1. Who is the real Donna Wichelman behind the books?
I’ve been happily married for 36 years. We have one married daughter, a two-year-old granddaughter, and one on the way (as of December 2020). There is nothing better in this world than spending time with my family outside of writing.
2. What are three unique or fun things about you?a. For my last two years of high school, I attended the United World College of the Atlantic, an international college that now has 16 satellite schools across the world. While most of the students lived in dormitories on the “hill,” I lived in a two-room, ten-girl dorm housed inside St. Donat’s Castle, outside Llantwit Major, Wales on the Bristol Channel. Though it was nothing like Hogwart’s, I truly lived the fairy-tale dream. I’m still in contact with a number of my classmates and attend periodic reunions.
b. Anything Italian satisfies my palate, especially my own homemade tiramisu and gelato.
c. I start my workdays with a strong cup of French press coffee in a cup, no cream or sugar, and usually have a second one mid-morning.
3. What types of books do you like to read for pleasure; what genre, books or authors do you read?
Of course, I read a lot of historical romance, but sometimes I like to get caught up in a good mystery, adventure, or thriller and legal thrillers. Some authors’ books I read regularly include Francine Rivers, Lynn Austin, Tamara Alexander, Sarah Sundin, Misty Beller, Davis Bunn, Ted Dekker, and John Grisham.
4. Why write for the Christian market?
My Christian faith informs everything about who I am and how I choose to live my life. Because it is such an intrinsic part of me, it will also inform who my characters are and how they act and live their lives.
5. What are some ways we can support and encourage you, both personally and as an author?
There are many times I second guess myself as an author, so it’s always a huge encouragement to hear from you. Please send me an email or comment on my blog or Facebook page. Your encouragement and prayers mean the world to me.
6. What’s the biggest challenge a writer faces when writing a book?
Where to start. Openings are the hardest to write, because they have to captivate your attention and make you want to read the next page. That’s my job—to make the first page so compelling that you want to read the next one.
7. Where do you get your inspiration for writing?
I credit my faith and a love of history and culture for my inspiration. Oftentimes, it’s while traveling and getting to know a place that an idea will come to mind and I ask the question, “What if…?” That’s how the first book in my Singing Silver Mine Trilogy came about. I was standing on an overlook on the Dingle Peninsula, Ireland and envisioned a woman of poverty destined to emigrate to America.
8. What does an average workday look like for you?
My alarm usually goes off at 6 a.m. I make myself a cup of French press coffee and spend an hour in devotion and prayer. Afterward, I eat a sensible breakfast, workout, then try get to the computer by 8:30 a.m. I break for lunch, then it’s back to work until 4:30 p.m., when I start getting dinner together.
9. What was your first novel?
My first attempt at a full-length novel was a romance set at a Bed & Breakfast in the Lake District of England in the early 1990s. A publisher at the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference had some interest in it, but they decided to pass. The manuscript still sits on my computer, and I hope to rewrite it one day.
10. Do you read all your reader mail?
Absolutely. I love to hear from my readers and always try to do my best to respond.
11. What should I do if I want to write a book?
If you have had a book in the back of your mind—fiction or nonfiction—and/or you believe God has called you to write a book, don’t let fear or intimidation stop you from making it happen. There are a multitude of books, courses, and organizations that can help hone your craft. Take advantage of them. Every successful writer I’ve encountered needs to spend time reading books, searching out advice, and attending workshops to help them continue to grow their skills. See link For Writers to get a full list of helps.
12. Will you read my manuscript?
I wish I could help every novice writer that comes to my doorstep accomplish their goals. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read every manuscript that comes my way. But I do recommend you take advantage of the Writer’s Resources on the link For Writers and get connected with American Christian Fiction Writers and/or a local writers’ group that can give you feedback on your work.
13. What do you hope to leave with readers after they read your books?
I hope that through the journeys my characters take, readers’ hearts will be affected as they see God’s love abounds, even in the profoundly difficult seasons of our lives. In that way, they will find courage to face their hardest challenges, encounter joy in the midst of life’s deepest sorrows, and give thanks in all things—big or small and in all circumstances—by God’s mercy and grace.
14. Will you write a third book in your Waldensian Series?
In time I hope to write the third book in the series. I’ve also written a short story prequel, The Last Will and Testament of Anne Charbonnier, that you can find on the Giveaways and Downloadable link. If time also permits in the future, I plan to write the longer version of the short story.
15. Do you travel much?
COVID has made traveling difficult. But in a relatively normal year, I like to visit the places where my books are set at least once or twice to do research and get the feel of the surroundings. It’s particularly helpful to speak in person to people who understand the historical setting of a place. I’m also a world traveler at heart and often get my inspiration from the places I visit.
16. What are some of your favorite places that you’ve traveled to?
The world is filled with so many beautiful and unique places, cultures, and people that it’s hard to say which are my favorites. However, Colorado, Italy, and Ireland hold special places in my heart, because I chose to create characters and stories that are dear to the hearts of my characters. I have a Historical and Cultural Blog that I write weekly where you can read about the many places that have made an impression on me.
17. Are there things you still would like to accomplish?
Absolutely yes. I mentioned the prequel and sequel of my Waldensian series. I’d also like to write a World War II historical series, and perhaps a story set during the period of the Nabateans around the time of the birth of Christ.
18. What motivates you?
I love wordsmithing, especially when I can give the reader a sense of story that compels them to become engaged with the place and characters. A well-written scene gives me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.