Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her current novel, Where Hope Begins (Thomas Nelson), is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations. In this interview, the author shares the inspiration behind the novel, the heartbreaking true-life parallels she encountered while writing it, and the best ways readers can support their favorite authors…
Catherine, what is Where Hope Begins about?
Where Hope Begins is a story about finding beauty in the brokenness. Life can get messy and complicated, and at times we can feel as though we’re on an out-of-control emotional roller coaster. And it’s often hard to see God at work when things seem so impossible. This is a story about hope, forgiveness, and second chances.
Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.
But soon, Savannah is given a challenge that she can’t run away from. Forgiving the unforgiveable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.
Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.
What inspired the story in this novel?
This was one of those rare stories that I believe God gave to me for a specific purpose. The first line, ‘My husband is leaving me’, came to me in the middle of the night, and the story literally began to play out in my mind from that point forward.
At first, it wasn’t a story I wanted to write, as the topics were heavy and I wasn’t sure my readers would want to read about them. But as the story unfolded and the characters took life, I knew this was a special book that needed to be written.
It was only after I had finished the first draft that I unfortunately discovered that two dear friends were experiencing the exact same situation as Savannah, faced with a situation they didn’t see coming. At that point I knew there was a greater purpose for this book, and the mail I have already received from readers saying, ‘this could be my story’, has really confirmed that. So I’m glad I listened to God, and went ahead and wrote this one, even though I had doubts at the beginning!
What do you hope readers take away after reading Where Hope Begins?
This is always a tough question. I like to leave that one up to God. I think we’re all so different and reading is so subjective, two people can read the same book and come away with entirely different perspectives!
But I hope that through sharing Savannah’s story, readers may be more empathetic to others in similar heart-breaking circumstances. Sometimes we are too quick to judge without listening.
I think there is a real sense of hope in this story, through the message that in even the darkest of seasons, God is at work in our lives. I’d love my readers to walk away with that knowledge.
How does your faith impact how you approach storytelling?
I write what I like to call ‘reality fiction’, meaning I want things to be as true to life as possible in my stories. And let’s face it, life can be messy and complicated, and sometimes we’re thrown into circumstances that seem impossible.
But there is always hope. God always offers a way, though it may not be the path we intended to go down, if we’ll put our trust in Him, once that hard season is over, we can often look back and see how God orchestrated it all to work for our good. I’ve had this happen in my own life, and it’s such a healing thing to see how God was at work even though I may not have seen it at the time.
And then there are those life-changing moments when it seems impossible to believe that all things work together for good – the death of a child, a spouse walking away, so many hard things. In those seasons, especially for believers, it takes every ounce of faith we have to hold on, and what happens when we fall?
We’re all on different journeys, and I love to explore that in my writing. My hope is that all readers, Christians or not, would find something different in the books I write, that would point them toward the hope we have in Jesus Christ.
What are the best ways readers can support their favorite authors?
I love it when a reader takes the time to reach out personally. It means a lot to know that my words have had an impact, and meant enough to prompt them to connect with me.
Writers depend on our readers to help spread the word about our books, so leaving reviews on various sites like Goodreads, Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, etc. are a great way to support authors. Word of mouth is really important–if you enjoyed a book, talk about it with your friends, post on social media–there are so many outlets online these days where readers can connect and talk about their favorite books, it’s wonderful!
Of course, buying our books for friends and family is great too! I’m so grateful for my readers and the support and encouragement they provide for authors of Christian fiction. The market is really expanding and it’s a very exciting time to be a part of this special publishing community.
Visit Catherine West’s author page:
Where Hope Begins