A few years ago I read my first Nancy Mehl book. I'm so excited to welcome her to Sleuths and Suspects today.
Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas, with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored fourteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Road to Kingdom series, “Inescapable,” came out in July of 2012. The second book, “Unbreakable” released in February of 2013.
All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”
Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com or her blog www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com. She is also active on Facebook.
Nancy, how did you get your start writing fiction?
I started writing in my forties. Two things kicked off my decision to give writing a try. The first was an inspirational message I heard about finding your destiny, and the other, believe it or not, was the television series, Murder, She Wrote! I realized that more than anything, I wanted to be Jessica Fletcher. LOL!
Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
Absolutely. I’d check out four or five books from the library and read them at night with a flashlight, under my covers! I couldn’t get enough.
I loved Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, and anything with a touch of mystery in it.
What part of a writing career do you find most difficult?
Finding time to get everything done. Writers spend time doing a lot of other things besides writing. Authors are expected to promote their books, write blogs, and connect with readers. I do really enjoy getting to know my readers, but a lot of the other busy work gets me down sometimes.
What’s your favorite genre of writing?
Mystery first. Then suspense. I love what I’m writing now because my publisher encourages my mystery side. I get to combine both genres and that makes me happy.
Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
I just became a grandmother for the first time! Aidan Jackson Mehl was born on Christmas Day. So, my new name is…Nana!
I’m a huge Doctor Who fan. In fact, one of the characters in Unbreakable, Ebbie Miller, was patterned after the tenth Doctor, David Tennant.
Although I’m writing Mennonite fiction, I’m not Mennonite. I have a lovely friend who is a Mennonite church historian in Goessel, Kansas. Judy Unruh keeps me on track. (Thanks, Judy!)
So far, all of my books have been set in Kansas. But the new series I’ll be writing for Bethany House will take place in Missouri.
Because sometime in 2013 my husband and I (and Watson) will be moving to Missouri. My son, his wife, and my new grandson live there. It will be a little bittersweet to change settings, but I look forward to doing some research in the “Show Me” state.
I love animals. All of our pets have been rescued. I’m a big believer in adopting animals that need to be rescued.
Who is the most fun character you ever created?
Well, I love Hilde Higgins, hairdresser for the dead. She is featured in my Curl Up and Dye mysteries. But I think my all time favorite is Ruby Bird. She ran a café in my Ivy Towers series. Ruby was eccentric, loud (she couldn’t hear well), and she didn’t suffer fools gladly. I adored her! Still do.
Do you have a favorite book you’ve written?
You know, I just can’t pick one. Do I pick one of the cozies that helped a woman get through chemo because it made her laugh? Or the Harmony book that had a character with Down Syndrome? A woman wrote to tell me that the character reminded her of her uncle Drew who’d passed away. My character’s name was Drew, btw. Or what about the book that made another reader turn her life back to God? Those kinds of reactions mean more to me than any story ever will.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Absolutely. I pray over every book before I start and ask God what He wants to say through my story. I believe He uses fiction to touch people. Every book is dedicated to Him first.
Would you tell us about your current book release UNBREAKABLE?
UNBREAKABLE is the story of Hope Kauffman, a shy, quiet girl who lives in the Mennonite town of Kingdom, Kansas. When churches and people of faith are attacked in the county, the residents of Kingdom have to decide how to protect themselves. The core belief of the Mennonite faith is nonviolence, but will sticking to this doctrine put them in danger? Hope is engaged to a man who refuses to take up a weapon to defend himself – or anyone else. But another man Hope is drawn to makes a different choice. Hope’s heart is as divided as her hometown. Before the end of UNBREAKABLE Hope’s faith will be tested as her life hangs in the balance.
Where did you get your inspiration for UNBREAKABLE?
I started thinking about the Mennonite belief in nonviolence, or passive resistance. Mennonites believe it is right to resist evil, but they do not believe it’s right to resort to violence to obtain their goals. I began to wonder what would happen if a Mennonite town was attacked by violent men. Would everyone respond the same way? How much would the citizens of Kingdom risk in order to stand by their convictions? UNBREAKABLE was born from these questions.
What is it about your lead character that will make your readers care about her/him?
Hope is the kind of person who isn’t satisfied to accept what others tell her. Once she begins to question her church’s beliefs, nothing stops her from searching for the truth. She is incredibly honest and true to herself.
What is the main theme or spiritual message of this book?
The main theme is that we can disagree on doctrine but still love each other. There are some tenants of Christianity that shouldn’t be compromised. But there are others that aren’t so clearly defined. In UNBREAKABLE I tried to present two sides of an issue without demonizing brothers and sisters who chose different paths of faith.
Would you share with us what you are working on now?
I’m just starting a new series for Bethany House. It’s Mennonite-themed romantic suspense, but this time, it will be set in Missouri. I look forward to new locations to research. It should be fun.
Nancy is willing to give away a book if we get twelve comments from people not related to this blog. Be sure to leave us your comments.
Nancy, thanks so much for visiting with us today.