Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve loved reading since I first visited the library as a young child and checked out a stack of picture books. My love for writing began when I handwrote my first novel at age twelve. But I put writing aside for many years to focus on art and raising my family. I homeschooled my five children, and I found that gave me a great education and was good preparation for writing novels. My husband, Scott, and I have been married for over 35 years. He is a pastor, counselor, and the author of many parenting books. We love our church, Calvary Chapel Living Hope, and we often travel together for ministry and to visit our five adult children and 3 three grandchildren. When I’m not writing I enjoy working in my flower gardens, walking around the lake near our house, and cooking healthy meals for family and friends.
What is your favorite Bible verse?
“I will go before you and will level the mountains. I will break down gates of bronze and cut though bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” Isaiah 45:23
I love this verse because it highlights the power of God to do the impossible and His promise to bless us and show us who He is through it all.
What intrigued you about writing in this time period?
When I watched the British TV series Downton Abbey I became interested in life in England during the Edwardian period, especially life on a country estate where there were not only aristocratic family members, but also many loyal and hardworking servants. I have a good friend and fellow author, Cathy Gohlke, who wrote a beautiful book set in England during this same time period, Promise Me This, and that also piqued my interest in the period.
How did you come up with the concept?
When I attended the American Library Association Convention in Philadelphia in 2012, I had a discussion with an editor about the success of Downton Abbey, and she encouraged me to create a story with a heroine who was a governess and set it in England on an estate like Downton. That got my mental wheels turning. I was hesitant to follow up on the idea at first because I knew it would take a lot of research to create a story that rang true for that period. But Cathy encouraged me and loaded me up with research books.
What is the one thing about you that most people don’t know?
Many may not know our family spent a year in Kenya, Africa, where my husband taught at a Bible college and all the kids attended Rift Valley Academy, a mission boarding school, although we all lived on the station. This was a wonderful, life-changing experience for all of us, and I feel like I left part of my heart in Africa.
Is any part of Governess of Highland Hall true?
I try very hard to get the historical details correct, and that’s especially a challenge for an American who is writing a book set in England in 1911 - 1912. I’m very thankful for two British “first readers” who helped me catch some historical and cultural items that needed to be tweaked to sound less American. I hope the story will ring true for the time and place, but the plot itself is fictional.
How long did Governess of Highland Hall take you to complete?
From the first idea to turning it in took 13 months, and then a few more weeks for revisions.
How much research did Governess of Highland Hall take?
I had to do a lot of initial research to learn the customs of the time period and to find the story. I have a whole shelf of books now, and I often pull one out to reread and find new information since this is a series, and I’m working on the next book. The best part of research was our trip to England in the summer of 2012. We had a delightful time driving through the farms and villages in the Cotswold, and touring the Peek District and the area around Oxford. One of the highlights for me was visiting Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. So beautiful and inspiring! I loved the gardens!
What were the most interesting things that you learned while writing and researching Governess of Highland Hall?
I enjoyed learning about Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, who was the inspiration for my heroine and her family’s mission work there. I also enjoyed learning about the London Social Season. Young women had to prepare for months and sometimes years with the hope of meeting the right man and receiving a marriage proposal.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I think one of the best perks of being a writer is hearing from readers who have been touched by one of my stories. Those letters and emails are a precious confirmation that God is working in and through me to share his love and truth with a reader. That always amazes and encourages me and makes me want to keep writing.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of being a writer?
I am a consistent writer, but I am not a fast writer. So I need to set word count goals and stick to them. It’s hard to be creative when the pressure is on and a deadline is approaching. But God is faithful, and with his help I have been able to turn each book in on time.
Do your characters take on a life of their own as you write?
Yes, my characters do take on a life of their own and sometimes they say and do things I hadn’t expected! But that is one of the fun parts of writing a story, and one thing that keeps it fresh and interesting to me.
What is your greatest achievement?
I’d say my greatest achievement is building a strong and healthy marriage and raising our five children with my husband Scott. We feel very blessed to see our kids move into adulthood and still maintain a close relationship with us.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
My goal and mission as a writer is to share God’s love and truth through the power of story, to take readers on a powerful emotional journey, and help them grow closer to God in the process.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I feel very blessed to be able to share my books with reading friends! I love to connect through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and my website. I hope readers will stop by, see what’s new, and leave me a message.
Blessings and Happy Reading,