Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m hooked on stories—reading them, writing them, and living them. Dozens of people stomp through my head on any given day. I chase joy at the foot of the Rockies, where day lilies grow taller than I am (no short jokes, please).
What is your favorite Bible verse (translation too, please)? Why?
John 1: 14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (NIV)
This verse tells me what my life is all about. Out of love, Christ came for us. He lived among us. He showed us what it means to be human. Because he did, we’ve glimpsed something beyond ourselves. Now I want to live in a way that intentionally reflects the grace and truth that characterize God’s kingdom.
What was your inspiration to develop The Pursuit of Lucy Banning?
A friend of mine became a docent at the Glessner House Museum on Prairie Avenue in Chicago. This house preserves the flavor of Chicago’s gilded age when the neighborhood was full of wealthy powerhouses of industry. I have suburban Chicago roots, but I never knew the place was there! My friend was able to give me a private tour. It did not take us long to cook up story ideas about a daughter of a privileged family who engaged with the changing social climate of her time.
How much of the story comes from personal experience?
I certainly have never been the daughter of a privileged family! However, Lucy Banning and I do share an infatuation with red velvet cake. I think it’s difficult for a writer not to leave a personal footprint in anything she writes. In this book, the personal experience piece probably revolves around navigating into adulthood, discovering direction, and making independent life choices.
How much research did The Pursuit of Lucy Banning take?
This book—the whole series—involved some serious research. I was grateful to have full engagement in the process by my docent friend, Stephen Reginald. We both scoured the archives of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times for reflections of the era and the true events that serve as hooks in the stories. The Internet turns up all sorts of obscure books and historical accounts. One of my favorites was a first person travelogue written by someone who visited the world’s fair in 1893. Stephen’s work at the Glessner House Museum opened a portal into diaries and museum pieces that helped me faithfully recreate the story’s setting.
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing The Pursuit of Lucy Banning?
One of the most fun research pieces that I uncovered was a guide to caring for young children published in 1894. The prevailing expert advice was not to play with a baby before he or she was four months old, preferably six! On the other end of the spectrum was heartbreaking information about the desperate needs of orphans during that time period. Research opened my eyes to some of the roots of social challenges we still face today.