Friday, April 26, 2013
What is it about Smithville?
An interview with Beth Wiseman,
author of The House that Love Built
Q: Is there one particular message or “moral of the story” you hope readers walk away with?
I hope that Brooke, Owen and the rest of the gang will stay on readers’ hearts for a long time, that readers will reflect on the very different ways that the characters handled the events in their lives. And in turn, hopefully the story will inspire people to turn to God in both the good times and the bad.
Q: Forgiveness of self and others is one of the themes that runs through The House That Love Built. Why do you think it is so hard for us to forgive ourselves and let go at times?
People often say we are only hurting ourselves when we can’t forgive someone. That holds true when we can’t forgive ourselves, too. God forgives us . . . and so easily. Yet, we beat ourselves (and others) into the ground over the burdens of our past. I personally have trouble forgiving myself, so that ends up in my books a lot.
Q: Both of your lead characters have “baggage” that keeps them from wanting to pursue a new relationship. Do you think sometimes we let our past get in the way of what God has planned for our futures?
Carrying our burdens of the past is self-destructive, and my goal for this story was to have several of my characters shedding their burdens as they grow in their faith and put their trust in God.
Q: Even though she questioned God’s will, Brooke clung to God after her husband died. However, Owen did the opposite when his wife left. Do you think there’s any reason in particular some people have one reaction versus the other when something bad happens in their life?
I have no idea why people react so differently during a crisis, and I intentionally wanted to incorporate both sides, so to speak, into the story. The spiritual arc in this book is clearly Owen’s, so I wanted to show his struggles and how he eventually reaches out to God. But I also wanted to show that there are people who do not turn from God during a crisis—like Brooke—no matter how unfair things might seem.
Q: Has there been a time in your own life where you could really sense God was putting you in a situation for a reason?
That has happened to me many times, but I couldn’t foresee the reasoning — especially during the bad times. It has taken years to understand that much of what I have experienced was to give me a better understanding of certain situations so I could write about it and hopefully help others. I’m not sure I could have captured the hospital scene in my second novel if my own son hadn’t spent a month in the hospital. My character was fifteen, just as my son was when he was sick, so my emotions ran deep. I’ve witnessed a miracle, so I wrote about one. I’ve made mistakes I’m not proud of, and those seem to find a way into my stories, as well, painful as some of them might be. I’m adopted, so I’ve written about that. Each book I write ministers to my own soul, and I pray the stories will bring peace to my readers.
Q: The House that Love Built is set in Smithville, Texas, where several Hollywood movies have been set. You live nearby. What’s so special about Smithville?
I love writing stories set in small Texas towns, and Smithville is really quaint with friendly people who live there. The movie Hope Floats was filmed there, and the town is very welcoming to authors, film crews and the public in general. There are a lot of older homes like the one Owen purchases in my story. The “mystery” surrounding the house was inspired by a house in another small Texas town: Schulenburg.
Q: You are best known for your Amish fiction, and The House That Love Built is just your second venture outside that genre. What persuaded you to try something new?
I think it’s natural to want to spread your wings a bit when you’ve written so many novels and novellas in the same genre. For me, writing about Texas comes naturally since I live here, and I love to write about a community, as opposed to just “boy meets girl.” I like a good love story, but my secondary characters usually end up with large roles because I like to show how God puts certain people in our paths for a reason, however unlikely it might seem to us at the time.
Q: What’s on the horizon for you? What will you be writing next?
I just finished book number six in the Daughters of the Promise series, releasing in October 2013. I’ll also be doing some Amish novellas for the next couple of years. But the next full-length book I will be working on jumps way outside of the box. It will take readers far away from Amish Country and Texas to a dangerous place on the other side of the world. I can’t say too much yet, just that it is inspired by a true story and something very close to my heart.
Learn more about Beth Wiseman at bethwiseman.com and follow her on Twitter (@bethwiseman). She also hangs out at Fans of Beth Wiseman on Facebook and loves hearing from readers.