Can you pinpoint one decision, one moment, one action that changed your life forever? We all have definable moments that shape who we are and the path we follow, but sometimes other people make that decision for us. In A Marriage in Middlebury (Abingdon Press/November 5, 2013/ISBN: 978-1-4267-3387-1/$14.99), Anita Higman weaves a heartwarming tale of how one choice takes a woman down an unexpected path to forgiveness.
Q: What was your inspiration for A Marriage in Middlebury?
The idea for this book came from my absolute love of tearooms in Texas. More than a decade ago I met a woman named Linda Becker who opened a tearoom in the Houston burbs called Tea for Two. Her eatery and gift shop did so well she opened a second shop. Throughout the years I’ve enjoyed her wonderful tearoom fare as well as the quaint ambiance. Linda’s tearoom isn’t just a café — it’s a gathering place for friends, a place to eat home-cooked food and a place so cozy you don’t want to leave. As a writer I thought it might be fun to create a heroine who owns a tearoom similar to Linda’s and set her shop in a small town on the gulf coast of Texas. So, that’s how the novel A Marriage in Middlebury was born. Even though the story, the characters and the town are fictional, Linda’s tearooms are real places you can visit and enjoy.
Q: Everything was going smoothly for the main character when suddenly everything changes with the return of her first love. What advice do you have when life throws us a curveball?
Isn’t that just like life? I get curveballs thrown at me daily! Sometimes little ones. Sometimes big ones. As Christians we should trust in the One who made us, the One who’s known us from the first day when we were knit together in our mother’s womb, the One who loves us best. Trusting in Him when everything goes wrong is the only answer, and it’s more than enough.
Q: Sam’s father pressured Charlotte into breaking off her relationship with his son. How should we react to those who threaten our dreams, wrong us in some way or are deliberately hurtful?
Bathe the situation in prayer and then talk things through no matter how painful. But once the air is clear, forgive and move on. Don’t keep going back over and over. Forgiveness is not easy, but it’s the only way to live free. It helps to remember that forgiveness is what God offered us when we sinned against Him.
Honestly, I’m not able to forgive on my own. This fallen world is filled with people who can at times be unkind and unjust. I can only give these people to God and let him transform their hearts and my attitude toward them. Does it sound unbelievable—too mystic? It might sound that way, but Jesus is the only supernatural glue that will ever be able to mend this broken world. Through Christ I am able to forgive what is unforgiveable and love those people who seem unlovable. After all, that is exactly what Christ did for me.
Q: Is there a certain Bible passage or verse that goes along with the theme of A Marriage in Middlebury?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Q: Are any of the characters or events in A Marriage in Middlebury based on your own experiences?
All my characters are a mixture of many different people. Perhaps a hand gesture will come from someone at the grocery store. Or perhaps the idea of a uniquely shaped beauty mark will come from a woman I know at church. Or maybe that obnoxious habit of always needing to be right comes from the clerk at the local coffee shop. See how that works? It’s a safer way to design characters than taking all the attributes from one person, especially if you’re creating a villain!
Yes, I tend to go back to the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation, because these are the same themes that have dramatically impacted my life. If we can’t forgive and reconcile with our friends and family and our fellow man, we will be very lonely people. Even if we long to be an island, that’s not how God created us. We were created for fellowship. So, these themes are not only good for a story, but they are paramount in living the Christian life.
Q: Like several of your books, A Marriage in Middlebury is set in your home state of Texas. What are some of your favorite things about Texas?
Texas has a unique array of scenery—mountains, beaches, deserts, hills, bayous, canyons, big cities, quaint towns, all spread out under a big open sky that embraces it all. Also, Texas is an inexpensive place to live, it’s a great place to raise a family and it’s one of the friendliest places on earth. I’ve lived here for about 30 years, and I’m proud to call Texas my home.
Q: What do you hope readers will walk away with after they turn the last page of A Marriage in Middlebury?
Ultimately, I hope readers see that with God all things are possible!
My goal with A Marriage in Middlebury is to entertain, challenge and inspire women. I hope each reader will come to the end of the novel with a smile on her face, excited to tell a friend about the story she’s just read and the characters she’s just met.
Q: Why are novels that are set in Mayberry-esque towns in America becoming so popular?
I think women want to escape from the harshness of real life—and maybe for a little while enjoy things the way they used to be. And these kinder, gentler stories can encourage the reader to bring those small-town values back into the real world.
Q: Before becoming a writer, you had a number of interesting jobs. What was it about writing that drew you in?
I had an incredible need to tell stories. I guess God made me that way.
Q: What are you working on next?
A novel entitled A Question of Destiny. I’ll leave the plot as a surprise, but I will say it’s a romantic comedy. That novel will be released in 2014.