Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California, where I’m still processing all the wonderful lessons from my time at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. One of the joys of the conference was getting to chat with CAN member Miralee Ferrell. Miralee is a talented author of contemporary and historical novels, and horse books for children—plus, she and her husband raised two cougars! And she’s a delightful lady as well. I’m sure you’ll enjoy getting to know her.
Miralee, please tell us about your latest book, Runaway Romance.
Reality TV star Ann Stanway had it all—a starring role in a reality show and a sparkling future. Until the rules changed and the life she’d thought was real no longer existed.
Hunter Lewis is intrigued by the woman staying at his friend’s Amish inn—until something happens that makes Hunter question everything. Dare he risk his heart, when he’s certain Annie is keeping secrets, or will Ann run again?
What inspired you to write this book?
A movie producer contacted me after reading three of my other books—she was looking for a contemporary novel to make into a TV movie for UP, and mine were historical. She asked if I would be interested in working with her on a project—she would give me 3-4 sentences overview and I’d write a book from that premise. I agreed, and close to two years later, the movie aired on January 7, 2018 on UP TV.
How exciting! What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
Probably the development stage, as I had to rethink and rewrite a book pitch for four different possible stories before UP decided to accept the one I used for the book. We started with a Christmas theme in a small Vermont town to a romance with a mystery set in Oregon to the current one with a reality TV star who runs away from her life and ends up in a small Kentucky town at an Amish Inn. It’s been a tremendous learning experience into the minds of Hollywood, and was both exciting and frustrating while we plowed through the process waiting for that final thumbs-up.
What an incredible experience. How do you share Christ in your writing?
Mostly by showing a growth in the faith of a character through interaction with another character or through situations that drive them to dig deeper in their faith or renew their faith. I’m careful to not preach in my books, but rather, to show the development of a character’s faith.
I enjoy the natural progression as well—both as a writer and a reader. What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
Women who are strong and overcoming a difficulty in their own life while growing in their faith. They may have broken places from their past that affect their current situation, but they are able to find ways to rise above that and conquer their past.
When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
Not until shortly after I turned fifty. I had always been a prolific reader and enjoyed writing letters as well as essays in school, but I’d never had a thought of writing a book or even magazine articles. I attended a special evening service at church where a guest speaker spoke into my life after praying with me. He said he felt the Lord was saying I needed to write and it needed to be published. I took that seriously and began to pray and seek counsel from people I trusted. I believed that word was from God, so I moved forward in obedience. Eighteen months later my first book was contracted and a year later it released.
You don’t get a clearer call than that! Tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.
There have been several so it’s hard to pick—letters from middle-grade kids who have read and loved my horse books for kids are always a joy. But the one that hit me the hardest was sent by a young woman who had been seriously contemplating suicide until she read my debut novel, The Other Daughter. I was overwhelmed that the Lord would have used my book to touch a reader at that level.
That is absolutely beautiful. What ministries are you involved in, and why?
I was involved in women’s ministries for years through our church as a certified lay counselor to women through the AAOCC. When I started my publishing company four years ago, we were also in the process of changing churches. I think the Lord ordained that, as my ministry has since slowly shifted to my authors and their readers.
What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
I used to do a lot of oil painting—scenery, mostly, and loved it. However, it takes a lot of work to set up and take down, it takes a lot of room for an easel and supplies to be spread out, and time for the painting itself. When I started writing, I decided to set that aside, as I didn’t have time for both. It’s not a talent, but I also love hiking with my daughter when I get the chance. I typically walk at least 2.5 miles three days a week, with an occasional hike that’s six miles or so. I love being outside when I can, including enjoying gardening.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
Four years ago my publisher closed their fiction line. So after having 20 books traditionally published, I decided to open my own small publishing house, and I work full-time between my writing and publishing with Mountain Brook Ink. We have 24 authors under contract and have released 40 books, and I’m quite proud of the quality our traditional press has released. I’m now also publishing my new books, including Runaway Romance, with Mountain Brook Ink.
Do you have pets and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
Yes, two dogs, two cats, and eleven chickens, as we live out in the country on eleven acres. I used to have a horse for many years, which definitely influenced my westerns and young teen horse novels. My little long-haired, seven-pound Chihuahua is often curled up on my lap while I write, which brings me a lot of peace and comfort. I often have dogs in my books as well, and someday my little Lacey will appear as her own character.
Animals can definitely inspire stories! Thank you so much for sharing with us, Miralee.
Writing for Him,