Rachel Rittenhouse

Christian fiction for ladies young and old

Interview with Anne Mateer!

September 18th, 2014

I am so pleased to introduce you to Anne Mateer! I received her book on a blogging program I am involved in with Bethany House Publishers. It has been wonderful getting to know her, and I hope you enjoy the interview as well!!


Playing-By-Heart_coverBack Cover: 

Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn’t even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys’ coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She’s returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel’s family, the girls’ basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she’s given up in her single-minded pursuit of degree after degree. God is working on her heart, and her future is starting to look a lot different than she’d expected.


My Review for “Playing by Heart”: 

5 stars – I loved it! 

Playing by Heart, I must say, has been one of my favorite books so far and for this one reason–it is something different that I haven’t read before. The setting takes place in Oklahoma in the time of World War 1. This book took on the viewpoint of what was happening in America and it was neat to see how the Great World War affected even a small town in Oklahoma. 

I love the characters and their many personalities. Lula was especially my favorite as she going to college for a math degree, but then taught music and basketball. She had a strong sense of duty to family, yet, she wanted to be on her own. The other main and minor characters drew me in as well and I found myself drawn into the story.

Playing by Heart resembled Christian morals especially as Lula and Chet found that they needed to rely on Christ in every area of their life. 

I would recommend this book for anyone who loves reading historical fiction, as well as a touch of Christian romance. 

I received this book for Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review in which I have given. 


Writing Questions:

1. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? 

I knew I enjoyed writing as early as elementary school, but I knew that without a doubt I wanted to write historical fiction in middle school.


2. How would you describe your writing process? Are you more of a planner or freewriter? 

I’m naturally a freewriter, but doing a book a year for the past four years has forced me to learn to do some planning!


3. When is your best time in the day to write? 

Afternoon, with a break to workout. I am not a morning person, so I do my housework and errands and emails, etc, in the morning. By lunchtime I’m wide awake and ready to work! If I take a workout break around 3 or 4 I can still get another couple of hours of work in before I need to get dinner ready for hubby.


4. How do you know when you have a good story idea? 

Honestly, I don’t! A great idea doesn’t always translate to a great story. It takes time—sometimes research, sometimes a try at a first few chapters—to figure out if the idea is sustainable through an entire novel.


5. Out of all your books, which has been your favorite to write? 

That’s a hard question! Each one has been different—different joys, different challenges. But I guess my favorite as far as the whole writing process would be At Every Turn. The subject matter was completely unfamiliar to me and I loved learning everything, and the heroine was so far out of my box. She was nothing like me!


“Playing by Heart” Questions:

6. How did you come up with the story idea for “Playing by Heart”?

I knew I wanted to tell a story set in Oklahoma, in honor of my maternal grandparents. They had a huge love for education. I come from a family full of teachers, too, so a school setting seemed natural. All my kids have played basketball and my eldest son wants to coach. And I also wanted to stay within the WWI time frame. All those things simmered together until Playing by Heart was born.


7. Are the characters Lula, Chet, and Jewel based off of anyone you know? 

Not entirely. Lula has a little bit of my Grandmother Palmer, a little of my teacher sisters, and a little bit of my own stubbornness! Chet has a bit of each of my college sons—one who loves music and one who loves basketball. He also has qualities such as kindness and loyalty that my sons and my husband possess. I’m not sure who inspired Jewel. She just kind of appeared in my head!


8. Why do you write historical fiction?

I love bringing history to life through fiction. I also love exploring spiritual themes in a different time period because in my experience as a reader the distance of years sometimes allows spiritual truths to penetrate my heart in a way I can resist when I recognize my “issue” in contemporary fiction.


9. How much time was spent researching vs. writing in this book in particular? 

General research is 2ish months, but I do a lot of research on individual details as I write, once I figure out what details I need.


10. Is there one tip that you could share that has really benefited you in your writing? 

Learn from a lot of different sources. I used to wonder why I needed to read more than one book on writing or attend more than one workshop or conference, but I’ve discovered that each writer or teacher explains an aspect of writing a little differently. What might not make complete sense to me from one book or teacher suddenly becomes clear with a slightly different explanation from another.



While I have been writing for what feels like my whole life, I began seriously studying the craft in 2000. Since then I have completed five novels, had several pieces published in local periodicals, attended six writing conferences and managed to final in ACFW’s Genesis contest in 2006, 2008, and 2009. I currently have three historical novels published: Wings of a Dream, At Every Turn,  and A Home for My Heart. Playing by Heart will release in the fall of 2014. But writing is only a piece of my life.

I am mostly just a woman trying to live her life in a manner pleasing to the Lord. That involves being a wife to Jeff and a mother to my three teenagers–neither role coming easily but both roles stretching me, requiring me to press in closer to Jesus. And because of this, Jesus has taken an insecure, fearful, sometimes angry girl and is turning her into a more trusting, peaceful, grace-filled woman. At least some of the time. There is still such a long way to go!

Visit her at www.annemateer.com



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Rachel Rittenhouse

Christian fiction for ladies young and old