Q&A: River Jordan
Nashville resident River Jordan's plays, stories, and novels have garnered high praise for their artful storytelling and beautiful tales of southern life. In The Miracle of Mercy Land, she tells the story of a young woman in the 1930s who makes unusual choices. But some of her choices will dramatically affect the lives of those she loves the most.
What was your inspiration driving the story in The Miracle of Mercy Land?
I'm never quiet certain of what is going to be inspiring the next story. For Mercy Land it was a man standing on an empty street with pages falling all around him and I knew it meant something important. It shows up later in the book as something very significant. My inspirations always evolve as I am writing. The characters come to life and tell their stories. Relationships between people are always critical. And there is always some kind of showdown between forces of good and forces of evil. Good wins out in my books.
Over the course of writing it, what surprised you most during the journey?
So many things. When I write a story I basically inhabit that place, town, or experience. I fell in love with Mercy Land and her story, with Bittersweet Creek and Bay City. There are several scenes where Mercy as a young woman working at the daily newspaper goes into Doc's office, the publisher and editor, and they stand and look out over the town from his upstairs office window. It became one of my favorite thinking spots just like it was Doc's. Now when I find myself trying to figure something out in my mind it's amazing how I find myself back at that window, standing in the office with Doc and calmly looking out over the downtown street. And Aunt Ida! She was a constant surprise!
What parts were inspired by real-life (either research or experience)?
Growing up in a southern, small town on the Gulf Coast and my parents and Grandparents both being from areas nearby more like Bittersweet. I am really familiar with those two settings from real life and they continue to just be a part of the fabric of who I am. The other real events and inspirations was the time period. That was more research and stories from my mother. Just before we entered WWII and what was taking place in Europe at the time, the news events, and the general feeling in America about what was happening were taken from a montage of old news events, timelines, stories, and reports.
Why do you think story is such a powerful way to communicate truth?
Because God created it to be that way. I mean that. The entire story of our faith, our people, our history, our hope, struggles, and in what we believe comes after this life is handed down to us through story. Jesus taught through the power of story. We don't forget that way. It lays down close to the bone and we take it home and hold it in our hearts forever.
What do you hope readers get out of your work?
A sense that this life is worth living to the fullest. That the people we love in life are treasures to behold. That the troubles we face hopefully will still illuminate a hidden truth, a lesson that will help us to help others. That when they close the book they've been inspired to connect somehow with their own story on a deeper level. And that they will walk away believing a little stronger maybe than when they opened the cover and turned the first page.