How did you come up with the concept for Hiding in Plain Sight?
Writing this Mennonite romantic suspense story started with lots and lots of prayer and a challenge from my agent to try something new. So rather than start with tons of reading research and a suspense plot, I visited a setting I hoped was right, and God led me to the exact people and places and impressions that mixed together to create a story.
Some of the story themes came straight from my life: answering the questions of who is in control and can I trust Him as well as healing from the past.
The revitalization project and the ensuing trouble detailed in Hiding in Plain Sight came from visiting many small towns, including Montezuma, Georgia, and grieving because so many of these pieces of our American heritage are dying out. Stores are closing, people are without jobs. I wanted to do something to show these towns aren’t beyond hope. So I asked some “what if” questions and a whole host of other crazy questions and a story came to life.
How did you choose the setting?
The setting, like the story, chose me. Or rather, God led me to the perfect place. From the first time we visited, I fell in love with the town of Montezuma, Georgia, and its people as well as the Mennonite community there.
Do you have a favorite character from Hiding in Plain Sight? Why?
As much as I’m tempted to choose “a favorite child” from this story, that’s pretty tough. So I’ll go with Chester. He’s a loveable, mischievous puppy and a physical reminder to Ashley that God is closer than she thinks.
Fun story about Chester… On my family’s first visit to Montezuma, Georgia, we spent a good deal of time at Yoder’s Gift Shop. While I talked to the wonderful people working there, my three children played with some chestnut puppies for sale, one of which they named Chester. There was no way we could add a puppy to our family at that time, so I created a fictional Chester for them to “enjoy for always.” And now we have a wonderful puppy that we don’t have to feed, walk, or clean up after either, but we can enjoy his antics “for always.”
How much research did Hiding in Plain Sight take?
Unlike the Defenders of Hope series about FBI Crimes Against Children agents, Hiding in Plain Sight required less book reading/ interviewing and more time spent just walking down the streets of Montezuma and chatting with people, gathering impressions more than facts. However, I did spend a lot of time emailing with a Montezuma police officer and members of the Mennonite community I’d met, peppering them with what had to seem like strange questions at times. I’m willing to risk those “out there” questions because I’m convinced research and the resulting details help bring a story to life.
Is the story based on fact?
Yes and no. There is a real town of Montezuma, Georgia, and the wonderful Travelers Rest Bed and Breakfast. There is also a Mennonite community there, including Yoder’s Restaurant and the church visited in the story. And much of how Ashley feels about the people and the places in and around Montezuma are drawn from my family’s experiences while visiting there.
But the characters, their struggles, the whole revitalization project and resulting troubles…those are pure fiction.