Nancy Mehl is the author of thirteen books, including For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls, which won an American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Award in 2009. Nancy has a background in social work, but says that after she began writing, she never looked back. She also teaches novel writing workshops.
She lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband, Norman, and their dog, Watson.
What part does faith play in your books?
Faith is the most important theme in everything I write. I dedicated my writing to God long ago and asked Him to speak to people through my books. If I couldn’t reach out with the goodness of God and the message that He has a good plan for everyone’s life, I wouldn’t want to be an author.
You have a background in social work. What sparked your writing journey?
Many years ago, I heard a message that encouraged people who were confused about their calling to think back to their childhood. Looking at what comes naturally to us as children can give us definite clues to the gifts God has given us. I loved to read and began writing poems when I was in the second or third grade. Remembering that made me wonder if I was supposed to be a writer. I went to God and asked Him to show me if this was what I was called to do. Once I knew His answer was “Yes,” I began writing and never looked back. I’m blessed to say that I know I’m exactly where God wants me to be.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
Well, I’m not sure He provided the detours, but He certainly used them. The first contract I ever signed was with a small but respected mystery publisher. I was on top of the world. The entire deal fell through for reasons that weren’t my fault. I was devastated at first, but I didn’t give up. I look back now and realize that I could have spent years with this publisher and never sold more than a few thousand books. God led me to a much larger publisher and gave me an even greater opportunity. I started out writing cozy mysteries, which I love, and then the cozy mystery book club folded. From that situation I was offered a larger contract for books that were available everywhere—not just in a book club. I can honestly say that every “setback” has turned out for my good. I don’t sweat the closed doors anymore. They’re just a chance for something better!
My main character, Lizzie Engel, left her Mennonite hometown when she was only eighteen. Feeling rejected by her father and her church after having a child born out of wedlock, she had no intention to ever return to Kingdom. But after dealing with a stalker and losing her job due to an accusation of theft, she has no choice but to go back to the one place where she and her daughter might be safe. Lizzie, who is convinced that God has deserted her, finds that her trip to the home she left behind may also help her to find her way back to the Father who has never left her side.
Besides entertainment, what do you hope readers will take away from it?
My goal in Inescapable was to encourage readers to believe that God has a unique plan for each of them. No matter what mistakes we make or how far we think we’ve wandered from His will, His love for us will always lead us home if we’ll trust Him. We all have a destiny, and we’re all important to our Heavenly Father. This is the inspiration behind Inescapable.
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’m a big believer in grace over legalism, so understanding how a character like Lizzie could go back to Kingdom took me on a journey that stretched me. In the end, I created a town that was struggling with the same issues I was. Everyone wants to serve God in the best way possible. Some believe in strict guidelines and some don’t. The Kingdom church is evolving—just like me!
What’s next for you?
Actually, the next priority in my life is selling my house and moving to Missouri. My wonderful son and his incredible wife live there—and they’re expecting my first grandchild! As far as writing, I have two more books coming out, Unbreakable will release in February of 2013, and the third Kingdom book, as yet unnamed, will come out later in the year.
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?
Oh, my. I’m a steak girl. Nothing better than a big juicy steak. My husband grills the best steaks anywhere. Better than any restaurant around. So when I’m celebrating anything, especially writing successes, it’s time to fire up the grill!
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
I can play the piano a little, and I studied violin as a child. I also sing some. Believe it or not, my last voice teacher was pruning me to sing opera! But after I started writing, I quit taking lessons. I still like to sing, but I’m happy just working on lullabies for my upcoming grandchild. As an interesting side note, my husband is a musician. He used to make his living playing in bands. He’s also spent many years playing in worship groups in church. He plays the keyboards.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
A very happy praise song. I think I would be Hold Me by Jamie Grace. No song has ever expressed my personality more than this one.
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?
Wow, what a question. Hmmmm. I think I’d have to say that I’m a combination of all of these. Sometimes I’m very strong—someone other people can lean on. But with my Father, many times I’m the little girl trying to walk in high heels. (S)
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about Watson!
We rescued him from our local animal shelter. Almost all of our cats and dogs have been rescued. I’m a big believer in it.
Watson is probably the funniest dog we’ve ever had. He loves to grab our socks and make us chase him to get them back. The first time we stayed at my son’s house after he got married, Watson got a pair of my husband’s underwear and ran around the house with them in his mouth. My daughter-in-law cracked up! Certainly broke the ice! LOL!
He sticks by my side almost every moment of the day. In fact, he’s lying by my feet right now. Watson loves to go for walks in the park, he loves dog treats, and he hates flies! Lately, he’s gotten a little paranoid about lights shining on the ceiling. We’re trying to break him of that. I’ve never had a dog that snuggles as well as he does. Whenever I get in my recliner he’s either lying on my legs or snuggled up on my chest.
Thanks, Nancy! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
Thank you, Kathy. It was fun!
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