New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with The Masterpiece (Tyndale House, February 2018). The author of numerous bestselling novels, Francine’s breakthrough in Christian fiction came in 1997 with the now-classic Redeeming Love, and she continues to garner industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the world.
She has been nominated for and awarded numerous honors, including induction into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame in 1997. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in 2015.
Francine and her husband live in northern California and enjoy spending time with their grown children and grandchildren.
Great novels always include a plot twist that makes the story even better. Have you ever experienced a real life “plot twist,” or Divine Detour, that made your life better?
Many times, but the most significant was moving to Sebastopol. Rick and I were struggling in our marriage. We sold our five-bedroom southern California home, and I moved into a rental until the school year ended. Rick moved to launch Rivers Aviation Services, Inc. and find a place for us to live closer to family. He lived with his parents at Jenner-by-the-Sea, found a rental office for his new business in Sebastopol, and searched for a rental house for our family. Nothing was available. At the last minute, one house opened up and Rick grabbed it. We packed the U-Haul and headed north. Our rental home just happened to sit between two Christian families, both of whom invited us to the church family that introduced us to Jesus and changed our lives.
Did memories of your writing career “before Christ” inspire how you wrote Roman Velasco, a leading character in The Masterpiece?
In some ways, yes. Before I became a Christian, I wrote steamy historical romances in the general market. Those books and the years of working on them taught me a lot about the craft of writing. When I gave my life to Christ, God used all that training for His good purpose when I began writing Redeeming Love. Certain elements stayed the same: the setting — early California history — and a passionate love story. The difference was the focus of the novel. It was all about how high, deep, and wide God’s love is for each of us. Jesus was a central “character” in the story, whispering to Michael, who strove to live out his faith in front of Angel, a broken child of God whose soul had been deeply damaged by the abuse of others. Brokenness, healing, and redemption are consistent themes in my work.
What do you hope readers will learn from delving into the inner thoughts of the characters in The Masterpiece?
Sometimes the hardest-hearted person you know is the most broken inside. All too often, we judge by the outward appearance, but God knows the heart. Also, even when we don’t see God at work, He is working. Never give up on anyone. Just keep praying and walking the walk. You never really know what’s going on inside someone. The blessing is you may witness the creation of a new God-ordained masterpiece.
You have said that each of your novels is prompted by a faith-related question. What question inspired The Masterpiece?
The question that came up for me was whether two people from severely dysfunctional backgrounds could have a healthy relationship. Grace and Roman both come from abusive childhood experiences and developed different coping mechanisms to survive. The past often intrudes and sometimes blocks people from moving forward, but we are all ultimately responsible for the choices we make. Each of us must decide who Jesus is. That choice decides where we spend eternity. It also makes a difference in our life in the here and now. When abuse occurs, a child’s view of God is twisted. That raises other questions. What might need to happen to open the door to the true God and faith in Him? What if someone grows up knowing nothing of God other than as a curse? I had questions enough for several books and wallowed around in the mire through several drafts. Hence, so did my characters.
Grace and Roman are each on different journeys. What brings them together and what keeps them apart? I was well into the project before I knew which Scripture God was showing me: Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” This is the heart of the book.
What’s your personal favorite Bible verse or story and why?
My favorite verses are Proverbs 3:5-6. These two scriptures present the way to a Christ-centered life. I learned later these verses were also my mother’s favorite. Whenever I’m struggling, I go back to these verses and they steady me.
Thank you Francine. It’s an honor to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
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