Heidi Chiavaroli began writing eleven years ago, just after Jesus had grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since!

Heidi won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. Both her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, and her sophomore novel, The Hidden Side, are 4½-star Romantic Times Top Picks. Freedom’s Ring was also a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut.

Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of fourteen years. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. 

Your publishing journey—from beginning writer to published author—is an inspiration. What kept you going when the process took you on one detour after another?

Thank you so much for having me here today, Kathy, and thank you for your kind words!

I suppose part of what kept me going during my journey was my firm belief that writing was something that could be learned. I figured I only needed the persistence.

Whenever I thought of quitting, I would look back on all the time I’d put into my writing. I estimated that I spent as much time on my writing career, pre-contract, as one would pursuing a master’s degree! The thought that all my efforts were for nothing was too depressing to allow me to entertain thoughts of giving up for long.

Lastly, I couldn’t imagine not writing. I really felt God had given me this passion, and maybe even a little talent to go with it. I couldn’t stop coming up with story ideas if I tried. It seemed ingrained in me.

Those who “create” usually tap into a personal “toolbox” of elements to define their style. For example, a painter might use color, light, and/or shadows in a certain way to “sign” his work. A musician might use syncopation, key changes, and/or vocal intonation to set herself apart. What two or three elements most define who you are as a storyteller?

Wow, beautiful question!

I think, as a storyteller, my style definitely has a literary bent. I often think of my characters as real and deeply flawed. Another one of my “signatures” is that the historical portions of my time-slip stories are always based on real-life events. While I fictionalize my main characters, the circumstances they find themselves in are true to history.

The Hidden Side gives readers permission to have questions about their faith. Why do you think this is important?

I think if we’re honest, we all struggle with doubts and questions once in a while. It’s that in-between dilemma again—that place between the now and the will-be promise that God has given us, that place where our real selves are hidden with Him.

If we ignore our questions and doubts, we’re not being real with ourselves or with God. And so often, in my experience, doubt has been a threshold to a deepened faith. Our God doesn’t need a fake faith. He’s the Almighty, the Creator of all things. He can handle our doubts and questions. Really. And I absolutely believe He will use them to strengthen us as He did for Thomas, Abraham, and many others in Scripture.

Is there a Bible story, parable, or passage that has been particularly important to you and/or describes your personal journey of faith?

Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

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This is one of the first passages in the Bible I memorized. By nature, I am a fearful person. I love this verse because in it, God is assuring me that although I often don’t have what it takes to be strong enough (in my actions, my faith, etc.), He does! He is my strength and my helper, and He’s holding me up through Jesus every hour of every day. That, for me, is true freedom.

I’m a dog lover, so I have to ask about Howie.

Oh, Howie! I’m always happy to talk about him. : )

Howie is our standard poodle. I’m allergic to dogs, but we wanted one that my allergies could withstand, and one large enough to go on runs/hikes with us. Howie is actually not what we expected. Shortly after we got him he was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a rather tricky endocrine disorder. He struggles often and just suffered a stroke this past winter. (He’s only five years old.) Last week, we went through an emotional time thinking we were going to lose him, and then he bounced back again.

Howie is incredibly special to our family, not just because he’s our dog, but because he’s teaching us to savor every day we have with him (and for that matter, with each other). Each day is truly a gift, and I’m wondering if God sent this precious pup to us to teach us this very thing!

Thank you, Heidi! It’s great to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.

Thanks so much for having me, Kathy!

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For more information about Heidi, visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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