I am so pleased today to welcome Amy K. Sorrells to the blog to talk about her new book Before I Saw You!
A long-time believer in the power of story to change lives, Amy is an award-winning author and columnist, as well as a registered nurse at a busy hospital. She lives near the countryside in central Indiana with her husband and three sons. When she’s not writing, she loves doting on her husband, three young adult sons and their golden retriever. If there’s leftover time after that, she enjoys up-cycling, gardening and binge reading.
Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic, where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.
Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer—not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.
Hi Amy! Welcome to the blog!
Q: Coffee or tea?
Amy: Coffee. My husband and I bought ourselves a Keurig for Christmas and we love trying all different kinds of the little K-cups. Besides that, I love never have to wash a forgotten pot of stale coffee!
Carrie: I love our Keurig – even though I hate coffee lol. They make hot chocolate pods too 😀
Q: Netflix or Hallmark Channel?
Amy: Definitely Netflix. Stranger Things and Call the Midwife are my favorites.
Carrie: I really must get around to watching Call the Midwife one of these days …
Q: Oceans or mountains?
Amy: Oceans. There’s something about being around water that immediately helps me feel calmer and more alive. No wonder I used to love being a competitive swimmer.
Carrie: The mountains are my happy place but the ocean calls to me too ♥
Q: When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
Amy: (sheepishly) I like to check out Christian fiction to see if they’re stocking any of my books, or any of my friends’ books. If so, I turn them cover-side-out on the shelves in hopes that more people will notice and buy them! I probably just annoy the poor clerks who have to go back and fix them. (Sorry!) After that, I like to look at the bargain books, the big, coffee table picture books, and flip through bestsellers to see what all the hype is about.
Carrie: Oh i’m so glad other people turn the covers face out too lol
Q: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled while researching a book?
Amy: I researched subjects for Before I Saw You that made me sure that the FBI was going to come knocking at my door. Since one of the threads in the story is the opioid crisis, I had to look up all kinds of things such as what heroin looks like, where people buy it, side effects of it, what kinds of jail sentences addicts and dealers have to serve, and more. The worse thing about researching the opioid crisis was how tragic all the stories were, and how overwhelming the statistics are of its prevalence and toll.
Carrie: I can’t even imagine …
Q: You are a registered nurse by day and write by night. How has your nursing career influenced your writing?
Amy: Years ago, when I was struggling with whether to write or be a nurse, feeling like I needed to choose. A wise mentor at the time told me that the two careers could very well feed each other. She was right! Ever since then, I’ve essentially had two full time jobs, and I love them both dearly. From my nursing, I glean empathy for people of all races, religions, and backgrounds, as well as for their real life struggles and hardship. And since the mission of my writing is, “Words of Hope for a Hurting World,” well, you can see how the two careers certainly compliment each other. As much tragedy as there is in a hospital, there is an equal measure of hope. I’m so grateful to witness this first hand. Readers will notice this connection especially in Before I Saw You, in the characters who are struggling with addiction, dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, and more.
Carrie: I think those two things – empathy & the ability to see hope in tragedy – are essential for writers who want to write about a hurting world. And isn’t it so like God to have given you that ‘other’ career – nursing – to cultivate those strengths in you ♥
Q: In your bio, you mention a love for gardening. How does nature play a role in your stories?
Amy: Nature and the outdoors—both the serenity and the science of them—have always captivated me. From the youngest of ages I wrote poetry about nature, loved my science classes, and all of the plant, micro, and animal biology, and chemistry I took in college. The marvels of creation are so evident and breathtaking in the largest and most microscopic places, and in the interconnectedness of life all around us. Before I Saw You was inspired in part by the current plight of the ash trees in North America, how the emerald ash borer is killing them to the point some fear they will be extinct. How Sweet the Sound was inspired in part by pecan farming. Parallels to nature are laced throughout all of my novels.
Carrie: Although I have never met a plant I could not kill and I don’t ‘do’ outdoors, I am still captivated by the way nature showcases God’s creativity and His wisdom. And, of course, as I said earlier – the mountains are my happy place 🙂
Q: Some authors like to hide little things in their stories. Is there anything you have hidden in Before I Saw You?
Amy: I did hide something in Before I Saw You! One of the books I read for research was Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I’m a huge Steinbeck fan, and there is a scene in Before I Saw You that is a definite nod to one of the scenes in that book. It will be interesting to see if anyone notices!
Carrie: How fun!
Q: Who is your favorite character from Before I Saw You & why?
Amy: A woman named Sudie is my favorite character in Before I Saw You. She is an older woman, some would say the mentor in the story. She is a certified wildlife rescuer, and I just adore her love for animals and tending to the wounds of the most unlikely of critters. More than that, she has a stern yet gentle way about her that is no-nonsense, but at the same time makes me want to sit at her feet and just soak in her wisdom and kindness.
Carrie: Oh she sounds like a character I can’t wait to meet ♥
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Amy: Right now I’m taking a kind of forced sabbatical. I have a handful of ideas for a next novel floating around in my head, but I could tell I needed a few months to purposefully rest my brain, to soak up my family and the simple things in life like the sunset and long, leisurely walks, reading for pleasure and not for research, and that sort of thing. I pour my heart into my stories, and at some point I have to pause to be still and fill it back up. That said, I am excited that Tyndale will be releasing my novel called Then Sings My Soul in 2019. It’s a semi-historical about two Jewish boys escaping the 1904 pogroms of Eastern Europe, and their life and trials—and a big dose of hope–in America thereafter.
Amy K. Sorrells is offering a print copy of Before I Saw You to one of my readers! (US only) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What interests you most about Amy and/or her new novel?