Author Q&A with Gina Welborn & Becca Whitham!

Meet Gina Welborn & Becca Whitham!

Learn more about their connection to the military, their writing careers, where their inspiration comes from.

So read on for some behind the scenes info exclusive to Military Spouse!

What is your connection to the military?

GINA: My dad was in the army for twenty-plus years. He retired about the time I entered seventh grade. What’s strange about my experience is that we only lived in two places: West Germany and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. My parents made lots of friends who now live all over the country. I love how, even when they didn’t have social media or cell phones, they’ve kept in touch over the years and are still good friends.

BECCA: My dad was also in the military. In fact, my parents met because he was moved to Fort Lewis, Washington, so I guess I have the army to thank for my very existence. My current affiliation with the military started back in 2004 when my son was preparing for his senior year of high school. To make a very long story short, he ended up at West Point. Because of that, I was intrigued when I saw an article in the newspaper about the army needing chaplains so badly they’d raised the age limit to join. I took it home to show my husband and—to make a very, very long story short—he applied and was accepted right before our son graduated. By the time actual orders came through, our son was an officer and able to administer the oath to his dad. We’re sure there are other families where the son swore in the dad, but we haven’t met any yet.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or all imagination?

BECCA: Everything an author writes is based on real life experience even if it isn’t identical to what our characters are going through. I’ve never been a mail-order bride, but as a military spouse, I have shown up to a new city without knowing anyone outside my immediate family and had to make a new life. So authors take the emotions from what we’ve lived, transfer it onto characters who—hopefully—are going through something much worse, and craft the words until readers feel it.

What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that they need to know?

BECCA: People think life was simpler back in “the good, old days,” but anyone who’s done even the slightest bit of historical research knows that’s not true. Things were simpler in some ways but much more complicated in others. Life is never better at one time than another. While I love to research and write in historical settings, I’ll take living in the here and now…with indoor plumbing and air conditioning and instant communication!

GINA: In Sunday School, we were discussing a mission trip that one parent’s college student had taken to Nicaragua. She remarked how “spoiled” Americans were because we have toilet paper and indoor plumbing. The reality is we are blessed to live in a country where men and women have the freedom to invent. The late 1800s was a boom for inventions now so prevalent in today’s everyday life – telephone, contact lenses, Levi’s, electric iron, Eastman Kodak camera, fountain pen, mailbox, motorcycle, and Coca-Cola.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

GINA: When I was in 5th grade, my mother would drop me off at the city library and then go to the fabric store in the mall next door. I won’t confess to how much I’ve paid in late fees for overdue books over the years. It wasn’t until one of my favorite authors wrote a book that annoyed me so much that I told a friend I could write “better dreck than that.” She challenged to write a book. I did. And it was bad. Books 2-5 were bad too. But the great thing about writing is it is a learnable craft. Some of my closest friends are ones who push me to write better, like Becca does.

BECCA: Sunday School and Junior Church. I was always fascinated by the parables Jesus told, how they were both a story and a life lesson. In school, English was the one subject I was better at than my siblings. My sister and brother are much smarter than I am, but no one in the family could beat me and uncovering a theme or recognizing symbolism. Except my dad. At any rate, I loved what I was good at and got better at what I loved.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?  

GINA: My five children, especially when other people brag about my kids to me. When they’re fighting, I second-guess my parental brilliance and blame hubby because if someone is at fault, it can’t be me.

BECCA: There are only two things I ever wanted to be really good at: being a wife and a mom.  My husband of over thirty years tells me I’m pretty good at the first, and my kids—at 30 and 32—are starting to think I didn’t mess them up too badly after all. I’ll take it!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve Googled?

GINA: The day of Googling had begun with social etiquette on how to break an engagement. Was it the woman’s or man’s responsibility? I may have followed too many rabbit trails.

BECCA: How to kill someone without leaving a trace using poisons available in 1865. Oh…and I think I Googled how to make a bomb with things available in 1880. It’s distressingly easy to find that kind of information.

How did you and Gina meet? And who thought it would be a good idea to co-write a series together? 

 BECCA: My husband got orders for Fort Sill, Oklahoma about the same time I found out I was a finalist for a writing contest. I hadn’t planned to go to the conference where the winner would be announced, but it was in Dallas which was only a few hours away. I got onto the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) email loop and asked if anyone lived near me who was planning to go to conference, and someone told me I needed to meet Gina Welborn.  We scheduled to meet at Starbucks, and it was an instant “kindred spirit” connection. As for the instigator of this project, that’s all Gina. In point of fact, almost everything I’ve published is directly because Gina pushed, cajoled, or dragged me into it…for which I am extremely grateful.

GINA: Becca needed someone to tote her suitcase down to ACFW conference in Dallas. I volunteered. We met at Starbucks and instantly connected. God knew I needed a friend so he gave me Becca. As far as co-writing the series…. My agent called me up one day and said she wanted me to come up with a new series idea. I had book 1’s premise. So I asked Becca for help crafting the other two ideas. Only I never worked up a proposal. Over the next two years, Becca and I brainstormed numerous stories, both hers and mine. Eventually I proposed us co-writing the mail-order bride series, and she said yes!

As co-authors, how do you divide the writing responsibilities?

BECCA: I’m not sure how or why we decided that I would write the men and Gina would write the women, but that’s what we’ve done. Oh, and I write all the villains, including our brothel madam.

GINA: Becca might possibly be nicer than I am in real life, but she’s quite villainous in her writing.

What makes you and Gina such a good team?

GINA: Becca has no qualms with being my conscience. I appreciate that. She never ceases to impress me with her ability to complicate a plot and push a story outside the norm. She is also a kind, compassionate, and wise woman. Someday when I grow up, I want to be like Becca.

BECCA: After our initial “kindred spirit” connection, we discovered that we have similar world views but approach writing very differently. Gina is a master at character development and sensory detail. She also imbues a sense of joy into everything she writes. I’m the suspense, plot twist, get to the action writer.  She tells me when my characters are weak, and I push her to chase plot twist ideas because sometime we discover a great one. But, ultimately, I think we make a great team because we genuinely care more about each other as friends than we do about our writing success.

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