Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored twelve books and is currently at work on her newest series for Bethany House Publishing. All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul.
Enjoy getting to know Nancy a little better at Relz Reviewz
What appeals to you most about writing fiction?
Writing fiction allows me to stretch beyond reality and design life in a different way. Although I don’t live in a small town, I’d like to. So, I can set my stories in the kinds of towns that appeal to me. It also allows me to work out situations in my own life and address problems in the lives of others. I’ve tackled several topics. Abuse, lack of identity, feeling distant from God, lost love, and grief. In my current WIP (work in progress), I’m dealing with the problems that can occur when we stuff our feelings into an emotional closet instead of dealing with them. This theme is very personal to me. I’m convinced it will speak to many readers as well. Writing fiction gives me a chance to say important things to people I wouldn’t normally get the chance to talk to in person. Of course, the other side of writing is simply the fun of taking readers on an exciting ride. Even diverting someone’s attention from the daily grind is a great privilege. In the middle of a good story, it doesn’t matter is the dishes haven’t been washed or if the house still needs to be cleaned!
Why Christian fiction?
Why not? Seriously, I started out thinking I wanted to write secular fiction with a Christian message. My idea was that this would give me a great way to reach out to the unsaved. But God had other plans. I felt it best to go His way. (Grin) I’ve heard people put down Christian fiction as “preaching to the choir.” I may have even said this myself years ago. But that’s ridiculous. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Each time, Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep.” God’s kids are important to Him. Using Christian fiction to reach out to the hurting, the discouraged, the confused…this is a great calling, and one I don’t take lightly. Besides, Christian books DO get into the hands of the unsaved. And many times, those hands belong to a Christian who needs a way to share the love of God with a co-worker, friend or family member. Giving someone a book is a non-confrontational way of doing that. And it works!
Name five things you can’t live without
Ummm, air, food, water, a heart and a brain? Seriously, if you’re asking what things are the most important to me, it would be God, the Bible, my family, my dog and my writing. Can I have a sixth? Coffee is right up there! LOL!
Favourite book ~ Favourite movie ~ Favourite TV show
My favourite book is, of course, the Bible. But I assume you’re talking about something different. Many of the nonfiction books I’ve read that have helped me with life would be at the top, like The Battlefield of the Mind and Beauty for Ashes by Joyce Meyer. Then of course all the books about writing that have helped me immensely. As far as fiction, I just don’t know. I love Dickens and am a Sherlock Holmes nut. But there is a book that made me cry and is right up at the top of any list. It’s “The Girl in Hyacinth Blue” by Susan Vreeland. She’s an incredible writer with a unique style.
Favourite movie: I actually do have one. It’s called “Trip to Bountiful” with Geraldine Page. I love it to pieces. (And own it.) There are a lot of old movies I love too. Especially movies with Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.
Favourite TV show: This is impossible for me to answer. There are too many. Right now, I’m really into Downton Abbey, Castle and The Middle. Past favourites are: Everybody Loves Raymond and 24.
Where is the most interesting place you have been?
You asked for “interesting” not beautiful or exotic. This is an easy one! The Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas. I was blown away by this place. First of all, you go down this elevator in the dark (yes, that’s right!) and you step off 650 feet below the earth. You end up in this world beneath the surface that you never knew existed! Someday, I’d like to set a story there. Awesome!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
As strange as it sounds, I didn’t have any particular ambitions. When I was in my 30s, I went to work in a Christian radio station and thought that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I was in my forties before the idea of becoming an author became a serious consideration. There’s no doubt in my mind that now I’m right in the center of God’s will for my life.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
I’m about as close as anyone can come to being a hermit without growing out my hair and nails until they touch the floor or collecting newspapers. (Or is that a hoarder????) I don’t leave my house very often, and I like it that way. That doesn’t mean I’m afraid of going out. I’m not. When I do go out, I have a great time. But generally, I judge how happy I am about an upcoming week by how many times I have to leave the house. This sounds weird, but for a writer, it’s a rather good trait to have. (Or maybe it’s just weird. Sigh.)
Originally, my plan was to write books like Frank Peretti or Ted Decker. Again, God had other plans.
Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, her family, and her faith with plans never to return. Five years later, Lizzie finds she’ll have to run again. False accusations at her job, a stalker, and a string of anonymous threatening letters have left her with no other options. This time, however, her escape is back to Kingdom, her hometown.
As Lizzie becomes reacquainted with Kingdom, she realizes she may not have left her Mennonite roots and her faith as firmly in the past as she thought. She draws on the support of Noah Housler, an old friend, as she hides out and attempts to plan her next steps. When it becomes painfully clear that the danger has followed Lizzie to Kingdom, suspicions and tensions run high, and she no longer knows who to trust. With her life and the lives of those she loves at risk, Lizzie will have to run one last time–to a Father whose love is inescapable.
Which character did you connect to the most?
You’d think I’d connect more to my main character, Lizzie Engel. There is a lot of Lizzie in me. But I’d have to say I identified more with Ruth Fisher. She’s an older Mennonite lady, but she understands the grace and love of God. Ruth believes in grace over judgment (as do I) and helps to guide Lizzie toward renewed faith in God.
Which character was the most difficult to write?
Lizzie’s father, Matthew. His anger and critical spirit was hard for me to deal with. I could understand him from a intellectual point of view, but emotionally, he was far removed from what I believe. Hopefully, he’ll connect with readers who have had people like him in their lives.
What was your favourite scene to write in Inescapable or share your favourite paragraph
My favourite paragraph might give away too much of the plot, so I’ll have to go with a scene. It happens in the restaurant where Lizzie gets a job after she arrives in Kingdom. A local man is giving her some furniture that used to belong to his daughter. He and a helper are carrying a mattress into the restaurant so they can put it upstairs in the apartment where Lizzie and her daughter are living. Lizzie tries to hold the door open for them, but something goes terribly wrong, and she ends up on the floor with the mattress on top of her. Unfortunately, the bite of turkey sandwich in her mouth gets stuck in her throat, so she’s lying there, choking. The mattress is pulled off of her and she finds herself looking up into the face of a man she is interested in romantically. I think it’s a funny scene that shows our vulnerability when we have feeling for someone and things don’t go…smoothly! LOL!
I’ve turned in the second book in my Road to Kingdom series. That book will be titled, “Unbreakable.” I’m working on the third one. No title yet. I used to create most of my titles, but Bethany House does that now.They’re much better at it than I am, so I’m happy to let them do it! Hopefully, we won’t run out of words that end in …able! LOL!
Thanks for sharing, Nancy!