Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series), releases from Revell in January 2016. She recently signed a contract with Barbour for a novella that will appear in their Courageous Brides Collection (July 2016).
Where Treasure Hides (Tyndale, 2013), Johnnie’s debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011 Historical Fiction). “Beneath the Christmas Star,” her first short story, appeared in the Guideposts anthology A Cup of Christmas Cheer—Tales of Joy and Wonder for the Holidays (2013).
Johnnie also has won the Golden Leaf (Autumn in the Mountains Novelist Retreat), Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest).
She volunteers as a category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest and as a judge for various contests. This year, she is also marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.
A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area where she experiences farm life with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon known for treeing raccoons.
Surprise! My Character Did What?
One of the most rewarding, awe-inspiring, and just plain fun aspects of fiction-writing is when the characters make their own decisions.
When secrets spill from their lips.
When they do the unexpected.
Alison Schuyler is a Dutch-American artist and heiress to an artistic legacy that stretches back to the days of Vermeer and Rembrandt. Several Old Masters hang in the family’s Rotterdam art gallery, but Alison’s treasures most The Girl in the Garden, a portrait of her deceased mother that was painted by her father.
I didn’t realize how much Alison valued this painting until she risked her life to protect it.
In fact, I didn’t realize how important the painting would become to the storyline until . . . well, until it did.
I’m fascinated how things like this happen. An object, a sentence, an action nonchalantly appears on the screen then later serves as unintentional foreshadowing of more important events. Once the value of these unintended gems is realized—which may not happen until I’m reading through the pages—they can inspire the story line.
It’s a mysterious process that I don’t pretend to understand. I only know I love it when it happens.
Curious to find out what Alison did to save her mother’s portrait and how The Girl in the Garden became an integral part of the story?
Then take a trip with me to Waterloo Station in August 1939. Listen to a young boy play “Rule, Britannia!” on his violin. And fall in love with Alison and a British soldier as they fall in love with each other.
Where Treasure Hides, Book Overview
Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life.
Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow.
As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?
The stringed notes of “Rule, Britannia!” grew louder as the crowd quieted, eyes and ears straining in their search for the violin soloist. The patriotic anthem echoed through Waterloo Station’s concourse, and as the second chorus began, sporadic voices sang the lyrics. Travel- weary Brits stood a little straighter, chins lifted, as the violinist completed the impromptu performance, the last note sounding long after the strings were silenced.
Alison Schuyler gripped her leather bag and threaded her way through the crowd toward the source of the music. As the final note faded inside the hushed terminal, she squeezed between a sailor and his girl, murmuring an apology at forcing them to part, and stepped onto a bench to see over the crowd. A dark-haired boy, no more than seven or eight, held the violin close to his anemic frame. His jacket, made of a finely woven cloth, hung loosely on his thin shoulders. The matching trousers would have slipped down his hips if not for his hand-tooled leather belt.
Either the boy had lost weight or his parents had purposely provided him clothes to grow into. Alison hoped for the latter, though from the rumors she’d heard, her first assumption was all too likely. She stared at the cardboard square, secured by a thick length of twine, that the boy wore as a cheap necklace. The penciled writing on the square numbered the boy as 127.
Other children crowded near the young musician, each one dressed in their fine traveling clothes, each one labeled with cardboard and twine. Germany’s castaways, transported to England for their own safety while their desperate parents paced the floors at home and vainly wished for an end to these troublesome days.
“Now will you allow him to keep his violin?” A man’s voice, pleasant but firm, broke the spell cast over the station. The children fidgeted and a low murmur rumbled through the crowd. The speaker, dressed in the khaki uniform of a British Army officer, ignored them, his gaze intent on the railroad official overseeing the children.
“He better,” said a woman standing near Alison. “Never heard anything so lovely. And the lad not even one of the king’s subjects. I’d take him home myself—yes, I would—if I’d a bed to spare.”
Alison mentally sketched the tableau before her, pinning the details into her memory. The officer’s hand resting on the boy’s shoulder; the official, a whistle around his neck, restlessly tapping his clipboard with his pencil; the dread and hope in the boy’s eyes as he clutched his prized instrument. The jagged square that tagged his identity.