Chatting with Author Amanda Barratt about My Dearest Dietrich
I had the pleasure to get to know Amanda Barratt better during a writing conference last year in Nashville. She is a fantastic person as well as a wonderful historical fiction author. Come find out more about her. Thanks for chatting with me, Amanda!
Stacy: Congratulations on your newest novel, My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love, which released on June 9th. Can you tell us about your novel, and what drew you to his story?
Amanda: My Dearest Dietrich tells the little-known love story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria von Wedemeyer. I first heard Bonhoeffer’s story in Eric Metaxas’s Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness—an impeccable look at several great men throughout history. But I wasn’t inspired to write about Dietrich until I came across a quote from Love Letters from Cell 92, which is a compilation of the letters he exchanged with his fiancée during their engagement. When I read the quote, the dots connected in my mind. “Wait. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a fiancée?” The minute I began reading about Maria von Wedemeyer, I knew this was a story begging to be told.
I’ve always been drawn to fictionalized accounts of real-life individuals, as well as having been fascinated by World War II for years, so it was a joy to be able to combine those two elements to create My Dearest Dietrich.
Stacy: I’d imagine writing this novel took many hours of research. Do you ever visit the places where your novels are set?
Amanda: It definitely did! The research for My Dearest Dietrich was more in-depth than any project, I’ve undertaken before. Not only did I want to familiarize myself extensively with World War II Germany, I needed to immerse myself in Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria von Wedemeyer’s lives. Since they were real individuals, I felt an immense responsibility to stay true to their essence. I read volumes of letters written by Bonhoeffer, the correspondence between Bonhoeffer and Maria compiled in the book Love Letters from Cell 92, Bonhoeffer’s sermons and books, and Bonhoeffer biographies galore! I loved discovering new facets of their lives, and weaving them throughout the novel.
Though I’d love to take a trip to Germany someday, I wasn’t able to during the research process. The only place I’ve written about that I’ve actually visited is Niagara Falls. It was an incredible experience!
Stacy: Do pieces of the region where you live or characteristics of family or friends ever sneak into the pages of your books?
Amanda: To a degree, yes. I think the sum of every author’s experiences finds its way into their work, be it ever so subtle. I would definitely say there’s a bit of myself in every character I write, some more than others. And probably bits and pieces of people I know find their way into my stories, though I’ve never set out to base a character on a particular person.
Stacy: Amanda, you also had another book that released last year, My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey. I truly enjoyed reading this wonderful book. Could you compare and contrast My Dearest Dietrich with My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York?
Amanda: Aww, thank you so much, Stacy! I’m so glad you enjoyed Drew and Adele’s story!
My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York is quite different than My Dearest Dietrich. For one thing, it’s much shorter, and historical romance, rather than historical fiction. It was also written for a series where each book revolved around a different destination, so the setting plays a big role in the story. Both stories, however, are written with the same goal in mind—to immerse readers in history and draw them closer to Christ.
Stacy: Do any of the movies you watch or books that you read influence your story ideas? And, what are some of the books you’re currently reading?
Amanda: I love this question! In a subtle way, I think I’m influenced by everything I watch or read. As I’m influenced as a person, I’m influenced as an artist. I’m always reading. When I go a few days without reading and try to write, I notice it’s more difficult. Like a plant that needs to be continually watered to produce leaves or flowers, I need to be constantly “watering” my mind, to produce good writing.
At the time of this post (early April), I just finished two outstanding novels. The first is Allison Pittman’s The Seamstress. It’s one of the most moving historical novels I’ve read in a while. I loved the parallels to A Tale of Two Cities. Also, I recently read Stephanie Morrill’s Within These Lines. This beautiful novel introduced me to a part of World War II history I honestly didn’t know much about. It’s one of those books where parts are uncomfortable to read but in a good, eye-opening way. I highly recommend it!
Stacy: I have to ask, since the title of the blog names a beverage, what type of tea do you prefer?
Amanda: Decaf green or peppermint tea are my go to’s, but for a treat, I love a chai latte. I wish I had one now! :-)
Stacy: I love a good chai latte too! Amanda, could you give us a hint as to what you're currently creating for your readers?
Amanda: I can’t say too much yet, but I do have another World War II novel in the works, set to release from Kregel in 2020. Like My Dearest Dietrich, this novel is also based on real people and events. I’m so excited to introduce it to readers!
Stacy: That sounds very intriguing, we'll have to look for it in 2020. Thank you again, Amanda. It was a lot of fun chatting with you!
Thank you, Stacy! I count it a blessing to know you, and am so thankful for our friendship!
I treasure our friendship as well, it is a joy to know you.
About My Dearest Dietrich
A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison…
Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.
Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn't always logical.
Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he's unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.
With their deep love comes risk--and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.
Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.
Links to Amanda's website and social media:
Amazon link for My Dearest Dietrich: https://amzn.to/2UINshB
ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical fiction, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. Her novel My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love, released from Kregel Publications in June 2019.
She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.
Amanda lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, where she can be found reading way too many books, plotting her next novel and jotting down imaginary travel itineraries for her dream vacation to Europe.
Connect with her on Facebook and visit her online at amandabarratt.net.