* * * *
I recently contracted a three book series to Harvest House and I am so happy I can talk about it here in anticipation of my debut novel’s release next winter. I wanted to walk you through a bit of the background to this rather unique take on CBA historical fiction in hopes that I can lure you over to my blog and eventually to checking out the soon-to-be-published books for yourself!
The basic premise: In 1910 Toronto while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, Jem Watts and Merinda Herringford perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.
What Inspires Me:
Sherlock Holmes: My agent came back from ICRS a year ago June and was impressed by the amount of editors talking about suspense. Knowing from my Facebook and my blog that I was a lifelong Sherlock Holmes fan, the question: “What about a girl Sherlock?” was brought up on a Skype call. Having been a die-hard Sherlockian since I was a little kid, I was so enticed by the opportunity to use a passion of mine to inform a story!
Strong, unconventional women: I am a rare bird—especially in church circles. I never felt I fit into some of the traditional women’s spheres so apparent like nursery duty and serving at the potluck and couldn’t see myself choosing a path of raising children and making a home. As a pastor’s kid who was entrenched in church social life and knowing that my gifts and passions lay outside of the traditional female sphere, I was often conflicted. I write for that unsure girl who was me so long ago; but I write for women now who go to the bulletin board to sign up for a Sunday School class and may have trouble discovering where they fit in. (How better to look at the shifts in women’s roles than cross-dressing girl detectives solving murders ;) )
Toronto was also a major inspiration for me. It is currently heralded as the most multi-cultural city in the world and, for me, is a patchwork-quilt of sewn up neighbourhoods boasting a strong immigrant influx that has become a mosaic and not a melting pot. But, I knew it couldn’t have always be thus and so I delved back, back into the archives to photographs and statements, newspapers and testimonials and discovered an absolute goldmine.Why I write:
I write to establish a unique reading experience.I write to reclaim a space often peppered with one view of a woman’s life and role. A wonderful and high calling, but one that—whether by choice or circumstance—is not always a clear path for women—especially in the Evangelical sphere. I thought of how I could assume the very interesting conglomeration of intellect, spirituality, and questions presented in the Sherlock Holmes stories I loved in two very different women. Both Jem and Merinda, incidentally, are two halves of the same coin and present two very different takes on faith and romanticism, but also on life. Together they represent some deeper themes I hope Christian readers will find while enjoying a detective story. Each relationship in the book represents some question I have had with God or some way in which I have interacted with faith—so the careful reader will be able to channel some of their own questions of faith, some of their confidences and hurdles within the metric of my characters.
What I hope to accomplish:
So many of the things that were being changed and tweaked and worked through in historical periods—social and cultural, etc.—are still broadly apparent in our society. As Christians, the very core of our relationship with God is still paralleled by open pursuit, the difficulties we run into and that mystery surrounding the dim glass we know will someday be cleared is something that is century agnostic. I hope that my book will inspire people to seek a deeper understanding of what they believe and why. But, more still, I hope it will prompt questions. I believe God raises questions throughout history—throughout the Bible—throughout the human experience as a conscious way of shoving us further into a relationship with Him. The insatiable need to solve puzzles and to explore the workings of the mind and the world is something inherent to the Sherlockian method and that is something that just pairs so well with the Christian experience.
I want people to have fun: watch two women try to make history as private investigators, fall in and out of love, trip over the lines of propriety and, yes, when needed, don their trousers and bowler hats and disguise themselves as men.
I am a contributor to Edgy Inspirational Romance and the curator of Rachel’s Raves on Novel Crossing. You can visit my blog, A Fair Substitute for Heaven.
I live in Toronto but am from a quaint town called Orillia. I like nautical history, Sherlock Holmes, traveling, Canada and giggling (the giggling is more apparent if I have good company and a pinot grigio in my hand). I also like to write books. When I am not reading or writing or socializing or exploring the fact that I live in the best city in the world, I work in Educational Publishing. I have recently contracted my Herringford and Watts series to Harvest House. Stay tuned for the book "The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder" in early 2016.
* * * *
Gabrielle: Thank you, Rachel! I love learning more about authors and what inspires them to write. I appreciate how candid you are about traditional female roles, especially within the Church. I love that God is using your unique talents and passions to open up this much needed discussion. Your comment about God raising questions to shove us into a deeper relationship with Him is so true. It's important to remember that God calls us to seek Him, and He's never afraid of our questions. I can't wait to read your books and explore these themes with you and your characters.
Readers, I encourage you to take some time to visit Rachel's blog and stop by her Author Facebook Page. You won't want to miss her updates and writing-related news.
* * * *
Your Turn: What do you think about the themes in Rachel's writing? Do you struggle with traditional roles within the church? Do you have any questions for Rachel? Are you as excited as me for this awesome series?!?!
* * * *
The winner of Lisa Jordan's Lakeside Redemption from last week's blog is: Amanda Barratt! Amanda, I'll be messaging you to get your address!