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Interview with Kathleen Denly

In my recent conversation with Kathleen Denly, I was delighted to learn more about the inspiration behind her story and her day-to-day life as an author and a homeschool mom.

How and why did you choose this particular setting for this story?
One of the connecting elements in the Chaparral Hearts series is that each novel takes place primarily within San Diego County. The first three books stayed fairly close to the coast. For this novel, I wanted to take readers into San Diego's eastern desert region. The area consists of both high and low deserts, and a large portion of it is now protected by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. When I learned more about the unique mud caves located within the park, I knew I wanted to incorporate them into my story.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
As a homeschooling mother of four, ranging from kindergarten to a senior in high school, I often feel like I am trying to work two full-time jobs at the same time. In all honesty, keeping them balanced with my physical and mental health needs is a continual struggle. I don't think I'll ever claim to have it figured out, but I hope I'm learning and getting better at it as I go.

How do your faith and your spiritual life play into the stories you tell?
There is always a bit of my own spiritual journey woven into the spiritual arcs of my characters.

Where do your story and character ideas come from?
The story idea for Murmur in the Mud Caves began with the interquel novella, Cakes and Kisses, in which we learn how young Bridget "Biddie" Baker came to be connected with and ultimately adopted by Cecilia and Henry Davidson (two characters who appear in every book in this series). Murmur in the Mud Caves takes place 18 years after Cakes and Kisses, and Biddie is all grown up but still wrestling with ideas around self-worth and adoption. When she receives a letter from the big sister who disappeared in the night with their father and brother 18 years prior, she sets out in search of answers with the hope of a reunion. What she finds is far from what she expects.

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
I always have a giant bottle of water on hand when I write, and I have learned to keep fidget toys handy to keep myself from mindless snacking. Most importantly, though, I set timers that remind me to get up and move every twenty minutes. In fact, due to a repetitive strain injury, I sustained last year, I rarely type anymore. Instead, I use dictation software to do as much as I can. This allows me to pace my office as I write, which helps ensure I vary my physical position as I work. I also have an adjustable chair and an electric desk that raises and lowers with the press of a button. And I have plans to purchase an under-desk treadmill.

What literary character is most like you?
Anne Shirley. Without question. I may not be Canadian, an orphan, or have red hair and freckles, but I think that's about where the differences end. As she would put it, we are kindred spirits.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
When I am not writing, I enjoy hiking, crafting, and volunteering at local historical sites. I have tried a wide variety of crafts, including: knitting, quilting, drawing, painting, candle making, soap making, basket weaving, pottery, mixed media arts, card-making, scrapbooking, quilling, and other Victorian-era crafts, Bible journaling, and many more. Right now, my favorite is junk journaling, which is a mixed-media style of journaling.

If you could only recommend three books to a friend, which three would you choose?
Okay, to make this more manageable, I'm sticking to books I have read in the last six months.
In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh
Bring Her Home by Hannah Currie
When the Day Comes by Gabrielle Meyer
Stephanie Rose Finsterbush is an aspiring author who writes historical romances with humor and heart. Wife and homeschool mom of two, Stephanie blogs about her family, their multiple cross-country moves, and her journey to publication at

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