Grace A. Johnson
interview with amelia cabot & her character annemarie (tell me you love me tour)
Welcome to Day 4 of the Tell Me You Love Me author tour! I'm pleased to announce that one of our lovely authors has agreed to introduce herself and her main character with us today, so everyone give a round of applause to Amelia Cabot! Y'all, this girl is such an amazing writer and so full of wisdom! I know you'll love hearing from her!
Heyo, Amelia! Thank you so much for joining us today! I am SO excited to get into this interview, but first, please introduce yourself!
Hey, Gracie! And a huge howdy to all y’all who are reading this!!
My name’s Amelia Cabot, and I’m a homeschooler, writer, and amateur musician (violin and piano). I write Christian fiction and poetry but do meld genres at times, such as historical fiction for my anthology story. Besides writing, I also enjoy singing, messing with Pinterest boards, being an English nerd, and learning Spanish.
(And telling my dad that no, adding “o” at the end of words does not automatically make them Spanish. “El dinner-o” is not dinner. “La table-o” is not table.)
How long have you been writing for? What first inspired you to start writing?
Oof, well, the earliest writings I have date back to when I was five or six … I tend to go with six because I don’t have any months or days written in.
Hm … I’d say my dear mother had a part in inspiring me to write. Early on, she taught me the rudiments of phonics and all that jazz that comes before reading; so I’d say that spurred my love for reading as a child. All of that reading definitely inspired my stories, too. The first story I ever wrote (or so I claim) was about a family going camping, possibly based off of a story I read in second grade about a family who went camping and then got lost.
(They found their way back. Nobody was eaten alive by bears or captured by Bigfoot. All was well.)
So we could assume that I’ve been writing since then.
(Also, my dad writes! He’s not an author, but he has participated in writing contests. So all of the weirdness and humor in my writing comes from my dad, because I inherited fifty percent of him. And he knows he can’t deny that logic.)
I will say that one person who greatly inspired my writing was Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her books made me obsessed with prairie life. I remembered being quite excited when I discovered that there were also books written about her great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and daughter when they were children. Consequently, I wrote various stories based on these books and other books of other genres, even if I messed up the timeline and events half the time in books set around the 1800s.
(I mentioned World Wars I and II in the 1800s … and I didn’t realize how huge of a gap there was between the two wars …)
So thank you to my parents and Laura Ingalls Wilder. :) (And every other author who wrote one of the many, many books I read as a kid. ;) )
How did you hear about Tell Me You Love Me? What was your initial reaction?
Why do you ask me all the questions that I have to search into the cobwebs and shadows of my mind for LOL?
I must’ve come across it one day when I was stalking your blog … ? I thought, “Sure, let’s try it!”, since I’d just tried my hand at a writing contest and didn’t place anything. So I had some hopes with the anthology. :)
Your story is His Freedom Over Mine, set in Berlin during the 1960s. What prompted you to write this story?
Ahhh, yes, the origin! The inspiration came from none other than my dear homeschool video teacher for world history, Mr. Smith! One of my world history lessons had included the Berlin Airlift and the Berlin Wall, and as Mr. Smith continued speaking of the airlift, I grew more and more intrigued.
That’s when inspiration struck and the setting of Operation Vittles at the beginning of the story started forming—and the rest is history!
The details in His Freedom Over Mine are very thorough—how did you conduct your research for this story?
Aw, thank you! With the help of the Internet, I scoured the web pages I could find from various history-related websites for aid! (Wikipedia was not one of them, except to confirm the name of a country perhaps. My video English teacher from last year would have been horrified if I had heavily relied on this site.)
Besides reading history-related sites, I think I watched a YouTube video (or two, or … three?) on Operation Vittles and Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, too. My attention span might not have held out for every video though. ;)
The theme of the anthology is, obviously, the words “I love you.” How did you incorporate that theme into your story, and what does “I love you” mean to you?
Yes, the theme is about “I love you.” Not about tacos falling from the sky.
At first, I wasn’t sure where in the world I was going with the story. (#Pantser!) Yet whether through reading the Bible or getting lost in the labyrinth of my mind, I had a particular verse that focused on the aspect of love I addressed in my story strike me.
(And for those of you who haven’t read the anthology, I shan’t say. ;) For those of you who have read it … let’s see if you can guess what it is.)
I’ve never had anybody ask me what “I love you” means to me though. This is a first!
I’d say “I love you” means you put everything aside—doesn’t matter how busy you are—to focus on the person you love. “I love you” means that you stop caring about you and your problems and focus on somebody else and their problems. (Situations, as my dad calls them. Or opportunities.) You’re willing to go the extra mile to help them, because “I love you” doesn’t stop short as a three word sentence.
