schmitz Author Interview

The Road Renounced is a World War I tale of one soldier’s triumphs and tragedies as told by the woman who loves him”. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore that were different from The Road Remembered?

In writing The Road Remembered my idea was a pretty straight forward narrative about the last six months of World War II that encompassed the stories of the eight actual WWII veterans I interviewed—with a couple of twists. Many of my readers told me they loved how I wrote about the good and the bad on both sides of the war—something not often shared by authors who write about one side or the other. One of the story lines I felt was left unexplored in The Road Remembered was the fact that Sam’s father abandoned the family the night his seventh child was born—and why. So in The Road Renounced the bulk of the story centers on Sam’s father, Buzz, but is told primarily from the perspective of Sam’s mother, Maude, although we also get to know Buzz’s perspectives through his conversations with his best friend, Henry, and the Belgian nurse, Marthe Peeters. I wanted readers to witness Buzz’s life through both his eyes and that of his family, but mostly to understand how day-to-day tragedies, along with huge life-altering circumstances like the violent death of one’s parents and the consequences of a war, can work on a person to take his life from realizing his dreams to sunk in despair. I wanted to lead readers through a life that, despite a rocky beginning, blossomed into everything Buzz had ever hoped for and then how he handled it when all of that came crashing down around him. I wanted to test myself to see if I could write about tragic events, like one experiences in life, but still end the book on a satisfying note. Honestly, I held my breath when I received my first feedback from my early readers—all of whom had also read The Road Remembered. I feared this book might not hold their interest—even though it held mine. But, to a person, I heard from them that they considered this book the best I have ever written.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I wanted to explore a circumstance that was so devastating it caused the father of seven children who was married to a wonderful woman who loved him to give all of that up and abandon his family. I mean, who does that? And why? My own grandfather left my grandmother alone much of her life, only returning to get her pregnant, and then leaving again. No one in the family had an answer as to why—lots of speculation, but no facts—so I decided to explore an answer on my own. I wanted to depict a sympathetic character who had a rough home life with his parents, but rose above that to realize his dreams. And then experienced devastating blows, one after another that took him on his downward spiral to misery. We all face downward spirals, from time to time. Whether or not we are able to grow from them is the key to the kind of person we become. Even as the writer, I felt bad for all of the things thrown at Buzz. My heart hurt for him. And I had a plan for how the story ended, but I still wanted to give Buzz every opportunity to grow up and accept that his life was different from what he had hoped for, but could still have been great. Yes, as with many authors, my characters sometimes take over the story and tell me where it goes. I really hoped Buzz would show me something I hadn’t thought of and figured if he could come up with something positive that I hadn’t already imagined, I would be willing to change the ending of the story to reflect that. But alas, he refused to grow from his misfortunes. And he continued to wallow in his grief and renounced the gifts he received at every turn. So, unfortunately for him, he experienced my original plan for his story.

What is one thing readers have been saying about your book that surprises you the most?

I was really surprised that several of my readers said there are so many characters they found it hard to keep up. I suppose that since I know all of the characters so well, that thought never even occurred to me. Most of the readers who told me that were new to my writing and had not read The Road Remembered first, so had to learn some of the characters from the first book, too. The Road Renounced can definitely be read as a stand-alone book but there may be a plethora of characters the new reader might not be used to. As a result, I have created a spreadsheet of characters and their relationships to each other that I have sent to my readers who struggled. The other thing that surprised me was how strongly my readers felt about the story—regardless of the fact that it is a tragedy, my readers loved the story and loved the ending. Apparently a lot of us can relate to the kinds of issues my characters faced

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

I am toying with a third “Road” book to tie up any loose ends and close out the family, but right now I am working on a story involving a world-renowned blood doctor whose wife suffers from Hodgkin’s disease and his work with vampire bats, whose saliva has been known to dissolve blood clots that cause strokes. As he explores mutating the saliva to treat other illnesses—like Hodgkin’s—he is visited by a vampire who offers him a cure. Most of my readers laugh when I tell them about this, but my husband had a fantastic idea for this story more than twenty years ago and my agent loved it. It’s finally time to write it. So it will probably be a couple of years before it is ready for readers. But thank you for asking.

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | 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 February 4, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.


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