Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Robin Caroll talks about her latest, Hidden in the Stars

An interview with Robin Caroll,
Author of Hidden in the Stars


Where do you turn when a dream you’ve cherished in your heart for your entire life is completely shattered? In her new release, Hidden in the Stars (Quilts of Love series from Abingdon Press/September 16, 2014/ISBN:9781426773600/$13.99), Robin Caroll introduces us to a young woman who must find the strength to continue living after losing everything she cares about.

Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother’s offer to return to their family home. Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence.

Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia’s mother’s “special” quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia’s unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer — still at large — silence her forever?

Q: Tell us about the main thread or theme that runs through Hidden in the Stars.

The strength of the familial bond is the strongest thread in the story, but another theme would be the sacrifices we make for the people we love.

Q: How important to you is the faith element in your stories?

I never “plot” the faith element of my books in advance. I always pray for God to show me the spiritual arc for the characters, and then I let it grow organically from the characters as I interview and write them. Sometimes I’m lucky and the arc is apparent in the beginning of the story — sometimes it doesn’t become clear until near the end (that’s usually when God’s using my own story to teach me something or refine something in me). It’s my job to put that on the page with realism, but not beat anyone over the head.

Q: The main character in Hidden in the Stars, Sophia, loses not only the person she loved the most in life, but also her dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast. What can readers learn from how she manages this loss?

So often we begin to believe our dreams define who we are. What we do becomes our identifier. I wanted to portray a character who had worked hard for something all her life — something her mother had sacrificed much to help her attain — yet she had it snatched away with no hope of reclaiming it. I think we (myself included) sometimes need to realize we are, first and foremost, a child of God and not a dream or a goal.

Q: Sophia suffers a brutal attack, and the criminal remains at-large, leaving her feeling vulnerable and afraid. We all face moments in life when we feel that way, even if the events in our lives vary. Where do you go for strength in those times?

God. Yes, I have family members who are loving and supportive and encouraging and helpful. Yes, I have friends who are there for me through thick and thin. But when it comes down to brass tacks, as my grandmother used to say, God is my source of strength, comfort and peace.

Q: Why is it so challenging to forgive people who have hurt us?

Because we’re human and our initial reaction is based on our own thoughts and feelings. When we’re hurt, we don’t WANT to forgive. Sometimes, at least for me, the choice to forgive is more about wanting to be obedient to God and wanting to keep that pain from clawing at me.

Q: The attack left Sophia without a voice — is this a metaphor in any way?

Yes. When we’re attacked — physically, mentally or spiritually — we often feel like we aren’t heard . . . that our cries for help fall on deaf ears.

Q: Which character in the book do you identify with the most and why?

Sophia. She was strong and determined and wouldn’t let her attack and the murder of the one person she loved the most stop her from living a good life.

Q: Tell us about the quilt in Hidden in the Stars.  How does it play a role in solving this mystery?

The quilt itself was made from the costumes of Sophia’s mother, Nina. It’s like a large declaration of her life’s ballet work. Once the police get the quilt, they determine it holds the key to solving the mystery and the murder.

Q: Tell us a little more about the Quilt of Love series and how you became involved in it.

As a young girl, my family lived in the country. We didn’t have many friends close enough during the winter where we could just hop on our bikes and ride down to a neighbor’s house. During those lonelier times, my mother taught me how to quilt. I will always associate quilts with the strength of the mother-daughter bond. When I heard about the Quilts of Love series, I wanted to be a part of it.

Q: How have you seen the Lord’s hand in your writing career, whether it be open doors, prayer partners, etc.? 

I’d spent many, many months studying the craft and learning as much as I could. After finally getting up the nerve to start the submission process, I found myself faced with rejection slips, one after the other. I was extremely blessed to have strong critique/prayer partners who encouraged me, but I also had a mentor who pushed me and helped me develop the ability to separate my writing from myself as a person.

One day, fully frustrated and on the verge of tears, I prayed the scary prayer: that if writing wasn’t what He called me to do, then I’d walk away from it, but He’d have to remove the desire from my heart because I wasn’t strong enough to do it myself. I was lucky enough to get my first contract not too long after that, but I truly was willing to walk away if that’s what He told me to do. It was really scary because, for me at least, writing was, in my mind, tied to my identity. I learned that writing, while important to me and I love it, is still what I do, not who I am. I love being an author, but I’m also so much more: wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, etc.

Q: Do you ever hear from readers about how they have been touched by reading your books?

I hope each of my books brings glory and honor to God. Some of the reader mail I’ve received has put me in tears of praise for being allowed to share stories with readers. For instance, one reader wrote me after reading one of my books and thanked me for showing that it was possible to reconcile with God after being angry with Him. It truly blesses me for God to use me in such a way.

Q: What is the one thing you hope your readers will walk away with when they close the cover of Hidden in the Stars?

I hope they will feel they were entertained, but also they will be reminded that no matter what their circumstances, what the Enemy means for evil, God will turn to good.

For more information about Robin Caroll and her books, visit her online home at www.robincaroll.com. She is also active on Facebook and Twitter.


Keep up with the Quilts of Love series online at: QuiltsOfLoveBooks.com ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest

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