Today it's my delight to welcome Ruth Reid to Tea and a Good Book.
I was blessed to have been placed in a critique group with Ruth Reid when I joined American Christian Fiction Writers. She and I hit it off, and since that God-appointed day, we've critiqued innumerable pages from at least eight of each other's novels (partial and full). Everything I've written in the last two years has benefited from her insight.
I'm absolutely thrilled to help Ruth celebrate the release of her debut novel, The Promise of an Angel, from Thomas Nelson. (Ruth has graciously offered to give away a copy to one lucky commenter...see the bottom of the post for instructions!) Please join me in welcoming her to Tea and a Good Book!
Congratulations on the release of your debut novel, The Promise of an Angel. Can you share some of the memorable moments during the process from getting “the call” to holding the book in your hands for the first time.
I laugh when I think about getting ‘the call’. My agent sent me an email saying a publisher was interested in my story and she would call me that evening. I was ecstatic. I waited for the call, but it never came. Later, I discovered one of my kids had unplugged the base phone and without it plugged into the outlet, the cordless extensions wouldn’t ring. I’ll always remember, not receiving ‘the call’. For me, seeing the book cover for the first time was very exciting. I teased my daughter asking her if she would like me to sign a picture of the cover and she said that she would wait for the real thing and would I please sign a check for lunch money at school. Another great highlight was when the box from the publisher arrived with the books. One of my daughters asked if I was going to read it again and my son flipped the pages of the book and with a puzzled expression said, so you’ve already read this? I told him, Danny, I wrote it. He rolled his eyes and said, oh, so that’s what you do in your office.
Sigh--our kids keep us grounded, don't they? So, can you give us a little preview of your novel?
Interrupting the ordered routine of the Mecosta County Amish settlement, an angelic visitor awakens Judith to a new faith, but not without obstacles to overcome.
After a barn raising accident, Judith Fischer's convinced she's met an angel. However, her attempts to convince others end up frustrating her Old-Order Amish community. Only Andrew Lapp believes her, but the rest, including Levi Plank, the man's she's waited to marry, demand she forget the nonsense. Meanwhile, her younger sister, Martha, has taken a fancy to Levi. Martha sees her sister's controversy as a perfect distraction for turning Levi's head.
Well Ruth, I've got to say, when you sent me the very first chapter of the first draft of the story which would become The Promise of an Angel, I knew you'd come up with something unique. Angels and Amish? How did you come up with such a fresh and rich idea?
I think most authors start with ‘what if…” Mine was what if the conflict in the Amish settlement came from God in the form of angel instead of from outside of the community. How would the character respond to an angel? Would she believe? Would her faith still stand if she stood alone? Those questions sparked the story premise.
Although the novel is a romance (and whoo hoo, the romance element is great!), featuring an angel as a character adds a dimension to the main character's faith journey. What was it like writing an angel? How did you decide to describe him?
I found the angel’s character challenging to write. It was important to show that he didn’t have all the answers because God hadn’t revealed them to him. I wanted his characteristics unearthly, while appearing to Judith as an Englischer. According to Hebrews 13: 2 some of us have unwittingly entertained angels. With that being the case, wouldn’t they appear to us in a recognizable human form?
In The Promise of an Angel, faith seems to be the central theme. In a recent interview with Beth Wiseman on Amishliving.com, you mentioned your personal faith journey when your son was born in liver failure. Can you share a time when you struggled with faith?
My son, having had a liver transplant, is immune compromised. One of the issues that plagued him with his disease state was warts. At one time, he had over 50 on one hand. They were so bad that they were embedded in his nail beds. As a pharmacist, I knew the danger of the warts spreading to potentially every area the child touched. I tried everything. I tried both over the counter treatments and prescriptions medications. I took him to a dermatologist to have them burned off, but was refused when they realized the severity of his case. I even tried duct tape after reading in New England Journal of Medicine that a study had shown success. Nothing worked. As I would get one, three or four would come in its place.
One day after I had given up, my son mentioned a boy in his kindergarten class and I asked if he was his best friend. My son’s response crushed me. He said L.J. was the only one who would hold his hand during circle time. I asked why already knowing the answer. The other kids were afraid of his warts. I told him if he didn’t want the warts any longer, he needed to pray and ask Jesus to take them away. Danny replied, “Yeah, that’s what Jesus said.” I was stunned. I asked Danny when he talked with Jesus and he replied, “When I told Jesus about the kids at school, Jesus rubbed my back and told me to pray and ask them to be taken away.”
