Welcome my special guest Catherine West!
She's new to my God is Love blog but not new to the world of Christian fiction! Catherine, according to her author bio which you can read in full later, is "an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda".
I loved Catherine's first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow which was released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. After reading Yesterday's Tomorrow, I decided that I want to read all of Catherine's books because her storytelling style is so captivating. She knows how to sweep her readers off their feet and place them into her fictional story world. When you read a book by Catherine, not only will you become invested in the characters, you will become a loyal fan of her work, or at least that's what happened to me!
But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself as you read today's blog post, an author interview with Catherine West! But first a promo for her latest novel, Bridge of Faith...
Blurb for Catherine West’s new book Bridge of Faith:
Two lives taken down different roads - one enduring love - one shot at starting over.
If only they believed in second chances.
Julia Connelly is finally free from twelve long years in an abusive relationship. Now able to live the life she’s longed for, Julia takes her two children back home to Vermont, hoping for peace and healing. The last person she expects to see is the man she eloped with at eighteen—who then abandoned her two months into their marriage, with little explanation.
When an assignment in the Middle East ends in tragedy, popular news correspondent, Reid Wallace, returns to his hometown seeking answers and peace of mind.
Confronting his past was not in the plan.
Now he’s asking different questions. Like why the only woman he’s ever really loved still mesmerizes him. Why the haunted expression she wears reaches right into his soul.
And why her twelve year-old son looks just like him.
They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.
Author interview with Catherine West (answers from Catherine are marked "CW", questions from Alexis are in bold):
What makes you, “you” as a writer?
CW: Mmm. Honesty. Truth. Real issues, real life. Those are the things I’m passionate about in my writing. I strive to write believable stories that are true to life, and people can relate, on some level, to the things my characters experience.
Your work has won many awards! Name a few and share what they mean to you.
CW: Yesterday’s Tomorrow was awarded the INSPY for Romance, in 2011, so that was pretty cool. I love it when readers really connect with a book and, they did with this one, and the judges’ comments were particularly inspiring and encouraging to me.
Your professional biography says that you write “inspirational stories of hope and healing.” Why is that your niche and what main message are you hoping to share with the world?
CW: I’m a sucker for hope and second chances, I guess. Really, where would we be without them? I think that no matter how far you’ve fallen, even if you’ve turned your back on your faith and all you ever believed in, and the people you love, there’s still hope. Still a chance for redemption if you choose to take it. That’s the message I believe in, that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, and I hope to show this through the stories I write. There is always a way back home, if you want to find it.
You live on the island of Bermuda! How’s the weather today? What do you love the most—and dislike the most—about island life?
CW: We’re a little cloudy today, but the sun is up there. A lovely breeze is drifting through my window and the ocean is nice and calm. I love the beauty I’m surrounded by. There are always flowers, no matter the season, everything is always green, and the way of life here just seems slower somehow. What do I dislike the most? That I am so far away from all my writer friends in the United States. Seriously. I’d love it if we were all close enough to get together for coffee and brainstorming at least once a month! But thank God for the Internet, because Skype comes in handy for that, a lot!
How did your degree in English prepare you to write books?
CW: I think it really ensured that I was widely read. I tried to choose classes that would give me a good grounding in all kinds of literature. I read British Classics, American Classics, Poetry, Greek Mythology, Children’s Literature, Shakespeare … you name it. I absolutely loved every minute. And I attended the University of Toronto, and most of my classes took place in very old, beautiful buildings and it totally set the mood for me.
*Segue*: I loved your first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow! It was the first book I read by you and it was SO good that now I want to read ALL of your books, including your latest release Bridge of Faith! Let’s spend some time talking about it.
What is the significance of the title Bridge of Faith?
CW: Oh, thanks! LOL! Well … you’ll understand that when you read the book! I don’t want to give the story away, but there is a covered bridge in the story that holds significance to both Reid and Julia, and toward the end of the book, an event takes place there that really tests their faith. The bridge itself is called Faith Bridge.
What elements of Bridge of Faith make it an inspirational contemporary romance?
CW: Both characters struggle with who they are and what they believe in. The story is really as much their faith journey as it is their journey back to finding themselves and figuring out where they belong.
What or who was the inspiration for your main characters Julia and Reid?
CW: I can’t say there were any real inspirations for the characters. I liked the idea of Reid being an overseas correspondent and a high profile kind of guy, because that would be so different from the world Julia comes from. They both sort of developed over time as the story unfolded, which is pretty much what happens with every book I write. I never start out with any fixed ideas. Everything’s up for grabs.
Were Julia and Reid romantically involved? Share their backstory.
CW: I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say, yes, yes they were.
In what ways are you hoping Julia and Reid’s story will resonate with your readers?
CW: I think their story really brings out the message that it’s never too late to start over, never too late for redemption, grace and forgiveness. And anything is possible if you really want it badly enough.
Would you say your book gives your readers hope for second chances? Why or why not?
CW: Bridge of Faith is all about second chances. Absolutely. It’s really vital for Reid and Julia to be able to grasp that the only way to move forward is to forgive, and offer that to one another, and to know that second chances are definitely possible.
You tackle serious real-life issues such as abuse and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in your book. Tell me why and what you hope to accomplish with that feature.
