Mama Penny and Jaleela, two of the South African ladies in Beaded Hope, are very strong characters. Are they based on real people?
Yes and no. :)
A man I met before we left for South Africa told me he thought the people were the very best thing about the country. After visiting Mamelodi myself and meeting the people there, I couldn’t have agreed more. That’s why in every South African character depicted in the book—most especially Jaleela—I tried to portray the strong faith, warmth, and congeniality of the South African people we were delighted to meet.
Cathy and her husband, Mark, in South Africa with some of the children they met.
But one character—Mama Penny—was not totally fictional. She was inspired by a woman named Mama Peggy, who, as you’ll see on the Beaded Hope Website, is called “the Matriarch of Mamelodi.” I don’t know how the woman can possibly do all she does. She’s well educated and could be doing many other things with her life. But instead she has dedicated herself to the people of Mamelodi and has her helping hands in everything—hands that never seem to stop moving.
Also, for anyone who has read the book, you may be wondering about Mighty too. Yes, there is a “real” Mighty. In fact, once again if you go to Beaded Hope Website you’ll see some of the South African Beaded Hope ladies there, Mighty included. But the “real” Mighty is a mother who has a daughter close in age to the fictitious Mighty. I just loved that name so much and couldn’t find anything in the Thesaurus I liked better. So I asked Mighty’s permission to use her name and, luckily, she was thrilled.
I wondered if there was a “real” Mighty.
How did you weave in a spiritual thread to make it relevant to your readers without being preachy?
Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything intentional that I did. I really feel like there was such a blessed spirit that exuded from the South African people I met that it spilled over into the writing of this story.
Did you have any particular Bible verses running through your mind as you wrote this book?
I had a list of about eight verses that seemed to resonate with the theme of the book and capture the spirit of the South African ladies as well. Two verses from that list ended up making their way into the book. There was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which came to Gabby’s mind in Chapter 29. Also, Hebrews 11:1 was used in the opening pages of the book. My editor and I took a “vote” and decided that familiar yet awesome scripture,“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” fit the book perfectly, especially in regard to Jaleela’s faith.
What do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
I’ve tried to write a meaningful book, but at the same time, I’ve tried to inject the pages with smiles and some laughable scenes too. So while I hope there are certain things readers will experience in the book, a joyful sigh at the end is sure one of them!
I don't know what readers will glean from the book, but I can tell you what I've learned on this Beaded Hope journey. That is:
• that women half-way around the world, living in the most deplorable conditions, still have the same desires at heart that I do—happy, well-fed children who know God and are hopeful with dreams for their futures.
• and that often when you think you’ve been sent some place to minister to others, don’t be surprised when you are the one who is ministered to.
• that God’s timing really is worth waiting for! And no matter how little our knowledge, no matter how imperfect our hearts, He continues to pursue us to join Him in His work, just because He loves us so. (Lucky us!)
I’d love to know what happened to Gabby , Cassandra, Heidi and Katie after their return to Ohio. Is there going to be a sequel to Beaded Hope?
Well, I guess only time will tell. I do have their stories swirling around in my head if the opportunity for sequels presents itself.
Tell us about your current book/project.
My current WIP is another women’s fiction set in the U.S. around Lake Michigan. Right now I’m calling it “Always the Wedding Planner” so we’ll have to see what happens with that.
If you were given an all expenses paid holiday anywhere in the world to research a novel, where would you choose to go? Why would choose this location?
Oh, gosh. My husband always says I have a hard time making decisions and he is so right. I can’t seem to choose just one! I would love to go to Ireland. And to Jerusalem. Australia. Italy. And even some places in the U.S. too! Some places seem spiritual. Some romantic. Some historical. An archeological dig anywhere would be fun too!
Does anyone out there have a specific place anywhere in the world where they’d like to visit?
Thank you for chatting to us today, Cathy, we’ve enjoyed reading about your experiences and writing.