Happy Monday! Starting today and continuing through Saturday (culminating with a list of winners), I have the privilege of sharing mini interviews with nearly all of the 2019 ACFW Carol Award Finalists! Today I’m covering the contemporary category, including Heidi Chiavaroli and her nominated book The Hidden Side! You can check out a list of all the finalists HERE.
FYI – There will be several posts per day, and a week-long giveaway, so make sure you catch them all!
Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. She is an ACFW Carol Award winner and a Christy finalist. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. Visit her at heidichiavaroli.com
THE HIDDEN SIDE
GENRE: Inspirational Dual Timeline Fiction
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: May 8, 2018
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.
Hi Heidi! Welcome back to the blog!
Q: Why do you write fiction? And, why specifically Christian fiction?
Heidi: I write fiction because I can’t imagine not writing fiction! It’s a creative outlet that I truly believe God has knit within me. Even when I’m enjoying a “break” after a deadline, I find myself imagining new stories and dreaming up characters.
All fiction is powerful, but Christian fiction played an important part in my own faith walk. I witnessed firsthand how the gospel message woven within a story can impact a person—because I was that person. I longed to touch the hearts of readers with my own stories.
Carrie: Oh how I love that personal testimony! ♥
Q: Other than the Bible, what are a couple of your most cherished books and why?
Heidi: Redeeming Love and A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers were two books that impacted me early on in my walk with Jesus. Wow. These stories gripped me like nothing I’ve ever read before. They changed me and challenged me. They showed me true hope. And I will always be grateful for them.
Carrie: Yes!!! So many people have been eternally impacted by Francine’s books. What a gift!
Q: If I asked your characters to describe YOU as an author, what would they say?
Heidi: They’d probably say I’m a pretty lenient “parent”, letting them take over and walk off the path of any “planned” storyline. 😉
Carrie: haha – and it sounds like they take full advantage of that 😉
Q: Which of your main characters (either in the nominated The Hidden Side or over all you’ve written) is most like you?
Heidi: While I can definitely see some of my Mom-self in Natalie (The Hidden Side), I can especially identify with Sarah, the heroine in my newest time-slip novel, The Edge of Mercy. She not only lives in my hometown, but I find myself dealing with hard situations in a similar manner she does (by seeking distraction and purpose with a historical story!). 😉
Carrie: I know a few readers (myself included) who can identify with Sarah too!
Q: What is something God taught you while you wrote The Hidden Side?
Heidi: Oh, this book stretched me in ways I hadn’t anticipated!
God totally challenged my empathy with this one. I had to put myself in the shoes of those that I, quite honestly, never wanted to relate to. But He gave me the grace to go there, to walk with these characters and see them through to the end. And in doing so, He gave me a bigger view of humanity. Never again will I be able to have the same small, comfortable view of the world. With this research and with these characters, I walked a hard, even dark road, but because God was there I found light and grace at the end. And I’m so thankful.
Carrie: He is so faithful to stretch us, isn’t He? But also faithful to always be waiting with grace.
Q: What is one of your favorite quotes from The Hidden Side & why do you love it?
I looked up at my Mom through blurry eyes. We’d grown closer these past several months. Being a family—it wasn’t all Hallmark cards and Cheerios commercials. It was tough—especially for the Abbott family. But looking at her now, knowing she was by my side, I felt that it was the first good physical thing to poke through the ashes of our tragedy.
I handed her the shovel, wondered what she really thought about my crazy theory. She was only digging to show me she had my back, that she believed in me. She didn’t really think Mercy had buried something here, something that would change things for us, give us hope.
But none of that really mattered.
She was digging.
Heidi: I love this (rather long) quote because it shows two broken characters, a mother and daughter, both who have become very dear to me, clinging to one another and growing alongside one another in the face of beyond difficult circumstances. This is part of the light that was at the end of this book for me, and I think it speaks of what it means to be a real family today. There’s a lot of the hard. Sometimes a lot of the ugly. But there’s always hope—not just eternal hope, but if we choose to lean on one another and God now, hope for this life as well.
Carrie: All my yeses to this!
I am offering one reader any TWO books (print copies) that finaled in the 2019 Carol Awards! (open internationally as long as Book Depository ships to your address) 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 from Heidi Chiavaroli’s Q&A or the contemporary Carol Award finalist The Hidden Side?