Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish preacher bent on helping her survive? In an Idaho Territory boom town, America Liberty Reed overhears circuit preacher Shane Hayes try to persuade a hotel owner to close his saloon on Sunday. Shane lands face-down in the mud for his trouble, and there’s talk of shooting him. America intervenes and finds herself in an unexpectedly personal conversation with the blue-eyed preacher. Certain she has angered God in the past, she shies away from Shane. Addie Martin, another widow, invites America to help in her cook tent in Virginia City, the new mining town. Even with Addie’s teenage son helping with America’s baby, life is hard. Shane urges America to depart for a more civilized location. Neither Shane’s persuasions nor road agents, murder, sickness, or vigilante violence can sway America. Loyalty and ambition hold her fast until dire circumstances force her to confront everything she believes about herself, Shane, and God. Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America.
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Hi, Mary. Thanks for the interview and the chance to meet your readers.
What is the most important thing you hope readers will take away from reading your book?
I hope readers of Hills of Nevermore will come away with a sense of God’s unconditional love for them. Our finite minds can’t fully comprehend that kind of love, but we yearn for it intuitively. We want to be loved despite ourselves.
Why did you choose to write about the wild west in Virginia City? Do you have any ties to it?
While on a road trip, my husband and I decided to drive through Virginia City, Montana. With our shared love of history, we didn’t need much incentive to detour to a ghost town. I learned from a brochure that the local history involved gold dust, road agents, questionable lawmen, and vigilante hangings. We didn’t have time to stop and explore, but much of Virginia City is visible from the main road. With many intact buildings, the town really is impressive. I made a mental note to return some day with more time to explore.
We passed Robber’s Roost, a road house several miles outside town. The brochure explained that road agents once lurked on the balcony, ready to ride out and rob stagecoaches carrying gold between the goldrush towns of Bannack and Virginia City. As we continued through the Ruby Valley, a flat land with winding waterways between distant mountains, stories crowded my mind, and I knew I would write about this place.
How does your faith play in your writing?
My faith is central to everything I do, including writing. The themes and story tone I choose come from my values and morals. I don’t have to force myself to write from a Christian worldview. That comes naturally.
What sparked your decision to journey down the path of writing?
Writing is indeed a journey, and for me one worth taking. I started in early childhood by making up my own bedtime stories and progressed from there. Every journey has its costs, and that’s certainly true of writing. In the beginning of my career, the token I paid was in discouragement. It’s hard to believe in yourself when instead of encouragement you receive rejection. Once you conquer that problem and start to land contracts, the price becomes time stress. This is an observation, not a complaint. I love the writing journey.
What are you writing now?
I’m in the last throes of finishing Cheyenne Sunrise, second novel in the Montana Gold series. This story is close to my heart because I modeled the half-Cheyenne hero after my father, who was half Native American. The heroine is an Irish-American woman who, after her job ends in disaster, goes West looking for a new start. Here’s a brief description:
Cheyenne Sunrise (Montana Gold, book 2)
An Irish-American woman must decide whether to love again after her abusive marriage ends with her husband’s death. The son of a Cheyenne woman and a French trapper lives between two worlds without fitting into either. Neither wants to fall in love, and certainly not with one another.
What are your hobbies other than writing?
I like to garden, hike, travel, read, and research historical events. My hobbies are perfect for a writer, including the gardening, which rests my mind between writing sessions.
What is your favorite comfort food?
I can’t really name one favorite food, but I drink teas of all sorts. That’s technically a beverage, but it’s what I use to counter weariness, sickness, stress, or a scattered feeling.
Tell readers how to keep up with you?
The best way is to visit the Janalyn Voigt website at http://janalynvoigt.com. When you arrive on the front page, it may pleasantly surprise you. For the best experience click on the images of the worlds that align to the genres I write. Visit my ‘About’ page to learn more about me as an author and for my social links.