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Have you read any of Keely Brooke Keith’s novels? I keep hearing amazing things about them, but I have not yet had a chance to read any. I’m excited to introduce her to you today, because her newest novel, Aboard Providence, has once again caught my eye! Before we meet Keely, let’s take a quick peek at the story.
In November 1860, Jonah Ashton boarded the Providence with a plan to escort his family to their new settlement in South America and then return to medical school in Pennsylvania before rumors of Southern rebellion erupt into all-out war. What he didn’t count on was getting lost at sea… and Marian Foster. When they finally reach land, Jonah makes a startling discovery that changes everything, but will it change his heart?
Welcome, Keely! Let’s start with five fast favorites. What is your:
Favorite color? Lavender
Favorite season? Autumn
Favorite writing snack? Cashews
Favorite beverage? Coffee (half-caff with Sweet-N-Low)
Favorite movie? A Good Woman
I love this cover! Tell us a little about Aboard Providence. What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?
I’ve always had an explorer’s heart. As a child, I papered my bedroom walls with maps out of National Geographic Magazine. I often stared at the wide blue swaths of ocean on the maps and wondered if land existed that no one knew about. While researching my family history as an adult, I became fascinated by the group migrations to the American West. I wondered what would happen if instead of going west, a group of families left the United States on a ship, got lost at sea, and ended up on that hidden land.
That could be quite an adventure. What does your ideal writing space look like (whether you actually write in an area like this or not)? What do you have to have handy, and what would you surround yourself with to make it easiest, and most inspiring, to write?
I live on a hilltop and have a writing desk by a window, but if I try to write from that ideal spot, I just stare at the lovely view in the distance. So, my ideal productive writing space is a quiet corner anywhere. My husband and I both work from home, we homeschool, and we travel a lot, leading worship at churches and camps, so I’ve had to learn to not get attached to specific conditions to be able to write. Here’s a picture of me working on Aboard Providence in a bedroom corner.
Flexibility is so important, especially with homeschooling. (I can relate to that!) Paper or e-reader? There are certainly pros and cons to each. Which is your favorite?
Paper for non-fiction. When I’m learning, I’m a note-making, highlighting, underlining doodler. When I’m reading fiction, my inner editor comes out. If there is a pencil handy, I’ll make corrections in paperbacks, so the ereader works best for fiction. If the story doesn’t silence my critiquing, I can just keep clicking. Plus, I rarely keep fiction paperbacks, so the ereader makes mountains of fiction titles manageable.
With all your travel, it’s nice to be able to take your whole library (fiction, anyway…) with you! Can you share (briefly) about something you feel the Lord has been teaching you recently?
I am learning where my boundaries are as a writer. God is so graciously enclosing me behind and before and laying His hand upon me (Psalm 139:5). He has given me boundaries out of His love for me and His purpose for my writing so my creativity will flourish and define my unique approach to storytelling.
I write stories about make believe people in an imaginary land who live in simplicity yet go through improbable situations that somehow parallel our lives. No matter the characters and the plot, my stories have the same theme. It is the core message the Lord has given me to share: You can trust God.
In The Land Uncharted, Lydia and Connor had to trust God’s sovereignty. In Uncharted Redemption, Levi and Mandy had to trust God’s forgiveness. In Uncharted Inheritance, Bethany and Everett had to trust God with their future. In Christmas with the Colburns, Lydia had to trust God with her family. When I went back in time to tell the history of the Land, the same theme flowed. In Aboard Providence, Jonah and Marian had to trust God’s unfailing provision.
That’s such an important truth, and one our human nature tends to struggle against. Thanks for taking the time to visit with us, Keely!
Your turn! Keely mentioned marking her books as she reads. Are you a “book marker” or are your eyes big at the very thought?! (I don’t mark books. I must’ve gotten in trouble when I was little, because I am very particular about keeping my books “like new”! 😉 )
More about Keely:
Keely Brooke Keith is the author of the Uncharted series (Edenbrooke Press) and Aboard Providence (CrossRiver Media). Her novels are known for blending genres in unconventional ways. When she isn’t writing stories, Keely enjoys playing bass guitar, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Originally from St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely resides with her husband and their daughter on a hilltop south of Nashville where she dreams up stories, hoping to encourage, comfort, and inspire readers. She is a member of ACFW.
You can connect with Keely online:
A snippet from ‘Aboard Providence’:
Marian tried to control the click of her heels on the long hallway. As she approached the staircase, intending to go downstairs, Jonah gave her a slight smile, so she passed the stairs and walked to him. “May I ask you something?”
He stepped forward, closing the distance between them. “Yes, of course.”
“Since you will be our physician now—”
He lifted a hand and whispered, “It is only temporary.”
“Yes, of course,” she replied at an equally quiet volume. “But since Doctor Ashton is injured, my mother will need you if…” It was too difficult to say aloud. She waited for the lump in her throat to release.
Jonah’s brow furrowed. “Do you think there is something wrong with your mother or the baby?”
“No… not yet.” She didn’t mean to reveal her doubt, so she tried to cover with a mild grin and optimistic tone. “I’m sure everything is fine.”
He slipped his hands into his pockets, emitting casualness, and inclined his head toward her, engendering concern, but he continually glanced at the stairway behind her. “Marian, I know about your mother’s medical history. She has asked my mother to serve as midwife again. I won’t intervene in the delivery unless it becomes necessary.”
Marian nodded, comforted by his understanding of the situation. “If it does become necessary, which I pray every waking moment that it does not, but if you must intervene, are you comfortable with that?”
“I am fully trained in obstetrics if that is what you mean.”
“No, it isn’t. It’s good to know, but I’ve been there with her during her last three deliveries and—” Her voice cracked. She looked down at the empty water pitcher in her hands. “Those babies were my siblings—two girls and a boy—all born dead. Mother is thirty-eight years old now and pregnant for what she and my father swear is the last time. She depends on me and I’ll be with her for this delivery too, but if this baby is stillborn…”
Jonah’s brown eyes glanced at the stairway again then back at her. He put his hand on her shoulder, neither drawing her closer nor holding her off. “If she goes into labor before my father resumes his duties, I will do everything in my power to help her and the baby, I promise.”
“Thank you.” Marian began to look away, but Jonah held her gaze. She felt the heat from his hand through the fabric of her sleeve and hoped he intended more than comfort, but that hope felt wrong, considering the seriousness of their conversation. He was only reassuring her with a friendly touch.
Ashamed for being infatuated with the man who would be her mother’s doctor, she scolded herself for her immaturity. He wasn’t staying with the settlement, so falling in love would only lead to heartbreak. But no matter what she told herself, standing near him, alone and connected in the dark hallway on a gloomy afternoon, she was fully aware that if he even breathed a hint of attraction to her, every joint in her body would go limp. The empty pitcher she held would hit the floor with a crash, the room would go round as her dizzy head spun, and she would soften into a puddle of spineless flesh and melt down the crimson carpet of the staircase, one achingly grand stair at a time. When she reached the bottom step, all that remained of her would be a calico dress, shards of the broken pitcher, and her teeth clamped in a blissful smile.
Aboard Providence by Keely Brooke Keith available October 2016 from CrossRiver Media.