Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Interview with Cynthia Ruchti

I always enjoy the opportunity to catch up with author Cynthia Ruchti. She is on the short list of a few women I know who just radiate God's grace whenever I am around her. I smile just thinking of our time chatting at ICRS. She is such a delight that it can be hard to stay on topic and officially interview her. Her books exude the same grace and hope that she does in person, and she shares a bit about her recent and upcoming offerings below. Grab a cup of your favorite brew and enjoy learning more about this lovely lady!

I always love visiting with you. And wow! You are having such a great year! When the Morning Glory Blooms and Ragged Hope are winning all sorts of awards. When the Morning Glory Blooms just won the 2014 Christian Retailing's BEST Award and also the 2014 Selah Award, and
Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices was honored with the 2014 Christian Retailing's BEST Award, AWSA Golden Scrolls Book of the Year Second Place, and a 2014 Selah Award. Both of those books are so good and so impactful. Your books really minister to people.

Thank you! I want them to be great stories. I want them to have a base of a story that's going to be interesting to people, but to have you say that is really a blessing.

Your tagline is so appropriate.

My tagline is Hope that Glows in the Dark. I tell stories of Hope that Glows in the Dark, whether that's writing non-fiction or writing fiction. It's the calling card of everything I do.

That is what I feel when I read your pages and even when I talk to you. You have such a sweet countenance about you and you just radiate that hope and sweet spirit.

Thank you. The Lord had to rub a few rough edges off of me and bring me to a place of really realizing what's important in life and who is important in life. There was a moment in my junior high and senior high years when I had to decide if I was really going to be serious about this Jesus stuff or not, even though I'd known about God forever and as a young child had made a commitment that I was going to follow and obey Jesus with my life. But sometimes in those junior and senior high years you have to this moment of just kind of a recommitment of "do I mean it?" Someone had pointed out to me the verse in Psalm 37:4, if you delight in the Lord, He'll give you the desires of your heart, but they taught it from a whole different angle. Finally, I was beginning to understand it, that it wasn't a card that I could shove into a slot and if I just delight myself in the Lord, then all these desires of my heart were going to come.

He changes the desires!

Right! He changes the desires of our heart but also, what he was saying was, "You focus on delighting in Me; I'll take care of your heart's desires." And when I changed my thinking on that, and I do that with the books, too – "you focus on Me, you focus on ministering, you focus on writing a great story, you focus on reaching people, you focus on listening to them well enough that you can tell their stories in your novels or in your non-fiction, I'll take care of any 'heart's desires' kind of things." So then, when He comes along and blesses in things like having these books be recognized, that is just a fulfillment of that very thing. I had to quit seeking an ambition or even a new book to write and instead focus on just making Him my delight, and then the rest of it is going to follow. And in His way and in His time. So it's been a joy!

I'm thrilled for you! All My Belongings is your most recent release, and it just won the 2014 CAN (Christian Authors Network) Golden Scrolls Fiction Book of the Year. Oh my goodness! I knew it was going to be good because I know your books. But because of the stage of life that I'm in, it so touched my heart! Becca, the main character, is caring for a lady who has dementia so she's dealing with that, and she has some family issues and some things that her father has done and she has tried to get away from that by changing her identity. The way you built that story and the many layers were just incredible. And even though some of it was inferred in the back cover copy, I was so immersed in the story that I didn't see the final situation coming and it was so powerful!

I'm very glad you said that. My prayer was just what you expressed, that readers would be caught up in the story, moving along in the story, and not see that as a possibility at all and when it happens, it's shocking, even if you did read the back cover. Or not even shocking, so much, as a stunning blow. Yet another layer of something that was going to call her to the core of who was she and how was she going to respond, the way she had been cared for in the past or not. That happens so many times. She had such a lack of someone to care for and nurture her in her early days. How did she grow into a woman who was so skilled at caring for and nurturing others, even when it was very difficult no matter what the need was?

