Monday, December 10, 2012

At Every Turn

My friend Anne Mateer recently released a novel, At Every Turn.

Story: Caught up in a whirlwind of religious fervor when two missionaries speak at her church, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. She's certain her wealthy father will hand her the money. But when he refuses, Alyce must either stand in front of the congregation and admit failure or raise the money herself. 

It's 1916, and the latest advancements in car engines allow some to post speeds upwards of seventy miles per hour. Alyce has a passion for speed. And she discovers her father's company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several events—races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money. So she conspires with her father's mechanic, Webster, to secretly train and compete. But as Alyce comes across needs in her own community, money slips through her fingers faster than she can earn it. And when her friends cast aspersions on Webster's past, she wonder whether she trusted the wrong man with her secret.  

Anne took some time recently to offer a Q-and-A session about her book:

Missions and auto racing seem like an unlikely combination for a heroine’s interests. How did these come together?
Especially in 1916, these are an odd combination. When I began looking for a fresh book idea in 2010, I ran across an article about an auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the fall of 1916. I was fascinated especially by the courage it took to drive those cars at such speeds with little in the way of safety equipment. As I pondered that aspect of auto racing, I wondered what kind of a woman would both enjoy watching the sport and be willing to take the risk herself should the opportunity present itself. Some of the most courageous women I know are passionate about missions, heedless of their own safety in their passion to bring the love of Jesus and truth of the gospel to those who don’t yet know. Thus, it seemed quite natural to have my heroine, Alyce, find energy and passion for both of those things.

What was your favorite tidbit of research for the book?
I loved learning the history of the speedway outside of Chicago that hosted one of the races in At Every Turn. It opened in 1915, I believe, but closed (as did all the others) with the onset of America’s involvement in the Great War (WWI) in 1917. However, when the track owner’s son was killed in France, he donated the land where the speedway was located for a veteran’s hospital, which it remains to this day!

Who is your favorite character outside of the main characters?
I’m one of those weird writers who doesn’t outline much, if at all, so often I have characters I didn’t expect pop into my stories. In At Every Turn I had a whole family drop in uninvited. Lucinda and her children appeared, and I fell in love with them. And it turned out that Alyce needed Lucinda’s friendship.

How did this book change you?

The writing of each book is about so much more than the story for me. Through the creation of At Every Turn and journeying with its characters, I believe I gained a greater understanding of each of our roles in the kingdom of God. We are not all called overseas, like the McConnells were. Or to be outrageously courageous, like Alyce. Some of us, like Lucinda and Grandmother, have a much smaller, less visible—but no less important—sphere of influence. Writing this story helped settle my own heart with the way the Lord created me and the ministry He’s put in my path.

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