(Or two, if you’re speaking in Spanish.)
Think of it in its simplest form: Jesus Christ and His love for His children. He gave up splendor to become like His children (minus the sin) and then to die for them. That was something God already knew His Son was going to do, way before Adam and Eve broke His only command to not eat the forbidden fruit.
And isn’t that so gorgeous? I could say beautiful, but gorgeous is more vivid than beautiful. If Jesus Christ, as perfect as He is, would die for us, then couldn’t we at least give up ourselves and our desires for Him? He deserves it! We didn’t deserve a drop of the blood He shed for our sins!
But it’s so easy to get caught up with ourselves. ‘Cause c’mon, when you were little, did you care about other people that much? I know I didn’t. Yet here we are as teenagers and adults, surrounded by people on social media and TV and friends and maybe even family who promote finding the right guy just for you.
Um, hello? Didn’t Jesus Christ just give it ALL for His own? Isn’t it ridiculous to go after everyone else’s advice and to find somebody who makes you happy, who makes you feel good?
Didn’t everyone else ever consider that the other person is a human being with problems—ahem, situations—that need to be helped? I don’t care if the guy has eyes the color of dark chocolate that make you want to melt into them like a goop of raw honey. He has things he struggles with, too, and he needs somebody willing to love him and help him in those battles.
*clears throat* Rant’s almost over. Hang on.
In essence, true love isn’t about you! Period! It’s about the other person (in our case, ladies, the guy whom God has for you, if that’s His will) and about Jesus Christ! Because we’re going to suck at a relationship if we don’t have God in it, mk? So as long as the both of you are glorifying and serving God while putting the other over self, you’ll have a sweet, successful marriage in the eyes of God.
Alright. I have ended the rant.
Amazing answers, Amelia! (Aah, alliteration. ) Before you go, do you have any advice for other writers? Any lessons you’ve learned as a writer?
Yes, the wonderful usage of alliteration. :D ‘Tis a lovely literary device.
Ooh, girl, advice? Lessons? Oh, dear, she’ll be daring me to eat fried squirrel one day … (Not that you haven’t chased me around the country with a bucket of that … substance … already.)
I can’t give advice that I wouldn’t force myself to use; so … here’s two pieces of advice and two lessons I’d force myself to use/learn from!
1.) You can’t hide your writing forever.
Silence the freaking out going on in your head. Seriously. At least for some time. ‘Cause guess what?
Writing for yourself is a LOT easier than sharing your writing. And publishing your writing? It’s like a dream in one side of your head and a chaotic mess in the other.
Which then permeates the dream and turns into that goop of honey you became when you saw Dream Boy’s chocolate-colored eyes.
But if you were paying attention to my rant, Who do we have to think about? Mhm. Jesus Christ. We have to give everything back to Him. :)
And while you’re not hiding your writing and not planning to bury yourself in a ten-foot-deep hole in the ground (and while I am also not doing just that) …
2.) Write what’s going to matter in the long run.
William Faulkner’s “The Nobel Prize Speech” was a selection I had the opportunity (haha, using words that my father would approve of) to read in literature this year. Yes, it was a speech that he gave because he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but it was more than, “Thanks for the award. This is why I’m great. Blah, blah, blah, snore.” In this speech, Faulkner encouraged young writers to write about one particular topic. And what is that topic?
What comes from the heart?
Every feeling under the sun.
So writers, don’t neglect the stories God’s given us. Life is a weird combination of laughter and tears, humor and cynicism, deserts and mirages of hope that vanish. Yet if we can let our readers see Christ through every problem and every good moment, I think we’ve got the point.
As for lessons I’ve learned as a writer …
1.) You’re going to learn a lot more about people than you probably ever have before.
Think about it.
Your characters have to have issues so that you have a plot, right? Some of us don’t necessarily write what we’re familiar with. We’re constantly running to mental health websites, scrolling through Pinterest quotes, and reading random books and articles to understand how to write our characters.
Yet have you considered how this could come in handy in the real world?
You start learning what to say and what not to say in certain scenarios. You get glimpses of some of what goes on inside other people, even if they don’t tell you. You’re prepared to deal with certain situations. And chances are, you might be inspired to use somebody’s situation (not as gossip or shaming though) in one of your books, because …
2.) You are allowed to use anything in your stories.
