Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a typical 50-something: wife, mom, grandma, I was a teacher. Tim and I have been married for 36 years. We have a son, daughter-in-law, daughter, almost-son-in-law, and the two most wonderful granddaughters in the world. I am an Illinois native and now live in southern California (which actually is typical for people here).
How did you get started as a Christian fiction writer?
In the late 1980s I was writing fiction, trying to incorporate Jesus into my stories without mentioning His name, trying to get published. My friend Jere told me to look into Christian fiction, which was in its early stages. Hallelujah! Characters talked about faith!
In 1996 I sent my work to Crossway Books. In those days much depended on who read unsolicited mail. Jill Carter read mine, liked it, gave it to editor Ted Griffin. In the Shadow of Love was published in 1998.
How did you come up with the concept for Ransomed Dreams?
In 2007 we lost our house in a San Diego wildfire. At 6 a.m. that day I had keepsakes to pass on to my grandchildren and my first-ever new desk. By 9 a.m., I had the clothes on my back, my grandmother’s Swedish Bible, my kids’ high school graduation photos, and my laptop. Whew! I figured there was a story in it, but then remembered I’d already written it! Six months before I had turned in A Time to Mend (the story includes a wildfire and loss of things).
A few months later as I thought about a new series, I realized the story in my experience wasn’t the fire, but how life can change in the blink of an eye, how we can be thrown onto a side road we did not plan on taking yet have no choice but to follow. “Normal” is redefined.
And so the concept for the series came first. From there I listed possible scenarios of how life can be split instantly into before and after. For Sheridan and Eliot in Ransomed Dreams it was his being injured so severely they cannot return to “normal” life.
What is significant about Ransomed Dreams?
When life splits into a before and after, we respond, we change, and of course relationships are affected. Sheridan and Eliot (as well as the other married couples in the series) come to a grim realization about their relationship: “This marriage is not what I signed up for.”
I think many married couples face this in some sense or another, at some point in their journey. The story is about the characters’ response to this new awareness.
Is any part of Ransomed Dreams factual?
I always like to include factual. Most often my settings are based on real places. In this book we’re in Chicago and Copala, Mexico (my fictional name for this village is “Topala”); I drew extensively on my personal knowledge of both places.
The history of diamond smuggling I gleaned from research. The descriptions of Hull House in Chicago and its history are taken from personal visits and research. (Jane Addams’ book, Twenty Years at Hull-House, gives a fascinating look into late 19th/early 20th century community.)
What is the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Ransomed Dreams?
Fiestaware originated – not by that name – at Hull House! Mexican immigrants designed and produced it in kilns there into the 1930s.