Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips.
Welcome to The Engrafted Word Peter Leavell! It’s wonderful to have you here!
Savanna: Do you have a favorite character from your debut novel, Gideon’s Call? If so, can you tell us why?
Peter: My favorite character from Gideon’s Call is Laura Towne. Coming from a wealthy family, she could have lived in Philadelphia and practiced medicine her entire life, a highly respectable job and cutting edge for a feminist of the day. Instead, in her early thirties, she gave up her comforts and traveled to South Carolina to teach freed slaves. She eventually started the Penn School to train the freed slaves from learning the alphabet to learning a trade, and remaining there the rest of her life. That kind of dedication I give upmost respect.
Savanna: In all your research, have you ever uncovered a piece of history that really surprised you?
Peter: A constant surprise is how intuitive and creative humans are. We have computers today to assist our lifestyles. But in the past, humans used ingenious methods for comfort. And, unfortunately, horrible methods, such as slavery. But their ingenuity is forever surprising me.
Savanna: What was it like to visit Port Royal, SC, and how did it affect both you and your story?
Peter: I took my family to Port Royal, and we researched together. What we found was the environment was unlike anything we’d ever seen. The landscape is nearly tropical. Coming from mountains, we’d never seen anything like it and fell in love with the area. I finally understood what the book’s characters, in their diaries, meant when they fell in love with the beauty as well.
Savanna: It’s obvious to see you love history. What is your favorite time period to read and why?
Peter: Any time period is interesting, I must admit. What I love is average people thrown into incredible circumstances, and see how they influenced history forever. It’s even more exciting to see if love can blossom under those pressures. So far, in my studies, love truly conquers all!
Savanna: What is one of your most unforgettable moments from your writing career to date?
Peter: Entering Operation First Novel, and as a finalist, standing at the foot of a stage, when Jerry B. Jenkins announced that the winner was Peter Leavell. Winning gave me a publishing contract and $20,000. But even better, I was able to spend that moment with my fellow finalists and lifelong friends. They will tell you I squealed like a little girl, but I didn’t—no one can prove I did.
Savanna: I doubt anyone would blame you if you had! 😉 So, what project are you excited to be working on right now?
Peter: I am writing a historical fiction that takes place during the time of Rome. Constantine came to power and changed Christian history forever. His uncanny ability with politics and war make a fantastic story.
That sounds awesome, Peter. I can’t wait to read it! Thanks for stopping by today!
Peter has generously offered a free copy of Gideon’s Call, the movie Glory in Blu-Ray, and the soundtrack to Glory for one lucky winner!
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