When eleven-year-old Roz Anthony and her family move to Mills River, Illinois and move into their new home, they get more than they’ve bargained for. The former owner of the house, Tillie Monroe, though supposed to be in an assisted living facility, shows up on their front porch day after day. Her kindness and easy way endear her to the Anthonys and she quickly becomes one with the family. But the Anthony family didn’t move to Mills River just for a fresh start and when their past starts to stalk them, Tillie is determined to keep her new family safe, regardless of the cost.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE PROMISES TO KEEP?
One of the main characters, Tillie Monroe, first introduced herself to me more than twenty years ago. I tried to put her in a different novel early on and it didn’t work. She said it wasn’t the right time and neither was it the right story (yes, my characters talk to me). All these years later, she showed up again and said, “Okay, now’s the time.” I saw her sitting on the porch of a house she once owned, reading the morning paper. Since she no longer owned the place, I asked her what she was doing on the porch of someone else’s house, and the story took off from there.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
Then as now, I’m inspired by many, many authors, some well known, others not so well known, some Christian, others not. What has inspired me is the way these wordsmiths have written so beautifully about the trials and triumphs of the human condition: Charles Dickens, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Frederick Buechner, Thornton Wilder, Somerset Maugham, Elizabeth Goudge, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Richard Wright, Reynolds Price, Rebecca West, Thomas Wolfe, John Steinbeck … too many to name. And this list doesn’t even include the poets!
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
My faith—my belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, my belief in the Bible as God’s revealed truth—influences my writing completely, because it lies at the heart of everything I have to say.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I’ve loved to read and write since earliest childhood, so at age 18 I decided to pursue a journalism degree. I thought I’d spend my life reporting on true stories of God’s work in the world. No one was more surprised than I was when, in my mid-twenties, I started writing novels. I was working as an assistant editor for Decision magazine at the time and discovered fiction to be an equally effective and wonderful way to share the truth of the Gospel.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I hope they find hope! No one needs to be told that the world we live in is a dark place and that even the easiest of lives is hard. But everyone needs to be reminded—or maybe even told for the first time—that there is hope. Hope for forgiveness, for salvation, for healing, for peace of mind and heart, and ultimately for eternal life in God’s presence.