A former park ranger, Karen Barnett draws on that background for her historical series set among national parks. The second novel in that series is Where the Fire Falls (WaterBrook). Stunning Yosemite National Park sets the stage for this late 1920s historical romance with mystery, adventure, heart, and a sense of the place John Muir described as “pervaded with divine light.” In this interview, Karen explains what inspired this series, why she went with this period and setting of her latest novel, and the best ways for readers to support their favorite authors…
Karen, your latest novel is part a historical series set among national parks. What inspired this theme for your series?
I’ve always loved spending time outdoors, and one of my first jobs after college was working as a park ranger and naturalist. I became fascinated with how our national park system had been established and the people who felt it their life mission to protect these natural and historic treasures. Life eventually took me in other directions, and I settled into a writing career. After I completed my last series, I was looking for new story ideas and remembered those days of working in these incredible places. What could be a more romantic and exciting setting than our national parks?
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about Where the Fire Falls?
Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford believes an avant-garde persona is key to becoming wildly successful in California’s 1929 art scene. When a lucrative contract with a travel magazine draws her to Yosemite National Park, she fears her family’s shameful past might put everything in jeopardy. Back-country guide Clark Johnson has a few secrets of his own, but the combination of his faith and Yosemite’s raw beauty might help Olivia discover unspoken truths about herself.
What inspired you to set this second National Parks novel at Yosemite in the 1920s?
When I first visited Yosemite, it was practically a spiritual experience. The beauty of the waterfalls, the granite cliffs, and the lush forests give you a sense that God is right there beside you. By the 1920s, it had become a popular vacation destination and families flocked there in their new automobiles. Today, all you have to do is say the name Yosemite and people smile. It conjures up memories of family road trips and hiking adventures—or for those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit—dreams of someday traveling to this astounding place.
What do you hope readers get out of Where the Fire Falls?
I hope it will inspire readers to get out and visit our incredible national and state parks, and that spending time in nature will cause them to consider their own connection with the Creator. I think it’s summed up in something Clark says in the novel: “Scripture says faith can move mountains, but I’ve found time spent in the mountains sometimes moves us toward faith.”
What are the best ways for readers to support their favorite authors?
There are so many books out there today, that it can be hard for a new novel to find readers. The best way to help authors is by talking about your favorite books with people you know—tell your mom, your friends, your bible study group, and especially your book club! People are much more likely to pick up a book that was recommended by a friend. It amazes me how many people are unaware of inspirational fiction and don’t realize these redeeming stories are available. You might be just the person to change that.
Visit Karen Barnett’s author page:
Where the Fire Falls
Vintage National Parks #2