This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter about Joanne Bischof’s brand new novel, Sons of Blackbird Mountain, and for good reason! (If you didn’t catch my review, you can find it here.) In a nutshell, you need to read this one! Not only is Joanne an excellent storyteller, but I loved the hero in this story and how she worked in so much of the deaf culture. So I’m super excited to have Joanne visiting with us today to share a little more about the story and about herself as well. Before we visit, let’s take a quick look at the story.
After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of nineteenth-century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred-acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.
But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.
As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?
A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.
Welcome back, Joanne! Do you have a favorite character from Sons of Blackbird Mountain? Why is this character your favorite?
I would have to say that my favorite character is Thor Norgaard, but it is so hard to choose as they are all dear! What made him so special was the fact that he’s a strongly-built, rugged Norwegian mountain man…who’s incredibly shy. He’s a Deaf-mute who hasn’t spoken in nearly twenty-eight years. Not to his family, and certainly not to any young ladies on Blackbird Mountain! It made his decision to try and court the heroine, Aven, a sweet and tender part of the story. To bring his character to life and help his “voice” be heard to the reader and the other characters was a really special part of this story for me.
I love how you did just that! Who is your favorite secondary character in this latest novel, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?
Definitely Ida! She’s a spunky, former-slave who worked for the Norgaard family as a housekeeper upon her freedom over thirty years before the story begins. When her employer’s wife died, leaving behind three young sons, Ida ended up raising them into manhood and is still a key part of their family. Not only does she love the three Norgaard brothers as if they are her own sons, but the men would risk limb and life to protect her in their racially-charged, post-Civil War community. Because of Ida, they were raised to look beyond the color of a person’s skin and care more about the heart and because of their father, they learned to care for those that God entrusted to them to protect. It makes for a special dynamic and Ida is truly the heart and soul of that family.
Yes! You can tell they all love and respect her as if she were their own mother. The story is set in a very different part of the country from where you live. Did you do any traveling for research? If so, could you tell us about it?
I did! Right after I signed the contract for the Blackbird Mountain novels with Thomas Nelson, my mom and I went on a week-long trip to Virginia and North Carolina. We stayed in B&B’s, and did lots of sight-seeing around the countryside as well as visiting a few museums and historic sights. It was such a special trip and definitely influenced the story. If you want to take a peek at some of our adventures, you can find them here!
Very cool! (And I did catch that “s” at the end of “novels”… I can’t wait for the next one! 🙂 ) Aside from reading and writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?
Recently, I’ve developed a fondness for partner dance. I’ve been taking lessons and classes and it is so much fun. I’ve mostly taken swing dance classes such as Lindy Hop, but in our little town, there is a ballroom dance class every Wednesday night so I’ve now added the rhumba, the waltz and a few others to my repertoire! It’s a lot of fun and partner dance has an old-fashioned mentality where gentleman act like gentleman and ladies get to be twirled around the floor…so it’s definitely won my heart!
How fun! I can certainly see dances sneaking into future stories! Can you share (briefly) about something you feel the Lord has been teaching you recently?
These days, life has been very challenging. I’m now two years into single-motherhood and it’s been the most difficult experience of my life. I find that most days…everything is hard. A lot of the time, I find myself wanting to thrash against my circumstances, but God keeps bringing me back to a place of needed surrender. He keeps trying to show me that I am safe in HIS hands and that if I can trust in His good and wonderful plan for my life, He will make a way. He provides, loves us, and is a hero through and through. It’s been a process, with a lot of ups and downs, but through it all, God has proved his sovereignty and goodness time and time again.
One of the things I love the most about the hard times (which I don’t love in and of themselves!) is that through them God shows us His faithfulness. It’s that proof we can cling to as we continue to move through life. Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us today, Joanne!
Your turn! Have you taken any dance classes? Do you have a favorite?
More about Joanne:
Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.
You can connect with Joanne online: