Author Spotlight: Heidi Chiavaroli (with giveaway!)

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It gives me great joy to welcome one of my very favorite authors to the blog today!! Heidi Chiavaroli's debut, Freedom’s Ring, was easily one of the best books I read last year, and her new release, The Hidden Side, is already one of my faves for 2018! Here’s the blurb:

New York, 2016
Natalie Abbott offers answers for hurting listeners on her popular radio program. But she struggles to connect with her teenagers, with her daughter in an unhealthy relationship and her son uncommunicative and isolated. When one member of the family commits an unspeakable act, Natalie is forced to uncover who she truly is under the façade of her radio persona.

New York, 1776
Mercy Howard is shocked when her fiancé, Nathan Hale, is arrested and hanged as a spy. When she’s asked to join the revolutionary spy ring in Manhattan, she sees an opportunity to avenge Nathan’s death. But keeping her true loyalties hidden grows increasingly harder as the charming Major John Andre of the King’s Army becomes more to her than a target for intelligence.

Mercy’s journals comfort Natalie from across the centuries as both women struggle with their own secrets and shame, wondering how deep God’s mercy extends.

Doesn't that sound fantastic? Click here to purchase The Hidden Side, OR read to the end of this post to see how you can WIN a FREE COPY!!!

Welcome to the blog, Heidi! It's such an honor to have you!

Thank you so much for having me, Amanda!

Which character in The Hidden Side was easiest for you to write, and why? Which character was the most difficult, and why?

None of these characters were easy to write, yet Maelynn’s character did seem to flow for me. When I started writing this story, I expected to write in two viewpoints—Natalie, my contemporary character, and Mercy, my historical character. But as I began the story, another character, sixteen-year-old Maelynn, begged to have her story told, and even though I hadn’t planned for her, I couldn’t ignore her either.

I’ve never written in the point-of-view of a contemporary teenager and I can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. Sure, there was a lot to tackle in this book with Maelynn, but she came alive to me in a very unique way. I absolutely felt her. I was her. Though I craft many characters, they don’t all speak to me in the same way. To me, Maelynn’s character was especially powerful.

I love Mercy’s story, but she was the one who gave me more trouble as far as plot. Maybe because there was just so much in the contemporary story (which I wrote first). I think I was a bit brain-dead before the juices started flowing with Mercy. She was a little stubborn in that regard. 

The Hidden Side discusses some incredibly heavy and painful topics. How did you stay sane while living in the world of this story?

I’m not certain I would have called myself sane…I remember fixing supper one night with my husband in the kitchen during the writing of this story when I broke down a little. I hugged him, spoke through my tears, saying, “I just can’t wait for it to be over.”

I think that’s why I wrote the story so fast (about three months). These characters inhabited my mind, night and day. They became a part of me in a powerful way. I felt I had a responsibility to them to see them through this story, to give them hope, and give them a realistic yet satisfying ending.

But I’m not certain I would have called myself sane while doing it.  :)

How did God change you during the writing of The Hidden Side?

This story will always have a special place in my heart because it completely opened my eyes. Before the writing of it, I had never really bothered to consider a family’s perspective when dealing not only with tragedy, but with severe criminal acts within one’s immediate family. So often, when I saw a young person on the news who’d committed a terrible crime, I’d automatically judge, and think I had them pegged. I assumed they came from a broken home, that they didn’t know love, that no one had taught them right from wrong. And while that may often be the case, it isn’t always the case. Sometimes, there is simply more to it. And what right, really, do I have in presuming I know someone’s story?

This novel grew my humanity, my empathy, and my faith. It helped me to not be so quick to judge others, to perhaps peel back those hidden layers—the hidden side—of things unseen. Or at least realize that they are there.

What spiritual lesson do you hope your readers take away from this book?

That no matter what we try to conceal, even from ourselves, there is nothing that God can’t free. That the only place worth hiding is in Jesus. There, we don’t have to have it all together or pretend to be something we’re not. We don’t have to be afraid of rejection. He loves us perfectly and enough to do a good work in us—a real work that will draw us closer to Him, and make us more like Him. That’s where our true identity resides.

What does a typical writing day look like for you, if there is such a thing? What obstacles present themselves in making time to write?

While I don’t write every day, I work almost every day (either researching, writing, or promoting). I work while my children are in school, though I often take time for a run or a walk to get some quiet time and brainstorm.

There are certainly seasons of craziness (like now!) where I have to be in front of the computer at night, but I try not to let that be the norm.

I think my biggest obstacle is procrastination. I just finished writing my eighth manuscript (fourth scheduled for publication) and I can’t believe how easily distracted I was with social media, other obligations, etc. I’m about to start edits, and I’m thinking I’ll need a new strategy—like finding a place with no Wi-Fi!

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m on deadline for my third book with Tyndale, scheduled to release in 2020. We’ll be back in Revolutionary/Contemporary Boston for that, so I’m excited!

I’m also busy preparing some speaking engagements, as well as revising another time-slip story set to release next year. A lot to work on, but I’m loving every minute of it!

 What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love to run and take hikes. I also love to work on various home improvement projects (we always have something going!), read, visit historical places in New England, and play board games with my family.

How can we pray for you?

Thank you so much for asking this question, Amanda! So…it’s tempting for me to put too much stock in reviews, and how a book is received. While all these things are important, I need to remember that—good or bad—the success (or failure) of this book, or any other, does not define my worth or my “usefulness” in God’s eyes. My worth is in Him alone. I always appreciate prayers that I would keep this truth close to my heart.

Thank you so much for this interview, Amanda!

And thank you for being here, Heidi! It's an honor to have you here!

Heidi is graciously offering a free copy to one lucky US resident! To enter, leave a comment on this post! Winner will be notified next Thursday, May 24. 

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Meet Heidi

Heidi Chiavaroli began writing eleven years ago, just after Jesus had grabbed hold of her heart. She used her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since! Heidi won the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the historical category. Both her debut novel,Freedom’s Ring, and her sophomore novel, The Hidden Side, are 4½-star Romantic Times Top Picks.Freedom's Ring was also a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her high-school sweetheart and husband of fourteen years. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband, two sons, and Howie, her standard poodle.

Heidi loves to connect with readers! You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram, and BookBub, or visit her website.