Please give us a brief description of your next book in the Ellis Island series.
Stories have always been important to Annie Gallagher. After her storyteller father passes away and she escapes the prison-like confines her uncle put her in, in Ireland to go to America, she treasures the few written stories she has left from her father. As she reads the new book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Annie begins to think the power of story could bring back what she’s lost. When a handsome postman she likes “borrows” her stories to show to a publisher, and she learns her employer Mrs. Hawkins kept secrets from her, as did her beloved father, Annie wonders why no one thinks she’s worthy of trust, especially God, who seems to have turned his back on her difficulties. When Annie learns what the lessons of her past truly mean, she discovers the way home had been right in front of her all along.
What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?
I hope to continue writing historical fiction and articles on Irish genealogical research. I have several ideas for future stories, but time will tell which ones will rise to the top.
What message would you like your readers to take from reading Grace’s Pictures?
Although life was filled with challenges for our ancestors, they held on to their faith. For Grace, she was constantly searching for God in others, not at first believing she could possess what she saw in the faces she longed to photograph. I hope readers will see that seeking God is the way to find him.
What organizations are you involved with?
Besides my local church, I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the Historical Novel Society, and—just to mix things up—the Society for American Baseball Research. You might wonder if I’ll write a baseball novel one day. I wonder that myself.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Balancing commitments with writing time is sometimes challenging, but I’m getting better at it with practice. Writing is hard work and it takes time, and being patient with the process can also be challenging.
Who is the person who most influences your writing?
As in just one person? Liz Curtis Higgs and her wonderful historical novels, her friendship, and her amazing encouragement to everyone she reaches have influenced me to keep on trying to be the best writer I can. I’ve admired many other novelists, too many to mention. C. S. Lewis has been a big influence on me as well.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
Being able to write a story that affects readers in some way. I love hearing what readers think, and when someone gets what I am trying to communicate, it’s a wonderful blessing. I feel fortunate to be able to tell stories that come from my imagination. Someone once said, “I like having written.” I do too. I like the finished product. Writing is enjoyable, but sometimes it’s just downright difficult, so when the book is finally born, it’s the best feeling of all.
What do you do to get away from it all?
Spend time with my husband and our kids. There was a time when what I had to get away from was them—you know, when the kids were little and noisy and demanding—but now it’s the other way around.
What were your favorite stories as a child?