Q&A: Becky Melby
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS WRITING TODAY'S SHADOWS?
My goal is always to write an entertaining story illustrating that God is the author of second chances. I love knowing that He doesn’t waste anything—not our tears, nor our mistakes—and I long to communicate that message. I hoped to illustrate, in Today’s Shadows, that our past does not define us. I also wanted to show the contrast between life in 1912 and the present—two stories, set in the same house, a century apart.
This book completes my Lost Sanctuary series, so the day my copies of Today’s Shadows arrived on my doorstep, I laid out all three books and took pictures—like a group portrait at a family reunion. Completing a full-length series was the realization of a longtime goal and the fulfillment of a dream.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE PROTAGONIST IN YOUR NOVEL?
Heather Conrad comes to Racine, Wisconsin on the rebound and hoping for a do-over. She’s agreed to house-sit a beautiful Victorian house overlooking Lake Michigan for a month. Thirty days to relax, get over a break-up that feels like betrayal, and work on a business plan for the chain of “coffee & connection” shops she hopes to open. What she didn’t plan on was the job including taking care of a seven-year-old. On top of that, within the first few minutes at the house, she realizes someone is watching her.
A hidden stairway, a forgotten room, an old steamer trunk, and a security guard with amazing eyes turn a relaxing vacation into an adventure, and Heather, who’s spent her life in her sister’s shadow, might be about to step into a much bigger one.
WHAT DO YOU WANT THE READER TO TAKE AWAY AFTER READING TODAY'S SHADOWS?
As I wrote Today’s Shadows, I realized my historical heroine and two of my contemporary characters had absent fathers. Without planning it ahead, the theme “God is the father to the fatherless” began to develop. Since I lost my father while in my teens, this may have been the workings of my subconscious—wanting to share what I’ve learned about leaning on God when you don’t have an earthly father to depend on. I hope my readers will gain a greater understanding of the ways God’s father-love can engulf us and make us whole when we feel incomplete.
WHAT FIRST MADE YOU TAKE THE LEAP FROM "READER" TO "AUTHOR"?
I took a lot of baby steps before that leap. I started writing stories in third grade. A wonderful creative writing teacher in high school encouraged me and I continued to write. But it wasn’t until I was a homeschooling mom of four boys that I found the courage to jump off the cliff. My good friend Cathy Wienke called one day and said she’d just literally thrown a book at the wall because of its predictable plot and unrealistic dialogue. The next thing out of her mouth changed the course of my future: “We should write a book together.” So we jumped off the cliff together, and a year later Barbour purchased Beauty for Ashes for their Heartsong Presents line. That was fifteen books ago.
MANY AUTHORS HAVE ALL KINDS OF IDEAS FOR STORIES JOCKEYING FOR THEIR ATTENTION - HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHICH STORY TO WRITE?
While I do have a file of story ideas—and a myriad of scraps and fragments floating in my head—there always seems to be one trying harder than the others to capture my attention. It was hard to see the Lost Sanctuary series come to an end because the concept of two characters living in the same location decades apart still fascinates me. It was so much fun to create “clues from the past” in the form of hidden rooms and doors and forgotten letters or diaries. The story that’s currently demanding my attention contains a thread going back to the 1960s. It’s like having my very own time machine.