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Monday, June 26, 2023, 11:32

Meet the author behind The Shenandoah Road in today’s interview with Lynne Basham Tagawa.

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The Great Awakening was a time of great spiritual revival in early America. All over the Thirteen Colonies, people realized that formal religion and their own good works were not enough to make them right with God—that only trusting in Christ’s righteousness could save them from God’s wrath toward sin. Lynne’s novel The Shenandoah Road brings this heart change to life. Here she shares her thoughts about the book and what she does when she’s not writing. (The Shenandoah Road is part of the Prelude to Freedom: Independence Day Giveaway that runs until July 3, so enter here if you love Christian historical fiction!)

Jayna: From the 1720s through the 1740s and beyond, thousands came to faith in Christ as a result of powerful preaching from George Whitefield and others. The Shenandoah Road is set during this revival, an era that is not often explored in fiction. What led you to write a story about that time and place?

Lynne: Partly because of what you said—hardly anyone had written about it. Wars tend to be interesting, full of drama due to their nature, but why should Christians neglect a time of unusual revival? Plus, I believed that it affected the colonies in such a way as to make the type of revolution we had possible. The French Revolution was bloody, fueled by hatred and class warfare. Americans, on the other hand, often asked, What does the Bible say about tyranny? So my book on the Revolution has its roots right here.

Jayna: Your book on the Revolution also features the Russell family, a legacy that starts in this book. Who is your favorite character in The Shenandoah Road? Why?

Lynne: John Russell, of course. For me he is the archetypical hero: honorable but flawed. Best of all, he is godly, striving to honor God despite his failures. My favorite scene with him involves a longleaf pine, a tree important in the time but rare today:

By the time he reached the first sycamore, his mind had cleared enough to realize that wandering in the dark was foolish. But he wanted to be alone. Not even the privacy of his own mind felt private anymore. He’d seen Abigail look at him several times yesterday with a gaze that pierced his soul. She could sense the tenor of his thoughts already, and they’d been married less than two weeks.
Not to mention Roy, who knew his every thought and emotion whether expressed by word, grimace, or even just the way he held the reins. They’d tracked bear together, sweated together, wept together. The man could read his mind.
No, he’d had to get away, only for a little while—away from the others.
John crossed to the next tree, a massive pine. The sharp, clean scent caused him to pause, as if inhaling the aroma might somehow cleanse him on the inside.
He felt dirty.
He stretched out his hands to finger the bark, tracing the wide scales with his fingers. Yes, a longleaf pine—Abigail would want this for her book. Such a strange pattern. All trees had bark that cracked—or even peeled—in ridges or grooves; this one felt more like tiny plates.
And every year the tree would grow, and the bark would break some more, sap rising to heal the wounds. Hence the piney smell—the smell of brokenness. John laid his forehead on the tree, feeling broken himself.
Was this the way of all things under the sun? Grow … and break?
Oh God … out of the depths I cry to Thee …
Maybe he wasn’t growing. Maybe it was just sin. The filth of his murderous temper.
Create in me a clean heart, O God …
He collapsed and found himself kneeling in a thick bed of long pine needles, his shoulders shuddering and heaving. No tears would come, only this shaking and gasping, like an ague that had taken him unawares.
It wasn’t just his temper. It wasn’t just his anger toward Sloan or Roy.
He was angry with God.


Jayna: Wow, that’s a powerful scene. I loved how much biblical truth was woven into the characters’ lives and discussions. What was the hardest or easiest part of writing this book?

Lynne: I found it interesting how things fell into place. Midway, I knew I’d be including John Craig, a real historical figure who was the pastor at Tinkling Springs Church. What I did not know at first was the fact that this man had concerns about the preaching of George Whitefield and others. He was wary of religious emotionalism.I thought, Oh no! What do I do? Then I realized, this was great. More conflict! We could explore what was really happening in the minds of many pastors of this day.

Jayna: I’ve definitely had research change my stories too! Those historical elements are such a big part of the process for me. What does your writing process typically look like?

Lynne: Open Scrivener, my writing software. Go back, tweak and edit from the day before. March forward fearlessly. Get stuck. Go do the laundry. Come back eventually. Often I get inspired at random moments or even lying in bed at night. I rarely get such ideas sitting in front of the computer!

Jayna: It does seem like inspiration often strikes at times that have nothing to do with writing. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

Lynne: I’m a teacher by trade. I taught in the classroom, taught my own kids for a while, then after they graduated taught homeschool co-op classes. The pandemic shut that all down, but recently I gave a seminar on biblical education to young moms. I enjoy teaching teens, and when I write, part of my intended audience is that age group.

Jayna: That’s great. I love books that appeal to a wide range of ages. The Shenandoah Road is available here, but where can readers connect with you and learn more about your books?

Lynne: On my website,, folks can sign up for my newsletter. I send something out at least once a month on my own books, recommends, and discounts. You can follow me on Facebook, Goodreads, and BookBub. I’m also finally on Twitter: @LynneTagawa.

Jayna: Thanks so much for joining me in this interview, Lynne! It’s great to chat with other authors who are striving to provide excellent Christian fiction.


Get your copy of The Shenandoah Road



As I mentioned, The Shenandoah Road is part of the Prelude to Freedom giveaway. Enter to win four Christian historical novels highlighting faith and freedom at America’s founding: The Shenandoah Road by Lynne Basham Tagawa, An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz, Many Sparrows by Lori Benton, and Preacher on the Run by yours truly.

The winner will be announced on July 4. All entrants will receive a list of historical fiction recommendations from the participating authors. By entering, you’ll receive emails from these authors and may also receive ​reminders from the giveaway service, KingSumo. (Those don’t come from me, and you can unsubscribe from them after the giveaway.)


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Happy reading!



Jayna Baas is the author of Preacher on the Run. She is a member of ACFW and The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network. Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free short story here.

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