What is the background for your writing House of Mercy? What brought you to this particular plot and storyline?
I set out to write the story of a spiritually gifted healer who couldn’t heal her own illness. I abandoned this idea when the similarly themed movie Sympathy for Delicious came out, but I kept the heart of the story, which is something of a million-dollar question: Why doesn’t God always grant the miracles we seek? What is the real nature of his healing work in our life, if it’s not necessarily to make life better? What does he want from us? These are the questions that drive my heroine’s actions.
Is House of Mercy more than just a fictional story to you? Does it relate to your own life, and if so, how?
House of Mercy is the story of a young woman who needs to undo a terrible mistake and save her family’s ranch. She believes that the solution to her problem is entirely up to her. I’ve often thought this way about my own dilemmas—“This mess is all your fault. You don’t deserve anyone’s help, and you’re responsible to make things right. So do something!” In my experience, many women think this way. We think that being strong means being in control, and giving up control is a weakness. House of Mercy reflects my own awareness that there is a real, painful tension between doing as much as one can and also believing that God’s mercy toward us is generous.
What do you believe the readers will gain from reading House of Mercy? How will it challenge them in their lives today?
I really hope House of Mercy will encourage readers to press in to God during their seasons of doubt and pain. For me, this has meant that I’ve had to learn how to trust him when I don’t have the answers to my problems or don’t know what to do next. As a good friend said to me, if we had all the answers, what would we need God for? Today I feel more confident than ever that God is good and his love is real, even though his ways are a mystery.
What made you want to write about wolves? What experience do you have with them, and how has that affected you?
In early drafts of the story my heroine, Beth, had lupus. Lupus, Latin for “wolf,” is so named because of the symptomatic facial rash that resembles the butterfly-wing markings on a wolf’s muzzle. I eventually scratched Beth’s chronic illness, but during my research I stumbled across details about how the wolves were driven out of Colorado by ranchers and poachers before World War II. Only recently have they begun to trickle back into the state, thanks to reintroduction efforts in other Rocky Mountain states.
I had the chance to visit the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, which is about an hour away from my home. This amazing refuge shelters wolves, coyotes, and foxes, many of which have tragic histories. As part of my visit I was able to have contact with a few of the center’s wild but socialized “ambassador” wolves. Above all else, I was impressed by the majestic size of these guys. One of them could have stood on his hind legs and towered over my 6-foot-6 husband! Sitting with them and feeding them, touching them, made me very aware of my own weakness. They were far larger and more powerful than I’d imagined. And so the wolf really captured my imagination as a powerful, mythical kind of creature who had been driven out of his habitat and was about to make a miraculous return for the good of the inhabitants who rejected him. Like Aslan, the wild wolf of my novel is good, but he is not safe.
Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, Traci DePree, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Bryan Litfin, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.
She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on “the other side of the desk.”
Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Academy of Christian Editors. She lives with her family in Colorado.