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Sometimes Christian fiction carries a stigma of being “fluffy”—somewhat separated from the harshness of reality. Bethany Kaczmarek isn’t afraid to confront that label, though, with her new novel. Strains of Silence shares the story of two characters who are personally familiar with some dangerous people. I’m happy to have Bethany visiting with us to share more about Strains of Silence. Before we begin, here’s a quick peek at the story.
(This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. You can see my full disclosure policy here.)
He can’t save her from her past, but he can wait to be her future.
Music was her driving passion and the truest expression of her faith, but three months before her wedding, twenty-year-old Kasia Bernolak can’t even pick up her guitar. Feeling like a fraud who will ruin her dad’s pastoral reputation, she can barely meet his eyes. When Kasia finds the strength to break off her engagement, she still doesn’t realize the dangerous truth: Blake Hamilton isn’t ready to say goodbye. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her.
Alexander “Zan” Maddox has seen what a domineering man can do to an unsuspecting woman, and Zan is sick of injustice. He gave up a college baseball scholarship so he could protect his sister from her abusive husband. When he rescues Kasia from her ex-fiancé, he instinctively appoints himself her personal bodyguard. Now, all he has to do is keep from falling for her himself.
Kasia and Zan become fast friends, but true healing and justice might cost more than either of them is willing to pay.
Welcome, Bethany! Do you have a favorite character from this story? Why is this character your favorite?
I love Zan. He’s so low key until somebody needs him, and then he’s All. Business. Maybe it’s his southern drawl (more gentleman than country), maybe it’s his tidal pace, but being around him relaxes me. He’s just good for people.
I can think of a few real-life people like that. Laid-back, easy-going but focused on the situation at hand when a need arises! Who is your favorite secondary character in this latest novel, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?
Tough to choose! I like both A.J. Montreuil and Jayce McEwan. They’re both creatives—she’s a painter/sculptor from the Upper East Side and he’s a musician from Southie. In their previous worlds, they wouldn’t have even been on each other’s radar, but when they met at her uncle’s body shop, their pasts blew off the back of his bike.
They’ll definitely get their own novel. The set up sort of breaks the mold of what’s expected, but the two of them don’t care much for molds anyway. Their story veers off in Zan and Kasia’s sequel, and then the third book in the series is all them.
How fun to know there’s more coming! Did you do any traveling for research? If so, could you tell us about it?
I lived for three and a half years in Poland, which was amazing. We arrived in the winter. Literally breath-stealing cold, and the gray haze didn’t help my jetlag. I nearly fell asleep in my bowl of soup that first night. But I woke to a world of color and song, hot tea and hospitality, and conversations around the best food I’ve ever eaten. The people know what honor and loyalty are, and they value others in a way most Americans (including me!) could learn from. They welcomed me and taught me willingly, showing me the ropes and inviting me to be a part of their families. It’s this aspect of my time in Poland that shaped Kasia’s family—fiercely loyal and passionate, welcoming and loving. That’s why Kasia struggles so much, though, when she feels she’s let them down. The very people who would champion her the most are the hardest to look in the eye.
Another of my favorite parts of the story takes place in Peru (and fully half the sequel). I only spent a month there, but the highlands of that country are the backdrop of my own call to missions. Vastly different from Poland, but rich and unusual in its history, I imagined myself living among those people with very little. They taught me a lot about how to be content with next to nothing. (It killed me to type that, because I’ve forgotten that back in the States. It’s so easy to get caught up in things that don’t hold much weight in the scheme of things, eh?)
So true! We take for granted all that we have access to. Even things like indoor plumbing, which we don’t even often think about, are not available in all parts of the world. Speaking of your own experiences, do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?
Well, I certainly know what it’s like to be wrapped up in an unhealthy relationship. Things never got as dangerous for me as they do for Kasia, but I came to a point when I had to find a way out. You can read about it here, if you like.
“But God.” I can’t help but think about the fact that, no matter what mess we get ourselves into (and I think we’ve all been there in one way or another!), God is bigger, and He can take our mess and redeem it. I’m so glad! What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
I hope they enjoy the romance without hearing me say for a moment that the right guy can fix everything. No guy—no other person at all—can fix you, no matter how amazing they are. There’s only One who can make us whole. And until we’re whole, the love the world offers only taunts us. It’s just a shadow of what we can have if we follow Jesus.
But once you’re whole? Any other love is a bonus, a beautiful blessing.
Absolutely. The world’s “love” is like a mirage without the Lord… If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you most like to go?
I’ve always wanted to see Iceland, Ireland, and Tuscany. But a week or two wouldn’t be enough for me. I want to explore and settle in for a while. See how the locals live. That’s the best way to be anywhere.
How very fun that would be! Thanks for taking the time to share with us today, Bethany!
Your turn! If you’ve traveled outside the US (or your own country), how do you think that experience impacted your view of the world? If you haven’t traveled outside the US (or your country), which country do you think might impact you the most?
More about Bethany:
Bethany Kaczmarek loves to share her own journey of healing and redemption with anyone who needs it. Back from the Polish mission field where she and her husband worked with college students for six years, their home is often filled with twenty-somethings who come over for a listening ear (though she’s willing to admit it could also be for the board games and food). Other job titles: Wielder of Red Pens, Grammar Ninja, Wiper of Tears and Milk, Indie Music Connoisseur, and Friend. Bethany writes about places where grit meets Grace. Find out more about her at www.bethanykaczmarek.com, Facebook, and Pinterest
Strains of Silence Giveaway
Bethany has graciously offered to give away a paperback copy of Strains of Silence. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.