I am pleased to have my friend and mentor, the lovely Sandra Byrd with me today. Her book, Mist of Midnight, is on sale for $1.99 for your Kindle and Nook. If you haven’t read it, I assure you it will make the perfect summer read. One of the things I love about Sandra’s writing is what she doesn’t say. Woven within the text is a treasure trove of wisdom if you only look for it. While reading Mist of Midnight, I thought of all the ministers and the sacrifices they’ve willingly made for the gospel. Now, let’s chat with Sandra.
Tell us about Mist of Midnight
In the first of a brand-new series set in Victorian England, a young woman returns home from India after the death of her family to discover her identity and inheritance are challenged by the man who holds her future in his hands.
Rebecca Ravenshaw, daughter of missionaries, spent most of her life in India. Following the death of her family in the Indian Mutiny, Rebecca returns to claim her family estate in Hampshire, England. Upon her return, people are surprised to see her…and highly suspicious. Less than a year earlier, an imposter had arrived with an Indian servant and assumed not only Rebecca’s name, but her home and incomes.
That pretender died within months of her arrival; the servant fled to London as the young woman was hastily buried at midnight. The locals believe that perhaps she, Rebecca, is the real imposter. Her home and her father’s investments reverted to a distant relative, the darkly charming Captain Luke Whitfield, who quickly took over. Against her best intentions, Rebecca begins to fall in love with Luke, but she is forced to question his motives—does he love her or does he just want Headbourne House? If Luke is simply after the property, as everyone suspects, will she suffer a similar fate as the first “Rebecca”?
A captivating Gothic love story set against a backdrop of intrigue and danger, Mist of Midnight will leave you breathless.
How did Mist of Midnight get started?
My interest in this particular story ignited when I read a biography of the first wife of the man often considered the Father of Missions, William Carey. Dorothy Carey was an unwilling missionary. She did not want to leave England, but her husband persisted and planned to take their oldest son with him, perhaps forever, leaving her home with the younger children. Dorothy was finally convinced to, perhaps bullied into, accompany her husband. Suffering first from what we could would call depression, she was an unhappy woman who was locked inside, crying, while her husband baptized their son and his first Indian convert. Her illness progressed and she ended her days in paranoia, psychosis, and misery after the death of their son Peter from dysentery, which she herself suffered from throughout her life. Carey, who seemed to have been both driven and a man seeking relief for as well as confinement for his wife, went on to marry another woman after Dorothy’s death, a woman suited to missions work. They lived and worked together happily.
This interest next led me to the Mault family. Among the earliest missionaries from England to India, sent from the London Missionary Society, both Charles and Margaret Mault were admirably, happily, suited to missionary work. They joined Margaret’s brother, Charles Mead, and his wife in South India. Mrs. Mead and Mrs. Mault worked together to open schools which taught both academic and practical subjects to girls in a state where girls never went to school. Mrs. Mault, an accomplished lace maker from Honiton, shared her skill. Lace-making offered Indian girls financial freedom, dignity, and the ability to climb the social, if not the caste, ladder. Their lace was proudly displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London and sold throughout the world.
Tell us about your research process.
I begin by reading, mainly nonfiction material that covers the era I’m writing in. I immerse myself in the language of the era, its customs and mannerisms. How did women dress, and what were their hopes and expectations, their limitations, which are often different from our own? I visit as many sites, personally, as I can, so I spent some time in Hampshire, England. I visited the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, where the London Missionary Society archives are held, and read the actual letters written to and from the missionaries to India. Finally, I engage a historical research assistant who lives in the area in which I write and is an historical expert, to ensure my English people sound English and my facts and customs are all straight.
What impact did your research have on you personally?
It was powerful to read the words of those missionary women in their own hands. The letters were written on the thinnest parchment possible, and then the papers were turned sideways and written across again, angularly, to make the most of the paper space. They worked very hard, they suffered and gave their all in service to Christ. Most of them did not realize the extent of their impact in their lifetimes, but we can see it now. It was an effective and encouraging lesson in planting, hoeing, and watering knowing that God will reap, though we may not see it right away.
How do you see yourself in your character’s story, if at all?
I think all of us, as believers, wonder why bad things happen to good people, and why it seems as though the Lord has abandoned us at a moment when we most need Him. To live through, and then show on the page, the truth that He is always with us even if we don’t sense his presence and attention was restorative to me, and I hope it will be to readers, too.
Will we know what happens to your character after the end of the book?
Absolutely. This is a complete story, including a little epilogue. The book launches a series of three books in the same genre (Gothic romance) set in the same era and area (Victorian England) but each book has its own set of characters and story arc.
Where can readers find you online?
Please visit me at www.sandrabyrd.com, or to connect on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’ve love to visit your book club via Skype.
After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published more than forty books. Her adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. To Die For was also named by Library Journal as a Best Books Pick for 2011 and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr, was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I published in April, 2013
Sandra has also published dozens of books for tweens and teens, including a best-selling devotional.
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