Today, I am pleased to welcome author Rachel Fordham to Interviews & Reviews. Rachel started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. Finally she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing, and she hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington. She is going to talk to us today about her debut novel The Hope of Azure Springs.
Welcome to Interviews & Reviews, Rachel!
Tell us what sparked the idea for your new book, The Hope of Azure Springs.
I have always been drawn to real-life stories of orphans and foster children. I love seeing how families come together in unusual ways. When I began writing this book, I knew I wanted to explore that idea and the orphan train history seemed the perfect route to take. To be honest, I began writing with very little of the plot established. It was a unique writing experience for me because I knew enough to dive in, but the bulk of the story came together as I worked away on it.
How did you become interested in the orphan train movement and this time period?
I jokingly tell people I was born in the wrong era. I have always loved things from the past, so when I began writing, I knew I’d write historical. Combine that with a love of families and children, and that led me to the orphan trains.
What type of research was required for writing your book?
I read through enough personal accounts of train riders to know that there were beautiful stories of orphans finding homes and that there were tragic stories of children being placed in homes where they were neglected and abused. I tried to represent both in my book.
I also had to research era specific details and area details. Azure Springs is a fictional town, but the vegetation, animals, and whatnot are true to what would be found in Iowa.
When did you decide to try writing a book and what motivated you to do so?
For years I’d been telling my kids stories. They always loved that and begged for more. Sometimes the stories would be long and complicated, and I’d have to continue the same story for days. Reading and storytelling have always been a part of me, but it wasn’t until my life was feeling really busy that I decided to write (ironic, I know). I had a houseful of young kids that were and are my world, but I wanted a hobby, some sort of creative outlet. I couldn’t figure out what I could do. My extremely supportive husband said, “You read so much, why not write a book? I know you could do it.” And right then I decided I would try. I haven’t stopped since.
What is one of the main points you hope readers learn from your book?
Several messages are woven into this story that I hope will touch someone’s heart. Without giving too much away, I will say that the message of finding true beauty is one that I am thrilled to share with the world. I also hope readers will find strength from Em’s journey. She has to learn to live and find joy despite all the hard things that have happened to her. These characters in so many ways touched my life. I hope that readers feel that too.
What are you working on next?
I’m very excited to be working on a standalone novel that begins at the Dead Letter Office in Washington D.C. but ends in my beloved fictional town of Azure Springs!
How can readers connect with you?
Thank you for sharing with us Rachel. I am already reading your book and loving it!
Rachel's book releases July 3. Want to pre-order your copy? Click on the links below!
Between 1854 and 1929, the orphan train movement relocated over 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, or homeless children from the eastern United States to rural areas throughout the country, focusing primarily in the Midwest. Since that time, this movement has captured the attention and curiosity of readers. In The Hope of Azure Springs, debut author Rachel Fordham masterfully blends history and romance in her well-crafted tale of a former “train rider.”
Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.
Sheriff Caleb Reynolds is determined to solve the case and secure justice for Em. But what he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
Historical romance readers will be charmed by the town of Azure Springs as they journey with Em to face her past, embrace her future, and rescue what she’s lost.