by Paula Vince
Helsinki Sunrise, a Passport to Romance, blog tour follows on from Saturday spent in Louisiana, USA where readers were invited to stop and smell the Finnish flowers with Pamela Thibodeaux.
Today’s the last stop on Marion Ueckermann’s worldwide blog tour of Helsinki Sunrise. It’s Facebook party time next on Friday, 3 October. Search for Meet the Pelican Book Group Authors on Facebook. Marion will be one of the four featured authors.
Marion, you left South Africa with your husband and sons to live in Ireland for a period of time in 2000. It sounds like a huge change, and you felt your calling to write at the same time. What was it about the Emerald Isle that sparked your muse?
Leaving South Africa was a bigger challenge than I could’ve imagined. With a country in political upheaval and an uncertain future, we didn’t have plans to come back. But we missed home terribly and decided if God ever opened the door, we would return. That happened eighteen months later. It was a life-changing experience though, and one I’ll never regret.
During our time in Ireland, I began to write poetry. For several years I’d yearned to write a book. Penning poetry at that time was my way of dealing with the heartache I experienced living overseas. An Emigrant’s Lament was the first poem that sparked my muse. I poured out my heart in those 811 words (yes, it was a long poem, and I had a lot to get off my chest), but the last line summed up everything: Africa will always be in my blood!
Homesickness aside, how could a place like the Emerald Isle not spark anyone’s muse?
Rolling green hills blanketed in mist
Beauty so rare created only by God’s hand
As dawns first light the earth has kissed
Awakening the sights and sounds of a land
Where dwells a people of such different culture
With strange quirks they’ve managed through ages to nurture
Misty mornings down narrow lanes
Winding roads lined with majestic old trees
Rain falling softly on window panes
These are the images one frequently sees
In this land that has so much beauty to show
If you know where to look, know where to go
Bold bodhráns drumming, melancholy flutes playing
Haunting music stirring the soul so deep
Feet tapping and dancers swaying
The Celtic Song is Ireland’s beat
A sound to which one cannot sit down
Where your hands and your feet find a will of their own
These three verses from a longer poem I wrote capture the sights and sounds I experienced while living in Ireland.
Your sons both married in 2012. I’ve heard the empty nest time has its challenges, although perhaps you may now have more time for writing. My elder children are now in their upper teens and I sense that time is coming. Can you recommend some tips to help us survive the transition?
Paula, I’m not sure there are any tips. I think for each person, the experience is different.
Both my sons had periods of living in Cape Town, a two hour flight (or seventeen hour drive) away from home, so we slowly got used to the house getting quieter—kind of like the lobster in the pot, I guess. By the time the boys married, within three days of each other, we’d been alone for a while (although for Kyle that particular wedding was his third…to the same girl: a Finnish court wedding in the April to sort out the legalities of Kyle’s move to Finland; a July wedding beside a Finnish lake and forest…their actual wedding; and an August South African wedding for the family back home). Ryan had been living in Cape Town again for over a year, and Kyle had been bouncing between missionary training and overseas missions trips for eighteen months.
I dreaded the final empty nest, but when it came, much as I love my two boys, I found it strangely enjoyable. Does that make me a bad mother? My husband and I could eat when we wanted, what we wanted, and suddenly we had no responsibilities. I found it rather liberating and finally I could really immerse myself in my writing.
Your novelette, Helsinki Sunrise, was recently published in late August. Without plot spoilers, will you please give us a hint of what readers may expect?
One of my critiquers likened it to ‘How to Lose a Guy in 14 Days’ (although I think in the movie it was 10 days). In Helsinki Sunrise, readers will find romance, comedy and tension as two completely opposite characters collide and try to wear each other down. And, of course, readers also get to experience the beautiful country of Finland and some of its unique culture.
This is probably a good place to insert the tagline and blurb of Helsinki Sunrise to really give readers a taste of what to expect.
He needed the island to himself. So did she.
Three weeks alone at a friend’s summer cottage on a Finnish lake to fast and pray. That was Adam Carter's plan. But sometimes plans go awry.
On an impromptu trip to her family's secluded summer cottage, the last thing Eveliina Mikkola expected to find was a missionary from the other side of the world—in her sauna.
Determined to stay, Eveliina will do whatever it takes—from shortcrust pastry to shorts—to send the man of God packing. This island’s too small for them both.
Adam Carter, however, is not about to leave.
