How did you find so much detailed information about ranching life in Colorado? Did you just make up the fictional “facts,” or what research did you do?
The only detail that I consciously fictionalized was the size of the Blazing B Ranch. It’s large for the San Luis Valley and would more likely be found on the eastern plains of Colorado or in Montana. But I tried to be true to the rest of the facts. (A topographical map of the valley really does look like the profile of a wolf’s head.) I read a lot of material written by ranchers and others who live in the valley. I visited the area, and I enlisted the advice of Southern Colorado ranchers Joyce and Merrill Bond. And of course, you can’t call yourself a real Coloradan if you haven’t attending a rodeo and a stock show or two. My family likes to go to the National Western Stock Show in Denver when we can. Of course, I’ll own up to any factual errors that sharper minds than mine will surely find.
Beth, the lead character, struggles with the notion of modern-day miracles. Tell us about that struggle, both for her and for you.
The notion of asking God for a miracle stirs up all kinds of questions: What exactly isa miracle—is it merely anything we can’t explain, or something more? Do we have to earn the miracle? Why do some people get miracles and others have to live with their suffering? Is the answer about us or about God? Beth struggles with all these questions, and so do I: I’m looking for a miracle of my own right now. I believe most people are. My issue is unresolved and involves other people, so I’m not free to talk about it publicly in this season of my life. Maybe that’s why I devoted some of House of Mercy to processing my struggles with how God works in our lives.
What do you hope House of Mercy can achieve as a Christian novel? What is your personal goal for the book?
One thing the novel can’t do is answer all those questions about miracles. Really, I don’t pretend to know. But I do hope it will elevate readers’ faith in the goodness of God even while we live with the mystery of him.
Do you have another novel brewing? What can we look forward to next?
Right now I’m working on Afloat (May 2013), a survival story about a small group of people stranded in a floating home as disaster batters them, exposes their secrets, and puts real love to the test.
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.