Yes. My husband, from India and his friends would tell me amazing stories about their lives in India as young seminarians. These experiences—being sent all over India for education and training—fascinated me; like meeting Mother Teresa, working in orphanages, ministering in the “untouchable” villages and rescuing bonded laborers, and other incredible experiences between the 1980s through late 1990s India. Since I love fiction, I decided to fictionalize the stories and contrast and compare the main character, Sagai, with a person coming of age and living in the same decades in the United States, Rebecca. So, using similar themes throughout each chapter, I threaded their lives together, making them known only to each other by a priest who mentored Sagai, visits the US, meets Rebecca and becomes her pen pal.
What started you on your writing journey?
Well, instead I’ll tell you about the day I quit writing. Nearly fifteen years ago, as God as my witness, I quit writing. I shut off my computer, scooped up my fussy baby, strapped him in the stroller and headed out the door. Along a quiet country road, Baby Nick, free from the confines of the office playpen, giggled and kicked his legs. A gentle spring breeze rustled through the grassy field. Chirping birds, wildflowers sprinkled along wooden fence posts, and a rabbit on our path affirmed there was more to life than a computer screen. Rejection letters numbering in the hundreds were reason enough to avow my one-sided love affair with writing.
On that road, I happily declared to The Almighty that I wasn't wasting any more time writing unless (there's always an unless) He wanted me to write and (there's always an and) He gave me a clear sign why I should spend hours in a dark office, glued to the computer. My school aged children (Jake and Betsy) would see my face instead of my back. They'd get more hugs instead of uh-huh's.
Relieved of my burden, I returned home to a blinking answering machine. At the beep, an editor for Guideposts for Teens magazine said she wanted to publish my essay. I grabbed Baby Nick and twirled him in a happy dance, then lowered him into his playpen prison. God responded. I was a writer with work to do.
That day, I dedicated my writing to God and took the kids out for celebratory ice cream. The next day, to my surprise, I received a check in the mail from a parenting magazine and a copy of my first published work. Doors to the published world began to open and I've been amazed at the writing opportunities that have come my way since.
What makes you smile and/or laugh out loud?
Where is your favorite place to travel/vacation in?
Some of my favorite travel moments are Goa, India, at midnight, hearing the roar of the Arabian Sea under moonlight shining on frothy whitecaps. Loved Glastonbury, England, stepping behind a gate to discover ancient monastery ruins. Exhilarating was standing on Tiger Hills—the foothills of the Himalayas—the best vantage point to watch the sun come up in the morning over Kangchenjunga Mountains, one of the highest peaks of the Himalayas. Also, loved drinking Darjeeling Tea in Darjeeling, India and visiting the lush tea gardens. Oh, and looking across a crystal blue water on the Isle of Iona, Scotland alongside sheep as white as the sand. In the US, I love the Wind River Canyon area in Wyoming. (Setting for my second novel, I’ll Be Seeing You). Being the wife on an Anglican bishop, we travel quite a bit on pastoral visits to our churches, scattered across the US.
Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?
Oh, definitely. Several places in India inspired a lot of my writing in Crooked Lines. I’ve personally visited most every scene in Crooked Lines. Darjeeling, my husband and I rode the tiny toy train up to Ghoom: 8000 feet, the same train that Mother Theresa rode when inspired to leave her convent and begin a new order. There’s a little hill station in Tamil Nadu, India that inspired Sagai’s hometown. Twenty-two hair pin curves up to the top of a misty mountain where monkeys dominate the roadsides. During one visit, a herd of elephants caused a traffic jam. Also, in Crooked Lines, some of Rebecca’s scenes are along the shores of Lake Michigan. I grew up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Struggles and redemption. In Crooked Lines and in my upcoming novel, I’ll Be Seeing You there are strong themes of being lost and then returning back to God and His Powerful Love.
Where do you escape for some quiet time to reflect, pray, read, etc?
Our home chapel or beautiful church chapel. Being the wife on an Anglican Bishop offers me many places to pray.
Could you share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you?
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. I’ve experienced difficult moment in my life, made wrong turns, and God has always worked everything to the good.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I’ll Be Seeing You: In Wyoming’s Wind River Valley, Charlie Willow faces a future more unsettling than the one he imagined upon realizing he was dead. The plan, written into his will, ought to fix his children, but an angel asks for a little more help. I’ll Be Seeing You, was an ACFW Genesis 2014 semi-finalist.
Devotional: Holly Michael and her son, Jake Byrne, an NFL player with type one diabetes, are writing a devotional contracted with Harvest House.
Goodness of America: Ten Years After Tsunami. A sample of America’s goodness when tragedy strikes in other parts of the world. Reminiscing on the impact of help on the lives of the orphans, then and now. Holly Michael revisits South India. (nonfiction)
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Holly Michael is giving away a copy of Crooked Lines. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.