Catherine Richmond was focused on her career as an occupational therapist when a special song gave her an idea for a story. That idea became her first novel, Spring for Susannah. Earlier this month, Thomas Nelson released Catherine’s second book, Through Rushing Water.
A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Faith-Hope-Love, the inspirational chapter of the RWA, Catherine describes her path to publication as a long but blessed journey.
She and her husband reside in Nebraska, where she is the founder and moderator of Nebraska Novelists critique group.
What was the song that sparked your writing journey . . . and what happened next?
Spring for Susannah was inspired by Harry Chapin’s Mail Order Annie, a song about a farmer meeting his bride for the first time. I knew this couple, their hopes and dreams, the desperation bringing them to this union. August sun broiled the creosote from the railroad ties, hot wind whipped the tall prairie grass, a steam locomotive whistled. My odyssey had begun!
You’ve said you had a long journey to publication. Were there any detours along the way?
Writing was a detour! Raising two active children, working as an occupational therapist, and packing for our frequent moves filled my days. Who was I to write? And yet, looking back, I can see God’s hand preparing me. First off, my mother is a Virginia history librarian. I grew up in a house filled with books, knew how to research, and can identify a docent at fifty paces. Still, I’m amazed to be here!
I wanted to set a story in the same time period, but closer to home. The most important event in 1870s Nebraska was the trial of Standing Bear, where the verdict declared an Indian was a person. In researching the events leading to the trial, I found mention of a missionary to the tribe who was Russian. The same name popped up as a teacher at Vassar. Now there’s a situation too fascinating to resist: what if a teacher from an elite college found herself at an impoverished Indian reservation?
How does your faith play into your writing?
For five years, I’d joined our church’s mission trip to Jamaica. I know what it’s like to be surrounded by people with a different skin color, different language, different culture. I know what it’s like to work to exhaustion, overwhelmed by the enormous needs, feeling unsure if my efforts made any difference. And I know what it’s like to be humbled by the enormous faith of the people I was supposed to minister to. Missionaries to Native Americans must have faced these same heart-wrenching challenges.
Besides entertainment, what do you hope readers will take away from it?
One of the surprises in research was connecting most of the key players in the trial to one church. What a powerful reminder that church is more than potlucks and Sunday school. We’re supposed to do justice!
God often uses our stories to teach us when we’re writing them. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book?
I wish I could say my writing explores some deep theological issue. But instead, somewhere during the story, I write out my worries. Through Rushing Water‘s heroine is a highly educated woman who thinks she’s lost her last chance to marry. My daughter is in med school and unmarried. If you believe news reports, her chances of marriage are slim to none. Fortunately I believe in a powerful God who will bring her a husband when the time is right or bless her with a rewarding single life.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Chocolate! My husband keeps the pantry stocked with giant bags of Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
Screeching away on the violin during my school years gave me a deep appreciation for those with musical talent. I need a good four hundred pages to work out the happily-ever-after, so I’m amazed by composers who bring a story to life in five minutes. John McCutcheon’s Christmas in the Trenches is a prime example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJi41RWaTCs.
What’s your current favorite song on the radio or in your mp3 player?
Matt Redman’s Ten Thousand Reasons rocks my world. I like to start my day dancing with ReFitRev (HotZTeam) to Mandisa’s Good Morning, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7OnZCtISkI.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Definitely the girl next door. And that’s who I write about—ordinary people transformed by the extraordinary love of God.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
And what a beautiful dog you have, Kathy! My dog Dakota crossed the rainbow bridge last year. Occasionally we take care of my daughter’s rabbits, but the house feels so empty without a dog. Please pray that my husband will open his heart to another canine blessing!
Thanks, Cathy! It’s great to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
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For more information about Cathy, visit her website at http://catherinerichmond.com/, her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/catherinerichmondfans, or visit Transformational Fiction Fans at https://www.facebook.com/groups/194936817295573/.
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