Welcome readers! I was recently blessed to have been given early access to Heidi Chiavaroli’s newest book The Hidden Side set to release early next week on May 8th. It’s been one of my most talked about reads of the year. It’s one of the books that you don’t just read but live, and it will stay with you long after you close the book. (You can view my full review HERE). I’m happy to share that the author has been graciously willing to answer some interview questions as well as provide a copy of her book for a giveaway! Thanks Heidi!
About the Author:
Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring Boston’s Freedom Trail. She writes Women’s Fiction and won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. Both her debut novel, “Freedom’s Ring” and her sophomore novel, “The Hidden Side” are Romantic Times Top Picks. “Freedom’s Ring” was also a BOOKLIST Top Ten Romance Debut, 2017. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her online at heidichiavaroli.com.
About the Book:
New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.
New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.
Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.
Thanks so much for being willing to take the time to answer some questions about your latest book The Hidden Side!
Thanks for having me, Becca!
To start off, for a little bit of fun please finish the following:
If I could visit any place in the world, I would visit…
Italy! With a last name like mine, I can’t believe I haven’t gone yet.
If I could go back to any time in history I’d go to…
This is a tough one. I’d love to be around to meet Jesus. I also would have loved to witness the birth of our country.
My favorite book of all time (besides the Bible) is…
Francine Rivers’s A Voice in the Wind.
My favorite movie of all time is…
It’s A Wonderful Life
If I could say one thing to my younger self, it would be…
Don’t sweat your future so much—God has it under control better than you do. ☺
And now let’s get to the good stuff 🙂
What was your inspiration for writing The Hidden Side?
My ideas usually begin with research. I was searching for a true-to-life historical figure from the American Revolution that could inspire a new story when I stumbled upon Agent 355, a woman who played an important part in General George Washington’s most successful spy ring, a woman whose identity we still don’t know for certain. That was enough to get my imagination going! Before long, I had a solid historical story down—a story about a woman seeking to redeem the wrong done her fiancé, infamous spy Nathan Hale. A story about a woman hiding behind a façade that could not only ruin every relationship she has, but could put her life in peril as well. A story about a woman who finds herself caring for a man she must deceive.
The contemporary story didn’t come so easily. I was brainstorming with my friend and fellow author Melissa Jagears when we remembered a recent news story about a man who had committed a terrible crime and an interview with a relative who raised him, who was just as shocked as the rest of the country over what her kin had done. Before long (and with additional help from my extraordinary editor, agent, and critique partner) we had the story of a mother, a radio host of a popular Christian morning show—whose son had committed an unspeakable crime. This woman would go through grief, but she would also struggle moving on with her life, struggle with the impulse to hide behind her radio personality, and struggle with finding her identity not in her son’s deeds, but in Christ. Through her attempt to find healing, she turns to the journal her son gave her on the eve of his crime, a journal that tells the story of another woman, centuries earlier, who also felt the need to hide behind a false persona.
What was the most difficult part of writing the story?
Realizing I was actually going to go here and do this—step into what would probably be any mother’s worst living nightmare. Even after my editor gave me the green light to write the story, I was in a bit of shock. I didn’t know how I’d get through it emotionally.
I don’t know about you, but I was an emotional little bubble while reading this story. What was it like to actually write it?
I was definitely a wreck! I actually remember fixing supper one night with my husband in the kitchen when I broke down a little. I remember hugging him, speaking through my tears, “I just can’t wait for it to be over.”
I think that’s why I wrote the story so fast (about three months). These characters inhabited my mind, night and day. They became a part of me in a powerful way and though it may seem odd, I felt I had a responsibility to them to see them through this story, to give them hope, and give them a realistic yet satisfying ending.
What character did you feel you could relate to the most? Why?
This might be a toss-up between Natalie and Maelynn. My mother’s heart ached for Natalie. Being her, for me, was all too real and terrifying, and so that was a strong connection point.
Yet Maelynn is special to me as well. I’ve never written in the point-of-view of a contemporary teenager and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. Sure, there was a lot to tackle in this book with Maelynn, but she came alive to me in a very unique way. I absolutely felt her. I was her. Though I craft many characters, they don’t all speak to me in the same way. To me, Maelynn’s character was especially powerful.
What character was the hardest for you to relate to and/or write about?
I LOVE Mercy’s story, but it was the one that gave me more trouble as far as plot. Maybe because there was just so much in the contemporary story (which I wrote first), I think I was a bit brain-dead before the juices started flowing with Mercy. She was a little stubborn in that regard. ☺
If Chris were real and you could have talked to him (before the shooting), what would you have said?
You are not alone. You are loved. Your worth is not defined by others, but by One who is so much greater.
If you could share any words of encouragement to people and/or families dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic event like the school shooting, what would you say?
Oh my. I almost don’t feel that I have a right to pretend to know what would encourage someone in this situation, but if I had to talk to the Abbott family, I would again remind them that they are not alone.
I think loneliness is probably one of the most dreadful feelings. It’s what makes people desperate. But for those going through tragedy to come together with others, either blood family or faith family, or perhaps those who have been through similar circumstances, I can imagine that would produce hope. I would also imagine that looking outside ourselves, looking to a greater purpose hidden with God, would give hope also.
Any last thoughts or comments?
Thank you so much for having me, Becca!
Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions and share your inspiration behind the book!
I am giving away ONE (1) paperback copy of The Hidden Side. The giveaway begins today, 5-5-18 at 12:00 AM (EST) and ends on Wednesday, 5-12-18 at 12:00 AM (EST). To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below. Good luck!
Congrats to Kim Rosso for winning!
***Please Note: Open to Continental U.S. mailing addresses only.*** Winner will be notified via email at the end of the giveaway, and will be announced here on this page.