How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Interview with Alicia A. Willis!

I'm excited today because I'm hosting the historical fiction author Alicia A. Willis for an interview about her newest book, From the Dark to the Dawn: A Tale of Ancient Rome. (This is the first time I've been the host of an interview, and it's just as much fun to be on that end as it is on the interviewee's end.) Alicia A. Willis is a skillful, dedicated, and inspirational author who's a joy to follow online, as her books are a joy to read. She devotes her writing to the Lord! Her books are amazingly well-researched, yet exciting, dynamic, and emotional. I can't wait to see what her newest book is like!

Alicia Willis is a homeschool graduate and avid historian. When not writing or doing endless historical research, she enjoys being a church pianist, teaching music, singing, and playing volleyball. Her other passions include working in her church and spreading the love of Jesus Christ.


Decadent Rome, 61 Anno Domini. The masters of the universe have crushed the Iceni rebellion with an iron hand, slaughtering and enslaving her people.

For Philip, his existence as a captive means living to hatred. He despises his rich, young master, resenting his life of servitude and the wrestling feats Marcus forces him to perform. Bitterness engulfs his soul until he only lives for the day when he will crush the might of Rome.

Then Christianity enters the picture. Taught by a Jewish breadmaker to know the man called Christus, Philip begins the struggle to forgive and honor his master. But forgiveness is not easy towards one who lives for himself.

Marcus Virginius knows nothing but power and pleasure. Destined to a successful career serving Nero in the Praetorian Guard, he wants no part of Christianity. And he is determined to crush Philip’s newfound faith – no matter what it takes.

Join Philip and Marcus in their journey of redemption, faith, and forgiveness. Is love enough to conquer hate? And will the light of the gospel ever surmount the darkness of Rome?

Persecution abounds – will the two young men survive its terrors and live to experience the bright hope of a new dawn?

Expected publication date: July 18, 2014 

And now for the interview!

KB: I think almost every writer has gotten their start by admiring other authors' work. Who are the authors that inspire you the most?

AW: Florence Kingsley, G. A. Henty, and Louisa May Alcott were my biggest influences. I have also learned some things from Anne Mateer, Tricia Goyer, and Erynn Mangum. 

KB: What is your favorite aspect of history, the parts you're most excited to learn: the sweeping events that show God's hand at work; the details of daily life that make historical people real to us; the interesting things that make the past different, like costumes and weapons; or the whole ambiance of a different country and era? Something else? 
AW: I just love all of history! I love learning about the little details of daily life, of how the events in question affected us today, the outfits, and - okay, I love food - the eating habits! History isn't black-and-white; it's full-blown color, with sweeping events and real living, breathing people like you and me. I love watching it come alive.

KB: The Middle Ages is your favorite historical time period, correct? What attracts you to that era and, by contrast, what attracted you to the setting of ancient Rome?  

AW: Well, I would have to say that few gals have a hard time resisting chivalrous knights, castles, and dashing squires. Those aspects are a few of the things I enjoy about the Middle Ages. Contrasting the gentlemanly knights with the brutal ones, examining the mentoring process between knights and squires, studying weaponry and castle architecture... All of the Middle Ages is a fascinating field of study.

I think what most attracted me to ancient Rome is its many similarities to America today. History repeats itself, and I feel we as Americans are very, very similar to the Romans - if not worse. Additionally, Rome's brilliant military expeditions and powerful culture are very fascinating to me.

KB: What were your main, or favorite, sources for researching From the Dark to the Dawn?

AW: Books, trusted internet sites, PBS, speaking with actual historians and professors, Google Translate for Latin, documentaries, my FBI [Faith Bible Institute] classes, and the Bible. 

KB: Do you have a favorite character in From the Dark to the Dawn? Tell us about him (or her)!

AW: That's like asking me to choose a favorite child. :) As close as I am to Marcus, Philip, and Moriah, I would have to say that there is something special about Philip. Captured after the Battle of Watling Street and taken to Rome as a slave, he battles anger, bitterness, and his loss. And, even after Christianity enters the picture, forgiving his harsh young master, Marcus Virginius, isn't easy. His struggles to accept God's will and forgive are very real to me.

KB: What do you hope readers will take out of From the Dark to the Dawn?

AW: I hope readers will be drawn closer to the heart of God. I hope they will realize how blessed we are by our religious freedoms and wholeheartedly set their hearts to praying for our country. And I hope that the persecution and Christian testimonies revealed in From the Dark to the Dawn will inspire them to do more for Jesus themselves.

KB: Are you going to write any more books set in ancient Rome? 

AW: The Lord has not laid any particular story set in Rome on my heart at this time. But who knows?

KB: Now this is a question about technique. One thing I am impressed by is your ability to complete quality projects quickly. You have a busy life outside your writing, so how do you make time to write and do historical research? Do you have any tips for maximizing the time writers have for creativity?  

AW: I do my research and writing simultaneously. While I am scheming on the plot in my brain, I am doing historical research. When I have enough research completed, I begin writing, but I continue researching the entire time to ensure accuracy. I multi-task like crazy. I always have two WIPs, one being written, one being edited/published/etc. At the same time, I squeeze research time into it (reading in the car, recording research while I eat lunch, whatever). I do recommend multi-tasking! :)

Thanks for having me here today!

KB: You're welcome, and thank you. I really appreciated the fascinating interview, Alicia!

Alicia is giving away a free e-book copy of From the Dark to the Dawn. We're going to conduct the giveaway blog-comment style. One comment will give you one entry. So ...

1. Leave a comment saying you've liked Alicia's Facebook page
2. Leave a comment saying you've become a fan of hers on Goodreads.
3. Leave a comment saying you've added From the Dark to the Dawn to your to-read list on Goodreads. 
4. Leave a comment saying you've followed Alicia's blog
5. Leave a comment saying which book of hers you like the most (if you've ready any of them) or you think you would like the most. (This entry requires some research, but it may give you an edge!) 

The giveaway ends one week from today, Tuesday evening, July 8. 



  1. The book looks really cool! Just added it on my Goodreads to-read list!

  2. I've liked Alicia's Facebook page!

  3. I've added From the Dark to Dawn to my GoodReads to-read list!

  4. I follow Alicia's blog, Little Corners!

  5. I really enjoy Remembering the Alamo. It was fantastic book!

  6. Thank you for having me here today, Kelsey!

    1. You're welcome, Alicia! It was a true pleasure.