The thing that I like about it is that it speaks to what following Christ really means. You know? It's hard! And we want to make Christianity, especially here in the US, all about us, What's in it for us. This whole concept of laying down your life and living with an eternal perspective. . . .And I'm certainly not sitting here saying this like I have it all together and that I willingly do it. But it is definitely something to wrestle with. We never want to do anything that costs us.

How that relates into the book or even my own life, there have been caregiving times with my kids or grandkids with illness that were so hard to get through. Sometimes it can be as a new mom getting up with a newborn and wondering if he will ever sleep through the night! A little bit of reflection when I went through that time in 2012 caring for my husband after an injury when he needed total caregiving. There were days when I behaved myself very well as a caregiver and other days that I did not. In the middle of all that was that call to lay down my life. There's that call! But we are so good at ignoring that call. I love how the friends in All My Belongings lay down their lives for one another, how the men have their core group where they were trying to hold each other accountable and grow. These strong, tough, rugged, funny men were holding each other accountable and when there was a crisis, they were there because they were laying down whatever was on their schedule for what the need was.

So I'm glad you pointed that out because there's a lot of that. Some of it, I didn't even realize until I was done with the book, totally done writing and I traced back and saw that it came up again and again and again.

Sometimes it's not convenient! Most of the time it's not convenient! So I really liked that portrayal that sometimes you do the hard thing because it's the right thing, even when it's not the fun thing or the easy thing or the convenient thing. That really ministered to me and I think it's going to speak to a lot of people.

I pray it will.

What are you doing next?

I have a novel coming out in 2015 called As Waters gone by. It's the story of a woman who is trying to figure out how to sustain their marriage with that much distance between them, and the distance is that he's serving a five-year prison term. Most of the time, when someone heads to prison, that's the end of a marriage of it certainly has a very difficult time sustaining itself without a lot of hard work. But it's not so unlike someone who has a husband serving in Afghanistan. Or someone who has a long-distance trucker for a husband who is gone for long periods of time. How does this work that he's never here but we're still supposed to see each other in this husband/wife role? I'm the one who's making all the decisions but when he comes home he thinks he's supposed to step into a different role? How does that work? Well, it's much more complicated for Emmalyn in As Waters Gone By.

What is he serving time for?

There was an accident and a homeless man was paralyzed. There are some extenuating circumstances that will be revealed in the book and the courts knew Max needed to held culpable for his actions.

So it wasn't a criminal act that he committed.

Right. It was one of those things where any one of us could get caught up in a situation like that. He wasn't an evil man but he still had to pay for what he had done, for his mistake. It wasn't a long prison term but it came at the worst possible time in the life of this couple or for her heart's desires. She's lost the home they had; she had to sell their home because his income was gone. It's almost the end of the five years and he's about to be released and at this point she doesn't even know if he's coming home to her. There has been so much distance that he told her not to write to him and said it was better for her just to get a divorce, but she didn't want to do that. The prison system makes getting a divorce so easy! In some states, you can get a divorce for $1.50 if you are incarcerated. They make it way too easy!

So she runs into such a quirky bunch of people on Madeline Island. They had a hunting cabin that's in really rough shape. She lost their really nice house and now she's living in this hunting cabin that she's trying to fix up into a cottage on Lake Superior. The setting is beautiful. The cottage is just a wreck. As she goes through the process of determining how to live this exiled life and try to create a place where he can land if he chooses to come home when he's released, she encounters some really quirky characters. A couple of Jesus-loving characters and one whose husband is serving in Afghanistan who had re-enlisted for another tour of duty against her wishes, and she's a librarian and massage therapist who is now saddled with his roofing business! So their paths are not unalike. Both of those women have to find out how they are going to survive and how to rebuild a marriage from something like that between you. It is, I believe, a hope-giving story. It's based on some events from people that I dearly care about who are close to me and are going through some of the same things, and they are a living example that a marriage can thrive even when there is prison between you.

