Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Heidi Chiavaroli & The Hidden Side

Posted May 14, 2018 by meezcarrie in Author Interview, Christian, contemporary, giveaway, Heidi Chiavaroli, historical / 67 Comments

Ever since I read Heidi Chiavaroli’s debut novel Freedom’s Ring I have been pushing it at people left and right. So I’m delighted today to welcome her to the blog to chat about her new release The Hidden Side!

New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.

New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.

Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.

5 Behind-the-Scenes Facts about The Hidden Side

Heidi Chiavaroli

All stories have their own “behind-the-scenes” details—the inspiration that helped birth the story, the research that went into it, the experience of the author as he or she wrote it. It’s my pleasure to share with you five facts behind my newest release, The Hidden Side.

The idea for this story didn’t come easy.

I had a hard time coming up with this second story idea. I think there’s something about a sophomore novel that is automatically intimidating. I knew my publisher liked my first novel—they offered me a contract for it, after all! But now I had to prove that my talent wasn’t simply a fluke. That’s a lot of pressure!

I remember preparing for a scheduled conference call with my editor and agent, and still not having a solid story idea to pitch them. (I knew the historical direction of the story, but was stuck on a suitable contemporary storyline.) Desperate, I got on the phone with my friend and amazing fellow author, Melissa Jagears, for a brainstorming session. As we spoke, she remembered a particularly disturbing headline in the news along with an interview with the perpetrator’s aunt, who had raised this man. The aunt seemed just as shocked as the rest of the country over what her kin had done. Melissa’s “What if . . . ?” sentence that followed sparked an idea. I pitched it to my agent and editor the next day, who were a wonderful help in refining it, and then got to work!

My historical heroine is inspired by a real-life person in history.

I was searching for a true-to-life historical figure from the American Revolution when I stumbled upon Agent 355, a woman who played an important part in General George Washington’s most successful spy ring, a woman whose identity we still don’t know for certain. That was enough to get my imagination going! Before long, I had a historical story about a woman seeking to redeem the wrong done her fiancé, infamous spy Nathan Hale. The story would be about a woman hiding behind a facade that could not only ruin every relationship she has, but could put her life in peril as well. The fact that this woman finds herself caring for a man she must deceive would add to the conflict.

I found memoirs extremely helpful in the writing of this story.

As soon as I’d written the synopsis of this story, I knew it would take me places I had little experience with. You know that saying, “Write what you know”? Well, thankfully, I didn’t know anything about having a son commit such an unspeakable act that it would cause him to be locked away forever. Yet other women did, and I was blessed that they were brave enough to share their stories.

Prolific author and speaker Carol Kent wrote about her heartbreaking experience in When I Lay My Isaac Down. Her honesty and beautiful faith helped me put myself in the shoes of a mother who faced her worst nightmare.

In researching, my attention was brought to a newer book, A Mother’s Reckoning, by Sue Klebold. Sue is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters. Honestly, it scared me to read this. I didn’t want to relate to this woman. I didn’t want to even feel empathy, if I were honest. Maybe that sounds low, but I felt better in my safe little world, thinking that the enormity of such a crime was only the result of bad parenting. If I read this woman’s thoughts, I may be proven wrong. And that scared me.

Both of these books stretched me, and though only one is told from a perspective of faith, both stretched my faith. These things really happen. They are dark, and often they feel without hope . . . yet does that mean they are? And if my empathy could grow from these women’s experiences, perhaps my readers’ empathy could grow from the writing of my novel, in exploring that hidden side of things we don’t often bother to look into.

I wrote this story in three months.

That includes the writing of it and the first round of edits I perform with my critique partner. Yes, I had a deadline, but the intensity of the story dragged me in so much that I couldn’t leave it for long. These characters kept me up at night and destroyed my peace. I couldn’t stop writing until I knew what their fate would be.

Real history provided a pleasant surprise for me at the end.

