Meet Jeanie Flierl, author of the novel, To Conquer A Mountain. My questions are in color. Jeanie’s answers will give you a glimpse of the heart of this warm, talented woman.
Welcome, Jeanie. Thank you for the opportunity to ask you a few questions. First, I’d like to know: In your novel, the main character, Tatum, is a Colorado native. Are you a native also?
No. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I moved to Colorado in my twenties because of my love for the mountains. I worked for Safeway for eleven years and met my husband, Denis, there. After home-schooling our three girls, I put all my energy into a retail store in Evergreen, Colorado. My store sells quality chocolates, nuts, and candies.
Sounds yummy. No wonder the retail shop in your novel feels so real! In fact, there’s a lot of realism in your story. What real needs do you think readers may have that your book addresses, that makes it a “must read”?
As the story unfolds, Tatum’s reactions and prayers in moments of happiness or pain reflect real feelings toward God and toward other people. She finds it’s OK to be mad at God, but she doesn’t stay there. In the end, she realizes God was with her all along, in the good and the bad. I think many people, like myself, need to learn that kind of open-hearted honesty before a loving God.
The characters in To Conquer A Mountain definitely come across as authentic. Besides your own daughters, what experience have you had with young adults in their twenties and thirties that helped you envision your book’s characters and conflicts?
Denis and I have worked together in the marriage ministry for more than twenty-five years, teaching communication skills. We have spoken at small conferences and MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) groups on related subjects.
What got you interested in Mountain Rescue? And how did you conduct your research?
I was in awe of Alpine Rescue Team in Evergreen. Their Facebook posts were so exciting that I started reading anything I could get my hands on about mountain rescues. It is mind boggling that these mountaineers, here in Colorado, and elsewhere for that matter, are so selfless in going into the mountains, rain, shine, snow, and cold, to help people having a very bad day in the mountains. And they don’t charge anything!
I had the opportunity to visit Alpine Rescue Team and see the vehicles and equipment they use for rescues, which they purchase with donations. Later, my husband and I took a member of ART to dinner, and he regaled us with real-life incidents. I took those actual rescue stories, jumbled them together, and came up with the fictional rescues described in my novel.
What other circumstances in your life played a role in your conception of this story?
The settings of the book—in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains—have always interested me. And my point-of-view character—to whom I gave many triumphs and tragedies—has traits that I find in myself. For instance, I had to learn to take risk in my own life. That didn’t come as naturally to me as it does to some people.
Tatum learns to trust God more as she lets herself take risks. How important is faith to you?
I grew up in a Christian home and prayed to receive Jesus as my personal savior at the age of four after listening to a children’s program on Christian radio. But my faith became my own, not just what I grew up with, when I moved to Colorado. Through the ups and downs of living, the fun times and hard times of parenting, Christ has been woven into the fabric of our marriage, our children and our home life.
Tell us about your journey to become a published novelist.
My parents never had a TV in our house until I was a junior in high school. Maybe that played a role in my love of reading. Writing intrigued me, too, but I thought I could never write like the authors I loved to read. Seven years ago I decided that I would stop talking about writing a novel and finally do it. I just dove in, not realizing there was a craft to novel writing. Each writers conference I attended gave me more direction, and I’d apply what I learned. I had great encouragement and editing help along the way.
Where can your readers connect with you online?:
I look forward to interacting with my readers. I have recently started author pages:
Thank you, Jeanie, for your time. I hope many readers find themselves engrossed in your story, To Conquer A Mountain. And I hope they come away from it with more desire to take the risks of living in the unique adventures and opportunities that God offers to them.