CW: Well, I didn’t set out to really make those issues the forefront of the story. But they are real and they do happen. Those kinds of challenges can scar and change a person forever. The test is to see what a character does with that kind of history, and how they move beyond the trauma and pain of their past. Again, it’s about grasping the concept of hope and trusting God to prepare new paths.
Reid is a popular news correspondent which I find to be an interesting career! What can you tell us about Reid’s profession and personal life? Describe his passion and share a few of his character flaws.
CW: He’s a small-town guy who’s made it big. He didn’t set out to be famous, but he suits it well. He’s probably a bit arrogant at the start of the story, definitely stubborn. His career has taken him all over the world, and he’ll do anything for a story, but that’s what ends up breaking him. His career is the most important thing to him but that changes over time. He comes across as very self-assured, but he’s actually not, and because of the PTSD, he’s really struggling to find himself again.
What is Julia’s career? What does she love and dislike? Share insight into her fictional life.
CW: Julia hasn’t done much with her life, and this is one of the things that she’s bitter about. She’d hoped to go to college, to become a journalist as well, but her dreams never came true. She’s a stay-at-home Mom, very protective of her two children, who she’ll do anything for, she loves her family, and she works with her best friend in a florist shop. Because of her traumatic background, she’s not very trusting, she’s still afraid a lot of the time, and she knows how to hold a grudge. She hates being lied to and told what to do, and she still feels abandoned by the man she once loved with all her heart.
What about Julia mesmerizes Reid?
CW: Hmm, can I say you’ll have to read the book to find out?! I think he’s just really struck by her courage. That despite everything she’s been through, she’s survived, pulled her children out and kept going, making sure they have a future. And he’s partly drawn to her because of their history, but he has to start seeing her for who she is now, not for who she was.
Explain the line on the summary of your book that reads, “They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.”
CW: Both Reid and Julia are suffering and are forced to leave the places they were in so that they can find out what the future holds for them. Returning home was the only logical choice for them both.
Simply said, why did you write Bridge of Faith?
CW: My stories generally form over time. I didn’t set out with a particular message or even a solid storyline, but as I got to know my characters and developed their journeys, it became a story that I knew would have to be told, because everyone needs to know that second chances are always possible.
*Closing*: Let’s close this interview with a little insight into your life as an author...
What do you do when you’re not working on your next story?
CW: Well, you’ll probably find me outside playing with my dog, or walking him! I also love to read of course, and we watch a lot of movies. I travel a good deal, so that’s fun. Oh, and I suppose I should admit I spend a LOT of time on Facebook! LOL!
Why do you love roses and orchids?
CW: Roses I think come from my Mom. She was an avid gardener and loved roses, all varieties. I love the colors, the smell. They are so delicate and each bush provides a different experience. Orchids are different in that not all have a scent. But they are a unique plant and sometimes a challenge to grow and keep, so I think I enjoy them because of that aspect.
How did you meet and marry your dream man who is your husband? Did you “just know” he was “the one”? Share details.
CW: Ha. Well, funny story. We actually met on a Young Life trip in the United States, when I was just 15. Which sounds totally crazy to me now. We were climbing a mountain with the group, and I’m probably the biggest klutz in the world, which he kind of figured out, and quickly offered his assistance. We got to know each other after that, were friends for a while and then started dating … and 29 years later … here we are. How did I know he was the one? Let’s just say I had a few issues back then, and he loved me through them. Anyone that could put up with me the way he did, had to be the one.
Would you ever use your real-life love story as the backdrop for one of your fictional stories?
CW: Not particularly, but I think parts of our story are probably in every one of my books in some way.
Rachelle Gardner—well known as a “dream agent” for many Christian writers—is your agent! How did that happen?
CW: Actually, I do love this story! I always say first and foremost, it was a total God thing. I’d just started getting serious about searching for an agent, gotten a few rejections and I was trying to figure out whether I really want to stick with the writing gig. It was around the time I started working on Yesterday’s Tomorrow. Rachelle was blogging and that’s how I got to know her. I found out she was a freelance editor, we talked story a bit and I eventually asked her advice on this book, because I didn’t know how it would fly in CBA. So she was really the first person to encourage me to write the book. I mentioned I’d finished it at some point, and she asked if she could read it. Soon after that she announced that she was becoming a literary agent, and not too long after, she offered representation. I think I was one of her first clients. And honestly, she is the best! All these years and she’s never given up, always encouraged and pushed me to keep going, even when all the doors seemed shut. And I'm delighted to say we've finally been able to celebrate some exciting publishing news, which I'll share in the near future!
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
CW: Do the research, study the craft, believe in yourself and never ever give up! There’s so much more, but that’s really the most important part. If this is what you believe God’s gifted you with, if it’s really your dream, it’ll happen. Anything is possible!
Complete this sentence: What gives me the most joy as a writer is _________ because ______________________.
What gives me the most joy as a writer is doing what I love because God has given me the ability to write, and the opportunity to share those stories with others.
Thanks for the interview, Catherine!
Oh but wait, dear readers, there's more! Catherine has agreed to host a book giveaway contest here on my blog. She agreed to give away one e-book copy and one paperback copy of her latest novel, Bridge of Faith to two individual winners!
You can enter the contest by answering Catherine's question below and filling out the info requested by the Rafflecopter widget.
Here's Catherine's question for you, my dear blog readers, to answer: "What about Bridge of Faith appeals to you as a reader and makes you want to read the book?"
Here's the Rafflecopter widget:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon.
When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com
INSPY Award-winning author Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon.
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