Greetings from Sarah Sundin in smoking-hot California! Today I have the joy of interviewing a fellow historical novelist with Revell Books, Cindy K. Sproles. Cindy has put her Appalachian background to good use, creating a backdrop for her newest story—a story with an unexpected timeliness for today!
Cindy, please tell us about your book, What Momma Left Behind.
Taking place in the Appalachian Mountains during the late 1800s, mountain folks face a pandemic leaving hundreds of children parentless and needing to be taken in. Worie Dressar sees fit to make caring for the children, her mission.
Pan-de-mic…that word sounds familiar. Obviously, this novel was written long before COVID-19, so what inspired this story?
The inspiration behind this book is the need for families reaching out to adopt children – especially older children and to adopt them here, in our own country. A child adopted, regardless of what country they are from, is a win, but our own country faces hundreds of thousands of older children needing love, guidance, and someone to care.
Why did you write this book?
I wrote the book to honor those who step out in faith to adopt older children. Those who see the good in every child and want to make a difference.
What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?
I suppose what surprised me most was . . .
1) that when the book was written 22 months ago, there was no clue of COVID. As I researched this book, I found just how many children were left parentless in the backwoods of the mountains because their parents had died from the flu. Influenza passed through the mountains killing more adults than children, and since records were rarely kept, there are only theories as to why more children did not die.
2) I learned about the orphan train. I’d never heard of that, and when my research took me there, I was floored that children as young as four were placed on a train and shipped out west, stopping along the way for farm families to pick and choose cheap farm labor.
History is endlessly fascinating! What was the hardest scene to write?
The hardest scene to write was the first scene of the book when Worie finds her mother has killed herself. She is forced to bury her mother and try to get past the attempt she had made to save her mother. It had to be emotional and it had to be hard. Life in the mountains during the late 1800s was treacherous. It wasn’t a walk in the park. Being able to help Worie convey the mixed emotions of hurt, guilt, determination, and anger at her situation and her mother.
That would be a very difficult scene to write, but those are usually the most touching. Cindy, how do you share Christ in your writing?
I don’t believe in preaching to the choir. My books are geared to non-believers. I want them to see that faithful people suffer hardship, yet the difference between them and the average person, is they understand grace and mercy, as well as how to repent. There is always an underlying thread of faith, but my characters make serious mistakes. They battle with the issues of the world and the emotion that follows, yet by the end of the story they have been gently and subtly introduced to a loving God. It is not overt. Though in historical Appalachia religion was very much a part of the culture, so I can get away with showing God’s love without repercussion.
What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
Hope. Gratefulness. Victory in the eventual overcoming of a situation.
Why do you love writing?
Writing is who I am. I prayed (and still do) that God will allow me to be a writer. All the work is returned to Him for His glory. Writing is just who I am.
When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
As a child. My brother is 12 years older than me. I basically grew up as an only child. My favorite playmate was the God I learned about in Sunday school, so I imagined stories all the time with my friend, God. I knew from childhood I wanted to tell stories, and I prayed as an adult for the opportunity to “just be a writer.”
I love it! What ministries are you involved in, and why?
I serve as a lead editor for LPC Books/Iron Stream Media. This is a ministry in and of itself and an opportunity to give back to new writers. I am the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.us. Again, the call came, and my ministry partner, CAN member Eddie Jones, and I answered. I also serve as part of our church food ministry.
Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?
Sometimes it’s tough to manage time. I recently retired (end of July) and within two days, others were filling my days for me. So, I have set morning work hours three days a week, and afternoon work days two days a week. Weekends are there to write when I want.
What’s your favorite bookstore—and why?
My favorite bookstore is my local mom and pop store, I Love Books Bookstore. The owner, Mr. Moody has become my number one sales guy. In all he’s sold over 3000 copies of my book. He is a wonderful man and a jewel to work with.
What a blessing to have such a supportive store in town! Thank you for sharing with us today, Cindy!
Writing for Him,