Author Spotlight: Heidi Chiavaroli

If you’ve been following this space for a while, it’s no secret that Heidi Chiavaroli is one of my very favorite authors EVER, and I’m always super-excited when she launches a new book. Her latest release, The Edge of Mercy, comes out April 9, but if you don’t want to wait that long, good news! She’s giving away a copy to one lucky commenter to this post! Details at the end, as well as a unique personal connection I have to this book!

Enough chitchat. Here’s the blurb.

Two women, three hundred years apart, must face the devastation of all they hold dear...

Suspecting her husband is having an affair, Sarah Rodrigues fights to appear unbroken while attempting to salvage her family. Though distracted by her own troubles, Sarah is summoned to an elderly friend’s deathbed for an unusual request—find a long-lost daughter and relay a centuries-old family story.

Determined not to fail her friend, Sarah pieces together the story of her neighbor’s ancestor, Elizabeth Baker, a young colonist forced into an unwanted betrothal but drawn to a man forbidden by society.

While Sarah’s family teeters on the edge of collapse, her world is further shaken by the interest of a caring doctor and a terrible accident that threatens a life more precious than her own.

Inspired by the unconditional love she uncovers in Elizabeth’s story, Sarah strives to forgive those who’ve wounded her soul. But when light shines on the dark secrets of her neighbor’s past and the full extent of her husband’s sins, will looking to a power greater than herself rekindle lost hope?

I’ve had the privilege of reading this book, y’all, and it is AMAZING. So now let’s give a warm House of Wen welcome back to Heidi Chiavaroli!

Thanks so much for having me back, Amanda!

We last welcomed you to the blog a year ago, when you were launching The Hidden Side. What’s new in your world since then?

This last year has been a whirlwind. We enjoyed some family time last summer. My favorite memory was climbing Mount Washington together, which was super thrilling (and also super exhausting!).

In the writing sphere, I wrote another book (to be released in 2020), did some major edits on an old manuscript (releasing this month), and put out a free short story for my newsletter subscribers.

Actually, looking back at this year, I’m fairly certain the writing took more stamina than climbing Mount Washington! :)

You’re getting ready to launch your third published novel, Edge of Mercy. How is this new book similar to your previous releases? What major differences can you tell us about?

Like my other novels, The Edge of Mercy is a time-slip novel. There is a historical story within the contemporary story. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of telling these! Like my other stories, it explores some difficult, and yet true-to-life realities. Like my other stories, I believe it will also leave my readers feeling hope.

The biggest difference is that the historical portion of The Edge of Mercy is not set during the American Revolution, but is set during another, less familiar colonial-era war (King Philip’s War).

 What inspired you to write Edge of Mercy?

This novel was inspired by two things: my parents’ marriage, and a hike in the woods.

Growing up, I watched my parents go through a lot of marital tribulation. I can still remember pacing my dorm room in college shortly after 9/11, listening to my mother’s voice telling me she was coming home, that she and my dad wanted to work things out.

I’d thought there was no hope for them, honestly. But God had a different plan. This summer, my parents will celebrate thirty-nine years of marriage. Theirs isn’t an easy story, and it isn’t the same as Sarah and Matt’s story (the characters in The Edge of Mercy), but my desire to explore a failing marriage was definitely inspired by watching my parents wade through theirs.

The historical portion of the story was inspired while planning a hike for my youngest son’s Tiger Cub den. We stumbled upon a massive boulder in the woods with a cave on its west side…along with a rather haunting legend to go with it.

I couldn’t get the legend out of my head, and so I imagined the circumstances behind it. From this local legend, my first time-slip story was born. It would be six years until it would see the light of publication.

It’s about a marriage on the brink of failure. A request given beyond the grave. And a centuries-old family story with the power to change everything.

 Which character in Edge of Mercy was easiest for you to connect with? Which character was the most challenging?

Elizabeth, my historical heroine, was the easiest for me to connect with, and I’m still not sure how that can be! I give credit to all the walks in the woods I took as I wrote this story, imagining her in that very place centuries earlier, imagining her struggles, imagining her ending.

Sarah, my contemporary heroine, was probably my most challenging. Though I felt like I connected with her, she needed a bit of editing help. I wrote the book more than five years ago, and when I came back to it this past year, I didn’t really sympathize with her enough. So I got to work fixing that. :)

 What did God teach you during the writing of this book? What spiritual lesson do you hope your readers take away from it?

God taught me a lot about waiting for His timing. I received an agent contract on this book five years ago (then called Abram’s Rock) and I was certain that this was the one! But although some publishers showed interest, they all ended up turning it down. It wasn’t until I had two books published (and wasn’t even considering putting this book out!) that the opportunity to resurrect this story came. I’m so glad that it did!

I hope readers come away from this story with hope that nothing is beyond God’s reach. I hope they see a glimpse of how the Lord pursues us, even when we are unlovable, even when we don’t deserve His love. I hope they see His grace.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since your debut was released? What is one piece of advice you’d give your Younger Writer Self?

I’m learning that the craziness of the writing business doesn’t stop. There’s always more I could be doing. More research, more writing, more editing, more marketing, more promotion. But I’m also learning that while I can’t imagine not writing, it is not the most important thing. Making time for my family and for God, and resting, is tremendously important for my spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. I would definitely tell my younger self to chill out a bit and enjoy the journey. :)

 How can we pray for you?

Thank you so much! I would LOVE your prayers on a deadline that I have for July 1st. If you would pray that the Lord would place on my heart what He wants my readers to read I’d be tremendously grateful!

We’ll definitely be praying for that!

Remember that personal connection I mentioned at the top? Well, it turns out that King Philip’s War was actually started by two of my ancestors, John and William Salisbury, who were also two of its first victims. One of them, John, appears briefly in Heidi’s book! I had no idea when I read it that this character was related to me; it was only after I finished that my genealogist mom pointed it out! Heidi and I both thought that was super cool.

And now for that giveaway! Heidi is offering one copy of The Edge of Mercy in the winner’s choice of format (paperback or ebook). To enter, simply leave a comment on this post! We’ll chat about anything you want: favorite time-slip novels, favorite obscure historical factoids, how awesome the New England area is…the sky’s the limit. But we DEFINITELY want to know if you’ve ever found a relative as a character in a work of fiction!

Meet Heidi:

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Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. She is an ACFW Carol Award winner and a Christy finalist. Both her debut novel, "Freedom's Ring" and her sophomore novel, "The Hidden Side" are Romantic Times Top Picks. "Freedom's Ring" was also a BOOKLIST Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. Visit her at heidichiavaroli.com.