I’ve reviewed this author before so some of you will know Nancy is a childhood friend. I need to confess, though, that I never knew her sister, Heather. And after reading this book, my heart aches for a childhood do-over.
Keeping My Sister: A Story of Sibling Survivalry is a story of two parallel lives on divergent paths, separated by miles and happenstance.* It’s Nancy and Heather’s story. The book will tug on every sense you have, especially the need to survive. Towards the end, that urge will morph into the desire to save. And if you allow your heart in to the story, you’ll gain a glimpse of how God feels for us. My how He loves each one of us…not wanting to leave any behind.
After reading, I desperately wanted to sit down with Nancy and talk more. We are separated by states now, but she was kind enough to answer some of the questions I had. I thought I’d share them with you so you can know the heart behind the story.
I can think of a number of reasons Keeping My Sister needs to be read. Which ultimate reason gave you the purpose and drive to finish it?
This is going to sound cliché, but it was God from start to finish. I felt burdened with this project (and sometimes, if I wasn’t careful, by it). I needed to tell my sister’s story because she was so much more valuable and beautiful than what her life was able to reveal. I needed to show the grace and consistency of a redemptive Father and the truth that if you look for Him, He can always be found. He never leaves or forsakes us. NEVER.
How long did it take you to write your second novel from beginning to end?
This was another whirlwind project for me. I started on June 23rd, 2013, and finished by Feb 2, 2014. These were significant dates for me, as the first is her birthdate and the second is her re-birthdate.
Unlike my first book, which was a completely creative, fun write, this one was tough. I knew going into it two things—I would be facing things I’d much rather suppress, and I could trust God’s lead completely. I was right, and He did not disappoint.
An author once told me you can’t help but picture someone holding your words while writing them. If that’s true for you, whom did you picture?
I honestly didn’t think about that at all while writing it, other than picturing reading it “to her” at her memorial. I know she’s not “there”, but this is a part of my grief process and healing. I can’t explain it all yet, I just know this book has profoundly affected me and seems to be doing the same for others.
There is a quote at the beginning that says, “When the little girl speaks, healing will come.” I thought that quote was just for me, but as I get readers’ responses I realize that God had more in mind than just my healing. Readers from all walks of life seem to be given permission, just as I was—to grieve, to feel, to celebrate, to hope, to worship, to find their voices and to use them.
It’s safe to say this novel is a caricature of you and your beloved sister, Heather. Your writing is so vivid it’s hard to picture which details are spot on historic and which ones you had to imagine or gain insight from the Holy Spirit first before writing. Tell us, which portions were the hardest to write for you?
The hardest part to write was my sister’s descent into self-destruction and victimization. I chose to write it all through her eyes, in first person, to fully give her a voice. I dreaded going there with her. Finally, it was the last thing I needed to write.
God surprised me that night. I wrote feverishly and joyfully what I “saw” in my mind’s eye. It ended up being the most beautiful thing I’ve ever written about Heaven, and reunions, and the heart of the Father. It fueled me in the next weeks as I courageously went into the darkness of her story with her. I would re-read the ending; it gave me the strength to not only work through the details of the difficulties she experienced, but to do so in a way that was personal without destroying my own heart in the process. Knowing the ending kept me from being discouraged by the beginning, or destroyed by the middle.
If I were able to ask your sister what message she hopes others gleam from your story, what do you think she’d say?
She’d joke, smirking, “Stay in school, don’t do drugs.” Then she’d get all serious, shrug and say, “The best things in life are the things worth running toward instead of away from—family, sobriety, help, healing, and especially the loving arms of the Father.”
NOTE: There is an awesome Epilogue and Author’s Note at the end of this novel that brings the story even more to light. When you pick up your copy–don’t skip it! And if you find yourself wanting to do something about the feelings you have after reading, Nancy has a section of options for you at the end as well.
*I didn’t write that brilliant sentence–it’s on the back of the book. I just couldn’t find a better way to describe it.
This double giveaway is now closed.
Winners have been contacted. Thank you for reading!
IF YOU DIDN’T WIN OR CAN’T WAIT TO READ: Click HERE for an easy link to Amazon (not an affiliate). Or contact the author directly via her BLOG or Facebook Page.
Thanks for sharing your time with us.