Have you ever finished a novel and wished the author would write another with the same characters? Some novels are so hard to let go of. They linger. They nag. They whisper in our ears when we’re sleeping. “So what happened next?”
Some of my most popular novels were conceived as single titles until readers changed my mind. Wedding Ring became the five-book Shenandoah Album series. Happiness Key was followed by two additional stories.
The Goddesses Anonymous series was different. I conceived the idea at a time when life was growing increasingly difficult. Jobs were ending; finances were tight. The word “depression” was heard too often. I wanted to remind readers that even if we can’t change the world, each of us can make a difference in the lives of people we meet.
Of course, I didn’t want to write a series about do-gooders. I wanted to write about women who are like the women I know and love. Women who struggle. Women who make mistakes. Women who need to be forgiven. The Goddesses Anonymous were born. In One Mountain Away, a group of women in Asheville, North Carolina, are brought together by Charlotte Hale, who wants to make amends for mistakes she made. And Charlotte had made some doozies.
The women she gathers become characters in their own novels, learning to reach out even when their own lives are challenging and frightening, and learning to trust others to help them.
One of these is a young Protestant minister named Analiese Wagner. Analiese is Charlotte’s own minister and Charlotte never liked her. But when Charlotte begins her journey toward forgiveness, Analiese becomes her mentor. In many ways the thoroughly human Analiese is the thread that runs through all the books, the wise woman, the guide.
Now, in book four, Analiese needs her own challenges, her own roadblocks, her own moments of indecision. Since no one is always wise, Analiese needs to wrestle with life. And so does her mentor, Father Isaiah Colburn, the man she’s silently loved for years.
The Color of Light is Analiese’s journey. Churches share so much with every institution. They’re filled with strong people who are certain they have all the right answers. And ministers? Sometimes ministers, strong people themselves, are the only ones asking the right questions, whether they like the answers they receive or not.
While this isn’t a traditional inspirational novel, I still found Analiese and Isaiah’s struggles inspirational. What inspires you most in the novels you love best?
EMILIE RICHARDS is a USA TODAY bestselling author. Her many novels feature complex characterizations and in-depth explorations of social issues, a result of her training and experience as a family counselor, which contribute to her fascination with relationships of all kinds. Emilie, a mother of four, lives with her husband in Florida, where she is currently working on her next novel for MIRA® Books. Visit her at www.EmilieRichards.com.
The Color of Light by Emilie Richards
The deeper the darkness, the brighter the light
For more than a decade minister Analiese Wagner has felt privileged to lead her parishioners along a well-lit path. Her commitment has never been seriously tested until the frigid night she encounters a homeless family huddling in the churchyard. Offering them shelter in a vacant parish house apartment and taking teenage Shiloh Fowler—a girl desperate to rescue her parents—under her wing, she tests the loyalty and faith of her congregation.
Isaiah Colburn, the Catholic priest who was her first mentor and the man she secretly longed for, understands her struggles only too well. At a crossroads, he’s suddenly reappeared in her life, torn between his priesthood and his growing desire for a future with Analiese.
Divided between love and vows they’ve taken, both must face the possibilities of living very different lives or continuing to serve their communities. With a defeated family’s trust and her own happiness on the line, Analiese must define for herself where darkness ends and light begins.