Her love for God, her love for others, and overwhelming death all mark the story of Ann Wallace. In the spring of 1874, called by God, Ann sets out along the unsettled Natchez Trace. As those who later accompany are murdered at the hands of Maggot Mays and the other highwaymen, Ann begins to question her faith, her dedication, and her service to God. It is about twenty years later that Ann realizes the tragedy endured along the Natchez Trace was all part of a Divine plan and those who died for her mission were “the Willmakers.”
First, tell us a little about you – the writer and the man.
Writing fiction allows me to release my imagination. I see what the characters see, I hear the sounds that they hear, I feel the emotions that they feel and I live the story as they live it. I can’t imagine another form of writing that could be more satisfying.
What inspired you to write The Willmakers? To choose the period you chose for this story?
Inspiration for The Willmakers came from a story told to me by a fellow missionary in Tanzania about a husband and wife who had lived their lives in a remote area of Africa as missionaries. In retirement they left Africa feeling as complete failures because they couldn’t think of even one person they had led to Christ through the years. Just before their deaths they were visited by a man they had taught when he was a child. He had become an evangelist and was leading vast numbers to Christ. Spiritual success is not always visible and faith in God, though not always easy, is always necessary.
I grew up on the Natchez Trace and for many years have been intrigued by it’s history and that a place that is so peaceful in present day has such a vicious past. The years of the 1870’s to the mid 1880’s were the last remaining years of stronghold for the Highwaymen and the last remaining troubled years of the Natchez Trace.
Without giving story spoilers, tell us a little about Ann Wallace, the person.
Ann Wallace is a missionary of meager means and she is a single mother. The odds are stacked against her even before she begins her journey. The thing she has in her favor is determination. And though she is unaware of it, God has already chosen her as a person to further His will – a willmaker.
The Natchez Trace and the history of how travelers were in danger of being robbed, raped or killed by highwaymen are prominent in your book. What led you to these points in the book?
The Trace was a trade route to and from Natchez, Mississippi used by Indians, settlers and mail carriers known as post-riders. The route was home to many bands of outlaws, some known to be inhumanly mean and vicious such as John Murrell and his gang. But none were as notorious as the Harpe brothers. Big Harpe and Little Harpe would kill and disembowel their victims; possibly to create a reputation so ferocious and terrible that even the lawmen of their era were fearful to come face to face with the Harpes.
What do you want readers to take away from having read your book?
I simply want readers to enjoy the story. When I start a story, seldom do I know how it will end. The characters come to life and move the story forward for me and I want it to be the same for the reader. If a reader sees and feels what the characters see and feel then I’ve told a good story.
As many of us do, the characters in The Willmakers experience their weaknesses, their shortcomings and their doubt. In the end I think that we may see that God is not so much concerned with out shortcomings as He is in how we strive to overcome them and that God is not so much concerned in how we start as He is in how we finish.
Other titles by Kent Breazeale
The Chosen One (5 stars; short story)
The Mind of Payne (in progress)