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Author Jolina Petersheim Talks About Her Latest Novel, “The Alliance”

June 27, 2016

I’m so excited to welcome back one of my favorite writers, Jolina Petersheim, as she celebrates the release of her third (that’s right, THIRD!) novel, The Alliance. I loved her two previous books, The Outcast and The Midwife; and let me tell you: The Alliance does not disappoint! Here’s the novel’s description:

The AllianceWhen Leora Ebersole sees the small plane crash in her Old Order Mennonite community, she has no idea it’s a foreshadowing of things to come. When the young pilot, Moses Hughes, regains consciousness, they realize his instruments were destroyed by the same power outage that killed the electricity at the community store, where Englischers are stranded with dead cell phones and cars that won’t start.

Moses offers a sobering theory, but no one can know how drastically life is about to change. With the only self-sustaining food supply in the region, the Pacifist community is forced to forge an alliance with the handful of stranded Englischers in an effort to protect not only the food but their very lives.

In the weeks that follow, Leora, Moses, and the community will be tested as never before, requiring them to make decisions they never thought possible. Whom will they help and whom will they turn away? When the community receives news of a new threat, everyone must decide how far they’re willing to go to protect their beliefs and way of life.

So without further ado, Jolina is here to answer a few questions about The Alliance!

1. Tell us how how you came up with the idea for this apocalyptic novel.
I guess you could say I had a slightly different childhood. When I was six and my brother ten, our family stood in a field on the camp where my parents were caretakers, and my parents told us that this was where we would meet if we were separated when the world “blew up.” From this field, our family would travel by foot to our friends’ elaborate, fairytale home and live in the blue room hidden behind their bookshelves. My parents in no way meant to instill fear in us. Now that I’m a parent, I see that they were trying to assuage their own fears by coming up with a disaster-recovery plan. But I was born with an overactive imagination, and therefore this plan planted in me the seed of fear–and, subsequently, a driving need to control my environment.

2. Would you say you were from a very apocalyptically-minded family?
Very. This mindset is generational, it seems, for my grandfather—who grew up in immense poverty during the Great Depression — was very “end of the world” as well. I breathed fear all my life and am only now, at 29, learning to live by faith. This story is an extension of my own personal journey.

3. Tell me more about this journey?
When my eldest was 6-months-old, an unnerving exchange with a logger caused my fear to deepen its roots and for me to ask myself whether I would ever use lethal force to protect myself and my family. I believed I would, even though, growing up, I sensed that my own father would adhere to his Mennonite (pacifist) heritage if placed in such a situation. This is very similar to what the Mennonites in The Alliance are faced with when a cataclysmic event causes society to break down around the community and begin closing in.

4. Leora Ebersole, one of your two narrators in The Alliance, has a driving need to control her environment, even after society crumbles around her, because if she controls her environment, she believes she will be able to keep her family safe. Is this something you’ve also experienced?
Unfortunately, yes (or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you look at it). With every one of my books, God’s been faithful to allow me to experience some portion of whatever topic I’m addressing. The Alliance has been no exception. My family and I moved from Tennessee to Wisconsin shortly before I finished the rough draft.

Eight weeks later, my husband went in for a CAT scan, which revealed a tumor near his brainstem. He had surgery the next morning, and all through that night next to his hospital bed, I feared for my family. I feared for our two young daughters — our firstborn was two and a half and our second was four months old at the time. I feared that I would be a widow, living on a grid-tie solar-powered farm six hundred miles away from our immediate families.

Thanks, Jolina! Congrats on your third novel and I’m so glad your family is healthy and safe!

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Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Alliance to review for this blog post.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse books that I am proud to recommend to others.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2016 7:14 am

    Fabulous interview. Jolene’s talent is amazing! Can’t wait to read.

    • Leah permalink*
      July 5, 2016 4:47 pm

      She is amazing, as always, in this new novel. You’ll love it.

  2. June 27, 2016 11:17 am

    Thanks for letting me visit with you, Leah!

    • Leah permalink*
      July 5, 2016 4:47 pm

      Always a pleasure to have you! Congrats again on the book! 🙂

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