A marketing manager for a Christian film company, Liz Johnson is also the author of more than a dozen novels. Her latest book is the romantic adventure A Sparkle of Silver (Revell): Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners as two charming characters race to unravel secrets and find the fortune they both desperately need—before treasure hunters claim it for themselves! In this interview, the author spills some details about writing a book set in two different eras, shares the inspiration for the story, and explains what she hopes readers get out of the new book…
A Sparkle of Silver blends the past with a contemporary setting. Was it difficult to write a story involving two different eras?
I thoroughly enjoyed writing in both eras. The contemporary setting of the historical landmark was such fun. My hero and heroine are both dealing with such heavy things that I loved writing about their exploration of the Chateau. For a few hours they could almost forget their painful circumstances and just enjoy the discovery of the old home.
Writing about the 1920s was a whole new challenge for me. It meant new types of research and exploring the era. And because the 1920s story line is told through journal entries, I had to really immerse myself in the character. She ended up being one of my favorite parts of the story.
What was the inspiration for your new book?
About eight years ago, my dad and I visited Hearst Castle in California. I’d never heard of it until our visit, but I was mesmerized by the opulence of this home built by William Randolph Hearst.
He spared no expense in building his retreat in San Simeon, and I couldn’t get over the gold-plated tiles in the pool—or the fact that there were two pools on the grounds. He entertained actors and socialites, the elite of Hollywood and some of the richest people in the world. Yet year after year Hearst continued to expand the home until it had more than 160 rooms on the estate when he left in 1947. It just wasn’t ever enough.
By the time we finished our tour, I already had a story idea about an actress in costume at a similar estate. It’s changed a bit since then, but A Sparkle of Silver can be traced back to that trip to Hearst Castle and a somber realization that money and all it could buy would never fulfill Hearst.
What type of research was required for writing A Sparkle of Silver?
I did a lot of research into the 1920s, everything from the way they used language to what would have been built into a grand estate in 1929. Of course, my trip to St. Simons was a great jumping-off point, with information about things like the feel of the wind off the ocean and the sound of the waves on the shore. This is also my first book with a character who is battling dementia, so I did quite a bit of reading about how that might manifest itself.
Was there any part of this book that really surprised you once you began writing it?
Yes, but I can’t reveal it without giving away too much of the story. I will say that I was as shocked by the darkest moment in the book as the characters themselves. The revelation should have been apparent to me, but somehow I didn’t see it until the very last minute, and when it all came together, it felt like an enormous gift.
What do you hope readers gain from reading your book?
I hope that readers are reminded that the very best things in life are free—the love of family, laughing with a friend, the grace of God. When we face financial struggles, it’s easy to focus on those and miss the joy in life. I also hope readers will be encouraged by the reminders that God has not forsaken us. When the storm rages on, many of us struggle to say, “It is well with my soul.” That’s okay. God is still on his throne. Our doubts and trials do not diminish who he is or his love for us.
Visit Liz Johnson’s author page:
A Sparkle of Silver
Georgia Coast Romance #1