Q&A: Erin Healy
Audrey wasn't always the baker's wife, you see. Until a scandalous lie cost her husband a pastoral career, she was the pastor's wife. Now the two work side-by-side running a bakery, serving coffee, and baking fresh bread. Driving early one morning to the bakery, Audrey's car strikes something - or someone - at a fog-shrouded intersection. But nobody's there... just the scooter. But as the detective spirals out of control and takes her family and some patrons hostage at the bakery, Audrey has to face her past, open up old wounds and trust in some strange partners in order to solve the mystery.
A really tough year! Some of my family members went through extended periods of physical and emotional pain. It’s tempting in these seasons to give in to confusion and complaining. (I do more than my share of that.) I could not have made it through that time without the kindness and sincere empathy of friends, loved ones, and professionals who know what it means to lovingly lift someone else’s burdens. In The Baker’s Wife, Audrey and Geoff embody these people.
It’s also tempting to want to retaliate against anyone who causes us pain. We make justice a higher value than compassion. My character Jack is such a man.
In The Baker’s Wife I was able to imagine how life’s pain might be transformed by compassion, though we ultimately hope for justice. I was guided by two scriptures in this novel: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the ... Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received” (NIV). And this paraphrase of Romans 5:5: Hope that is born of suffering does not disappoint (NLT).
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
I seem to be drawn to writers with strong thematic material—messages that don't preach but make me question my perceptions of the world or think about ideas in new ways. I’m partial to the themes of Chaim Potok, who wrote about the tensions between faith and experience from a Jewish perspective. I love the beauty of language in Lief Enger’s and Marilynne Robinson’s novels. And I love Suzanne Collin's perceptive moral explorations in the Hunger Games series.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
My Christian faith informs my world view. I don’t try to separate that view from my stories (though I write characters who certainly don’t share my beliefs). I do, however, use storytelling as an opportunity for me to work out some of my faith-related questions, doubts, ideas, and hopes.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I came to writing via my editorial relationship with Ted Dekker, who invited me to write a couple novels with him. It was very backdoor, I know. But every meaningful effort in my life, from a very young age, has involved writing of one type or another. I can’t say that I had a dream to publish as much as I had a skill worth nurturing. At least that how I’m trying to think of it: God gave me a gift that I mean not to waste.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
My amazing editor, Ami McConnell, stated the takeaway value of The Baker's Wife best: “Empathy is a gift; we ignore it at our own peril. We follow it at a cost to ourselves.” I hope readers will find this novel to be a memorable exploration of what it means to love your enemies by sharing in their suffering and experiencing it as your own. (Some readers were concerned that I gave my main character a psychic gift, and I address that concern here on my blog.) In this story, the protagonists avert tragedy and save lives because they are motivated by compassion rather than by the need to be justified.