When I say anything, I mean anything. (But please use common sense and spiritual discernment on certain topics. ;) ) Trip to a foreign country? Use it. Musical instrument you barely know the name of but think it’s cool? Use it. Random application you learned in chemistry that you won’t remember a year from now?
Use the thing, even if you don’t like chemistry! Or physics. Or trigonometry. Or plane geometry.
Do I recall anything to use in plane geometry other than to allow my characters to insult each other in their inabilities to complete such a course?
But is it still fun to watch my characters joke over how much they suffered through that course?
I really appreciate you joining me today, girl! I hope everyone enjoys our interview as much as I did!
Aww, thank you! This interview was definitely fun! And I hope everyone reading this enjoyed our interview, too!
(Although I may question what else you have up your sleeve thanks to your questions now.)
about the author
Amelia Cabot is a sinner saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, homeschooler, and Christian fiction/poetry writer who has embraced the world of writing since she was six. She can typically be found in the corner of the living room at her desk, mostly due to the fact that she lives in an apartment and doesn't use her room half of the time. Although she hasn’t published her own novels, she has dabbled in writing contests, with the Tell Me You Love Me anthology as the first official work she has been published in. When she’s not writing, she’s mentally correcting improper grammar (and punctuation, and capitalization, and spelling), uncovering the enigmas of the piano and violin, singing, comprehending Spanish, or daydreaming about her characters and their never-ending predicaments.
meet the character
Annemarie, thank you so much for joining us today! Do you mind introducing yourself to everyone?
Thank you, Grace! And sure, I can introduce myself. :)
I’m Annemarie Müller, the main character from “His Freedom over Mine.” I’m originally from West Berlin but moved to East Berlin when I was a bit of an older teenager, since my parents had passed and I didn’t have relatives in West Berlin.
*looks at Amelia and mouths* What else am I supposed to say?
Amelia: I don’t know! You’re the one who gets to talk now!
*sighs and turns back to Grace* Well … I guess one other thing is that I’m a wife and mother to two beautiful children, Gabriele and Ralph. And … *still looks at Amelia for help*
Amelia: Just go on.
*turns back to Grace again* Yep. That’s … the story of my life.
-Amelia has temporarily left to scream over her character’s inability to speak to living people.-
You’re currently living in one of Germany’s most tumultuous times in modern history—how do you feel about that? Can you tell that you’re part of such a pivotal time?
*laughs* That’s true. It’s … nerve-wracking, to say the least. It’s like you can’t do anything when you’re outside without thinking that the guards will see you and you’re scared they’ll think you’re doing something wrong. Or that they’re spying on you. And what I really don’t like is all the shortages. Oh, my. Everything is so hard to get.
This is an … interesting time frame. I knew things were bad since World War II, but younger me thought life would get better.
*another laugh* Younger versions of us are a little too hopeful sometimes.
There’s a lot going on in your country and your personal life, yet you still trust God through it all. Do you have any advice for trusting God and having that kind of faith?
Aww. That is sweet of you to think that of me. Praying. Always praying. You know that verse “Pray without ceasing,” right? And thinking about God’s promises is definitely a huge part in my life. It isn’t easy. *laughs* Oh, believe me, it isn’t. I’d rather fret about things than take God’s Word.
Hm, since we’re speaking of promises, what’s a good promise? Like … Psalm 55:22. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” *smiles* I remember sharing that verse with Gabriele once, and she said, “But, Mama, we don’t have any burned dens. I don’t know what a den is anyway. And we can’t go anywhere unless we move our feet.” *giggles*
On a lighter note, you met your now-husband Rudolph when y’all were kids. What was your first impression of him? When did you come to love him in a romantic sense?
Oh, my husband? I thought he was terrible when he met me. He sat next to me and then wouldn’t stop scooting over every time I tried moving away from him. *rolls eyes*
But I think I started learning to like him after he shared chocolate with me. Because I like chocolate. *laughs* And I started loving him when I was old enough to know that he really did care about me and that he had something different in him than the other teenage boys I saw.
Different in a good way, of course. Because when you’re a Christian, you’re supposed to be different. Rudolph is still different from a lot of other men I’ve seen. I’ll keep it that way though.
*smirks* Although we might have to do something about his love for chocolate.
What does love look like to you? How do you define it?
Well, I’m not a writer. That’s more of Amelia’s thing. But … I guess I’ll try explaining my thoughts on love.
