Mindy Steele is a storyteller at heart. She is, subsequently, a bestselling author and a 2022 Reader’s Choice winner. Her books, set in rural Kentucky, are peppered with humor and sprinkled with grace, charming all the senses to make you laugh, cry, hold your breath, and root for the ‘happy ever after’ ending.
In real life, Mindy and her husband live in Eastern Kentucky, where she enjoys coffee (lots of coffee), weekend road trips, and researching for her next book.
What started you on your writing journey?
I’ve always wrote, even before I could spell actual words. I dreamed of becoming an author since I was little. I remember late evenings sitting beside my grandfather’s desk while he wrote poems and prose. I can safely say it was he who inspired me. My adult life I focused solely on my family, but when children grew and needed less of me, I picked up reading more intensely. It was then I read my first Amish inspired book and thought, having lived among a small Amish community, I can do that. And I did, which opened the world for me. I’ve written suspense, contemporary, and Amish romance since and can’t go one day without writing in it.
Just as all good novels include a plot twist, the Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist that ultimately blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?
Many times, over and over again. He likes to keep things interesting. As I mentioned I have always wanted to be an author, but couldn’t seem to focus on what story to write. That’s when the answer came to me in the most unusual way.
I was between jobs, and closing in on an empty nest. For the first time since I was born, I had so much time alone. I decided to focus on writing and wanted to write about everyday people and how God works through and around them.
During this time my Amish neighbor suddenly kept appearing at my door. Simple little questions or offering sweets because she could see the struggle I was going through. Every couple of days, she would appear; it was a little distracting. Then I got it. God was leading me, and I wasn’t paying attention. I was not being the neighbor she deserved and so our lives became connected. This opened my eyes to life beyond my fence. Divine interventions lead me to two best sellers and a Reader’s Choice award. It’s connected me to so many people, who have shared their story with me. I pay attention to everything now
Let’s talk about your new book, Bones on the Mountain (Ally Press, November 2022). Please tell us about it.
This is my first romantic suspense and the first book in the Mountain Protectors series. It journeys through the lives of two very remarkable characters. Samantha Quinn is an emergency 911 dispatch operator full time and, along with her mother-in-law and son, she also runs a seasonal hunting lodge. I had the most fun interviewing and learning from Connie Hamilton about the lives of our unsung heroes.
Becoming a dispatcher was necessary for Samantha, considering it was a dispatcher who turned her life upside done, but maintaining her mountain, that is her passion. Her marriage to her late husband was less than ideal and even all these years later since his passing, Samantha struggles with her feelings and worth, while maintaining her independence.
Henry Quinn was raised in the Quinn house and loved his cousins like siblings, until the new girl in town stole his heart. Leaving for college he hoped to return and win her over, once she was all grown up, but his cousin beat him to that. Henry always does the right thing, and despite his love for Samantha, he stepped aside. He became a wildlife officer like his father, but he sees Samantha is always looked after Dale’s death. No matter how many times he has tried moving on, he simply cannot cut the bond that connected them.
There is a terrible discovery that puts Samantha into a spot, and she needs rescued. Of course Henry is right there. Only this discovery awakens the world to dozens of cold cases. Henry is determined to keep his family safe, even if Samantha is less than happy about it. While these two learn to work through what has kept them apart as well as their inner struggles, a killer is ready to make good on what he started from day one.
What led you to write this particular story?
I have dabbled in writing suspense for a while and had the honor of writing with some of the best in an anthology called Christmas Cookies Mysteries with fourteen top notch authors. I wrote this full series back in 2019 when my husband, Mike, and I were hiking our mountain. We found a few bones up there that later were determined to be from a young bear. I never hike alone now as you can imagine. Mike was into watching serial documentaries at the time and our youngest son was enjoying a game warden series too. I was exposed I guess you could say and it all clicked together one hunting season while the Steele’s all gathered for opening day. I incorporated so many scenes of our area and mountain in the book, which made writing it such a sweet experience.
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?
Peanut butter by the spoon full and lots of coffee. If the words aren’t there or if they are flowing, you are sure to find me with both.
What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?
There are many as my journey didn’t begin at the cradle. 1 Peter 3:17 jumps out at me, but I think it would be Psalms 23. It’s not just words written to provide comfort at funerals, but a reminder that in life and in death, in times of plenty or in want, God is worthy of our trust and love. Trust is not my strong suit. People can let you down, but He doesn’t. Knowing He cares, for me, always, sustains me. Figuratively, the “valley of the shadow of death” stands for the perils of life, which He will not let me walk alone in. If I stay close to my Shepherd, in that safe place, I never feel alone.
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?
I’m a fiction writer, so, all of the above.
At this stage in my life I have carried many titles and played many roles. We all must grow, change, and evolve. It’s part of the glorious mix of gaining wisdom and understanding and being a better version of our self.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
Well, there is a cat we rescued nine years ago and, though we have a love-hate relationship, he brings me lots of treats each morning for seeing to his care.
I have been afraid of dogs since I was a child, with exception to our family pet Midnight. Raising five children and living on a farm, you could imagine how many pets have graced this land. We had a lab mix, Jase, that belonged to our daughter. He went on many hikes with me until suddenly one day he died. I missed him and found life was better with him in it. My husband noticed and gifted me a lab back in March. Her name is Ellie and I love her!!! I still am a bit uncomfortable around other dogs, but this one, well, she’s my girl.
Thanks, Mindy! It’s great to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
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Purchase Bones on the Mountain here.