This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
One of the most fascinating benefits of reading is the “traveling” we get to do. Have you discovered some amazing places you’d love to visit in real life? I know I have. I’m excited to have Brenda Cox visiting today to share her new novel, Tethered, which takes place in China. Before we hear from Brenda, let’s take a quick look at the story.
Based on a true story, Tethered tells of the first American woman missionary to China who is bound to her husband, to the mission board, and to God. The young couple’s relationship is marked by humor and unflinching determination in the volatile years of conflict in the First Opium War.
Looking for a copy? You can find it here:
Welcome, Brenda! What inspired you to write Tethered?
I had heard about Henrietta Hall Shuck form my mother-in-law and my grand-mother-in-law my entire married life, but I never considered her life as a topic for a book. Henrietta was my husband’s third great-grandmother, so I thought these were quaint stories of family ancestors. What was I thinking? Once I began researching her life, I was fascinated with this courageous young woman who boarded a ship after only two weeks of marriage to her husband Lewis and traveled 19,000 miles on the oceans to become America’s first woman missionary to China during the volatile times of the First Opium War between the British and the Chinese.
Oh, the culture shock that must have been! Do you have a favorite character from this story? Why is this character your favorite?
Of course, Henrietta is my favorite. She was only seventeen when she left her home in Richmond, Virginia. She already had decided to devote her life to missions, but just imagine the faith and the courage she must have had to accept a proposal of marriage from a man she barely knew to join him on his mission to China at a time when the Mandarins were beheading Christians for preaching the gospel.
Yes, she must have been either very brave or very confident in the God she served. Who is your favorite secondary character, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?
My second favorite is Lewis who was determined to establish a mission in China despite opposition from the missions’ board at home, despite poverty that had his family living in one room in a friend’s house, and despite the knowledge that he could be killed or held for ransom any day by the Chinese. He was also so tender and loving to Henrietta. He knew she was a remarkable woman and a Godsend to him to pursue his mission in such a hostile environment.
It would take a remarkable couple to succeed under such stressful circumstances. What do you hope your readers take away from Tethered?
My sincere hope is that people who are challenged by their life circumstances will see a model of perseverance through difficult, almost impossible challenges and God’s provision for them in ways they never even imagined. When they thought they might need to abandon their mission, God provided more than they needed to carry on and to establish the first Baptist mission on mainland China. One of the churches they helped established still operates in Hong Kong, there is a school named for Henrietta, and a monument to her in a Hong Kong cemetery. Dissertations and books have been written about her, and she is mentioned as one of the pioneering women missionaries in Asia.
She left quite a legacy! Have you given any of your own personality quirks to your characters? If so, would you be willing to share about it/them?
I included the humor between my husband and me as a model for that between Henrietta and Lewis. We are always teasing each other, so Henrietta and Lewis teased each other the same way.
We’d love to know a little more about you. Aside from reading and writing, what hobbies do you enjoy?
I love nothing more than to play with my two grandsons ages 2 and 4. With Papa, we go to the pool and the park. We are in grandparent paradise.
Grandparenthood must be the reward for surviving parenthood. 😉 If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you most like to go?
I would love to go to Macau and Hong Kong where Henrietta lived.
While it’s likely changed a lot over the years, it would be fun to actually see and imagine what it might have been like when she was there. What accomplishment means the most to you?
Along with my husband Jim and the blessings of God, we have raised a righteous man who chose a wife who loves the Lord, and they are raising their boys to follow Christ. What greater accomplishment under God’s leading could anyone have?
There is no greater blessing! Can you share (briefly) about something you feel the Lord has been teaching you recently?
Writing this book about Henrietta has been a tremendous blessing to me and has taught me so much about trusting in God’s providence and submitting myself to His will for me.
Seeing a book into publication is quite an accomplishment. Speaking of writing, if you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?
You only live once, and it’s never too late. Just do it.
So true for so many things in life. Thanks for taking the time to visit with us today, Brenda!
Your turn! Brenda’s advice is, “Just do it.” What is one thing you’ve thought about doing but haven’t, even though the desire is still there? (Write a book, learn to play an instrument, start a business…?)
More about Brenda:
Brenda H. Cox is a life-long English educator at the high school and university levels. She earned a BA at The University of South Carolina, an MAT from The Citadel, and a PhD at The University of Georgia where she served as the Assistant Director of the Freshman English Program. She was affiliated with the National Writing Project site at Clemson University where she led a Writing in the Humanities Institute and is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. She has taught numerous writing workshops and delivered papers at state and national conferences and directed The Young Writers Conference at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she was an Assistant Professor of English Education. She has published articles in English leadership and in 18th century rhetoric. In addition, she has served as a writing consultant in numerous school systems in the Southeast and in the American and International Schools in Kuwait. She also served as a Reader of Advanced Placement exams for The College Board, and her students have won numerous local, state, and national awards in writing. Brenda lives in Greensboro, NC and is married to Jim Cox. They have one son and daughter in-law and two perfect grandsons.
Brenda has graciously offered to give away a copy of Tethered. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.