Jeanne: Interview with Ellen Lindseth

I first met Ellen through my 2015 RWA® Golden Heart® class, the Dragonflies.


Even before we met in person, it became apparent that we had some things in common. Ellen resides in Minnesota, where I lived for three years back in the 90’s. We both love to travel. And we both love flowers.

The day I posted a picture on Facebook of a water plant I was having trouble identifying  and Ellen hopped on to say it was bladderwort, our friendship blossomed. Then, in February of this year, our mutual friend and Dragonfly Tracy Brody, hosted a writers’ retreat on Kiawah Island, off the coast of South Carolina, and we got to spend a week writing, taking long walks on the beach, sharing meals and swapping brainstorming ideas.

Enough reminiscing. On with the questions!

Question 1: I love the idea of a set during WWII. Tell us a little bit about A Girl Divided, which becomes available today on Amazon.

Hi, Jeanne! First, I’d like to thank you for this chance to talk about my debut book. I’m super excited to talk about my story, which is both like and yet unlike other WWII romantic fiction books currently out there, and is receiving very good advance reviews. One thing readers will note right away is that my heroine, Eugenia Baker, never sets foot in Europe. This was a deliberate choice on my part because the war truly was a global conflict, and affected so many other parts of the world, including China, Burma, India, and South Africa – all places that Genie travels through on her journey to the U.S.

I also wanted A GIRL DIVIDED to explore themes different from the typical ‘will good triumph over evil’ one. I wanted it to speak to more timeless questions, such as how to juggle societal and familial expectations with one’s own desires, how to balance one’s own ethics against another’s, and even how to survive sexual harassment in the work place. Readers of historical fiction will still find plenty of rich WWII-period detail, and well-researched facts, but the war, in this case, is more catalyst for the journey than the actual focus of the book. A GIRL DIVIDED is primarily about a young woman finding her place in the world, and becoming the person she was meant to be.

If your readers would like to read more about my plucky heroine, Eugenia – and I hope they do! – A GIRL DIVIDED is now available in paperback, digital and audio formats through on-line sites such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and

Question 2: Tell us why you chose traditional publishing, and what were the challenges to getting this story published.

The marketplace, particularly the romance one, is changing. It is increasingly difficult to get a traditional publisher to take a chance on an atypical historical romance, despite my having finaled twice in the RWA’s Golden Heart contest (2014 & 2015) with WWII romances. The feedback I got was that they loved the stories, but didn’t think they could sell them. My agent, the wonderful Laura Bradford, refused to let me get discouraged, and suggested I try my hand at writing WWII women’s fiction. A GIRL DIVIDED is the result of that experiment. Because of my love for romance, I insisted the novel still have a HEA despite its women’s fiction focus.

Luckily my editor at Lake Union Publishing agreed, and signed me to a two-book contract. This after penning my first romantic story almost fifteen years ago, so it’s been a long journey, but a rewarding one. I think the key in this business is persistence and adaptability. If I had refused to try a slightly different genre, I doubt I would now be published.

Question 3: You and your husband travel a lot. What’s the most interesting place you’ve been to?

Wow, that’s a really tough question! I find almost anywhere I go interesting, but if I had to pick, I would say our recent trip to Antarctica was the most surprising. I really didn’t think I would like it, given how much I dislike cold and snow (both of which are plentiful there), but the landscape was so jaw-droppingly beautiful. Everything always looks smaller in photos, so I was really surprised by the reality. When I was in a zodiac cruiser at the base of these enormous cliffs, looking up at the skas nesting on the bare rock thousands of feet in the air, or watching the icebergs larger than our ship pass silently off to the side, the ice electrically blue, more vivid than I thought possible, or even swimming in water so breathtakingly clear I forgot how cold it was (28F to be exact), I quite honestly forgot why I hadn’t wanted to come. I totally lost my heart to the continent.


Ellen in Antarctica

Ellen in Antartica!

Ellen Lindseth received her B.A.from the University of Colorado, Boulder, has studied at the Loft Literary Center (Minneapolis, MN), and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Two of her WWII historical romances were finalists in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart ® contest, and one of her short stories was chosen for publication in Midwest Fiction Writers’ popular anthology. When not writing about the resourceful women of the 1940s, she keeps up her own dream of adventure by flying her own plane, traveling the world with her husband (also a pilot), and taking care of her three rescued kitties and an elderly bearded dragon.



6 thoughts on “Jeanne: Interview with Ellen Lindseth

  1. It sounds like a good book! I can only think of a few stories set in the Asian theater of the war, most of them by Chinese-Americans, but there was also the fabulous movie, Father Goose, with Cary Grant. Some of the Western women who were in Asia at the time weren’t so lucky as to escape, but I’m sure several of them had happy endings with thrilling escapes! Sounds like great material to mine.

    (-: I will also mention that I always was quite fond of Marion Ravenwood, and never quite forgave the Indiana Jones sequel for not bringing her back.

    Can you share some source biographies you found during the writing of your book? How did you find them?

  2. Thanks, Michaeline! I haven’t had a chance to watch Father Goose, but as a huge fan of Cary Grant, I’ll definitely check it out!

    As for research, most of what I was able to get, beyond Pearl S. Buck’s seminal work, The Good Earth, was from U.S. military pamphlets, a travel guide from the 1930’s (complete with maps), and contemporary websites on rural mountain culture, flora and fauna. I also used missionary accounts from the era, and found two very helpful books that were more focused on the flying aspect of China in the 30s and 40s. One was “Sisters of Heaven: China’s Barnstorming Aviatrixes : Modernity, Feminism, and Popular Imagination in Asia and the West” by Patti Gully, and the other was “China’s Wings: war, intrigue, romance, and adventure in the Middle Kingdom during the Golden Age of Flight” by Gregory Crouch. I also referenced the China sections of Greg “Pappy” Boyington’s “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, and a 1942 LIFE magazine article on the Flying Tigers.

    As for how I found the sources? My local library system is fantastic, with books archived from the beginning of the 20th century, and I combed the internet for references to books, magazines … basically anything I could find that might be considered a primary or secondary reference.

    Hope that answers your question, and I hope you enjoy the story!

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