Find a Christian store

Interview with Catherine Richmond

Catherine Richmond is an inspirational romance (historical and contemporary) author with an active imagination, a heart for hurting people, and a background in occupational therapy.

Sources of Inspiration
In addition to storytelling, Catherine also enjoys hiking, sewing, reading, and travel, activities she has more time for since she retired. Sometimes her travel destination is inspired by the books she reads.

“This winter’s trip to Florida was inspired by Kristy Cambron’s Ringmaster’s Wife and Deeanne Gist’s Tiffany Girl,” she says.

And sometimes the books she writes are inspired by her travels. One day, when Catherine was looking for a new place to hike with her canine hiking buddy, Becki, she found a state park in Iowa called Preparation Canyon.

“Here’s the history: the leader of an anti-polygamy Mormon group established a commune in the wilderness, then required his followers to sacrifice all their worldly goods to him. It didn’t end well.”

This setting and its unique history became the basis of her latest book, The Shelter of Each Other.

Richmond’s Christian faith also plays a huge role in her writing.

“My characters live out the struggles we all have in following Jesus. Keziah, the heroine of The Shelter of Each Other, has prayed for freedom, but continues to be stuck. A Christian friend encourages her to consider that she may be exactly where God wants her.”

How It Began
Catherine Richmond started writing her first book in 1991 when she was enjoying her dual roles of raising her children and working in her chosen career.

“A folk song ignited a story in my heart,” Catherine shares. “That story became Spring for Susannah.

Spring for Susannah: Hundreds of miles from home, Susannah faces an uncertain future as a mail-order bride on the untamed Dakota prairie.

Since that time, Richmond has published five more books.

Through Rushing Water: Sophia has her life all planned out – but her plans didn’t include being jilted or ending up in Dakota Territory.

Gilding the Waters: Resort owner Wade is trying to stay in business. Chemist Mable is trying to shut him down. Only Teddy Roosevelt can bring them together.

Third Strand of the Cord: She prayed for a fairy godmother and got a…karate instructor?

Off the Ground: She wants to race Amelia Earhart. He’s afraid of flying. Will their relationship get off the ground?

The Shelter of Each Other – Welcome to 1850s Preparation, Iowa, where a man desperate to belong and a woman wanting to escape join forces for peace.

Catherine’s stories tackle the question of how women have coped in challenging situations. For instance, the shortage of men after the Civil War led to Susannah (Spring for Susannah) becoming a mail-order bride. And the cholera epidemic fueled Keziah’s passion for disease prevention in The Shelter of Each Other.

Behind the Scenes of The Shelter of Each Other
One of the challenges of writing historical fiction is that some of the locations, like the town of Preparation, Iowa, no longer exist. However, Catherine was able to gets some hands-on research done by hiking the Loess Hills with their wide variety of native plants that Keziah used for her herbal remedies. She also pulled from her background in occupational therapy.

“I understand patients respond in various ways to pain - that hasn’t changed over the years. What has changed is more treatment options. And the pandemic had us all thinking about prevention and public health.”

Her personal experiences during the 2020 Covid lockdowns: “Keziah felt trapped in the Preparation group. Didn’t we all feel a bit trapped during the pandemic?”

And her interactions with Mormonism: “I’ve met Mormon missionaries and toured the temple near DC. Omaha [where Richmond now lives] was a stopover and outfitter on the trail to Salt Lake City.”

One of the themes in this book is the conflict between the individual and society.

“In Preparation, the leader required the sacrifice of all material goods. As postmaster, he controlled letters in and out of the community. Meals served at the communal table were vegetarian long before science understood the importance of complete proteins.”

After reading this book, Catherine hopes readers come away with a better idea of how to help people who are members of a cult or a different religion.

“If you meet someone who is a member of a cult or different religion, share the freedom you’ve found in Jesus,” Richmond says. “Even if they’re not ready to leave, you’ve planted the seed. A good example of this is Unfollow [by Megan Phelps-Roper] where one person’s gentle questions eventually led to Megan Phelps-Roper’s departure from the Westboro Baptist group.”

Author Life
Publishing Journey: A contest entry led to a two-book contract with Thomas Nelson for Spring for Susannah and Through Rushing Water.

“Then I went indie, which was a better fit for the slow pace of writing around my occupational therapy work. For The Shelter of Each Other, I found a great editor who not only helped me improve my writing but made the process fun!”

Most Enjoyable Aspect of Writing: “It’s fun to unearth historical connections that show God’s people at work. And happy endings are the frosting on the cake!”

Most Challenging Aspect of Writing: “Marketing! Now that I’m retired, I going to do it!”

Funniest/Most Awkward Moment: “Are you ready for some dark humor? The leader of Preparation published over a thousand pages of newspapers and books but wrote little about his community. My best research source turned out to be the Find-A-Grave website!”

Best Experience?
“When I was researching Through Rushing Water, I found connections between the Ponca mission on the South Dakota border, a girls’ school in Omaha, and the lawyers and judge for the trial of Standing Bear. These relationships resulted in a civil rights victory for Native Americans. God’s people can accomplish much when we work together!”

What’s Next?
“Big announcement – you’re hearing it first! After years of reader requests, I’m going to write a sequel to Spring for Susannah!”
Jenny Fulton is a wife, mother, author, blogger, and freelance writer. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, she grew up hearing stories from my dad about the supernatural workings on the Navajo Reservation. As a child, she collected angels and loved anything related to fairy tales. Her days are now mostly spent raising my three young daughters and writing as much as time and opportunity allows. Follow her at her blog, Heart Soul Mind.

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.