Though I can’t tell you what this is because it would spoil the story, I was having a bit of trouble tying the faith aspect of a particular historical character into the ending until I found a precious tidbit of knowledge that directly related to the real-life faith of this character. I explain more in the historical note at the end of the book, but for now I will tell you it does involve a poem. (I guess I can’t stay away from including them in my stories!)

Thank you so much for having me, Carrie!

Thank YOU, Heidi! I am so fascinated by Agent 355, and I love seeing a bit more of the process for how The Hidden Side came to be. And now I’m equally intrigued by the real history that ties in to the ending 😀

Heidi Chiavaroli began writing eleven years ago, just after Jesus grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since! Heidi won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. Her debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, was a 4½-star Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut, and her latest novel, The Hidden Side, is scheduled to release in May 2018. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of fourteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle. Visit her at

website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Heidi Chiavaroli & Tyndale House are giving away a copy of The Hidden Side (US only) to one of my readers! This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM May 21, 2018. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What about you? What interests you most about Heidi’s behind-the-scenes facts?


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67 responses to “Guest Post (and a Giveaway!): Heidi Chiavaroli & The Hidden Side

  1. Carrie, I’m so honored to be on your beautiful blog. Thank you for having me (and for pushing Freedom’s Ring at people left and right!). 🙂

  2. MS Barb

    I didn’t know about a spy ring during the American Revolution!(That’s fascinating!) Also, Heidi’s openness about not wanting to read “A Mother’s Reckoning.” I had a son in prison 1999-2002. One Sunday morning I felt led to go pray w/ a new visitor at my church who had gone forward to the altar. I asked her what she had need of from the Lord, and w/ her head down, she said I wouldn’t understand. I softly said, “Try me.” She said she had a son in prison, and I answered, “So do I.” She looked up in shock and said, “But you…but you…and pointed to the keyboard on the platform…Quietly I said his prison number & which prison, and asked, “Now may I pray w/ you?” YES…I took her hands in mine, and began to pray: Lord, when we first held our newborn sons in our arms, NEVER, did we envision a future like this…I prayed scripture after scripture over her, and for God to give her peace…

    • Oh my, and wow. Thank you so, so much for sharing your story. Being a parent, in so many ways, humbles us, and it’s beautiful to see how God took something like your son’s predicament and used it for his good. Beautiful. Again, thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Marilyn Brown

    Thank you for being on this blog. It was very interesting. Thanks for this wonderful giveaway.

  4. Kay Garrett

    Loved that she wanted her historical heroine to be inspired by a real-life person in history. Agent 355 sounds very intriguing to say the least. It will be interesting to see how she took those facts and spun her story from them.

    Thank you for all the wonderful information on both “The Hidden Side” and author
    Heidi Chiavaroli.

    Cant’ wait for the opportunity to read the book!

  5. So interesting that Heidi’s character is based on a real-life lady spy from the American Revolution. Looking forward to reading the book. Thanks for offering it in a giveaway!

  6. Carrie & Heidi: I’ve been absent from the reading/writing world the past few weeks (taking care of Mom on hospice) 🙁 — but when I skimmed my inbox and saw this interview, I couldn’t resist stopping in to say hi and to celebrate the release of The Hidden Side, which was my Mother’s Day gift. I can’t wait to read it! Three months to write…you amaze me, Heidi!

  7. Faith Creech

    I can’t believe she wrote this book in three months. That’s a lot of fast writing! This book looks so interesting, I am looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the chance to win.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Faith! (And I will probably never do the three month thing again!) All the best!

  8. Cathy

    Very interesting interview in many respects. I enjoy history and have read Heidi’s first book. Found it interesting that she brainstormed with Melissa Jagears, who is one of my favorite authors.

    • Yay for Melissa, Cathy! Melissa and I met at a 2010 conference, when we were still both unpublished at the time. She has been such a wonderful friend to have on this journey! (And yes, love her books!)

