As we begin gearing up for the release of my second novel, The Hidden Side, I thought it would be fun to start a blog series with some behind-the-scenes posts on the book, how it came to be, and the real life historical characters who inspired it.
So what is the inspiration behind The Hidden Side?
As is often the case, my ideas usually begin with research. I was searching for a true-to-life historical figure from the American Revolution that could inspire a new story when I stumbled upon Agent 355, a woman who played an important part in General George Washington’s most successful spy ring, a woman whose identity we still don’t know for certain. That was enough to get my imagination going! Before long, I had a solid historical story down—a story about a woman seeking to redeem the wrong done her fiancé, infamous spy Nathan Hale. A story about a woman hiding behind a façade that could not only ruin every relationship she has, but could put her life in peril as well. A story about a woman who finds herself caring for a man she must deceive.
The contemporary story didn’t come so easily. I was brainstorming with my friend and fellow author, Melissa Jagears, when we remembered a recent news story about a man who had committed a terrible crime and an interview with a relative who raised him, who was just as shocked as the rest of the country over what her kin had done. Before long (and with additional help from my extraordinary editor, agent, and critique partner) we had the story of a mother, a radio host of a popular Christian morning show—whose son had committed an unspeakable crime. This woman would go through grief, but she would also struggle moving on with her life, struggle with the impulse to hide behind her radio personality, and struggle with finding her identity not in her son’s deeds, but in Christ. Through her attempt to find healing, she turns to the journal her son gave her on the eve of his crime, a journal that tells the story of another woman, centuries earlier, who also felt the need to hide behind a false persona.
Then…the writing. Yikes, this book was a tough one to bring to life. Putting myself in my characters’ shoes took all of the emotional, physical, and spiritual fortitude I could muster (and that God granted me), and yet for how difficult it was, it seemed to flow from my typing fingers with ease. I wrote it in less than three months and now, in about that much time, it will be in the hands of my readers!