by Kathleen L. Maher
My guest today is a fresh new voice in Christian literary historical fiction. This lady is one to follow, because I see writing awards in her future… lots of them. I have read her three novels and they are the kind of stories that stay with you long after that final page turn and deep satisfying sigh.
Her name is Candace West, and I am thrilled to give her a shout out today.
Candace: Hi Kathleen, I’m thrilled to be here! Thank you for having me. I’m a country girl, born and raised in Arkansas. I’m blessed to live in the area where I grew up, not far from a small town where everybody knows everyone else.
Me:How many generations of your family have lived in that vicinity, and what are some of your fondest memories and traditions??
Candace:My stories are set in the Arkansas Ozarks. My mother’s family, on both sides, have lived there since the mid-1800’s. I grew up listening to my grandparents’ stories, going to reunions, and exploring all the places my ancestors lived and were laid to rest. I didn’t grow up in the Ozarks, though. Because my dad is a minister, we live in the southern part of the state—the Delta.
My fondest memories of the Ozarks are roaming the hills with my grandpa—visiting the homeplaces, the school, the cemeteries, and the creek that whispers and connects grandpa’s childhood with my present time. Getting to know my “kinfolk” who still live there was a delight. The most important tradition is the spiritual journey that God has led my family through even to this day.
Me:How long have you been writing? Do you have any first drafts of stories that are collecting dust on a shelf or encrypted on a floppy disc somewhere? Of course not. You’re not old enough to remember floppy discs, are you sweet friend? 😉
Candace:Oh yes, dear friend, I am! I saved many a paper on floppy disks! Before I had my first computer, I filled notebooks with stories, and they are shut away in a chest under my mama’s bed, collecting dust. I started writing stories when I was twelve. Until then, I acted out my adventures in the fields and woods surrounding our place.
Me:Tell us about Valley Creek and how you came to create such a visceral, beautiful, haunting and redemptive place? (I suspect some of this answer reveals your own faith journey, so please share how you have come to write about hard subjects with such grace and wisdom.)
Candace: I could talk about this for a while. Valley Creek was inspired by all of those places I explored in the Ozarks. My great-grandmother inspired Lane’s story in book one. She had a harsh upbringing but grew into a strong woman of faith despite the hardships she endured. When I wrote Lane’s story, I was also facing a spiritual battle unlike anything I had ever known. My anger and hurt became Lane’s. By the end of her story, God had used her healing and victory to become mine as well. I give the Lord the credit for leading me through these stories, granting me the words that I pray will touch and help others.
Me:I loved Lane Steen, your first story in the Valley Creek Redemption series. And then I became consumed in the follow up story about Lane’s parents. Valley of Shadows is so rich, so touching. Sentimentally sweet without being saccharine. There wasn’t a single false note in the whole beautiful, tragic and gloriously redemptive book.
But now, you have written book 3 in the series. What is left to say now that I’ve used up all my superlatives on the first two? Dogwood Winter stole my breath. Poetic, lyrical writing combines with a tale that would almost be gritty if it weren’t for the refinement and dignity of your storytelling and your resilient and determined characters. They truly face some serious challenges, don’t they?
Candace: Wow. I never cease to be blown away and honored you feel this way. Whenever I read your stories, I feel the same. I want to write like you when I grow up!
George and Ella do face some difficult challenges, but they never do anything halfway. What I love about them is that I never intended for them to be main characters in this series. They had different ideas, however. By the end of Valley of Shadows, Ella and George were begging for their own story. My challenge was how to get them back to Valley Creek.
I’d love to share the blurb for Dogwood Winter. Releasing August 24th 2021
A Lukewarm Correspondence. A Tattered Reputation. Two Hearts at Odds.
He is walking away while she is fighting to walk.
After a springtime swim, Ella Steen is stricken with a dire illness, leaving her without the use of her legs. Meanwhile, Dr. George Curtis, the man she secretly loves, faces ruin. For over a year, the crusty New York City bachelor and vivacious spinster have exchanged dozens of letters and formed a wary friendship.
Neither are willing to open their hearts completely. Until they face each other. The past looms between them, however. Does George still love another or is his heart completely free?
A trip to Valley Creek holds the answers. Instead, when George and Ella arrive, they encounter obstacles that force other truths to the surface. Is George brave enough to confront what he fled in New York? Can Ella confess why she hates dogwood winters? Will their hearts survive?
If only their pasts would keep out of the present.
Me: Please, where we can find your books, and when does Dogwood Winter officially release?
Candace: They are available at Amazon and on KU. Valley of Shadows is also available at other booksellers like Barnes and Noble. Dogwood Winter releases August 24, 2021.
Lane Steen: https://www.amzn.com/B07VCZ5MV3
Valley of Shadows: https://www.amzn.com/B08BTQ5BPJ
And where can readers find and follow you?
Visit my website at www.candaceweststoryteller.com and sign up for my newsletter.
Author page: www.facebook.com/inspirationalnovel
Also feel free to send me a Facebook friend request (Candace West Posey). I love forming friendships with other readers and writers!
Me: Thank you so much for spending time with us here at the Diamond mine of Christian Fiction. I understand you are willing to offer a giveaway. So exciting! Do tell our readers how they might win your book.
-example: you (at) mailserver (dot) com.
(contest for continental US residents only)