  9. Debra E. Marvin

    Let me just say that as an author, we’re not always sure that blog post visits sell books. BUT this one definitely did. I’ve been very interested in this story but learning more about the ‘behind the scenes’ really intrigued me. I’m so pleased for your success, Heidi!

  10. MJSH

    I love that there is indeed real history within the fictional world she’s created. I love dual timeline books and can’t wait to read this one.

  11. Robin in NC

    It always amazes me the amount of research authors have to do, even when they’re writing fiction!

  12. Janet Estridge

    When Columbine happened I was working in a high school library.
    Walking into the library the very next day was very strange to say the least.
    We had police all over the campus for a few days which we never had before.

    • It’s a terrifying thing, and a terrifying thought, Janet. So very sad. Sandy Hook particularly wrecked me. I didn’t want to send my kids to school for weeks. It brought a lot of fear into me, but thanks to God, he worked out that fear to grow me. This book grew me in many ways, as well, particularly my empathy.

  13. Dianne Casey

    I liked that the story is based on a real spy ring in Revolutionary Times and the heroine is based on a real person. Sounds like an amazing read. I enjoy reading historical fiction.

  14. Sarah

    This book sounds so fascinating! The historical spy ring element would make it interesting enough, but the mom’s situation and heartbreak just makes me have to read it to find some resolution.

  15. Merry

    I am intrigued by Agent 355. I love reading about the Revolutionary War time frame of history. I am from Long Island and our town was know for the burning of the hay to impede the British troops.

    Heidi’s book is one I would enjoy reading.

    • So neat, Merry! Many of General Washington’s spies were based out of the Setauket area, so I’m not sure where you are in relation to that, but so interesting! Love when the towns we live in have a special history to them. 🙂

    • I love basing my stories in historical fact. I’m so glad you find it interesting too, Marilyn. Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Pam K.

    I’m intrigued that the heroine is based on a real person, a still unknown spy. I’ve always found spy stories to be very interesting.

  17. Winnie Thomas

    Thanks, Carrie and Heidi! This post was so interesting to read, and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about your books, Heidi! They are both on my wish list. They sound fascinating.

  18. Writing a book in 3 months?! Um…WOW!! 🙂 It must have consumed your life during those months. I’m sure putting yourself into it so much like that really comes through in the story, and I can’t wait to read it!

    • Thank you, Rosalyn, and you are absolutely right. It was consuming. One of the reasons why I’ve purposely taken a different approach with my next book. It’s important to live, too. 🙂

  19. I’m reading this right now, and all I can say is ‘Wow!’ I can totally understand you just needing to get it t written down once you had started, because that’s exactly what reading it is like!

  20. Alison Boss

    I found it fascinating to hear that the heroine of The Hidden Side was based on a real historical woman, Agent 355, who played an important part in a successful spy ring for George Washington during the American Revolution. That just gets my mind reeling with excitement! My favorite genre to read is historical Christian fiction, and I enjoy spy themes with twists, and I REALLY enjoy dual times lines! It’s a total WIN/WIN for sure!!!

  21. Natalya Lakhno

    Thank you for sharing Behind-the-Scenes Facts. It is fascinating to learn 🙂 especially when author seems so invested in the story! Blessings!

  22. Caryl Kane

    I enjoyed reading these Behind-the-Scenes Facts! I especially liked learning that memoirs are an integral part of Heidi’s research.

    I’m excited to read this series!

  23. Connie Saunders

    Wow! I absolutely have to read this book! Thanks for sharing Heidi’s thoughts.

  24. I loved seeing how quickly this book was written! I always imagined that a book HAS to take ages to write, so it feels fun to get to see how hooked Heidi was in writing it. I can’t wait to read it.

  25. Melissa Andres

    Ever since I first heard about this book I’ve been anxious to read it, so to win would be amazing! I find it super interesting that there were women spies and the story behind Agent 355 is fascinating!

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