Where Grace Abides, Riverhaven Years Series #2Where Grace Abides, Riverhaven Years Series #2
B.J. Hoff
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Secrets, treachery, and persecution are only a few of the challenges that test Rachel's faith and her love for the forbidden "outsider," while Gant's own hopes and dreams are dealt a life-changing blow, rendering the vow he made to Rachel seemingly impossible to honor.

Many of the other characters first introduced in Rachel's Secret now find their gentle, unassuming lives of faith jeopardized by a malicious outside influence. At the same time, those striving to help runaway slaves escape to freedom through the Underground Railroad face deception and the danger of discovery.

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B.J. HoffB. J. Hoff’s bestselling historical novels continue to cross the boundaries of religion, language, and culture to capture a worldwide reading audience. Her books include such popular series as The Mountain Song Legacy, Song of Erin, The American Anthem, and An Emerald Ballad. Hoff’s stories, although set in the past, are always relevant to the present. Whether her characters move about in small country towns or metropolitan areas, reside in Amish settlements or in coal company houses, she creates communities where people can form relationships, raise families, pursue their faith, and experience the mountains and valleys of life. BJ and her husband make their home in Ohio. 

Favorite Verse; 2 Corinthians 1:20 –“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.”  


 Our Interview with B.J. Hoff


What inspired the concept for Where Grace Abides?

Where Grace Abides is the second book in the Riverhaven years, a series of historical novels set in the 1850s. I live near two Amish communities and have long had an ongoing interest in the Amish faith and the Plain way of life. Without realizing that I was doing research at the time, I did a great deal of reading about the Plain People over the years. Many of today’s novels being published about the Amish are set in a contemporary framework, but because I concentrate on historical fiction, I became intrigued with the idea of a series featuring Amish characters set against an historical backdrop.

The other element always playing through my mind when I begin a new book is the idea of contrasts. I enjoy a naturally evolving contrast between my characters, and in Where Grace Abides, Jeremiah Gant, a loner and a former Irish-American riverboat captain who also runs a “station” on the Underground Railroad, falls in love with Rachel Brenneman, a young Amish widow, who lives in the midst of a sheltered community where people  keep to themselves and care for their own. Great contrast with these two and others throughout the story.


Is any part of Where Grace Abides factual?  

It’s a novel, a story, but I hope the Amish characters reflect a realistic way of life for the Plain People during that period of their history. At the same time, I tried to depict scenes throughout Book One (Rachel’s Secret) and Where Grace Abides that give us a glimpse of the actual workings of the Underground Railroad.


How did you choose the location for the setting?

 I chose the Ohio River area for its Appalachian beauty and its history, as well as its close ties with the Underground Railroad.


How long did Where Grace Abides take you to complete?

Each book in the riverhaven years, Rachel’s Secret and Where Grace Abides, took anywhere from nine months to a year to develop.


Do you have a favorite character in Where Grace Abides? Why?

Every major character in every book offers a new challenge, in that it takes time to get to know each one of them. It’s always difficult for me to isolate one particular character as a “favorite,” but I suppose Jeremiah Gant has provided me with some of the most interesting characterization. He’s a very complex man, with often conflicting or unpredictable layers of personality. He’s the sort of character I love to work with because he’s such a challenge. I also enjoy Dr. David Sebastian a lot—just because he’s such a nice man!


How much research did Where Grace Abides take?

A lot. I’ve tried to learn as much as I possibly can about the Old Order Amish and the Underground Railroad. As is usually the case, my research tends to be ongoing. I do much of what I think I’ll need before I begin to write, but I’m always adding more throughout the actual writing process as well.


What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

I’ve talked about this before, but I’ll mention it again because it really never changes. One very real challenge is balance The demands on a writer’s time can be overwhelming. I’ve always been grateful that God prompted me to make a commitment to Him and my family when I first began to write and publish. Only by His grace have I been able to sense when I need to retreat rather than charge ahead, when I need to step away from work and seek rest and renewal, and when I need to simply spend fun time with my family and friends. It’s important to me to keep God and my family first, before the writing. I’ve found that during those times when I’ve allowed the balance to shift, even slightly, everything suffers.


What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

The writing itself. I love the process, the development, the “journey.” I also love creating an overview of a new idea—in fact, I get excited about new ideas. And hearing from my readers is a special treat for me.


What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

I can’t outline. Tried it on my first novel years ago, and it was a dismal failure.  At that time, there was a very strong push to “always” outline. But it simply didn’t work for me. I’m strictly a character-driven writer. Finally, a very wise editor honed in on my frustration and told me to stop trying to outline, that I was obviously a s-o-t-p writer and should follow my instincts. So I did.


Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

Oh, definitely. They’re all free spirits and sometimes downright rebellious. I know some folks question how this can happen—but trust me, novelists know that it does happen, and we’ve learned to go with it. I don’t pretend to know how it happens, but I do know it’s best not to fight it. Some of my favorite characters emerge from their shells when I resign myself to letting them take the lead.


What other new projects do you have on the horizon?  

First off, of course, I’ll be finalizing the riverhaven trilogy with the third book. I’m contracted for two new series after that, as well as seeing some of my earlier historical novels rereleased. I’ve learned, though, not to think too far ahead, no matter how many books might be waiting, but to concentrate on one at a time—the one I’m writing now.


What message would you like your readers to take from Where Grace Abides?

That’s a really difficult question for me to answer, because I try not to ascribe any kind of message or “takeaway value” to my novels, but instead let the story emerge and grow naturally through the characters. I’ve learned that if there are any particular elements of a story that especially touch readers or which they find memorable, these elements will almost certainly vary from reader to reader I believe God can work through me to make a story stronger and any theme or message more significant if I don’t start out with my own specific concept in mind as to what I want readers to glean.


What is your greatest achievement?

My family. They’re also my greatest gift.


What do you do to get away from it all?

Reading, music, and time with my family are my “great escapes.”


 Don't Miss!

Rachel's Secret, Riverhaven Years Series #1
Rachel's Secret, Riverhaven Years Series #1
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Riverhaven Years Series, Vols 1-2
Riverhaven Years Series, Vols 1-2
B.J. Hoff
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