Interview with Lynn Austin on her book Chasing Shadows

Chasing shadows is set entirely in the Netherlands during the Second World War. What motivated you to make that choice?

My inspiration for the story was the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. I read this book years ago and it had a profound effect on my Christian walk. Corrie’s family had a deep faith and love for Christ, which led them to hide Jews in their home, at great personal risk, after the Nazis invaded their country. Corrie’s testimony of faith and of God’s faithfulness in spite of all that she endured in a concentration camp made me long for a relationship with God like hers. Christians in the Netherlands suffered a great deal during WWII, yet accomplished brave, heroic deeds in Christ’s name. I wanted to honour them by telling their story. As far as the setting, Chasing Shadows takes place in the Netherlands during World War II, primarily in and around the city of Leiden. All of my books have been translated and published in Dutch, and my publisher has kindly invited me on book tours in the past to meet my readers in the Netherlands. I fell in love with the country and wanted to write about it. I got to know it even better when our son Benjamin lived there for four years while earning his PhD from the University of Leiden. Also, my husband’s maternal grandfather immigrated from the Netherlands, so that added to my interest in learning the country’s history.

You have described the Dutch atmosphere, the places, the people, the history in great detail, which is very special. How did you proceed?

I was able to find timelines and history books that detailed the history of this era online and in the library. And I traveled to the Netherlands to do research on-site and in museums, taking lots of photographs and notes. Visiting the Westerbork concentration camp was an especially moving experience. But my favourite resources were the true stories of men and women who lived through this time period. Because I live in a community with a large Dutch immigrant population, I was able to interview people and read their memoirs and combine many of their firsthand stories into this novel. I asked my Dutch readers to send me their stories as well. Those true stories brought the story to life more than any history book ever could.

Which specific message or encouragement do you hope to pass on to your readers?

It’s my hope that Chasing Shadows will lead readers to take a closer look at their own faith, just as I did after first reading The Hiding Place years ago. I remember wanting a faith like Corrie ten Boom and her family had, one that would sustain me through unforeseen trials and hardships. I pray that this novel will inspire readers to pursue a closer walk with God and a commitment to serve in His Kingdom with whatever gifts He has given them.

Chasing Shadows is available in paperback or hardback