I hope you will take some time and introduce yourself this this fabulous writer and her stories! Please welcome Delia Parr to my Window!
"There are no real coincidences in life for those with faith strong enough to recognize coincidences for what they really are: intricate pieces of the providential design God created for each of our lives.” (p. 312)
This truth, quoted from page 312 of your novel, seems so hard to grasp in the lives of many believers. Why do you think this is so? What allowed you to embrace this truth in your own life?
Ii think it's easy to get caught up in the drama of real life -- drama that sometimes distracts us and yanks us away from our faith. The older I get, the more I have come to reflect back on my life and see that what I once thought were mere coincidences or "accidents" of fate turned out to be paths that I was meant to walk with lessons I needed to learn. As a four-time cancer survivor, my faith has done more than sustain me. It has given me an anchor that keeps me steady and freed me to embrace His will rather than my own. I know now that whatever happens in my life is all part of His plan for me - a plan that is always perfect.
Ruth is the daughter of a minister wrongly accused of a horrible crime. Where did you get your inspiration for her character? Was there really a ministry similar to her father’s back in the early 1800’s?
In fact, there was! There were a number of ministers in New York City, and elsewhere I presume, who worked with prostitutes to help them to return to the faith they had abandoned. There was one particular minister who actually did visit the brothels and I patterned Ruth's father after him. His ministry made me wonder what it would have been like for his family, and that's when my imagination created Ruth.
What research was required to create Elias Garner’s chosen profession of pharmacist during that time period? What did you learn about medicine in your research?
I have lots of history books, and I rely on the internet to help fill in the gaps. While most families relied on the women to provide healing herbs and potions, as the 19th century progressed and urbanization spread, more and more families relied on pharmacists (mostly male) to provide the medicines they needed. Medicine gradually became dominated by men until we saw the pendulum swing back starting in the 1960s.
Jake’s profession as a newspaper reporter seemed very realistic as well. Were newspapers, or dailies as they are termed in the story, really that competitive? Has the new industry always been so unscrupulous?
The penny press of the early 19th century made the "news" available to the masses, and they relied on salacious stories to sell their newspapers. Just as we have the paparazzi now, they did have reporters then who looked in windows and toured crime scene to print the horrid details as "news." The history of tabloid journalism really does date back to this time period. Since they were very limited to what they could print in books, some journalists used the daily newspapers instead and justified their coverage as "news." They were highly competitive, just like the tabloids today, and I see very real connections between the two.
Another character that is deliciously realistic is darling Lily! Why did you choose to “burden” Ruth with such precious cargo on her journey? Weren’t the circumstances under which she left New York burden enough?
I think Ruth needed to know, first-hand, that her father's work was truly important. Ruth felt a little overlooked, I think, because her father was so committed to his ministry. Having Lily with her made her realize how important her father's work really was ... before she even knew who Lily was. Lily gave Ruth the opportunity to grow, too, and make her more faith-filled.
Without spoiling the significance of the sea shell in the story, is the article quoted within the novel real or imagined? If real, how did you discover it? If imagined, what was your inspiration for the allegory? I LOVED it!!
Thank you. The sea shell story is one I created, but it was a pure gift from God. I was walking on the beach in the morning, praying before I started to write (I do that every day in the summer) when the allegory came to me. I don't think I'll ever see a sea shell again that I don't think of the story and how blessed I was that God inspired me to write it.
What project has you currently engaged now that Love’s First Bloom is published?
I've just finished Hidden Affections which should be released some time next year. I'm very excited about this new story!
Over the winter, I'll be outlining my next book, too, so I'm keeping busy.
What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Did He strengthen your own faith as you told Ruth’s story?
Right now, I'm waiting for my new granddaughter who will be born any day now, and I'm so excited that God has blessed us with this new baby girl. He's also helping me prepare to retire from teaching in early 2012 after 25 years, and I'm expecting that He will help me to find ways to serve Him during retirement. I do intend to keep writing, but there are some volunteer opportunities I'm anxious to explore. I can't wait to see where He leads me!
Closing word of encouragement you’d like to leave with your readers?
God loves you so much. Never underestimate His ability to surprise you!
I have an extra copy of Love's First Bloom to give away! Please leave a comment and your contact information to be entered to win this fabulous story!