It’s my pleasure to welcome author Catherine West back to Inspired by Life and Fiction! I’m endlessly fascinated by the inspiration God uses to guide each author to the story He has for her to tell. Today, Catherine’s going to share with us how He inspired her new release. Stay tuned at the end of this post for a giveaway of chocolate, tea, and a book (a winning combination)! -Becky
One thing I’m often asked as an author, is “Where do you get your ideas from?” And the answer varies, because it’s different with each book. It’s also a scary thing, staring at that blank page, wondering how you’re going to fill it. And what if you can’t? I’m pretty sure God laughs every time we start a new story together, because I’m always convinced the ideas won’t come. But they do. And more often than not, for me at least, the setting always comes first. Don’t ask me why this is, I have no idea! But that’s usually how it works, and then I start to think about characters, who they might be and how they would be interacting in that place.
For my latest book, The Memory of You, set in California wine country, the idea sparked while my husband and I were on an anniversary trip in Sonoma.
California is a diverse state with so much to see. The rolling hills, rows and rows of vineyards, beautiful gardens and majestic trees, there was literally beauty around every corner. I fell in love with the area immediately, and it didn’t take long for ideas to spark as we drove around visiting wineries and getting a feel for what life was like there.
Because I write women’s fiction, mainly family drama, I loved the idea that so many wineries were family-owned. I began thinking of all sorts of scenarios that might make a good story set on a vineyard in Sonoma. Once we returned home from that trip, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But I was working on other projects so it took me quite some time to figure out all the details, but eventually I began the book that would end up becoming The Memory of You, and my excitement grew as Natalie and Tanner’s story began to unfold.
As I wrote and re-searched, I was drawn back to that wonderful California trip, which I think made writing this book even more special.
Of course a good story doesn’t happen overnight! There were many re-writes, and the original plot changed a few times, but I never wavered from the setting. And with each new draft, the more excited I grew, because I could see that original tiny spark growing into a flame, and I hoped one day it would become a real book.
With the help of my amazing agent, writer friends who helped get me through tough re-writes with encouragement and humor, we finally did sell that story! And then of course there were more re-writes. But it is so satisfying when you reach the end, look back at the beginning, and see how God brought it all together. I think authors doubt themselves a lot, I know I do, and it’s easy to become frustrated when you get stuck or your wonderful ideas get rejected. For me, the key is to remember that God is in control of this entire process. He’s the One who gifted me with the ability to write, and I need to trust Him every step of the way for each new book. This isn’t always easy, especially on those hard days when deadlines are around the corner and you’re not quite sure the changes you’ve made are good enough. And with each new book, I’m learning to lean into God a little more, and He’s helping me learn to trust myself. It is an exciting and sometimes terrifying journey, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards.
When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com
The below giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner, Cheryn Cutting!! I’ll be mailing you the below giveaway prize pack shortly. -Becky
Have you found yourself in situations where you had no choice but to trust God? How did He come through for you?