Will he be able to resist her temptations?
Can she withstand his prayers?
Do you have a personal favorite character from the novelette? If so, why?
Adam and Eveliina are such unique characters, it’s hard not to love them both—Eveliina with her spunk and tenacity (but then she is Finnish, and the Finns have Sisu!), and Adam with his down-to-earth humanness…a devout missionary, and yet still just a man.
But, truth be told, I do have a softer spot for Adam because he reminds me so much of my son, Kyle, who had inspired this story in so many ways.
Was there a defining moment of inspiration for the story?
Not an exact moment, probably more a series of moments. When I saw the list of stories Pelican Book Group were looking for on their Passport to Romance series, I knew I could write one set in Finland. I’d been there only months before.
The three elements that had to feature in the story—an abandoned boat, a dirty shoelace, a laptop computer—played a huge part in inspiring Helsinki Sunrise, as well as my experiences in Finland. For a number of days I tossed ideas about, and then went back to basics…I wanted my readers to experience the Finnish summer cottage and sauna culture, and I had a son who was a missionary, who fell in love with and married a Finnish girl, and who, being a Visual Effects artist, was never without his laptop. I shoved all those elements into my creative pot, plus some visuals like the ones below, and came up with Helsinki Sunrise.
You are a prolific blogger, but please tell us about the inspiration for your most recent blog, Foreign Affaire. What, in your opinion, makes it special and unique?
Now that I’m on the publishing journey, and getting into the whole marketing side of writing, I quickly came to the realization that, even though I blog on several blogs, I needed my own cyberplace that could showcase my fiction writing.
But I couldn’t limit this to my own work—I’d blog bi-annually if I did that. I’d come to know so many authors on International Christian Fiction Writers, and through American Christian Fiction Writers, as well as my new Passport to Romance Pelican family, who were all writing foreign romance. In planning my blog tour, I realized there were many fascinating aspects one could write about and tie in with your book. And so, Foreign Affaire ~ Finding Romance in Novel Places was born.
The blog showcases one author a month, one blog a week and is already booked up until the end of 2015. The first week features the book cover, blurb and reviews. Week two, a blog on the location of the story. Week three’s a bonus week with up to four blogs—two-day interviews with both the hero and heroine (after all, our stories are all about our characters). And the fourth week could be up to a two-day interview with the author.
There’s also a bookshelf where readers can find not only past and future showcased books, but any book that fits the Foreign Affaire criteria of Christian fiction with an element of romance and set in a foreign country. If a US setting, then the characters must be foreign or the location unusual—for instance, Unraveled, our first book showcased in July, was set in Alaska.
Readers can find the link to Foreign Affaire on my author bio below.
Finally, you live in Pretoria East, South Africa; an exotic sounding location for many of us. Will you please describe a few benefits and drawbacks of living where you do?
The benefit of living where I do has to be the weather and the Jacaranda trees. I think Pretoria probably has the best weather in South Africa—it can get hot in summer, but not overbearingly, and our winters are mild (although we do tend to get cold because our houses are not built for winter—tiled floors, no double glazing, no central heating). In fact, in mid-July this year, our mid-winter, we had beautiful temperate days with temperatures of 23° Celcius. But if it snows in the Cape, we certainly feel it 1500 kilometers away in Pretoria.
During summertime, Pretoria’s streets are lined in a purple hue from the Jacaranda trees. It’s not called the Jacaranda city for nothing.
The drawback to living where I do is the high crime rates we experience daily, and the poverty we’re continually faced with—both because of the high unemployment rate. At almost every traffic light you’re faced with homeless people of all colors begging.
Despite the problems in our country, South Africa remains a beautiful place—the only time I want to live elsewhere, is through my characters and my writing.
We trust that you’ve enjoyed this blog tour, and have already purchased your copy of Helsinki Sunrise.
There will be an eBook of Helsinki Sunrise up for grabs today. To be entered into the draw, please leave a comment with your email address before September 19th.*
Numerous eBooks of Helsinki Sunrise will be given away on the blog tour, so take a journey to each of the stops and leave a comment. Don’t forget to include your email address.
Helsinki Sunrise is available to purchase from Pelican Book Group, Christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble
Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube.
Watch the Passport to Romance book trailer on YouTube.
Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series).
Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.
Connect with Marion Ueckermann:
* Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
Permission to use images obtained.
Jacaranda Photo Copyright: http://www.123rf.com/profile_lienkie