EH: I was surprised to be caught up in The Hunger Games trilogy—captivated by the characters, intrigued by the commentary on war and culture, heartbroken by the plight of the children in the stories. It’s the first story I’ve read in years that has disrupted my sleep. I’d crawl out of bed at 2 a.m. and read until 4, because I was worried about Katniss and her friends and needed to know what happened to them.
What was your favorite thing you wrote?
EH: Letters to my children. I keep “birthday books” for each of them in which I write a letter each year on their birthdays. They don’t know about these books, which I hope to give them when they leave home.
What was your biggest writing struggle, and how did you overcome it?
House of Mercy, which will be published in 2012, hit wall after wall. Every creative choice I made seemed to be the wrong one. I didn’t have writer’s block or self-discipline problems, the story just kept getting stuck. I overcame this by showing up to work day after day. Some days I wrote just to hit a word count, even though I knew I’d be throwing it away later. Some days I sat at my desk for three hours and stared at my screen without writing, but I showed up. I called my editor. I called my mother. I cleaned my office (because for me, that’s like tidying up my mind). And I finally had a breakthrough one day with a white board, colored dry erase markers, and some unfettered brainstorming. I threw away hundreds of pages and rewrote, rewrote, rewrote. And in the end, I emerged with a story that I actually like.
What can we expect from you in the new year?
House of Mercy is a supernatural suspense novel about an aspiring large-animal vet. She works with her family on a fifth-generation ranch that is also a ministry to discarded men who need work and hope. When she is sued for a terrible mistake, the judgment devastates the ranch and leads to her father's death. It seems that God refuses to answer her prayers for mercy and intervention. Instead, he gives her a confusing ability to heal. Guided by a mysterious wolf, she embarks on a journey to find the only person who can help her save the ranch--a dying old man who, unbeknownst to her, has lost his fortunes. House of Mercy is a novel about waiting for God's miracles. It's a novel about healing that only God can do--healing of the body, of the heart, and of relationships.
Write down your 'Writing Resolution of 2012!'
I resolve to keep showing up, even when doubt tries to keep me away.
"I tell no one any story but his own."
--Aslan, The Horse and His Boy