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Sometimes our plot (or one of our characters) takes a detour we didn’t expect, changing the theme or final outcome of a story. Has that ever happened to you? If so, do you find it frustrating when a character surprises you like that? Or is it a part of the creative process you embrace, maybe even hope for?
I’m thrilled when my characters or the plot take an unexpected detour. Discovering the God-intended path, even if it’s one I didn’t anticipate, adds the kind of awe and wonder to the process that I get when I round a bend in the road and am met with a cascading waterfall or other scenic vista. I have no choice but to pull over and take a closer look, capturing the images on my camera to enjoy both now and later.
And yes, it happens frequently to me. I often don’t discover the key turning points for my characters until well into the writing process. The end isn’t always clear to me until I get there. And interestingly, I find out even more about those characters and their journeys after the book is finished and I hear how it has affected readers. Their insights help me see dimensions I didn’t realize I’d written into the story.
Let’s talk about As Waters Gone By (Abingdon Press, May 2015). Please tell us about it.
Emmalyn Ross believes she’s lost everything when her husband Max is taken away to prison. Her marriage, life, reputation, financial stability, and her longing to be a mother.
He’s scheduled to be released in a few months. Will their marriage have anything left when he is? Four years ago, he went silent, not responding to her letters, not calling even though the prison allowed brief phone calls home. Had he already written them off as a lost cause? Emmalyn — forced to sell their house — retreats to a self-imposed exile on Madeline Island and dives into rehabbing their tattered hunting cottage. The island and its inhabitants become a true refuge for her, and the cottage starts to resemble a home. Her heart, too, is refurbished in the process. But will it be a place where Max wants to settle when he’s released? Will either of them be ready for what that means?
What led you to write this particular story?
In recent years, I’ve become intimately aware of the struggles some women face when trying to make a home when their spouse is never home. Over-the-road truckers, the deployed, the incarcerated… How do they manage that? How do they make every decision long-distance and maintain the relationship part of marriage with that much distance between them?
Through Emmalyn and Max and the community on Madeline Island, I had an opportunity to explore what daily life is like and the role faith plays in holding marriages like that together. I have several great examples around me who are proving that it’s not only possible but amazing when a challenge like that deepens a relationship rather than destroying it.
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A few fun questions…
What’s the name of the last GREAT book you read?
I really enjoyed Kate Breslin’s For Such a Time. It’s the first book I’ve read that she wrote. What an interesting take on what we think of as a familiar aspect of WWII.
If you knew you couldn’t fail, what dream would you pursue?
I would establish a series of women’s and writers’ retreats to fill their souls and hem them in hope.
What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?
I identify with Jeremiah’s natural hesitance about the gift God gave him, with his compassion for the people to whom he was sent, and with the word pictures he used to communicate. A favorite passage from Jeremiah is “While he was still confined to the prison quarters, the Lord’s word came to Jeremiah a second time: The Lord proclaims, the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known” (Jeremiah 33:1-3 CEB). It’s interesting how well that verse fits with this new book, As Waters Gone By.
Thank you, Cynthia. It’s nice to have you back at Divine Detour.
It’s always a blessing for me to visit here, and to be offered the opportunity to encourage others in whatever way I can. Please know how grateful I am.
For more information about Cynthia, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.
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