And for some people, the imprisonment is a health issue in a marriage. For some, one is a person of strong faith and the other is not, and it seems like there are bars, in some ways, that they just can't cross in order to be able to connect like they would want to on a deep level. So my prayer, my hope is that there will be readers who will see themselves in this even though there will be few, I would pray, who would be in this exact situation, a literal prison.

I can't wait to read it. It sounds incredible. Do you have any non-fiction in the works?

I do. I have a book due on August 1 to Abingdon Press. Abingdon has been so incredibly good to me, and they've been a great, great blessing. At these Christian Retailing Awards, they swept the awards. Their Bibles, their children's books, their non-fiction – a lot of categories. My non-fiction is the second book following Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices and is called Tattered and Mended: The Art of Healing the Soul.

I love your titles!

Thank you! So there's this concept in the middle of that which is, when God does the mending, it's art. When we try to do it, it looks like a kindergartener took a needle and black thread against white. The true concept is that we resist mending. We throw things away. We don't patch much of anything anymore. We toss it.

I was just thinking about that when I recently had a little hole in my sock, remembering how my mother would darn socks when I was a child.

Exactly. That's part of our American culture now. If you have a problem, you get rid of the person. You don't problem-solve or find a way to take something that's shattered or fallen apart and fix it. I worked for a couple of years for one of the world's renowned knitters and her mother, who was the world's renowned knitter. As sometimes happens, there was a hole in a beautiful knit piece. The expert knitter said, "Let me show you how we repair that." She took the same color of wool and she wove in and out in the pattern of what the knitting would have been, and when she was finished, you could not tell there had ever been a hole there. It took careful work. It took skill. She had to learn how to do that and had practiced for a long time. But in the skilled hands of someone who knew what she was doing, she could make it so that you could not tell where the breach had been. The skill of a master.

When we submit to that process, that healing process, sometimes we're submitting to a long process for that healing. But when we get done, it is going to be so artful. We used to think of mending as scullery maid work, and just something to get done. But then there was that other level, the tailor artistry level where it could turn out not just repaired but better than ever, stronger than ever. A good surgeon can do that. When we have a scar, that scar is not a sign of ugliness or a sign of injury so much as it is a protective layer over what's in there – so strong and protective that sometimes, if a surgeon has to go in again, it's tough to get through because it's formed such a protective barrier.

Whether it's marriages or friendships – there are so many friendships that dissolve over something so small. So many family relationships get thrown out of whack by something so small. It could have been mended but they didn't want to mend, they wanted to walk away. That's what's coming in that book, and that will be out in 2015.

So I have a novel and a non-fiction releasing in 2015, another novel in 2016, and one in 2017. Then we'll see what's next. We're talking a little bit about another non-fiction idea that I have. We'll see if that comes in-between there somewhere.

That all sounds wonderful. On a personal level, what have you been up to?

On a personal level, I'm in a really good place of watching my grandkids come into their own and watching their personalities just blossom. Since they only live fifteen or twenty minutes away from me, that's a great joy. Working with ACFW involves a lot of time and work but practically every minute of it is joy, and that keeps me busy. I have to juggle all that just like many people do. They have a day job and their novel writing. My husband is nearing the age where he is going to be retired and home full-time and I'm in that place of figuring out if I'm going to have to write a book on what to you do with a guy who comes home! How are we going to keep him happy? We have two completely different ideas about what a "good day" is! My good day is full of work, and his good day is full of nothing, or his own choices, whether he goes fishing or hunting or whatever he wants to do, or nothing at all. That will be a good, interesting challenge.

Thank you so much for chatting with me. I always love catching up with you!

Thank you!

Click the titles to read my reviews of Cynthia Ruchti's books:

All My Belongings
Ragged Hope: Surviving the Fallout of Other People's Choices
When the Morning Glory Blooms>


View blog reactions

No comments: