I’m super excited to have my good friend Christy Martenson with us today. She’s just released her new novel Halstad House and I can’t recommend this book enough for children and adults, a heartwarming family story. Her writing is like a bird thrilling high in a Ponderosa Pine on a warm summer morning.
With that, let’s get started!
Halstad House is about…
A rambling white house. An unopened letter. A young woman in need of a miracle.
Halstad House offers more than lodgings and a good meal to boarders. In the aftermath of World War I, it also gives Grace Halstad a way to drown her pain in never-ending work. Seeds of bitterness have grown in her heart, but as much as she tries to shut Him out, the Lord is not giving up on her.
Torn between the past and the future, in the wake of shattered dreams, can Grace risk opening her heart again?
Tell us about yourself.
Hi. I’m a wife, a mother of two grown daughters, an author, a songwriter, and a follower of Jesus.
Where do you live?
Rural Northeast Washington State–the same area where Halstad House and Love, Mary Elisabeth take place.
How long have you lived there?
My roots run deep in this corner of the state. My dad’s family homesteaded here in the 1910s. My mother’s family moved to the area in the 1930s when her father was transferred here by the Forest Service. Though my school years were spent in Seattle, and for the first ten years of my married life we lived north of Seattle where my husband is from, this is home to me. Twenty-nine years ago, we packed up our belongings, two little ones, and the cat, and migrated away from the traffic and busyness along the I-5 corridor. We’ve never looked back. I’m definitely a country girl at heart.
Who is your favorite author and book?
My top favorite author is Jan Karon and her Mitford series. I also love Angela Hunt and her Fairlawn series. Rachel Hauck is another favorite author.
What is your preferred genre?
Women’s Inspirational fiction and historical fiction.
How did you start this journey to become a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed story-telling, even as a young child. Through the years I’d write or tell stories for my own enjoyment as well as for friends and family. I also began writing songs when I was a teenager and got into it more seriously in 2005. That’s how I spent most of my ‘creative energy’. It wasn’t until my daughters were grown and no longer lived at home that I began to consider the possibility of writing an actual book. My dear friend, Gretchen Louise, invited me to attend a Christian Writers’ group. That’s where I met you, Carmen! Through your encouragement, and that of all the other ladies there, I started to believe that I really could do this. So, thank you for being part of this on-going journey!
Tell us a little more about Halstad House.
Halstad House takes place in a fictional town in northeast Washington state in the 1920s. The book tells of Grace Halstad’s spiritual journey as she provides a home and a livelihood for herself and her precocious four-year-old daughter, as well as a rambunctious beagle and an exceedingly spoiled cat.
The story is told with both poignancy and humor, illustrating the joys and heartaches of life, the comfort of family, and the sometimes messy path of faith.
What is the inspiration for your current book?
Several years ago, during a difficult time, I went on my own spiritual journey, learning more about the character of God. I wanted to portray some of what I learned, putting it in story form. Though Grace’s circumstances are different than mine, the journey for her, for myself, and for countless others, is similar. I hope it resounds with my readers.
Who was your favorite character to write and why?
Two favorites: Grace and her daughter, Allie. Both of them are strong and spunky, even a little feisty, yet they are also kind, loving, and compassionate.
Is there anything of you in that character?
When I was a child, I was painfully shy. But there was an Allie deep inside. When I wrote Halstad House, I let her out! (I did the same thing when I created my main character in Love, Mary Elisabeth.) With Grace Halstad, many of her struggles have been mine–as well as the desire to become a true woman of faith–strong, kind, and compassionate–with a good dose of humor.
What sets your book apart?
I think the main thing that sets my book apart is its portrayal of life in the early 1920s in this part of the state. I tried to make it as accurate as possible. Though my dad was born a little later, in 1928, he has been a tremendous source of advice and information, helping me catch the flavor of life in this area back then.
What’s your favorite part of the book?
I love the interactions between the characters. I particularly enjoyed writing Allie’s character. Her dialogue cracked me up many times.
What was the most difficult part to write?
The second half of the last chapter. My mom read each chapter as it was written and eagerly awaited the next. I was so close to finishing the book but the last chapter just was not coming together. Then my mom went into the hospital. I prayed that God would give me the right words for the chapter and that everything would come together so I could take it to her. He answered my prayer and Mom read the chapter. “It’s a good story,” she said. Little did I know that a week later she would slip away to be with the Lord. I am so grateful I was able to share the ending of Halstad House with her.
How do you write? Do you have a set time or place? How many hours a day?
I don’t really have a set time to write, although mornings tend to work best for me.
As for the how: I have found that it also works best for me to plot out where I want the story to go–once I have my characters and the main idea for the book. I usually split the story into fourths and figure out what needs to happen in the beginning, a quarter way through, halfway through, three-quarters of the way through, and the end. (That’s for the main plot.)
I break each section into chapters and scenes and then tussle with how to get the characters to reach the goals I’ve set up.
It’s always subject to change, but I like to know where I’m heading. Then I weave in subplots. I also love bouncing ideas off friends and family. We’ve come up with some great ideas and plot twists during those brainstorming sessions!
Also, I am very old-school. I write out everything in longhand in a lined notebook. I do all my revisions by longhand, too. When it’s done, only then do I transfer it to the computer. Works for me!
Why did you want to be a writer?
Two reasons spurred me on to becoming a writer:
- I see stories everywhere and I have to get them out!
- I love the feeling I get when I’ve read a good book. Maybe it’s made me laugh or moved me in some way or taught me something. I want to pass on that same experience to my readers.
Visit Christy’s website: https://christymartenson.com/
Follow Christy on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christymartenson
Follow Christy on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/christymartenson
Order Halstad House now!
More about Christy
Christy Martenson is the author of Love, Mary Elisabeth. She lives in rural northeast Washington state. She has been married to her husband Keith for over 35 years. Together they homeschooled their two now-grown daughters.