Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her stories. Her latest novel is Becoming the Talbot Sisters (Thomas Nelson): Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. Now they must come together to face their fears, find their courage, and fight for what they love. In this interview, the author shares the inspiration for the novel, the challenges of writing about painful memories, and the ministry that her book supports…
Rachel, Becoming the Talbot Sisters deals with struggles that many women face. What inspired you to write this novel?
The main themes of Becoming the Talbot Sisters–infertility, miscarriage, and the sexual exploitation of women–are all deeply personal for me. While living in Budapest my husband and I lost our first baby through miscarriage, so I really connect on an emotional level with this aspect of the story.
I also worked for seven years with a faith-based organization in Europe, partly focusing on helping women who had experienced trauma. Some had been trafficked and many had suffered exploitation and abuse.
I was so inspired by these women–by their strength and resilience—and wanted to write a story with a theme about sex trafficking, but write it from a women-centered, relational angle that celebrated women’s bravery in the face of great adversity.
Some of this novel is drawn from your own personal experience. What are the challenges of revisiting painful memories for the sake of a novel?
Revisiting painful personal memories while writing a story can come at an emotional cost, but it also can act as a therapy of sorts. When you really dig deep to explore past memories and emotions, it can be a cathartic process as you give voice to parts of your own personal story through the written word.
When you revisit and then view those feelings and events through the lens of the fictional story you are creating, it can help painful past memories take on a greater meaning and clarity in your own life.
How does your faith impact how you approach storytelling?
My faith permeates every story I write. I love to tell stories about hope, courage and connection with a hint of romance and a dash of whimsy, all set in beautiful locations around the world.
But more than just a fun, exciting story, I strive to tell stories that are life giving and transformational. My characters, just like me, are on a sometimes rocky, sometimes unexpected journey toward relational healing, intimacy and joy!
After reading Becoming the Talbot Sisters, what do you hope readers will do next?
I hope readers walk away from the book inspired to courageously face life’s big challenges, choosing to be “every day brave.” Every day brave is a simple concept but it’s not easy. It means standing with courage against life’s fear and challenges, no matter the circumstances.
As women, we can face tremendous challenges in our lives, our careers, our family relationships, our roles as wives and mothers, sisters and daughters, in matters of the heart, and in so many areas of life. Being every day brave takes guts, grit and a steadfast hope!
A portion of the sales of this book are going to the ministry of Hope Dies Last. Can you share more about this ministry? What led you to support this particular ministry?
I am absolutely thrilled to be supporting Hope Dies Last and their amazing work with trafficked and exploited women in Europe. They are a Budapest-based ministry that focuses on creatively addressing the root causes of trafficking and sexual exploitation as well as supporting other anti-trafficking organizations in Europe and working directly with trafficked and sexually exploited women.
I first connected with them about five years ago and since then have supported the organization financially, served in an advisory role for them, and participated with them practically in the work they do. I know the staff very well and am consistently impressed by their integrity, creativity, and dedication as they work to help exploited women across Europe.
Visit Rachel Linden’s author page:
Becoming the Talbot Sisters