That night, I listened to Danny pray. “Jesus, I don’t want theses warts anymore, please take them away.” The entire time Danny was praying, my silent prayer went something like this: “Oh, God, you know I’ve been praying for him to be healed of those warts for over a year now. Please, don’t let anything destroy his faith. I’m worried he’ll be disappointed. How will I explain without damaging his faith…”
My faith had already crumbled. Two weeks later, I went to reach for Danny’s hand to walk across the parking lot, and I stopped and stared at his hand. All I said was “Danny,” and he completed my thought. “Yeah, Jesus healed me.” I examined his hand closely. Warts don’t fall off—not all of them at once—without leaving a scar. I asked to see his other hand and he showed me how those were gone too. Danny smiled and said, “Now the other kids aren’t afraid to hold my hand.”
What I learned about childlike faith is that he asked, believed, and trusted God to take away his warts. I, on the other hand, prayed for healing, but continued to exhaust my means to find a treatment. When I failed with my abilities, my faith weakened believing that God didn’t answer my prayer. Looking back, I believe, God was waiting for me to stop interfering and to trust that He didn’t need duct tape.
Oh Ruth, that story brought tears to my eyes. I'm so glad you shared it with us. Deep breath--ok, onto the book. You’ve had some firsthand experience living close to an Amish community. Could you tell us about it?
During college, I lived with Mary and Simon, retired dairy farmers who rented their upstairs bedrooms to college students. I lived with them several years and since I took summer classes also, I was there throughout the year. Mary and I would go to the Amish farms and buy produce and bread. The Amish women were very open to answering all of my questions and I had many. Last fall, when I went to visit, Mary and I drove over to a couple of farms so I could ask them questions. They were warm and welcoming, and what I found the most interesting was how the children lined up their chairs in a row to sit and visit with us. Of the five, only one spoke a little English. The others were not school age and they only spoke Pennsylvania Deitsch. One little girl rocked her doll, a birthday gift. The faceless doll was handmade by her mother and dressed in an Amish dress.
The Amish community were so open to you--what a gift. (And the doll sounds beautiful.) You've certainly got a lot of material available to you for future stories, but I'm curious about what you're reading, since writers tend to be voracious readers. What favorite book do you return to over and over again?
I don’t tend to reread fiction. I have too many on my reading list to read. The Bible is the only book I read over and over and my favorite book is John.
John is my husband's favorite, too. Speaking of husbands...What is something your husband or children would say is quirky about you?
Something my oldest daughter found quirky about me when she learned to drive was how I would drive out of my way (sometimes several blocks) to hit a turning light. While she practiced driving, I wouldn’t let her make left hand turns unless she was at a light. When she rolled her eyes and told her dad about how I insisted she make only right hand turns, which meant going 4 miles out of the way, he laughed. The first time he rode with me while we were in college, he tried to tell me we were going the wrong direction. I explained that I only turn left at a light. He thought driving six blocks the wrong direction was the craziest thing he’d ever heard. My daughter received her license six months ago. When she started driving to school, she teasingly asked what she was going to do because she couldn’t plot out a route only making right turns. I shut her up by agreeing and saying, yep, she’d have to continue riding the bus. Okay, so my OCD isn’t that severe—she does drive to school.
Ruth, thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions, and with such honesty and humor. Congratulations again on the release of The Promise of an Angel. It's definitely a gem of a book.
Ruth will be stopping by later if you have any questions or comments for her! And to win a copy of her new release, please leave a comment by 11 PM Wednesday, June 29, and include your email address in your comment so I can contact you. One commenter will be drawn at random. Good luck!
Ruth Reid is a full-time pharmacist who lives in Dade City, Florida with her husband and three children. Her fascination for the Amish began twenty-years ago when she skipped college classes to watch a barn-raising. Today, she’s still captivated by the simple ways of the Amish lifestyle, and in her debut novel, The Promise of an Angel, she writes about what started her curiosity with the Amish—a barn raising. When Ruth is not working, she loves photography.
You can visit Ruth on her website here. The Promise of an Angel is available from your favorite Christian retailer or here, in paperback or Kindle formats.