I think love is simple. Simple, but also really, really difficult to manage. One wrong word or action can shake that foundation, but the right words or actions can strengthen it. And it also isn’t about me—wait, we’re talking about me, right? *looks uncertainly at Amelia*
Amelia: *makes strange gesticulations to indicate that Annemarie needs to keep talking
*turns back to Grace, perplexed* Um … where was I? Oh! Yes. Love isn’t about self. There we go. I Corinthians 13 is the ultimate chapter in the Bible on love. That and the chapters of Jesus’s death on the cross. That also is love.
And I think I can see love in different ways, too. Whenever Gabriele comes running up to me with another bouquet of flowers … or weeds that she thinks are flowers … I can tell she’s trying to give me something to show her love. Ralph’s still learning not to eat those weeds; so he doesn’t bring me things like that. *giggles* But he’ll sit on my lap and cuddle with me when I’m having a bad day.
And Rudolph? Ah. He helps out around the house in his … own way. Not always the right way. But I’ll take his help. He’s sometimes having to remind me to calm down, too. Which is nice. Because I think I want to become scared over everything. :)
What do you think you learned throughout your story? What do you hope readers learn from your life?
That God’s still faithful. *smiles* Life is terrifying. But He’s still there, and He will pull us out of those terrifying times. He’ll do what He wants whenever He’s ready, not whenever we think it’s time.
Oh, dear, people have to learn from my life … Then again, I blame Amelia for this. *looks at Amelia with a laugh as Amelia rolls her eyes but then grins* If whoever reads my story can put it down with one thought in mind, it’s that love is sacrifice. Denying yourself for somebody else. Being the best you can be to benefit your husband, your kids, your parents, your siblings … well, everyone.
But don’t pretend to care for others if you want attention for it. Then that’s selfishness.
I loved getting to know you, Annemarie! Thank you for coming on!
Aww, thank you, Grace! Thank you for allowing me to have this interview with you!
*looks at Amelia and mouths* And you’re never making me speak like this again.
his freedom over mine
She never could distinctly remember what freedom truly was.
Ever since Annemarie Müller was a little girl, all she’d known was horror, war, and the consequences of war. But after she met Rudolph, her world began to change. And once they had grown up and gotten married, changes sprang up into their lives like the first green plants of spring inching their way through the soil. One of those sprouts of change was a blazing hope to escape East Berlin into that ever-coveted freedom called West Berlin, a home that had once been theirs.
What they didn’t expect to sprout overnight was the Berlin Wall–the wall that could forever bar them from their only chance at having freedom.
Follow the tour schedule below and comment on any or all of the upcoming posts included in the tour for an entry into a giveaway for an e-copy of Tell Me You Love Me and more fantabulous prizes! (One comment = one entry! Replies to other comments do not count.) Entrants must be eighteen years of age or have parent's permission.
The winner will be announced in my post at the end of the tour, on January 31st, so y'all enjoy all the wonderful content coming your way from these lovely young authors and be sure to comment on all their posts for a chance to win!
about the anthology
Tell Me You Love Me - a timeless collection of stories that truly understand the meaning of “I love you”
Twelve young Christian authors have come together, alongside romance novelist Grace A. Johnson and editor Issabelle Perry to show our world of depravity and cheap imitations of romance what love really means: faith, hope, and sacrifice.
These stories range from contemporary YA to historical to fantasy, and tell diverse, unique love stories that compel, captivate, and warm readers’ hearts with their sweet and authentic nature.
Featuring work from Michaela Bush, Saraina Whitney, Karynn Heckler, Margaret Copeland, Lucia Molano, Sarah Lawton, Brooklyn O’Brennan, Mackenzie Hendricks, H.S. Kylian, Lydia M. Jupp, Katherine Perry, and Amelia Cabot, the Tell Me You Love Me anthology is the collaboration of talented and inspirational young writers you’ve been waiting for!
Grace A. Johnson – tour kickoff – January 17th
Michaela Bush - January 18th
H.S. Kylian – January 19th
Michaela Bush - January 19th
Amelia Cabot on Of Blades and Thorns – January 20th
Issabelle Perry – January 23rd
Lydia M. Jupp on Of Blades and Thorns – January 23rd
Maggie Copeland on Of Blades and Thorns – January 24th
Sarah Lawton – January 25th
Saraina Whitney – January 26th
Katherine Perry – January 27th
Mackenzie Hendricks – January 30th
Lucia Molano – January 31st
Grace A. Johnson – tour ends – January 31st
I hope y'all enjoyed my interview with Amelia and Q&A with her character Annemarie! They both had some wonderful wisdom to share, didn't they? Her story is so beautiful and sweet, and I know y'all will love it! Have you ever read a story set during Soviet-era Berlin? Drop the title down below if you have!
yours in spirit and script,
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