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Sometimes life is tough, and hope seems hard to find. I am happy to have Cathy West back to visit with us today about her brand new novel, Where Hope Begins. (If you missed it, you can find my review of Where Hope Begins here.) Before we visit, let’s take a quick peek at this emotional story.
Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.
But soon, Savannah is given a challenge that she can’t run away from. Forgiving the unforgiveable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.
Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.
Welcome back, Cathy! What inspired you to write Where Hope Begins?
It was a God thing. I don’t get to say that often when it comes to my novels, as, while of course God is always in them and I believe He gives me the stories, in this case it was completely of him. The idea came in the middle of the night, totally out of the blue, and I honestly didn’t want to write a book about adultery. I thought it might be too depressing, and I really had little experience with the topic, thankfully. But as the story formed in my head, almost complete from start to finish, I knew I was meant to write it. So I did. ☺
It does seem like a discouraging topic, and yet you brought hope in the midst of the mess! Do you have a favorite character from this story? Why is this character your favorite?
While of course I love Brock, and he’s definitely a favorite, I have to say I really enjoyed Clarice. She is just so wise and so full of wisdom, and she’s quirky and kind of cool, and of course she serves tea at four every day!
She would make such a wonderful neighbor! Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?
Like I said above, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to write this book. And it wasn’t until I was almost through the first draft that we learned very close friends were going through a separation – a very similar situation to Savannah and Kevin. I was of course devastated, but as I processed the news, I realized that perhaps there was a bigger purpose behind this book. I know now that God definitely wanted me to write this one. Through my friend’s experience, I was able to go back in and write with greater depth and emotion and empathy. It was hard, but so worth it in the end.
We learn so much through those hard times. They definitely give us a different perspective on life. What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
I don’t know what readers will take away, but my experience in writing it was certainly eye-opening. I was really able to put myself in the position of someone who felt completely abandoned, not only by her husband, but also by God. It was a beautiful thing to be able to see Savannah’s journey unfold. She has so many questions and doubts, so much heartache and loss to bear – yet through it all, she is given constant reminders that she is never really alone, that God has not left her, and that there is peace and healing to be found when we are ready and willing. I think those are important lessons for all of us.
For sure! We all face hard times and need that assurance that we don’t have to walk the journey alone. Have you given any of your own personality quirks to your characters? If so, would you be willing to share about it/them?
Well, I’ll say Savannah is a tad sarcastic. And I’ll just leave that there. ☺
Ha! Okay then. 😉 Can you share about a time when you knew that God was in control and/or had your back?
Back in 2001 I made the difficult decision to search for my birth mother. I always knew I was adopted, but had never really wanted to do this before. I prayed a lot about it and it was definitely one of those times where I felt very strongly that God was leading. In fact, I asked that if this desire was not from Him, that He would close all doors. And He blew them wide open. It was one of the hardest journeys I have ever taken, but He was with me all the way. Two years later, I discovered a sister who never knew about me. Our reunion was a total God thing, and she is one of the biggest blessings in my life.
It’s hard to know how those searches will turn out, but how awesome that you uncovered such a blessing! You’ve written and published several books now. Would you say it’s gotten easier or more difficult to write and publish over the years?
It’s definitely easier to publish if you go Indie. ☺ I always wanted to be published traditionally, and while I have had some experience in the Indie publishing world with three of my novels, it was always my intention to keep trying to find a home with a traditional publisher. That eventually happened in 2015, when I signed on with Harper Collins Christian Publishing, and my first novel with them The Things We Knew, released in 2016. Actually, Thomas Nelson was my ‘dream publisher’, so being able to now work with them is such a thrill. I think it’s definitely more difficult to write and publish because the expectations are greater. Most readers want high-quality, insightful reads, and I think that’s what they’re getting now. Writing for the Christian market can be challenging, but I think it’s more exciting than ever, and while there is some pressure there of course, I think it’s a great time to be an author in the industry.
It’s certainly a great time to be a reader, as there are so many wonderful books releasing! Can you give any hints about what you’re working on now?
I’m writing a novel (working title) called The Rose Garden. It’s women’s fiction, family drama of course, and I’m excited about it because it’s primarily set in Bermuda. I’ve never done this before so it’s fun to be able to write scenes from my own memories. The main character, Caitlyn, is estranged from her biological family, and it’s really about her journey of discovering her true identity, not just what it says on a piece of paper, and also about finding her voice, and place in the world.
That sounds like it will be another one we’ll want to read! Thanks for taking the time to share with us today, Cathy!
Your turn! Have you gone through a hard time that ended up bringing blessings? (Sharing details in optional — you can keep your comment generic if you need to.)
More about Catherine:
Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew). Her most recent novel, The Memory of You, released March 2017 and Where Hope Begins releases in May 2018. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com
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Where Hope Begins Giveaway:
Cathy has generously offered to give away a copy of Where Hope Begins. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.