Character Spotlight: Allison Pittman’s Nola & Russ…with a giveaway

On Shifting SandMeet a couple in crisis in

Allison Pittman’s

1930s Drama

On Shifting Sand

Tyndale House


The Story

Long before anyone would christen it “The Dust Bowl,” Nola Merrill senses the destruction. She’s been drying up bit by bit since the day her mother died, leaving her to be raised by a father who withholds his affection the way God keeps a grip on the Oklahoma rain. A hasty marriage to Russ, a young preacher, didn’t bring the escape she desired. Now, twelve years later with two children to raise, new seeds of dissatisfaction take root.

When Jim, a mysterious drifter and long-lost friend from her husband’s past, takes refuge in their home, Nola slowly springs to life under his attentions until a single, reckless encounter brings her to commit the ultimate betrayal of her marriage. For months Nola withers in the wake of the sin she so desperately tries to bury. Guilt and shame consume her physically and spiritually, until an opportunity arises that will bring the family far from the drought and dust of Oklahoma. Or so she thinks. As the storms follow, she is consumed with the burden of her sin and confesses all, hoping to find Russ’s love strong enough to stand the test.

Introducing Nola & Russ

Brief physical description

Nola: Beautiful, thin, tall—and aware of all of this.Nola

Russ: Tall, broad, affable.


See pictures!

Strengths and weaknesses

Nola’s strength is also a contributing factor to her weakness: she has an instinct for survival, but that sometimes leads to impetuous and ill-fated actions.

As for Russ, his strength is his unshakable faith but, because he is so strong, he fails to see that his family is suffering. His true weakness, though? Nola.

Quirk (if any)

I don’t know if it would be a “quirk” per se, but Nola is, at her heart, a deceptive person. The novel takes her through a time of self-deception, and a misguided idea that she can deceive both her husband, her family, and RussGod himself. Russ is far too solid and dependable to have a quirk!

Your inspiration for the character

The rampant dust storms of the 1930’s provide a backdrop, and an inspiration. I wanted a woman who was whittled away. Just as unrelenting sand can erode stone, Nola is physically and spiritually emaciated. So, Russ had to be just the opposite. Strong and resilient, but soft, too.

Background to the story

I’ve wanted to tackle a story about adultery for a while now, since the issue of polygamy in my Sister Wife series. Then, just thinking about the historical progression from writing in the 20’s, I looked at the 30’s, and could see the Dust Bowl as a sort of metaphor for the unrelenting aspect of guilt when we refuse to confront and confess sin. I read interviews with women lamenting that their homes were never clean; their hair was never clean; their food was never clean. And I thought—hmmm…a woman in the midst of an adulterous affair. Unconfessed, unrepentant. Never clean. Only God could stop the storms, and only God can free us from our sin.

Thanks Allison

Relz Reviewz Extras
Review of Ten Thousand Charms and For Time and Eternity
Buy from Amazon: On Shifting Sand or Koorong

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19 Responses to Character Spotlight: Allison Pittman’s Nola & Russ…with a giveaway

  1. YES! I enjoy stories that reflect reality. I am looking forward to reading ON SHIFTING SAND. :)

  2. I like realistic stories, but I don’t seek out ugly stories.

  3. Yes, I enjoy reading about the real life situations. So much is white washed and too happily ever after. I want something that relates to my life and still encourages my faith.

  4. Rel, you know where I stand on reality-driven stories. :) More please!

    And this one sounds AMAZING!

  5. I do enjoy stories that reflect reality but I sometimes have to balance them with a fluffy romance or a fairy tale re-telling. The books that are more realistic are often heavier and deeper. Though excellent, sometimes I need a break from that; something that’s not quite so intense. I am glad we have such a wide variety of genres in Christian fiction so I can always find something to fit my mood.

  6. I enjoy realistic stories.

  7. I don’t want to always read ‘fairy tale’ stories but there is a reason Christian romance fiction has become so popular and that is that readers aren’t subjected to graphic sex and violence!

  8. I do like reality in the stories but I want them to remain clean reads. i think you can get a story across without being overly graphic.

  9. I am selective with my “reflect reality” stories. I get enough of reality IN reality lol. When I read, I like the illusion of escape – at least temporarily. But some books, some stories, just draw you in anyway.

  10. Jennifer Bretsch

    I do enjoy realistic characters in the books I read because it makes the story seem much more plausible. I may not have anything in common with the characters but if I can understand their thinking and their actions make sense in the story I enjoy the book far more.

  11. Yes – sometimes there are just too many fluff & feel good novels so it is nice to have one that deals with Reality

  12. Yes!!! I’m tired of the happy, good-feeling stories. The more tension and bad things in it means more redemption in the end. Sometimes I think novels make it look like life will always work out and let me tell you that’s a bad mindset to have! God’s always with us but we don’t always get what we want.

  13. Hello Relz. I like books that seem so real you feel like you are right there. Things that are belivable. I would love to be a winner. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  14. I do like a real book. A little fluff is ok but I like truth and reality too..
    dkstevensne AToutlookDotCoM

  15. I love realistic fiction, never could get into fantasy or science fiction. Please keep on doing what you do! Thank you for the giveaway.

  16. I always enjoy and appreciate a story that can show the grittier and uglier side of life as well as the happy times.

  17. Sure, I love a lot of realism thrown in with the “happier-ever-afters”!

  18. Love real life books. Allows me to identify more with the characters!!!

  19. Deanne Patterson

    Yes, I enjoy reading the good, bad and ugly. I enjoy fiction based on reality. I don’t like reading light and fluffy stories. I want a great story with an interesting plot that is going somewhere.

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