Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Interview with Emily Ann Putzke, Author of It Took a War

Hey Everyone!

Today is a very exciting day, because we have the lovely blogger and now published author, Emily Ann Putzke, here for an interview! I hope you all enjoy getting to know Emily a little better and hearing about her book, It Took a War, which was released just yesterday.

1861 - Sixteen year old Joe Roberts leads a mundane life as far as he’s concerned. His world spins in the same circle each day: working at his family’s store, taking his sisters on boyish escapades and bickering with his rogue of a cousin, Lucas. Joe can’t understand why his mother allows Lucas to live and work with them after all the pain he caused their family. 

When war is declared, Joe is quick to join up and become a soldier with the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers, but war is nothing like he imagined. To make matters worse, he must endure having Lucas in the same regiment. Can Joe put the pain of the past behind him? Forgiveness is easier said than done.

It's an honor to have you here, Emily! First off, before we get into the questions, will you tell us a little about yourself?

Thank you so much for hosting me, Hannah! I'm Emily Ann Putzke, the author of It Took a War. I'm a 19 year old Christian, Homeschool graduate and history lover. I enjoy photography (especially photographing my nieces and nephews), reading, spending time with family, Civil War reenacting, traveling, and coffee. I love coffee. I live in New York State where we get buried in snow. I blog regularly over at www.authoremilyannputzke.com
When did you become interested in writing, and what was it that got you started?

I've been interested in writing since I was very young. I have stories saved from when I was about six or seven. I grew up in a house full of books so that played a huge part in my love of reading and writing. I'm a library junkie, too. I take armloads of books home on every visit. I never remember a time when I didn't want to be a writer. I've always dreamed of being an author and I'm so excited to finally be in print!

In one sentence, how would you describe It Took a War

It took a war to make them forgive.

What has been your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? What has been the most difficult?

My favorite part of the writing process was getting to know my characters. Also, I enjoyed the research process, because let's face it, I'm a history nerd. The most difficult part was re-writing. I changed the plot and the writing style from first person to third person. So that was a huge and difficult job!

My favorite part of the publishing process was holding the proof copy for the first time. It was crazy to see my book in print form. The most difficult was figuring out the timing for the publishing process...how much time it takes for the cover to be finished, the edits, the interior, the uploading to Createspace and Amazon, etc. But I learned lots about self-publishing this year so I think it'll be a little easier in the future.

I know that you did a lot of research for It Took a War. What kind of research did you find the most helpful?

Finding good books that explained the Civil War extremely well - namely, Hardtack and Coffee. It made so much sense, unlike some history books that are really wordy. I also found videos of Civil War drilling, how to load a musket, and an animated map of Gettysburg very helpful. Living history was also a great way for me to delve deeper.

Do you ever struggle with writer's block? If so, how do you cope?

Yes, definitely. Sometimes I'll look up inspirational writing quotes, or find pictures of what I think my characters look like. I'll step away from my computer armed with my notebook and pen and scribble down ideas of where my story is heading. Other times I'll just sit and think for a while, and drink some coffee while I'm at it. As you can see, I don't have one tried and true method. But I'm pretty sure coffee and chocolate help no matter what.

How did you come up with your book's title, and how did you come up with your characters' names?

My book title didn't come right away. It was called The Book That Hath No Name for a long time. I started writing down different ideas, played around with wording, then It Took a War crossed my mind. I was so excited because it suits the story perfectly!

I love coming up with the characters names! Since It Took a War is a Civil War story, I knew I needed names that would have been used back then. So that was where I started. Joseph worked well for my main character, but he's always called Joe. It just fit him. I wanted something elegant and sweet for his sister, so Coralie worked well for her. Their youngest sister is a four year old, messy haired, happy girl. Isabelle (Izzy for short) was definitely the name for her. This is the site I use for finding historical names most of the time.

Is there a character in your book that you particularly relate to?

Not entirely, although I can empathize with Coralie when Joe leaves home. Even though my brother didn't go off to war, it's hard to have a sibling move away.

What are a few of your favorite historical fiction books? Are you planning on writing more historical fiction yourself in the near future? 

A few favorite Civil War era historical fiction books are:

Journal of James Edmond Pease, a Civil War Union Soldier - Jim Murphy
Candle in the Darkness - Lynn Austin
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
War Memorial: A Short Story - Elisabeth Grace Foley
Girl in Blue - Ann Rinaldi
The War Within: A Novel of the Civil War - Carol Matas

Yes, I am planning on writing more historical fiction! Right now I'm in the process of researching for my next book which is about a German resistance during WWII. I'm also working on a story set in NYC in 1899 about the newsboys strike.

What has been the biggest thing you've learned from this experience of writing and self-publishing? What advice would you give to other writers trying to do the same thing?

I've learned patience and determination. It's definitely a process to write and publish a book, but it's wonderful to see a passion and career come together. I've also learned that self-publishing is not "self" at all. It took more than myself to get this book finished.  My family, friends, and blogging friends have been such a help and encouragement. I couldn't have done this without them!

My advice to other writers is don't give up. Write the book that God has put on your heart. Ask people you trust to edit it. Pray about what direction God wants for this book - traditional publishing or self-publishing. Then do it!

Thank you again, Emily, for being here and telling us about your book! I'm very excited to get my hands on It Took a War, and I know many other people are as well.

Enter Giveaway:

Giveaway is Only Open to People in the U.S.

You can buy It Took a War through:

Follow Emily online at:


  1. This is so cool! Congrats on getting your book published, Emily! Sounds like quite the journey.

    Sad that the giveaway is only open to US residents... *coughCOUGH* ;) Just kidding, I understand the impracticality of shipping to other countries. Still sad though...maybe sometime I'll get my hands on a copy!!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Olivia! And I know :( I'm with you, girl!
      (although I entered anyway, because if I won I could send it to my Grandma...#rebel)

    2. Thank you, Olivia! I know...I wish the giveaway could be open to people everywhere. Why is shipping so expensive?! Boo.

      Thank you so much for the interview, Hannah! And I like your rebelness (I don't think that's a word...my brain is fried.)

  2. This interview was fabulous! And I cannot express enough how excited I am for this book! :)

  3. I'm definitely excited for this book! It's rare to find YA historical fiction not set during World War Two, so this sounds fabulous in that regard. Thanks for the wonderful interview and generous giveaway Hannah!

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage