They Almost Always Come HomeThey Almost Always Come Home
Cynthia Ruchti
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When Libby's husband Greg fails to return from a two-week canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness, the authorities soon write off his disappearance as an unhappy husband's escape from an empty marriage and unrewarding career. Their marriage might have survived if their daughter Lacey hadn't died.and if Greg hadn't been responsible. Libby enlists the aid of her wilderness savvy father-in-law and her faith-walking best friend to help her search for clues to her husband's disappearance.if for no other reason than to free her to move on. What the trio discovers in the search upends Libby's presumptions about her husband and rearranges her faith.

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Cynthia RuchtiCynthia Ruchti writes and produces the daily 15-minute radio broadcast, The Heartbeat of the Home, and is editor of the broadcast’s Backyard Friends magazine. She currently serves as president of American Christian Fiction Writers. With warmth and passion, she speaks for women’s events and writers’ conferences. Cynthia and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin where she creates stories of “hope that glows in the dark."

Favorite Verse: Psalm 37:4.Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” At one time in my life, I read it too fast and flippantly. Now I know that the first five words of that verse are written in BOLD. The rest of the verse is dessert, not the main meal. Yes, I love dessert, but the main meal—the entrée—is what sustains life.

Visit Cynthia in the Writers Corner! Interview with Cynthia Ruchti


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

From my dad, I gained an unquenchable love for learning. From my mom, a heart of compassion for the hurting. I married my childhood sweetheart. Our three grown children and five grandchildren live within 15 or 20 minutes of our home. Worship, words, and wonder fill my life. So do deadlines, endless piles of laundry, and a stain on my kitchen counter that refuses to budge. I wanted to be a waitress, a florist, a chemist, a teacher, a business woman, an Olympic athlete, a missionary to China, the caretaker of an orphanage in Mexico, and a travel agent. So I became a writer.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

That can change at any soul-tugging moment when the Lord meets me in the pages of His Word, but a verse I return to often is Psalm 37:4. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” At one time in my life, I read it too fast and flippantly. Now I know that the first five words of that verse are written in BOLD. The rest of the verse is dessert, not the main meal. Yes, I love dessert, but the main meal—the entrée—is what sustains life.

How did you get started writing Christian fiction?

I’ve written short fiction for 31 years for a drama/devotional radio broadcast called The Heartbeat of the Home. It wasn’t until a mere decade ago that I began to seriously consider the challenge of writing longer works of fiction. Forever a fan of the power of story, I plunged into the work it takes to learn how to write breath-snatching, heart-gripping, soul-stirring fiction. I’ll never stop learning, but that’s half the journey for a writer. Discovering great writers’ conferences and organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers (for which I currently serve as president) were key to connecting me with the information and instruction I needed and the camaraderie with other writers that I craved.


What inspired your interest and passion for fiction?

I read under the covers by flashlight as a child and heard many a late night reprimand of “Turn out that light and get to sleep!” The stories captured my attention and my heart. That didn’t fade when I became an adult. Borrowing from the library became purchasing from a bookstore (which led to online purchasing and more bookshelves in my home than I dare inventory). God paved the way in using story to get His points across and to grab the attention of those who needed to hear what He had to say…including me.

How did you come up with the concept for They Almost Always Come Home?

The spark of an idea started as many stories do. What if…?

My husband almost didn’t come home from one of his many canoe trips to the Canadian wilderness. A sudden, devastating illness came within minutes of snatching him from me there along the shores of a wild, pristine river. He did come home. But years later, my writer brain teased the idea—Unlike me, what if a woman didn’t want her husband to come home from a trip like that? What if she wanted to leave him but couldn’t unless she found him? What would happen if a woman unfamiliar with the wilderness tore into it looking for answers? What would she discover about her husband, herself, her faith?

Is there anything significant about the title?

If a woman’s husband or children are a little late getting home from work or a school event or a business trip or fun outing, her mind races ahead to the worst-case-scenario and she has half the funeral planned before the screen door creaks open or lights appear in the driveway and announce the plans are unnecessary. She chides herself. “Quit worrying. They always come home.” But they don’t. They don’t always. Deep down, we know that, and it’s what keeps us on our knees. Readers will discover more than a few layers of meaning in the title as the story progresses.

How did you choose the location for the setting?

The Quetico Wilderness in Ontario, Canada, is one of my husband’s favorite spots on earth. As a college student, he started making at least annual if not twice-a-year (spring and fall) trips to either the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (Minnesota side) or the Quetico. I’ve seen the area for myself and understand how the beauty and wildness of the remotest spots called to him, even though when he dragged me along on his canoe trips, I would huddle by the campfire and dream about a motel, a real pillow, and a bathroom with a door…and plumbing…and no wildlife. The images used in the video trailer for They Almost Always Come Home are my husband’s photography taken on his trips (or ours) and reveal a stunning setting for an adventure story with intense longing tucked among the pages.

How long did They Almost Always Come Home take you to complete?

I wrote the novel over the course of about nine months, once I put my fingers to the keyboard. Isn’t that the natural gestation period for a book? The labor and delivery took considerably longer as I continued to ponder the project, sought an agent and an editor, and listened to the Lord telling me, “Just a few more good pushes.”

Do you have a favorite character in They Almost Always Come Home? Why?

The main character—Libby—refreshes me with her raw realism. She dropped pretense a long time ago. Now she has to find where she lost hope along the way. I appreciate how she sees humor in dire circumstances. She’s more courageous than she lets on, stronger than she knows.

How much research did They Almost Always Come Home take?

Certain details required careful research from other sources, but memory and my husband’s penchant for reliving his wilderness experiences aloud whenever a listening ear is nearby provided most of the rest. I consulted with other wilderness wanderers for their perspective and was blessed that they felt caught up in the realism of the setting and the draw of the story.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing They Almost Always Come Home?

The interesting fact that became THE TWIST and turning point for the story must remain locked in the vault of “Sorry, can’t tell you” because it would be a major spoiler for someone who hasn’t read the book. But it is fascinating. And possible. And was the brainchild of my plot-tweaking husband.


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

As an author, I face the same challenge I do as a mother, wife, grandmother, sister, friend, child of God—balance. Lord, I lay all these wonderful projects at Your feet. Help me sort them out. Point to the ones most in need of my attention at this moment. Show me what does not need to be on my to-do list today. Show me how to fit rest and recreation into this schedule in a way that doesn’t make returning to it that much worse after I’m rested.

Now, too, I face the unique, yet not-so-unique author challenges of both acceptance and rejection, good reviews and the other kind. I’ve adopted a habit that I pray will help me stay balanced as I move forward. Whether I receive an accolade or a rejection letter, I hold up a page of the Bible and attempt to read the words of the letter or the review through the page of Scripture. It’s almost impossible to see anything but the words of Jesus. I think that’s the only way to approach both the positives and negatives in the writing world. In any world.

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

E. All of the above. Pressed to choose just one, I’d say watching the story unfold before me on the screen. Oh, there’s another layer I didn’t expect!

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

In my early days of writing, a seed of an idea was enough to get me started. I actually have a file folder with more than 80 snippets—a snatch of a phrase, a title, an intriguing verse of Scripture—all with the potential to become radio scripts or books. But I’ve painted myself into many a corner, trying to write a novel with no plan at all. On the other hand, my creativity thinks living by a strict outline is like boarding school with an impossible curfew. So now I jot down a loose outline that assures me there will be a window to crawl through in every painted corner.

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

Although I discover things about my characters as I write, it’s not as if they “take on a life of their own.” I catch up to who they were all along.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?

This fall, The Heart’s Harbor releases from Barbour Publishing as part of A Door County Christmas novella collection. It’s a romantic comedy, much more lighthearted than They Almost Always Come Home, but written in a similar style and with delightfully flawed characters who find ways of expressing the heart’s true condition and its Answer.

I’m working on four or five other projects that beg for attention and tug on my hem for an opportunity to tell their stories.


What message would you like your readers to take from They Almost Always Come Home?

When we’re in pain, we sometimes work too hard to stand upright when what the Lord wants us to do is lean—lean into Him and into each other. Upright is overrated.

I also pray readers come away from They Almost Always Come Home with the realization that although hope often hides, it glows in the dark.

What is your greatest achievement?

Finally earning the right to the senior citizen discount at the grocery store. I’ve been waiting a long time for that privilege.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My goal as a writer complements my life goal—to live as a godly woman who creates an atmosphere in which those around me can grow into their full potential in Christ.

To write stories that communicate God’s heart and His Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark.



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They Almost Always Come Home - eBook

They Almost Always Come Home - eBook
Cynthia Ruchti
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