I’m thrilled to have debut author Linda Tillis with me today. Linda is the author of A Heart Made for Love, a historical romance published by the Wild Rose Press. Here’s some background about her wonderful book:
In rural Florida, 1903, Mae Hinton cares for her father and younger brothers, trying to fill her deceased mother’s shoes. Her life is shattered and her faith tested when her innocence is stolen by roving miscreants. Left unconscious, unable to identify her attackers, she pledges to help other victimized women. She pursues an education and learns to deal with bigoted ministers, well-to-do hypocrites, and men with higher regard for their livestock than their women.
Edward Finch is nearly done with medical studies in England when he comes home for the holidays. Love flourishes, and Mae seems close to achieving her dreams of both true love and a haven for victims, once she can explain to him why she carries a pistol. Then her new-found happiness is upset by a murder as one of her attackers returns.
She may settle this herself…or she may find that vengeance truly belongs to God.
Welcome, Linda! Your story opens with Mae, your heroine, reeling from a horrible attack upon her body and soul. From page one, there’s no mistaking this woman has a fight on her hands to be whole. What really touches me is her unselfishness and her desire to help other women who have suffered from bad fortune makes her such an outstanding character. And I love her strength and resilience. What prompted you to write this powerful story?
Linda: I spent 20 years as a Crime Scene Investigator. During this time, I observed women from all walks of life as they dealt with abuse. I photographed their injuries and testified in court on their behalf. Sadly, I watched as some of them were victims again, and again. I felt their story needed to be told, and that it might give hope to a reader out there who might need a little nudge to better her own life.
Jennifer: All authors bring with them their own life experiences that enrich their writing and breathe life into their characters. Tell us about your background and how it’s enabled you to write A Heart Made for Love.
Linda: I was born in the coal mining country of Kentucky. It was a very rural setting, and one I am comfortable speaking about. I ran barefoot through the mountains all summer, drank from a cool, sweet well, and picked vegetables straight from the garden for lunch. I don’t think I will ever be able to write a contemporary story. I much prefer my daydreaming to be in days gone by.
Jennifer: Your varied work experience is so fascinating. You’re the first actual milliner I’ve ever met! I love how you’ve woven the different fabrics of your life into the story. The relationship between Mae, her family, and the people whose life she enriches is heart-warming, and testimony that despite the darkness existing in the world, it’s possible to thrive, love, and persevere.
I really enjoy the setting of your book, and the feel of a bygone era that you’ve managed to create. I won’t lie-I’ve been craving my grandma’s bread and butter pickles since your hero and heroine went on their picnic. What made you decide to set your book in this time period?
Linda: I think the early 1900’s must have been a relatively peaceful time. The civil war existed only in the minds of the old, and World War I was still a few years away, so folks were able to concentrate on life, and of course, love.
Jennifer: This is such an exciting time in your life, isn’t it? It’s no small feat to complete an entire book, let alone get a publishing contract. What did you learn about yourself during its creation-good, bad, or ugly?
Linda: While I have accomplished many things in life, I have never felt accomplished. I survived two failed marriages, the first was eighteen years, and the second five. I had three wonderful, intelligent, productive children, but I always felt they were God’s achievement, not mine. And then I met the man who would become my third husband, and the love of my life. There is a scene in the book that came straight from our story. Garth Hinton meets Elinor in the garden and a beam of sunlight shines directly on her and he takes that as a sign. My Beau and I lived that scene. Beau is the source of my strength. He helped me to realize that, not only was I capable of writing a book, but that it would be good enough to be published.
I also learned that while I “have a way with words,” my knowledge of punctuation is atrocious!
Jennifer: We writers do tend to discover our weaknesses during the writing of a book. But also our strengths! That’s a wonderful story about how you and Beau. You are also a talented seamstress/hat-maker and also enjoy crafts. Do you ever turn to that if you get stuck with your writing? (It happens to most everyone from time to time.) What inspires you?
Linda: The hat making came about as a by-product of photography. When I retired from my CSI position my husband bought me a good camera and said, “Go photograph living things.” And I did. I decided I wanted to do themed portraits, but could not find the vintage hats that I wanted, so I learned to make them.
Jennifer: That’s amazing, Linda! What’s next for you?
Linda: Well, I had a co-worker read A Heart Made For Love for me, and when she finished she said, “I’ve always wanted a brother like Samuel.” And so I had to write Samuel’s story, A Man With A Pure Heart, which is in the hands of my awesome editor now.
Jennifer: Thanks so much for joining me today, Linda.
Linda: Thanks so much for allowing me to visit!
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