I’m so excited for my friend and critique partner, Tamera Kraft. Today her historical novella, Soldier’s Heart, debuts in bookstore and online.
Set in rural Ohio during the Civil War, Soldier’s Heart tells the compelling story of a man returning from war and the wife who faithfully hung in there with him in spite of the difficulties his return brought to their relationship.
I’d like to share more about this wonderful little book through an interview with Tamera.
Tell us a little bit about the two main characters in Soldier’s Heart.
Sergeant Noah Andrews is a soldier from the Ohio Seventh Regiment, one of the most heroic regiments from the Union Army. Because he signed up for a three year enlistment when the war began, he came home before the war ended. During the last battle, he suffered the loss of his entire squad. Now that he’s home in his small town of Ravenna, Ohio, he suffers from PTSD, called Soldier’s Heart back then. He loves his wife and is glad to be home, but he’s having a hard time putting the war behind him.
Molly Andrews has always been in love with Noah. That’s why she married him as soon as she turned sixteen years old. It didn’t matter that he would be going to war the next day. She knew their love would be enough. She struggled during the years he was away, worrying about him and keeping the farm going. But she knew that as soon as he got home, everything would be better. She wasn’t prepared to handle his bout with soldier’s heart.
What is the setting and time frame for your book?
The setting is Ravenna, a small town in Northeast Ohio that still exists today. I grew up in Ravenna and had fun researching the history. Many of the downtown buildings of that time period are still standing today. The time frame is July, 1864 when the Ohio 7th comes home. The war is still going on, but Sherman’s march to the sea is in progress and it’s only a matter of time before the South surrenders.
What gave you the idea to write this particular book?
I wrote another novel about the Ohio Seventh and was fascinated by that regiment. When the publisher wanted me to write a novel set in 1864, I thought about what it was like for the men from that regiment, who had fought many major battles and suffered its greatest losses in the last battle, to come home before the war was over. I started researching PTSD from that time period, and it all came together. When deciding what town to set the story in, I thought it might be fun to research the town I grew up in since some of the men from the Seventh came from there.
How is God’s grace portrayed in A Soldier’s Heart and how do your characters show God’s grace and mercy to each other?
God’s grace runs through Soldier’s Heart in many ways. First Noah needs God’s grace to deal with his wartime experiences and adapt to life at home. Molly also needs God’s grace to get over her fairytale ideas of marriage and to help her husband.
Soldier’s Heart is about a young man returning from the Civil War. It reminded me somewhat of the 1946 movie, “The Best Years of Our Lives.” What can families and friends do to help soldiers return to everyday life after returning from a war front?
“The Best Years of Our Lives” is one of my favorite classic movies. I’ll never forget that haunting scene when the man who lost his arms has his girlfriend help him get ready for bed. I think one of the best things family and friends can do to help soldiers return to everyday life is to be patient. Let them reenter at their own pace. Don’t expect them to get over it right away. They need time and prayers.
What can a church do to show grace and mercy to a returning soldier and his family?
That’s a good question. In Soldier’s Heart, Noah’s pastor helps him get through PTSD by counseling him about his thought life. I think spiritual counseling is something that is needed with a returning soldiers and their families. Of course, prayer and showing the love of Christ is also very important. I think one thing that is needed that is lacking is patience. Sometimes God miraculously heals, but most of the time, it takes a while.
Soldier’s Heart, published by Helping Hands Press and part of the Murray Purrah Cry of Freedom Series, is now available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and Kobo Readers. It will be available in paperback in about a month.