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Captured in the French and Indian War! An Interview with Tracy Leininger Craven

August 26–30, 2013   |   Vol. 116, Programs 66–70

What kind of stories make up your family history? Murders? Kidnappings? Years of forced servitude? On today’s Home School Heartbeat, Tracy Leininger Craven tells host Mike Farris how the tales her grandparents told her when she was nine years old spurred her to write a book about the adventures of her ancestors during the French and Indian War!

“Homeschooling definitely helped in that I was really able to focus on creative writing and literature.” — Tracy Leininger Craven

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Do you have readers in your family who would love to experience a real-life escape story from the French and Indian War? Be sure to get your copy of Tracy’s book Alone Yet Not Alone.

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Can you imagine your family history including tales of murder, kidnapping, and years of forced servitude? Join host Mike Farris as he talks with Tracy Leininger Craven about the perilous adventure which inspired her new book, Alone, Yet Not Alone, this week on Home School Heartbeat.

Mike Farris: Our guest today is Tracy Leininger Craven; I’ve known Tracy forever and a day. Tracy, welcome to the program.

Tracy Leininger Craven: Thanks, Mike. I’m really happy to be here today.

Mike: Tracy, you’ve written a wonderful book called Alone Yet Not Alone. Could you briefly summarize the story without giving away all the good parts?

Tracy: Alone Yet Not Alone is about some distant relatives on our Leininger side, and they were captured by Indians during the French and Indian War. Barbara and Regina were about 9 and 11, I believe it was, when they were captured, and the story basically follows the adventures and trials that they experienced.

Mike: Tracy, you indicate that the girls were able eventually to come home and it was an escape. How did you learn about the story?

Tracy: Barbara and Regina were both separated, so they both had their own separate stories. Barbara’s story was a lot easier to follow as far as historical accuracy because she actually published her narrative in the 1700s after she returned home, and Regina didn’t return home for nine years total. And her reunion was really touching because basically all she remembered was the song that her mom had sung to her as a child, and the Scripture verses that she knew as a child, and that’s what was used to help her recognize her mom when she heard her mom singing. So that was a real touching part of the book.

Mike Farris: Tracy, I know this is a really heartwarming story. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Tracy, what are some of your own memories from the first time you heard the story of Alone Yet Not Alone?

Tracy Leininger Craven: I first heard the story when I was about nine years old, and I’ll never forget—we were at my grandparents for dinner and they were so excited; they’d been doing some Leininger family history, and they came across this story, and they were so excited to read it to us, and it just gripped me at that time, and I went home and I started writing my first draft of Alone Yet Not Alone when I was about nine years old, and obviously it got shelved for a while but it definitely inspired me.

Mike: Tracy, I know that you began writing the story in earnest after you were a part of the inaugural class here at Patrick Henry College. But I want to ask you about your earlier education. What do you think homeschooling did to encourage you to think that you were able to write a story like this?

Tracy: I think homeschooling was a great benefit to me; I’d wanted to be an author ever since I was probably five years old. My earliest memories and homeschooling definitely helped in that I was really able to focus on creative writing and literature and my parents were always very supportive and my goals and my dreams there.

Mike: Tracy, I’m really glad that learning your own family history led you to fulfill this childhood dream of becoming an author, and that homeschooling helped you so much. I’m Mike Farris.

Mike Farris: Tracy, your book is based on a real historical story, but in writing a novel based on history, you have to fill in a lot of the gaps. What did you do to fill in the gaps from the oral tradition as well as the confirmed history of the French and Indian War?

Tracy Leininger Craven: Before writing Alone Yet Not Alone, my dad and I took a trip to the original home site in Pennsylvania, and we followed the footsteps of Barbara and Regina, all the way to Ohio, where their captives had brought them, just to kinda get a feel for the area that they were in. We also went to the historical societies and did a lot of research on the other captives during that time. But Barbara’s narrative that she published was incredibly helpful, and that saying that fact is always crazier than fiction is really true in this case because everything in it—the bear attack, almost drowning in the river, Barbara being tied at the stake, all these things actually took place and when I read the book, I just thought, this sounds kinda crazy, like, one person going through one trial after the next, but they’re all actual events that took place.

Mike: Tracy, the story that you’ve written, Alone Yet Not Alone, is such an exciting story of courage and persistent faith, and I know that our listeners are going to want to read it. I’m Mike Farris.

Michael Farris: Tracy, I’ve written a few novels myself and I have favorite parts. What are your favorite parts of Alone Yet Not Alone?

Tracy Leininger Craven: My all-time favorite part is the ending of the book, but I do believe that there’s parts throughout the book that kinda help build up to make that ending such a touching part of the book and I love the beginning, just the pioneer spirit and the American settlers and their hopes and dreams and then everything they know is lost, and they’re captured. And these two girls really learned what it is to endure under trials and to trust God in the midst of heartache and lost. And so in that way, I love the middle of the book, kind of when they’re going through and learning and thinking back about their childhood and thinking about the lessons they’ve learned over the years from their parents and their faith and ultimately it was their faith that brought them back home. So it’s hard to answer that question but probably the middle of the book when they’re learning, basically, their faith that they’ve been taught as a child is becoming real to them and they’re having to put it into practice.

Michael: Tracy, you’re absolutely right. The story of enduring through hard times with the faith that’s been built deep inside you is such an exciting and blessed story for all of us. I’m Mike Farris.

Michael Farris: Tracy, what impact do you think the story’s having in your own immediate family, especially now that there’s a film based on your book that’s coming out real soon?

Tracy Leininger Craven: Well, I think that everyone can relate to feeling alone or losing something that’s dear to them, or the feeling of loss or separation. And I’m constantly encouraged by the message of hope in this book, and this movie, and that God is with us even in the midst of our deepest trial, and to never lose the song in our heart and to continue to trust in the Lord, and I found that it’s been so, I don’t know, just encouraging to see in our daily lives God’s faithfulness.

Mike: Tracy, I know that on one of our earlier programs you talked about your favorite part of the book being the very end, and, having seen the movie based on your book, the eyes of the little girl at the end of the movie are one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen in any movie ever. Just the faith, and the love, that was conveyed through her eyes, and I believe that what your story does is give that same kind of vision of faith and you can see it in people’s real lives and you see it in their eyes. So Tracy, I want to just thank you for writing this story that brings real faith in a way that we can really see it. I’m Mike Farris.

Tracy Leininger Craven

Tracy Leininger Craven loves history and retelling real-life stories in her historical fiction books. She also loves spending her free time in the great outdoors with her husband David and their four children.

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