Lindsay Harrel’s novel The Heart Between Us (Thomas Nelson) is the story of two sisters, one heart transplant, and a bucket List. After a lifetime of illness, Megan must learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most. In this interview, Lindsay tells FamilyFiction the most challenging part of writing the novel, the real-life incident that inspired the story, and how the novel can inspire readers to live a life of bravery…
What inspired you to write The Heart Between Us? And are the characters completely made up, or are they based on real people?
The first spark of an idea for The Heart Between Us came from a radio story I heard about someone going sky diving because it was on her heart donor’s bucket list. As for the characters, I don’t intentionally base them on real people, but I often realize they share certain characteristics with someone I know after I finish writing the book.
For example, I relate a lot to the way Crystal—Megan’s twin sister—bases her identity on achievement, as well as how growing up with an ill family member affected her sense of that identity. Also, the way Megan faced adversity with continued positivity reminds me of my mother, who died of cancer when I was 19.
Can you tell us a little about Megan and what she’s facing in this story?
Sure! Three-and-a-half years ago, Megan had a heart transplant after dealing with a lifetime of illness and facing possible death daily. Now, she’s 32 years old, living in her parents’ home, working the same job as she did in high school, letting the dreams she had of being a travel writer slip by—essentially, she’s stuck.
When her heart donor’s parents ask to meet and share with her their teenage daughter’s journal, Megan is inspired to fulfill the girl’s bucket list as a way of honoring Amanda and taking a step toward her own freedom. Of course, nothing is as simple as it should be. Especially when her estranged twin sister, Crystal, decides to tag along for reasons of her own … and when her best friend from the past, Caleb, comes back into her life, challenging her to be brave—and fall in love.
What was the most challenging part of writing this novel?
The fact I had to research all these amazing locations around the world and couldn’t convince my tax lawyer husband to let me write off a research trip. Joking, joking—kind of.
In all seriousness, aside from finding the time to write it—I have a toddler and a baby—it was most challenging to dig deep enough within my own emotions and leave my vulnerability on the page.
What do you hope readers will take away after reading it?
Fear and bravery are central themes in The Heart Between Us. Megan is afraid to follow her dreams. Crystal is afraid of facing her past and losing control of her future. I hope every person who encounters The Heart Between Us will be inspired to live a life of bravery—and that starts with finding true freedom in Christ.
Since a bucket list is a significant part of this story, can you share a couple of things from your own bucket list?
Of course! I have visited The British Isles and Paris, but I very much want to visit Italy next—Rome, Venice, and Florence especially. I also want to spend time at various B&Bs in the English countryside. How peaceful would that be? I can just picture myself writing and reading in such a gorgeous setting.
Visit Lindsay Harrel’s author page here: https://www.familyfiction.com/authors/lindsay-harrel
The Heart Between Us