Greetings from Marti Pieper in almost-fall Seneca, South Carolina! We have cooler weather for our morning walks now, and we have to walk earlier at night to get our walk in before the sun sets. Although I haven’t met Kim Vogel Sawyer in person, I am a fan of her work, and I know you will love hearing from her today.
Welcome, Kim! Let’s start by having you tell us about your book, The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow.
During the Great Depression, city-dweller Addie Cowherd takes the only employment she can find—delivering books on horseback in the hills of Kentucky, where residents are steeped in superstitions and deeply suspicious of outsiders. When someone sabotages the town’s library program, will the culprit chase Addie away?
Sounds fascinating! Why did you write this book?
I was a bashful little girl who moved frequently, so I spent much of my childhood without close friends. But wherever we moved, I could always find a library, with familiar books on the shelves and familiar “friends” on the pages. Those books were my escape and lifeline. Featuring a librarian who was so determined to put books into people’s hands because books had made such a difference in her life was like bringing my childhood dreams to life. At one point in the story, we get an insight into Addie: “Books! How she loved books. The clean or musty smell, depending on the book’s age. The weightiness in her hands. The joy of discovery as the words printed on a piece of paper formed pictures in her mind. Was there anything more magical or satisfying than a book?” For me, books were magic, and in writing this story, I got to be the “magician” who brought another book-lover to life.
I was that shy, book-loving little girl too, so I especially love this idea. What is the primary focus of your book?
There are several moral issues found in the story—seeking and following God’s will; battling poverty with literacy; overcoming prejudice; choosing kindness in the face of animosity—but of those I think my favorite one is overcoming prejudice. It’s easier to classify people and keep them categorized in our minds than it is to open ourselves and truly accept those who seem different to us for one reason or another. But when we choose to look past the “difference” to the heart of a person, we discover things we have in common. Those commonalities help us build relationships, and building relationships lets us overcome prejudice. It’s a concept we, as a nation, haven’t quite conquered yet.
How wonderful that you’re addressing such a contemporary issue in a historical novel. How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?
In every story I’ve written, at least one character comes to a place of spiritual growth or discovery. Because these characters bloom in my heart, it’s only natural that their growth and discovery becomes my growth and discovery. My desire to take characters deeper into relationship with God through Christ sent me digging deeper into the Word and spending more time in prayer. I asked Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior when I was only eight years old, more than 50 years ago now. But during these two decades of writing, I’ve learned a depth of faith and trust that goes beyond anything I’d known before. It’s an offshoot I didn’t expect, but I celebrate it.
That’s beautiful. When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
It may sound strange, but I knew what I wanted to be when I was very young. I told my kindergarten teacher that when I grew up, people would check out my book at the library. Life interrupted my initial pursuit of publication, but the desire to write never left me. Then in 2003 at a writing conference, the keynote speaker asked if we were willing to write solely for God’s glory. That question rocked me to my core. In that moment, I fully recognized that this desire to write was a seed planted by Him. I stopped viewing publishing as my goal; my goal changed to showing His truths through story. That shift in mindset completely changed my writing time to worship time. I am my most complete when I am bringing characters to life on the computer screen.
What a wonderful story of inspiration! What ministries are you involved in, and why?
I love leading women’s ministries at my church: teaching a women-only Sunday school and planning ladies night out events. I turn cartwheels (figuratively only—the other would be a disaster) when Operation Christmas Child comes around. I’m also active in fighting human trafficking and support a local organization that rescues children and young woman. But the ministry that is closest to my heart is a children’s home, Casa De Mi Padre (House of My Father), in Santa Rose del Quiche, Guatemala. My husband and I had the joy and privilege of being part of a mission team that visited two years ago and helped with the construction of their new home. The director’s passion to teach the children about Jesus and to give them a solid education, because Jesus and education are the keys to overcoming poverty, resonated with me. I’ve had the joy of fundraising for the children’s educational expenses as well as personally contributing to seminary tuition for one of the boys, a young man named Ruben. A part of my heart will always be with the children of Casa De Mi Padre.
All important ministries! Do you have pets and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?
I have never, in my nearly 60 years of life, been without a pet. We currently have an Australian Shepherd/German Shepherd mix named Mocha, plus four cats: Maizie Grace, Clyde (he has his own Facebook Page as Clyde Whiskers Sawyer), and the kitten boys, Oliver and Dodger (who are cute as the dickens!). Mocha is mostly a distraction *ahem*, but Clyde is my “mews.” I keep a cat bed on the corner of my desk, and most often he is in it when I am writing.
That is a lot of animal inspiration! Now, since your book involves a librarian, please tell us about your favorite library memory.
In 1990, I was diagnosed with lupus (which actually wasn’t correct). The strong medications prescribed to battle the disease sent my health into a slow downward spiral, and by 2000 I was relying on a cane for balance and support. I was sick much of the time, and my parents were afraid I might die before I saw my dream of publication fulfilled. In 2002, they took out a loan (this was before inexpensive digital printing) and had 5,000 copies of a novel called A Seeking Heart printed. Then my dad donated a copy to the Hutchinson Library. So in June of 2002, I hobbled up to the reference computer, typed in “Kim Vogel Sawyer,” and up popped A Seeking Heart on the screen. I stood there and cried. It was a real dream-come-true moment, and I’ll never forget how my parents made it happen for me.
What a loving act and thoughtful gift. Now, please tell us about your next project: How Long Will They Allow Their Pasts to Steal the Future?
After a childhood adrift in the foster care system, Jase Edgar dreamed of one day putting down roots and starting his own family. But when his fiancée is killed in a tragic accident, his plans and sense of purpose are shattered. An opportunity to serve as a youth pastor in Kansas might be his chance for a fresh start, but he can’t seem to set aside his doubts long enough to fully embrace his new life. After all, how can a God who’s supposed to be good allow such terrible things to happen?
Lori Fowler is battling her own challenges. Due to a strained relationship with her father and a hidden eating disorder, she’s never been sure she’s the kind of person who is worthy of love. She conceals her insecurities beneath her spunky personality, and even her best friend, Kenzie Stetler, a former Amish woman living apart from her family in the English world, doesn’t realize how desperate Lori is for change.
When a donation to Kenzie’s weaving project leads to a puzzling mystery, these three lives will intersect in ways no one ever expected. The journey will require courage…if they ever hope to release the past and move forward into a joyful future.
Thank you so much, Kim! I so appreciate you sharing with our readers today.
To learn more about Kim Vogel Sawyer, check out Kim’s website.
For His glory,