A Warm Welcome to Bonnie Leon
Bonnie will give away a print copy of Return to Misty Shore (U.S. residents only). To enter to win leave a comment and an email address
Hi Bonnie, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Southern Oregon country gal who is still married to my first true love. I met my husband, Gregory, when I was only seventeen. We married two years later and will celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary this summer.
Though I grew up in Washington State my first visit to Southern Oregon convinced me I needed to move. It felt like home right away. My husband and I, with our three kids moved to the foothills of Douglas County, Oregon in 1980. We designed and built a small home, which has grown through the years and is somewhat sprawling now. We’re still here, and our youngest daughter and her family live right next door. I love that. We share a five acre piece of land that rests in the midst of the Umpqua forest.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
From the very beginning, when I was first reading Dick and Jane books, I knew reading would always be part of my life. Then and now I’ve loved true life stories. One of my favorite books while still quite young was the tale of Helen Keller. She was one of my early heroines and still is. By the time I was a pre-teen I was gobbling down Nancy Drew books. Our local bookmobile always had several on their shelves. As a young adult I enjoyed a variety of stories, including The Hobbit and Ten Little Indians, but I was especially fond of Gothics. Eventually I settled in to reading mostly historical fiction. After reading Hawaii I was hooked. Historical fiction has remained my favorite through the years, but I enjoy just about any kind of book.
Let's talk about your writing. Why do you do it?
I don’t recall dreaming about becoming a writer when I was young. I think I had the notion that writers had to be highly educated and extremely intelligent, and I didn’t see myself that way. However, when I was in my late thirties I was compelled to put my thoughts down on paper. I wrote short stories, vignettes and poems. It was fun.
And then, in 1991 a log truck overturned on a corner and hit my van, leaving me with permanent injuries and chronic pain. I felt as if I’d lost my life. I had been a hands on kind of woman, working alongside my husband on our small farm and actively involved with my kids. After the accident that all changed. I couldn’t do any of the things I loved, not even simple things like preparing meals for my family or doing the shopping.
Those were dark days and I sank into a depression and wondered what would become of me. I felt like I had nothing of value to offer anyone. I asked God to give me something to do that would make a difference. He opened every door to a life of writing and gently nudged me through each one.
I feel God called me to write. And until He says otherwise that is what I will do. I love the process, and through the years I’ve heard from many readers who have been encouraged and uplifted by my stories. It is extremely gratifying and a lot of fun.
Tell us about your latest book.
Return to the Misty Shore is the third book in an Alaskan historical trilogy. I love writing about Alaska—it is where I came from through my family heritage.
The principle character, Luba Engstrom is an Aleut who grew up in the white man’s world of late nineteenth century Alaska. When she falls in love with a native man, who lives in a primitive village on the Aleutian Island of Unalaska, Luba chooses to run off with him. Village life is tougher than she anticipated and she is left with the consequences of her choices. But she discovers that God has not abandoned her.
What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it?
I love the backdrop of Alaska, which is an incredibly beautiful place but also one that always seems ready to take your life. Planting the story in the midst of an Aleut village in 1885 was filled with discovery for me. I learned a great deal. The Aleut life style is interesting, appalling and beautiful. It was exciting to experience the life my great-grandmother and my grandmother, who both grew up on the island of Unalaska, may have lived.
Return to the Misty Shore is an historical story, but the challenges the characters face could easily be transplanted into our contemporary lives—living with the consequences of poor choices, abusive relationships, courage to face challenges and the sorrow of loss. But the story isn’t all about the trenches, there is also adventure, beauty and love weaved throughout.
I hope readers will tell others that it’s a book they couldn’t put down and that they loved the characters. And an added bonus would be that their faith was strengthened by something they read in Luba’s story.
In three words describe your style of writing.
This is a difficult question to answer. How do I make an impartial assessment of my own writing? So, I asked some of my readers. Here are the three most common answers I received.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
Once upon a time I was extremely disciplined and kept a work schedule that allowed me to publish two novels a year. Not so much these days.
My life is full of children, grandchildren, my elderly mother, vegetable gardening during the summer, mentoring other writers, and a long list of everyday life things that keep me fighting for writing time. Plus, I live with chronic pain and I can no longer put in long days at the computer.
I have an office that also serves as a guest bedroom. There is a comfy recliner where I spend my writing time creating stories. When weather allows, I make sure to keep the window open so I can hear the breeze in the trees, the sound of happy birds and the song of my wind chimes.
Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
Definitely a plotter. Once I have a basic plot in mind for a story I put together a detailed outline that serves as a map so I don’t get lost along the way. That doesn’t mean I never take side trips. I do. And sometimes they are exactly what my story has been looking for.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Faith takes a natural place in my writing. It is where I live and it is who I am and it spills over into whatever I’m working on. I’m not sure I can create a story that doesn’t include my devotion to the Lord.
What are you working on right now?
First and foremost I’m on vacation, beginning April 20th. My husband and I are heading to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. I’ve been working hard and it’s time for a break. I intend to take an entire summer off. After that I have another historical romance that is calling to me. This one should be great fun. It takes place here in Southern Oregon during the mid-nineteenth century.
There could be a bit of glitch in my plans, however. I’ve been struggling with my eyesight for several years and was recently diagnosed with a rare condition that will eventually take my central vision. If I want to continue writing I’m going to need help. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like yet, but I do know that if it’s in God’s will He will make a way. I ask for your prayers.
What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
My dream job is owning a book store. In this day and age, that’s a tough go and probably not a good investment, but I love bookstores. I can see myself spending my days surrounded by books and good people. The store would be homey with overstuffed chairs, a wood stove, and wooden shelves filled with fabulous books. I think a coffee bar would be a good idea too.
More About Return to Misty Shore
In the spring of 1885, Luba Engstrom meets Nicholas Matroona, a strong, brooding Native from the island of Unalaska. Against her parents’ wishes, she elopes, believing love will be enough to bridge the gap between the civilized world of Juneau and the primitive culture of Nicholas’s small village. After all, before Luba was born, her mother lived on a wild Alaskan island until she was forced to leave when a tsunami destroyed her people. But from the moment Luba arrives at Nicholas’s home, she struggles to adapt and learn the village ways.
Will the conflict between her husband’s belief in ancient gods and her faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer destroy Luba and Nicholas’s relationship?
Return to the Misty Shore—the third book in the Northern Lights series.
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Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released Return to the Misty Shore, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa.
She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions and especially delights in mentoring young authors. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren.
You can find Bonnie at