You know, the best part about these spotlights is not only introducing you to new authors and books, but having the great opportunity to spotlight friends of mine too! Today, we have Kim Vogel Sawyer. We met at the very first ACFW conference (then ACRW). Her quiet manner touched a chord in me, and it's been great watching her grow from the timid writer she was to the tug-on-your-heartstrings author she is today. She's answered God's calling and He's blessed her for it.
Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, grandmother, former teacher, lover of cats and chocolate, and--most importantly--born-again child of the King. She is active in her home church where she teaches adult Sunday School and participates in both voice and bell choirs as well as leads the drama troupe. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, calligraphy, and acting in community theatre.
1. Your book addresses a topic that affects thousands of married couples today...commitment. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
This story was birthed in an unusual way. Our church hosts a bonfire and hayrack ride every October. In 2004, the hayrack ride took us past an abandoned farmstead. It was dusk, lots of long shadows and a whispering breeze offering a lullaby. We slowly drove past the barn, ad I got a "zing" of awareness--I knew a story was hiding there. When we pulled alongside the house, in my mind I pictured a young mother with a child clinging to her skirts while she hung laundry on the line. The weariness etched in this woman's face told of a deep heartache. By the time the hayrack ride was over, she had introduced herself to me and shared her secret heartache...I love my husband, but he doesn't love my Lord. What a tremendous conflict that would be for her! Especially with all of the other harships at hand--Depression, drought, unwanted pregnancy...and no shared faith? I didn't exactly plan the issue of marital commitment, it just became a natural outgrowth of this woman's deepest pain and desire to be one with her husband in all ways.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Anna Mae and Harley Phipps? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
The only thing I have in common with Anna Mae is facing separation from a husband. My husband is in the military and is often gone for long stretches on various duty (he is being deployed to Baghdad in September, so I have another time of separation around the bend). I could well understand her angst as she watched Harley head down the road away from their home. I think she's a lot spunkier than I am, though! Harley's stubborn pride, his desire to take care of his family at all costs, is a lot like my husband, now that I think about it.
3. What themes exist in Where Willows Grow that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
Seeking God's will, and finding our hope in Him, are the themes I always want to ring through any of my stories. The things of this world--the good, the difficult, the joyful, the heartbreaking--are all temporal, but our relationship with God is eternal. So I hope to always point the reader to a more intimate walk with his/her Father. As for one that developed on its own...the character Jack became more central than I originally intended. As his story unfolded, a theme of how devastating selfishness can be came to light--devastating to the person who chooses self over God, and devastating to all who love him.
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4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
I have a real problem writing stinkers. I work so hard to avoid conflict in my own life, creating a character who deliberately wreaks havoc is hard! My favorite parts were the scenes with Dorothy. She is so honest and funny without meaning to be--I really liked bringing her in and letting her add some lightness and gentle humor. I also love the final scene--which I will not divulge lest it give something away!--but every time I read the story's end it makes me cry.
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
Releasing at the same time as Where Willows Grow is my first full-length contemporary women's fiction with Barbour. Titled Bygones, it is the first of a three-book trilogy set in an Old Order Mennonite community. The story features Marie, a woman who was raised Old Order Mennonite but abandoned the community to marry a non-Mennonite. Now, more than twenty years later, an unusual stipulation in a will brings her back. The opportunity for reconciliation with her family exists, but long-held regrets and anger separate her from her earthly father as well as her heavenly Father. A story of reconciliation and the power of forgiveness, I hope it is well-received by readers.
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Thanks so much for the chance to visit with you! I enjoyed it!
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Thank *you* Kim for joining us. Readers, make sure you leave a comment for a chance to enter the drawing for a free book. Winner will be announced next week in the comments of this post.