I have just finished reading my copy of The Hope of Azure Springs. My review won’t be posted until July 11th as part of a blog tour, but I loved this book so much that I couldn’t help but want to get a glimpse inside the mind of the author. She was graciously willing to answer some interview questions about her debut novel. I hope you enjoy! The book officially releases tomorrow, July 3. Order your copy today! 🙂
About the Book:
Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.
For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.
About the Author:
Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.
Learn more about current projects at rachelfordham.com
Thanks so much for being willing to answer some questions about your debut novel The Hope of Azure Springs!
Just for a bit of fun to start out, I have a couple random questions:
If you could travel back to any time in history, when would it be and why?
That’s a tricky question because there are so many fascinating times in history. I’d love to see the signing of the Declaration of Independence, walk through the old dead letter office (I have a book that revolved around it), dance in a regency ball…etc. I think though if I had to pick just one place and time I’d pick to go back and spend a day with one of my own ancestors. I love the bonds of family and feel strengthened by the people that have gone before me.
Where is the most exciting place you’ve ever visited?
I enjoy traveling and seeing new places but haven’t been able to world travel yet. When my husband finished dental school we moved from New York to Washington State. We had three small kids at the time and decided to be brave and take a road trip. We spent eighteen days zig zagging across the country. My husband is the best man to road trip with. I’ll sit beside him and google exciting sites near us and when I find one he’ll make a U-turn and go wherever. Since then we’ve been on many road trips and each one has not only taken us to see new sites but we’ve enjoyed the unstructured chaos of it all.
What is your favorite thing to do on a nice, sunny day?
My favorite thing is when I look at the calendar and there is nothing on it. Not because we do nothing but because we get to decide for ourselves what we want to do. We rarely just sit around, we get out and have adventures together. We live near several beaches and my kids never tire of them. I’d say my favorite sunny day activity is being outside watching them play and hearing the laugh. It doesn’t take a lot to please me!
Okay, now for the real questions 😉
Since this is your debut novel, the question begs to be answered: Did you always hope to be an author or did the dream start more recently?
I’ve always been a reader. And a storyteller. As a child I remember watching a movie and then laying in bed thinking up what would happen next. When I had children of my own they discovered I could tell stories and started begging for me to make them up bedtime stories. Still I did not think of myself as a writer. I always thought that was something someone else did. Someone less ordinary than me. Three and a half years ago my life was very busy. I wanted my kids to be my first priority but I needed a creative outlet. My husband said, “You read so much. Why don’t you write a book?” And something turned on inside of me. I decided to do it. I still had no intentions of publishing but I vowed to finish an entire story and I did and then I did it again…there’s been no stopping me since. (Actually I’ve taken some very long breaks when life demanded it).
What led you to want to write historical fiction?
I always joke that I was born in the wrong era. In many ways I relate better to the trials and triumphs of the past so it only made sense for me to write historicals. Besides, when I see an antique or an old building without meaning to my mind starts to wonder what stories are behind them.
What was your inspiration for writing The Hope of Azure Springs?
I LOVE children. I not only have biological children but I am foster parent and advocate for children in need. When I heard about the Orphan Trains I knew I wanted to write a story that included the happy and sad tales of these children. I hope it humanizes them a little and maybe just one reader will stop and think about the children near them that need love so badly and reach out to them.
Can you explain a bit of what led you to develop Em’s character as she was?
When I began writing this novel I had no thoughts of publishing it. I had my daughter in mind. I thought it’d be fun to give her my stories someday. I asked myself what message I wanted to give her. At the time I’d felt bombarded by media messages that beauty and attraction had to look a certain way and I dreaded her hearing these same messages. I decided I wanted a heroine that was not gorgeous in the eyes of the world but that was truly beautiful and I wanted to show that she was worthy of love. As I began writing Em’s character she showed me herself how strong she was and what a truly beautiful individual she is. (I know she’s fictional but sometimes the characters truly come alive to the author and she did).
Who were your favorite/least favorite characters to create?
My favorite character to write was Margaret. I had not expected her to come alive like she did. She demanded (in true Margaret fashion) more page space and time than I’d intended but I adored her so I let her have it. Eliza was the hardest character to write. I felt she was necessary to the story but it took me a long time to connect with her. She was so different than myself so it was a stretch writing her and hard for me to get her to be anything but one dimensional. I found writing Alroy to be a lot more enjoyable than I’d expected. It was a fun challenge thinking of ways to humanize him and make you almost feel bad for him.
If you could talk to “the real Em,” what would you say?
I think I’d want to ask her so many questions that I’d really know her. I think I’d sit for a minute and maybe just look at her. I’d learn about myself. Would I judge her for her outer shell? Would I see past it and see her heart? I don’t know what we’d talk about but I don’t think it’d matter what we said we’d be kindred spirits and have a great time together.
If you could talk to “the real Eliza,” what would you say?
I can’t tell you what I’d say because she is a character in my second release!
Were there any parts that were difficult for you to write?
When I started this novel everything went so well. The words just poured out of me. Then my son became very ill and I had to close my computer for five months while I struggled to find my bearings. When I finally came back to this novel my whole world had changed. I knew what was going to happen in the end but it was hard writing it because I wanted it to be different. However, I found strength in helping Em learn to live and love. I had to do the same thing. In a way we went through our hard things together.
What is the main message you hope readers can glean from the book?
I hope that readers walk away entertained! That’s my number one take away, but then I hope they pause and think about the journey’s these characters take. I hope they think about beauty and what true beauty is. I hope they think about how to find joy after tragedy and how to live life to the fullest. Early reviewers have reported different things that have touched their hearts and so I suppose the best answer I can give you is that I hope every reader takes away the perfect message for them!
What’s next for you?
My next release with Revell comes out in 2019. It’s a standalone novel but it does pass through Azure Springs (Yay!). It begins at the Dead Letter office in Washington D.C. where a letter reader comes across a letter she just can’t let die. It’s recently been titled…Yours Truly, Thomas!
Ooh you have my attention already! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions! Can’t wait to see what you came up with next!